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Bin Laden: Yes, I did it
November 10, 2001 7:35 PM   Subscribe

Bin Laden: Yes, I did it "In a previously undisclosed video which has been circulating for 14 days among his supporters, he confesses that "history should be a witness that we are terrorists. Yes, we kill their innocents". In the footage, shot in the Afghan mountains at the end of October, a smiling bin Laden goes on to say that the World Trade Centre's twin towers were a "legitimate target" and the pilots who hijacked the planes were "blessed by Allah". The killing of at least 4,537 people was justified, he claims, because they were "not civilians" but were working for the American system." (via lgf)

Evidence enough? Will this cause any in opposition to reconsider? (it's even from a British newspaper...)
posted by owillis (47 comments total)

 
Will this cause any in opposition to reconsider?

Are you suggesting that opposition to the war is based only upon the assumption of OBL's innocence?
posted by donpardo at 7:59 PM on November 10, 2001


No, I know a lot of people who object are anti-war regardless. But a few people here (and in other venues) have said their objection stems from not truly knowing OBL's guilt. Those are the people I'm asking.
posted by owillis at 8:04 PM on November 10, 2001


Good luck finding that straw man. I don't know many people who think OBL's guilt is in question. What many people question is whether or not our response will a) bring criminals to justice vs. causing more deaths to innocent civilians or b) will make the situation better or worse, as muslim anger grows... Those are legitimate, debatable concerns. I don't think the evidence against OBL is an issue people are really debating...
posted by mattpusateri at 8:30 PM on November 10, 2001


Oh, I've read the type of statement owillis is talking about - to wit, that the U.S. should provide evidence and that it's arrogant of Bush, et. al. to ignore calls for such evidence - here many times. Owillis has a legit gripe, the post is legit, and yelling "straw man argument" now is really unfair and disrespectful.
posted by raysmj at 8:37 PM on November 10, 2001


I don't know many people who think OBL's guilt is in question.

There have been numerous critics of the war who believed the U.S. was wrong to act because Bin Laden's guilt has not been established. If he has, indeed, admitted Al Qaeda's guilt, it should at least remove the suggestion that the U.S. chose to go after Bin Laden and Al Qaeda simply because they were the most convenient target.
posted by rcade at 8:39 PM on November 10, 2001


OBL? It's Al Qaeda, not the friggin' Wu-Tang Clan.

Personally, my reservations about bombing the hell out of Afghanistan stem more from uncertainty whether this is going to make the world any safer. We already knew the old dirty bastard was, if not responsible for the attacks, at least as dangerous as whoever was. Doing all this just to bring the ghostface killa to justice, or rather to bring justice to him, seems overwrought. I understand that he basically runs the show in Afghanistan, and given what a gang of thugs the Taliban are, it certainly doesn't seem a shame to get rid of them, but I don't know if this is the right method, man.
posted by MonkeyMeat at 8:41 PM on November 10, 2001


monkey meat, that whole post was #1 in the hood, yo.

Al-Qza. Osama the Genius... lol...
posted by lotsofno at 8:53 PM on November 10, 2001


There's a difference between believing someone is innocent and calling for evidence of guilt before dropping bombs.

I'm 99.9% certain bin Laden is behind 9/11, but I was one of those who felt that rushing in with bombs and missiles--at a time when many Arab countries were still trying to determine their stance--would have been irresponsible. In the end, the US waited, presented supposed evidence to an Arab coalition which convinced them that bin Laden was responsible, and then attacked. I don't recall anyone here actually defending bin Laden as innocent.
posted by jpoulos at 8:53 PM on November 10, 2001


From the smell of it, that horse you're whacking is in greener pastures now... but as I understand your intentions, well, your point is taken, I guess, but then so, too, are those of the parties responding... I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop, and hoping it doesn't, if it's nuclear or viral.
posted by y2karl at 8:56 PM on November 10, 2001


Al-Qza

*giggle*

Punching "Osama bin Laden" into the Wu-Tang Namelizer yields "Chocolatey Shatner," FYI.
posted by MonkeyMeat at 9:05 PM on November 10, 2001


