January 31, 2002
4:15 PM   Subscribe

"I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed," bin Laden said as the U.S. war on terrorism raged in Afghanistan. "The U.S. government will lead the American people in -- and the West in general -- into an unbearable hell and a choking life."

I wish I were more confident that this is not a prescient statement....
posted by rushmc at 4:24 PM on January 31, 2002

I'm sure Hitler said something along similar lines...
posted by Brilliantcrank at 4:46 PM on January 31, 2002

"They made hilarious claims. They said that Osama's messages have codes in them to the terrorists. It's as if we were living in the time of mail by carrier pigeon, when there are no phones, no travelers, no Internet, no regular mail, no express mail and no electronic mail. I mean, these are very humorous things. They discount people's intellect."

Ouch. This hurts, because it's exactly what I was thinking when they came out with that claim. I mean, I want the guy to be as crazy as possible. Not like crazy and evil sometimes but methodical and rational other times.

p.s. Rushmc, that sentence caught my attention too. And, granted, there are some pretty horrible nightmare scenarios out there. But still, how much poor leadership would it take before I or the average person would rather live in Afghanistan than the US. (No disrespect to Afghanistan intended.) Actually on the optimistic side, you've probably heard that the new Afghan president has about 4 siblings that live and work in the US. Supposedly Musharef also has a close relative in the US. I wonder how much that sort of thing helps.
posted by Wood at 4:49 PM on January 31, 2002

Am I missing something? The article says that CNN is running an interview that Al-Jazeera refused to run.

What's the problem, exactly?
posted by Mid at 4:51 PM on January 31, 2002

Holy shit. Al-Jazeera will never be taken seriously in the west again.
posted by McBain at 4:57 PM on January 31, 2002

I must be a naif, but what is "the zipper sound" you're referring to?

Why is that sentence ironic or oblivious or something?

What are you talking about?
posted by argybarg at 4:57 PM on January 31, 2002

Geraldo is pissed that he didn't get to make comments on the tape as useful and enlightened background material...ah, well, he was needed in Afghanistan, where, I have been told, he had a tryst with Banfield (the girl with the "signature" glasses who squints all the time). Told about this, clinton noted all ought to be put aside for a hummer. After, he said, Bush stated that the war would go on for a very long time. And no, said, Tom DeLay, a hummer is not a sort of jeep used by our military.
posted by Postroad at 4:59 PM on January 31, 2002

The zipper sound thing is from the recent contraversy about an ad for CNN say Paula Zahn was sexy and playing a zipper sound.

The sentence is ironic or oblivious because it is a tremendous understatement that "CNN felt otherwise".
posted by McBain at 5:01 PM on January 31, 2002

Ok, but what does the "ironic" understatment have to do with the zipper controversy?
posted by Mid at 5:07 PM on January 31, 2002

Can anyone speculate on why Al-Jazeera didn't run the tape? Did someone (US Gov't? Qatar Gov't?) ask them not to? Why would they not show it?
posted by cell divide at 5:11 PM on January 31, 2002

??? But is it also untrue? It's being used as a transitional paragraph -- and I would characterize it as "dry understatement" rather than irony. A time-honored journalistic device, and subtler than 90s Alanisized "irony".

I believe it was always understood that while there was a non-trivial risk of the tapes being used as signals, the greater concern of the administration was giving bin Laden a free platform for propaganda.
posted by dhartung at 5:11 PM on January 31, 2002

Osama and Stephen King have a lot in common: they know how to scare their audience, way beyond their actual power.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:18 PM on January 31, 2002

"Our brothers with Somali mujahedeen and God's power fought the Americans. God granted them victory. America exited dragging its tails in failure, defeat, and ruin," bin Laden said.

Isn't this ironic? Tail between legs? Hello.
posted by Benway at 5:33 PM on January 31, 2002

"I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed," bin Laden said...

Great, now we're taking human rights advice from that noted champion of liberty, Osama Bin Laden. Call me when the shuttle lands, folks.
posted by jonmc at 5:37 PM on January 31, 2002

Speculation as to why Al Jazeera didn't run it.

Osama claims that he's guilty. Certainly undermines the position that Al Jazeera's been taking that it was Mossad. A smoking gun is found in a confession, taped with a friendly reporter, and couched in language of "well, if we did, we were certainly right to do so."

Rooting for the home team against the Satanist infidels enough to undermine journalistic credibility, I'd say.

Of course, the theory Osama proposes of his _not_ using his propoganda pieces to trigger attacks is silly. This is a guy who stopped using his satphone the moment he realized we had him tapped. This is a smart effing guy, for all his evil. To say "we have all these other methods of communication" while he knows all the US is looking for is a single communique from him which would lead us to where he is, well... seems like the backwards way of saying 'ok, you caught me, this _is_ how we're doing things, and now I'm deflecting it by calling you names, you stupid infidel dogs.'

Phones, the mail, email and all other forms of communication are regularly intercepted by the CIA and FBI. TV broadcasts are a logical next platform, then, since there's no way short of stopping the broadcast, to stop that communication. Silly Osama.
posted by swerdloff at 5:37 PM on January 31, 2002

Osama mentioned the internet. More calls for government regulation of the internet will surely follow.
posted by Potsy at 5:37 PM on January 31, 2002

Osama would be hilarious if he wasn't a mass murderer.
posted by McBain at 5:45 PM on January 31, 2002

Actually, the notion of Ben Laden transmitting messages in open code through his speeches is probably picked up from the fact that that is exactly how allied forces during World War II coordinated saboteurs in France before D-Day. (In fact, the code was broken and intercepted, but the German army units at the landing site ignored the warning, proving yet again that the incompetence of the enemy is the greatest strength and the greatest weakness of any cryptographic system.)