Since this topic has morphed into Wu Tang Clan territory, I suppose linking to a comparison of OBL with ODB is appropriate.
posted by schlyer at 9:10 PM on November 10, 2001


I read the article. Bin Laden does not admit that he is behind the attacks. The headline is misleading.
posted by dydecker at 9:14 PM on November 10, 2001


Does or would this even change anything.. Doubt it..
posted by Dav0xor at 9:23 PM on November 10, 2001


bin Laden is intelligent... when you're getting played you better recognize

killing has nothing to do with the issues at hand, regardless of how hard it was to get the US' attention... understanding that other cultures may value ideas more than life itself is difficult for anyone unable to moderate their own perspectives - memes are inherited, shared, but never created - the very word assassin stems from the Hashishin clan whose ideas westerners didn't understand during the crusades of the Middle Ages either
posted by gkr at 9:24 PM on November 10, 2001


Hey Telegraph, no transcript? Who is the source of the video? Why can’t we see a bit of it?

When Dawn interviewed him, they changed his comments between the English and Urdu versions. Who’s to say it hasn’t happened here?

Every article I’ve read on the subject has it’s own little spin and foregone conclusions. Guarenteed we’ll see this article footnoted in years to come as proof of bin Laden’s guilt, but it just doesn’t have enough transparency or evidence to back-up their thesis. Now that The Telegraph has their scoop, they should release the video so it can be peer-reviewed. Otherwise we have to take this as another anomoly in the news hole.

Not that I have any reason to believe his innocence, only that he, on the surface, seems too smart to admit his guilt in such a public way.

Dav0xor is right, though. This doesn’t change much either way. Bush, Blair and Musharraf are going to do what they want regardless of available evidence.

Let’s say he is guilty, which seems a good enough case. Does that mean the US has the right to kill innocents to get him? If it does, then I’ll patiently wait for the police to raze every neighborhood believed to be used by wanted criminals. They might kill entire families, but hey, that’s the price of justice.
posted by raaka at 9:33 PM on November 10, 2001


raaka: What wanted (i.e., living) criminals in America have killed 4,000 to 5,000 people within the nation's borders, or in the financial heart of the nation's largest and most culturally and commercially important city, at one time?
posted by raysmj at 9:40 PM on November 10, 2001


Why don't they quote his confession of the Al Qaeda involvement in the attacks, assuming there was one? Not that I have much doubt at this point, but their quotes all seemed to be of him condoning, not confessing. Of course, I'm not sure how the organization works, so the two may be equivalent, it just seems strange to call what they quoted an admission of guilt.
posted by Nothing at 9:43 PM on November 10, 2001


June 17, 1942. Dateline Washington! Movietone News can now report exclusively that the Congressional commission formed to determine the legal basis for a counterattack on Japan has released a preliminary report. Our sources tell us that the evidence against Japan is overwhelming! President Roosevelt is still concerned that without a full evidentiary hearing before the world we will not have the moral authority to form a naval task force and strike back against the Japanese Asia-Pacific Co-Prosperity Zone, with who we have yet to establish diplomatic relations. We may yet consider such actions as trade sanctions and stiff diplomatic letters! And now our reporter will go get the Japanese man-on-the-street opinion, straight from their Eastern capital of Los Angeles!
posted by dhartung at 10:14 PM on November 10, 2001


Let's get this straight.

First of all, there may be a few people who were against the war because they were waiting for evidence of Bin Laden's guilt first. I assume they are out there somewhere, though I myself have never met one.

The vast majority of in the anti-war camp who protest the war based on lack of evidence do so because we attacked before there had been compelling evidence released to the citizens of this democratic republic. This being contrary to the ideals of this nation, and of justice in general. Outside of a few who propose alternative, rather unlikely-seeming explanations for the attack, such as a conspiracy by our own government to protect oil interests, et cetera, there aren't many on either side of the issue who ever really doubted Bin Laden's guilt. For the majority of this minority, it was simply a matter of principles that the ceremony (empty as it would have been in this case anyway) of justice be played out. As you may have guessed, I count myself among those people.