The problem is that open code is really hard to pull off successfully without sounding stilted. It is pretty difficult to communicate large quantities of information without tipping off a listener that the conversation is less than innocent.

Also, there is the time factor. Since he doesn't have the luxury of a live feed whenever he wants it, he has no control over when his speeches will be broadcast. Certainly e-mail and telephone can be intercepted, but in order to filter out the signal from the noise you pretty much have to know in advance the routes to tap.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:50 PM on January 31, 2002

But still, how much poor leadership would it take before I or the average person would rather live in Afghanistan than the US.

Is this really the comparison that we want to be making?!?
posted by rushmc at 6:02 PM on January 31, 2002

Likely, Al Jazeera hid the tape because one of their reporters interviewed bin Laden in person, and thus knew his location at the time of the interview, and may have even initiated the contact, indicating that Al Jazeera has a method of contacting him. American (and foreign) intelligence would have been all over that. Huge pressure would have been put on Al Jazeera to reveal what they knew, and massive surveillance would have been put on their employees. It would have seriously disrupted their news operations and probably have drained all their credibility to the Arab world. And one can imagine it not stopping there; I don't think its unreasonable to think that, since Al Jazeera would certainly resist these efforts, the whole nation of Qatar would have been put on the White House's black list, and political, economic, maybe military sanctions could have been levied against their entire government. After all, it would have been collaborating with Al Qaeda. The U.S. jails AMERICAN reporters that withold their sources, let alone foreign ones talking to bin fucking Laden.
posted by gsteff at 6:02 PM on January 31, 2002

I just felt it was ironic that CNN actually needed to explain that it "felt otherwise" respective to another news organization's discretionary practices. When has CNN not run something? This is the same network that reported Bush Sr.'s demise when he barfed in the Japanese PM's lap.

It's also ironic that the US government gave Al Jazeera grief for airing too much Bin Laden propaganda, and now CNN is pouncing on them for actually holding back.
posted by donkeyschlong at 6:13 PM on January 31, 2002

Oh, and the infamous Paula-Zahn-is-sexy zipper sound: I just meant to convey they're being exploitative again.
posted by donkeyschlong at 6:18 PM on January 31, 2002

Yes, I'd like fries with that, and can I get that "Alanisized "
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 6:20 PM on January 31, 2002

"its like stains, on your wedding cake"

if osama was pro linux, would that change thoughts?

sorrry to be so stupid, but it would be nice to see people take different stands once in a while. I include myself in this complaint.

posted by zenhues at 7:15 PM on January 31, 2002

You know, I hate the reference to Osama as a "mastermind". I mean, Dr. No, Lex Luthor, Braniac, Magneto - those guys are freaking "criminal masterminds". Osama acts big, but its not like his schemes are mind-bendingly hard to figure out. He's not even up to the Riddler's level.


Does anyone really take Al Jazeera seriously? They may as well be Osama's ministry of information, what with all those videos somehow always finding their way there.
posted by owillis at 7:34 PM on January 31, 2002

Owillis: C'mon, Dr. No? I mean, Goldfinger...there's your mastermind (or Blofeld...throw me a bone, people), but Dr. No was a putz.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:28 AM on February 1, 2002

Actually, the Taleban offered foreign media to setup bureaus in Kabul about a couple fo years ago and Al Jazeera was the only foreign news media to do so.

I think it would be easier to be anonymous and get tapes to Al Jazeera than to get them to CNN or Fox.
posted by adnanbwp at 12:45 AM on February 1, 2002

Brilliant link guys. I'm really enjoying it.

posted by crasspastor at 2:45 AM on February 1, 2002

Brilliant *thread* I mean! . . .er ah
posted by crasspastor at 2:47 AM on February 1, 2002

This is interesting: CNN, Al-Jazeera Sever Ties Over Bin Laden Tape
CNN ended its affiliate relationship with Qatar-based satellite broadcaster Al-Jazeera Thursday after learning that the network apparently lied about the existence of an on-camera interview with Osama bin Laden (news - web sites).

Al-Jazeera has repeatedly denied that it was in possession of a videotaped interview with the accused terrorist. But in the last few days, through outside sources, CNN obtained a copy of the interview, which was conducted on Oct. 20.

CNN aired the video Thursday night amid protests by Al-Jazeera, which threatened to pursue legal options against CNN for airing the videotape.

``Al-Jazeera will sever its relationship with CNN and will take necessary action to punish the organizations and individuals who stole this video and distributed it illegally,'' said Al-Jazeera director general Mohammed Jassim Al-Ali in a statement.
I think this episode reflects porrly on Al-Jazeera, to put it mildly.
posted by NortonDC at 7:03 AM on February 1, 2002

Sorry, I didn't notice that much of that appeared in the original link.
posted by NortonDC at 7:07 AM on February 1, 2002

Basically Osama is right - the US government is using Sept. 11 events as an excuse to limit freedoms and curtail human rights. If that was his original intent, you have to credit him with having a good grasp of Western political life.

The list of freedom restrictions has been posted elsewhere. We've had lots of links about them here on Metafilter. As a strategic response to the terrorist threat, they indicate a complete failure of our government's policy analysts to really understand what's going on here.

Rather than restrict freedoms, we should be increasing them. We should be doing things like increasing the autonomy of the States (constitutional States' rights that have been systematically curtailed by federal coercion that runs afoul of the spirit of the constitution, if not the letter), encouraging freedom of the press, soliciting dissenting opinions, supporting the rights of protestors rather than suppressing their activities.

The current government response has fallen exactly in line with Osama's stated intentions. Killing people and destroying property is are not his goals. For whatever reasons, he wants the United States -- the self-proclaimed bastion of human rights and liberty -- to contort itself into a hypocritical police state. And it is working.
posted by yesster at 7:22 AM on February 1, 2002

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