So, unless I'm totally off base with all of this, I doubt this admission of guilt (though for what Bin Laden still doesn't say) will change very many opinions one way or the other.
posted by Hildago at 10:15 PM on November 10, 2001


June 18, 1942 dateline: Washington! Not to be outdone by their sister committee’s release yesterday of a preliminary report indicting the nation of Japan for the bombings at Pearl Harbor, Movietone News has learned today the Special Senate Subcommittee on German Atrocities Against Jews has released findings that Nazi military commanders under the direction of Adolph Hitler had indeed systematically murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews in specially designed “death camps” in Dachau, Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec , and several other locations. When asked what action would be appropriate for the United States, President Roosevelt replied, “Well we certainly can’t just go dropping bombs on Germany. After all, not all Germans are members of the Nazi party, and innocent German lives might be lost. It’s not like it’s a holocaust or anything. The Jews will be OK while we negotiate with Fuhrer Hitler. I’m sure he’s a reasonable man. If we can’t reconcile our differences peacefully, that’s the time to start thinking about sanctions and embargos.” The impromptu press conference broke up when the Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall led the entire Cabinet in a rousing rendition of “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”
posted by JParker at 10:52 PM on November 10, 2001


I think the real interest in this development is not that any of us doubted Bin Laden's guilt. It's that numerous governments in the Muslim world have publicly stated that they do not have evidence establishing Bin Laden's responsibility and named this as a main reason for reservations about the timing, pace, extent, etc., of the U.S. military action. The propaganda war is the most important front, and we've been losing it, so it really will be interesting to see how this tidbit (if confirmed) gets digested by the (usually state-sponsored) organs that have been spewing many patent falsehoods including doubts about Bin Laden's guilt.

Khatami's interview with the NYT is only the latest example of this message coming from major government officials. (But Khatami went pretty far in admitting the plausibility of Bin Laden's responsibility, considering his political position beneath the [Taleban-loathing, but unwilling to get behind the U.S.]conservatives who actually run the show in Iran.)
posted by Zurishaddai at 10:59 PM on November 10, 2001


Jparker, dhartung - I can't stop laughing.
posted by owillis at 11:23 PM on November 10, 2001


Khatami is about as western friendly as Iranian government officials have been since, well the 70s. I'd imagine that if it weren't for the religious freaks that really run the country we'd have a much improved relationship with Iran. I think eventually Iran will get rid of the fundies at the top of the government, but it might take some form of revolution again (but there's a pretty good chance it wouldn't have to be violent).
posted by QrysDonnell at 11:38 PM on November 10, 2001


Oy, JParker, and I specifically chose an example that would avoid Godwin's Law!
posted by dhartung at 12:01 AM on November 11, 2001


Um... this might be a good time to point everyone at this article about British press sensationalism. Just before we get a little too excited.
posted by scarabic at 12:30 AM on November 11, 2001


Oh, damn, I guess I'll go for it.

Hildalgo asserts:
The vast majority of in the anti-war camp who protest the war based on lack of evidence do so because we attacked before there had been compelling evidence released to the citizens of this democratic republic. This being contrary to the ideals of this nation, and of justice in general.

Not according to the Constitution. Article 1, Section 8: The Congress shall have the power ... to declare war. (In Section 10, this is asserted as a federal prerogative thus: No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, ... engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.) See also Findlaw's annotations on the constitutional aspects of war. (For comparison, annotations on the presidency as commander in chief.) I found this note completely fascinating:

An early controversy revolved about the issue of the President's powers and the necessity of congressional action when hostilities are initiated against us rather than the Nation instituting armed conflict. The Bey of Tripoli, in the course of attempting to extort payment for not molesting United States shipping, declared war upon the United States, and a debate began whether Congress had to enact a formal declaration of war to create a legal status of war. President Jefferson sent a squadron of frigates to the Mediterranean to protect our ships but limited its mission to defense in the narrowest sense of the term. Attacked by a Tripolitan cruiser, one of the frigates subdued it, disarmed it, and, pursuant to instructions, released it. Jefferson in a message to Congress announced his actions as in compliance with constitutional limitations on his authority in the absence of a declaration of war. Hamilton espoused a different interpretation, contending that the Constitution vested in Congress the power to initiate war but that when another nation made war upon the United States we were already in a state of war and no declaration by Congress was needed. Congress thereafter enacted a statute authorizing the President to instruct the commanders of armed vessels of the United States to seize all vessels and goods of the Bey of Tripoli ''and also to cause to be done all such other acts of precaution or hostility as the state of war will justify . . .'' But no formal declaration of war was passed, Congress apparently accepting Hamilton's view.

Indeed, although Congress passed the War Powers Act, instructing the President to seek the "advise and consent of Congress" on military deployments into hostile territory, it has never been constitutionally tested; and many scholars believe it would fail. For political reasons successive Presidents have used it but never formally acceded to its authority over them.

In short, there is no constitutional basis or even legislative tradition calling for the presentation of "evidence" before commending hostilities. The decision is left in the hands of the government which we have already elected, presumably with the assumption that they may be called on to make such momentous decisions, particularly in the case of emergencies. As it happens, Congress did debate the matter, and passed a declaration of war the week of the attacks, which grants legal authority and delegates decision-making thus:

Declaring that a state of war exists between the United States and any entity determined by the President to have planned, carried out, or otherwise supported the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, and authorizing the President to use United States Armed Forces and all other necessary resources of the United States Government against any such entity in order to bring the conflict to a successful termination.

Now, I'm not trying to prevent Hildalgo or anyone else from speaking their mind, or even attempting to influence public policy on this matter. But the fact is that there is no basis for a claim that we have "ideals" or any other tradition requiring a presentation of evidence as if in a criminal hearing. What we have is an emergency, as determined and endorsed by some 530-odd members of both houses of Congress, and people whom we have previously hired to perform the task of dealing with that emergency. That remains within the ideals of a democratic republic, while taking note of the needs of war, which does not lend itself to referenda.
posted by dhartung at 12:37 AM on November 11, 2001


Whoops, I was misinformed. That extensive formal declaration of war, proposed as a joint resolution, has been referred to committee. What both houses actually passed was an authorization of military force. It has the same effect as the phrasing I referenced above [emphasis mine]:

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.
posted by dhartung at 12:51 AM on November 11, 2001


dhartung, I didn't invoke Godwin's Law intentionally. It's all Oliver's fault for linking that damn story with Bin Laden saying "Killing Jews is top priority." Then your news release was too funny not to have a follow up. Nice explanatory note on how exactly we go about declaring war, too! Thanks.
posted by JParker at 12:51 AM on November 11, 2001


ray: “What wanted (i.e., living) criminals in America have killed 4,000 to 5,000 people...?”

The number in the WTC massacre(s) is probably closer to 3,000.

And while your question is rhetorical I have an answer: Emmanuel Constant. Accused of the deaths of thousands of Haitians, currently living in Queens. The State Department says he is on “supervised release,” meaning he’s free and won’t allow him to be extradited. This doesn’t stop Haiti from asking for him several times a year. Had they the military might and followed the ultra-violent (and ironically named) Bush Doctrine, DC would currently be under siege. Never fear though, it’s the price of justice.

“The vast majority of in the anti-war camp who protest the war based on lack of evidence do so because we attacked before there had been compelling evidence released to the citizens of this democratic republic.”

Then there's another “camp” who says bombing the fuck out of a foreign country inhabited by people who probably couldn’t find New York on a map is counter-intuitive to “ending terrorism”. Likely it’ll engender more hatred of the US.

dhartung, That recent approval of military force gives the President more power than the Tonkin Gulf Act — and we know how well that turned out.

Comparisions to recent events and that of sixty years ago sure are a creative excercise in agitprop.
posted by raaka at 3:05 AM on November 11, 2001


For the record, I've come to believe that Iran is the closest thing we've got going with respect to a model Islamic republic. It's not there yet, but it's got a level of basic civility that many of the Arab nations lack, and its evolution seems feasible.
posted by donkeyschlong at 3:07 AM on November 11, 2001


For the record, I've come to believe that Iran is the closest thing we've got going with respect to a model Islamic republic. It's not there yet, but it's got a level of basic civility that many of the Arab nations lack, and its evolution seems feasible.
posted by donkeyschlong at 3:12 AM on November 11, 2001


Then there's another “camp” who says bombing the fuck out of a foreign country inhabited by people who probably couldn’t find New York on a map is counter-intuitive to “ending terrorism”. Likely it’ll engender more hatred of the US.

I'm damn glad most of the Japanese knew where Pearl Harbor was so we didn't just have to take a violent, unprovoked attack lying down. I believe it was Sun Tzu who said, "The wise leader will keep his army ignorant of geography for no enemy would attack an army who cannot point out cities on a map"
posted by billman at 4:24 AM on November 11, 2001


it's even from a British newspaper

What's that shit about?

Um... this might be a good time to point everyone at this article about British press sensationalism. Just before we get a little too excited.

And Salon basing a claim that the entire British media is guilty of factless journalism on the actions of one publication is scurrilous misrepresentation. I'm glad I'm not parting with any hard-earned cash for more of their "premium" content.

Why all the undefended anti-British feeling in this thread? Isn't it enough that our troops and politicians are involved in your war effort? Or would you like to censor our media as well?
posted by walrus at 4:35 AM on November 11, 2001


"very word assassin stems from the Hashishin clan" no, it comes from the root word- Hashish."whose ideas westerners didn't understand during the crusades of the Middle Ages either' quite the opposite. Sabbah set up his operation around 1090. The pope was rallying crusaders in 1095. The westerners(?) new well what this guys plan entailed. (terror) Sabbahs pony trick was to make ideas SEEM more important then life.
posted by clavdivs at 8:35 AM on November 11, 2001


raaka: I specifically asked whether anyone has killed anyone on *American* soil, and specifically in the heart of its largest and most important city? The largest building in the heart of its financial district, no less. What country in the world would do nothing in reaction to such a thing? Closer to 3,000? Oh, really? And the point is . . . ? That the number, if 1,000 less, is somehow not as bad?
posted by raysmj at 9:43 AM on November 11, 2001


>it's even from a British newspaper
What's that shit about?


I said that because whenever someone has the gall to post from a US paper, we get the usual "jingoistic corporate media" bullshit and for some reason a lot of folks here look to Europe and their generally more socialist society as their ideal for how the world should be run. That's why.
posted by owillis at 10:39 AM on November 11, 2001


That recent approval of military force gives the President more power than the Tonkin Gulf Act — and we know how well that turned out. Comparisions to recent events and that of sixty years ago sure are a creative excercise in agitprop.

And so your comparison to events of almost forty years ago (Tonkin Gulf Act, 1964) would be a creative exercise in .... what?
posted by PhotoDude at 11:02 AM on November 11, 2001


Dhartung - Sorry to make you write such a long and well-researched post when my response to it will be (for purposes of going to lunch soon) so short and off-the-cuff. My intention was not to imply that declaring war without presenting sufficient evidence was unconstitutional, but that it was immoral and unjust. And by unjust I do not mean in the sense of constitutional law, which you have to admit colors justice (naturally) more in the interests of protecting the country than in upholding some philosophical ideal beloved of weak-kneed leftys like myself. ;)

So, without getting into a debate about justice (or is it too late for that?), I will just say that for those of us whom I was referring to in my original post, the US attack on Afghanistan seemed so much more like an act of revenge and machismo than a carefully-considered punitive or preemptive action that we simply couldn't bring ourselves to support it in good conscience.

And yes, I cringe whenever I have to make blanket statements about entire groups of people whose motivations I may be entirely wrong about, but..hey.. that's what the internet is for, isn't it?
posted by Hildago at 11:29 AM on November 11, 2001


owillis: fair enough then. I conflated it with the sentiments implied in the Salon article.
posted by walrus at 11:33 AM on November 11, 2001


ray: “I specifically asked whether anyone has killed anyone on *American* soil ... What country in the world would do nothing in reaction to such a thing?”

None, apparently. This includes Haiti, which doesn’t have the military might to attack a country harboring a domestic terrorist. The comparisions are completely valid, and telling, even if it was Haitians that were murdered.

photodude: “And so your comparison to events of almost forty years ago (Tonkin Gulf Act, 1964) would be a creative exercise in .... what?”

The differences between WWII and this thing are so innumberable as so to be close to pointless. There are specific acts you can compare — Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, Dresden — but the global socio-political-economic make-up is just wildly different. The US, for instance, is not beating back an invading force on two fronts.
posted by raaka at 11:46 AM on November 11, 2001


owillis: Although it's by no means the Washington Times, The Telegraph is the most conservative British broadsheet - sometimes referred to as The Torygraph - and owned, I believe, by the Canadian Conrad Black. I'm not commenting on this particular article, but the source is certainly capable of jingoism.
posted by liam at 11:53 AM on November 11, 2001


raaka: The comparison is not completely valid if you don't answer my question, but instead bring up a case out of civil strife-ridden Haiti. And I've never heard anything about this particular case, so can't discuss it with you. Also, Germany never attacked the U.S. It declared war on the U.S., but didn't invade. The attack on the WTC and the Pentagon was far worse than Pearl Harbor, not only in terms of the body-count, but in terms of *what* was attacked and *where*.
posted by raysmj at 11:57 AM on November 11, 2001


And Salon basing a claim that the entire British media is guilty of factless journalism on the actions of one publication is scurrilous misrepresentation.
It's because Salon is grassroots media. w3rd.
posted by holloway at 12:26 PM on November 11, 2001


Salon is one of the worst news sites out there...
The last article I read on there claimed computer FPS lead to drug abuse. All this based on the interviews the "reporter" got from one LAN party....

"scurrilous misrepresentation" and "factless journalism" are good descriptions of Salon.
posted by Iax at 2:20 PM on November 11, 2001


Iax, you dissembler, you! Lemme guess, you're really Andrew Sullivan! Geez, between Henry Kissinger and Andrew Sullivan and god knows who else, MeFi is becoming a regular "Who's Who" of covert right-wing psyops! :)

The Salon article in question, while admittedly a pretty empty fluff piece, claimed no such thing about FPS games "leading" to drug abuse!!! It only noted that in the hardcore gaming community- just like among the general population at large- some drug use is found among the competitors, that gamers weren't all 14-year-olds whose most dangerous high was from Mountain Dew and Cheetohs. Your attempt at smearing Salon.com- and thus in turn anything it reports- as nothing more than the fevered imaginings of an unreliable rag, by wholly misrepresenting that one story is disgusting, disreputable, and absolutely shameful. Salon.com is sadly now a shadow of its former glory, but in their heyday they've done some of the best investigative reporting around- and to declare otherwise, especially with such a specious and unfounded attack, is unprincipled and indefensible.

Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?
posted by hincandenza at 2:54 PM on November 11, 2001


In defence of The (london) Times, that story about Bin Laden having nuclear material was all over the UK TV news on the same day, and all over the other papers. I don't know where it came from but I suspect that the government issued some press release saying intelligence had just learned about this nuclear capability (I think they must have known for some time) and the papers and TV swallowed it. I remember thinking at the time that it was a load of nonsense timed to justify the coming ground war and further bombing. But that's why it didn't appear in the US, because the US govt didn't spoon feed the information to the press over there and present it as new information, not because it's not true.
posted by Summer at 6:26 AM on November 12, 2001


the Canadian Conrad Black

Make that the former Canadian, Lord Conrad Black. He renounced his Canadian Citizenship in order to get his title. Good riddance to bad rubbish. You Brits can have him...
posted by spnx at 6:39 AM on November 12, 2001


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