February 12, 2003

Bush and Bin Laden: Brothers in battle against Ba'athist Iraq

Colin Powell launched a preemptive strike early Tuesday morning against the latest evidence that the alleged Bin Laden-Al Qaeda link is a lot of malarkey. The first indication that anyone had of a new message from Osama bin Laden was Powell's statement to a Senate budget panel:

"Once again [Bin Laden] speaks to the people of Iraq and talks about their struggle and how he is in partnership with Iraq. This nexus between terrorists and states that are developing weapons of mass destruction can no longer be looked away from and ignored."

But it turns out that what can't be ignored is the complete agreement between Bin Laden and the Bushies on the subject of Saddam Hussein's regime. As MSNBC reported:

"At the same time, the message also called on Iraqis to rise up and oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who is a secular leader."

Saddam, OBL declares, must be overthrown, because Saddam is a "socialist" and an apostate Muslim. "The hypocrites of Iraq" are "infidels," says the Terror Master, and the same goes for the governments of Yemen, Pakistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Nigeria, and any other regional "stooges" of the U.S. Antiwar.com posted this MSNBC story as soon as it appeared, but then something strange happened….

We received the following email from an alert reader, who noted:

"I've been keeping an eye on the bin Laden tape story on MSNBC.com via the link on Antiwar.com, and something interesting has happened. When the link was first posted, the part about overthrowing Saddam Hussein was not included in the MSNBC.com story. Later, around 3:50 PM Eastern, the site contained this paragraph: 'At the same time, the message also called on Iraqis to rise up and oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who is a secular leader.' When I checked back with the link on Antiwar.com around 4:35 PM Eastern, it said that this had not become part of the MSNBC.com story, so I clicked on the link again, and sure enough, it had been removed. I'm glad I copied the story with the 'overthrow Saddam' part onto my PC. It appears this part of the story, since it's inconvenient for the War Party, is being buried."

Who does MSNBC think they're kidding? I called those jerks (425-703-6397). Why, I asked, had all references to Bin Laden's denunciation of the Iraqi dictator been edited out? Some drone at the "News Desk" actually expected me to believe his line of bull about how they were "waiting to get that confirmed" by a translator from Associated Press – this while MSNBC's own translator was reading the part about Bin Laden's call for overthrowing Saddam over the air! When I informed him of this, he insisted that everything had to be vetted by AP, even as MSNBC's own analysts were trenchantly concurring that this was "one battlefield, two wars." Both Bush and Bin Laden had declared war on Saddam Hussein, and "the race is on" for the doomed despot's domain.

Meanwhile, MSNBC revised their story yet again:

"MSNBC.com initially cited an extemporaneous translation that mistakenly quoted the speaker as calling on Iraqis to overthrow Saddam Hussein."

The MSNBC website had no sooner revised history, than Reuters posted a more honest version:

"The statement did not express support for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein – it said Muslims should support the Iraqi people rather than the country's government."

The Reuters story went on to cite the Bin Laden message:

"'The fighting should be in the name of God only, not in the name of national ideologies, nor to seek victory for the ignorant governments that rule all Arab states, including Iraq,' the statement said."

Meanwhile, the story went out over the wire as "Osama, Iraq 'find common cause'," (the Australian version), "Bin Laden Condemns Iraq Plans" (the BBC), and "Bin Laden Tape Urges Iraqi Suicide Bombs" (ABC News). This last report, however, admitted that Bin Laden denounced Iraq's ruling Ba'ath Socialist Party as "infidels," yet only chose to briefly cite the terrorist leader's rationale objectively aligning himself with the hated Saddamite infidels:

"'It does not harm in these circumstances that the interests of Muslims and socialists crisscross in fighting against the Crusaders,' he said. He urged Iraqis to fight the Americans whether or not Saddam remains in power."

What this message fatally undermines is the administration's whole rationale for a preemptive strike against Iraq: that an alliance of convenience between Al Qaeda and Saddam will supply the former and his operatives worldwide with weapons of mass destruction. Bin Laden, the religious fanatic and sectarian, doesn't ally himself with anyone: only those who fight under the banner of militant Islam deserve support. The rulers of the Arab states, in the Ladenite view, are all apostates and puppets of the U.S. and Israel, and the terrorists' fondest wish is to see them all overthrown – a desire the Ladenites share with our neoconservatve war-birds, who call for the "liberation" and "democratization" of the region at gunpoint.

In his book, The Terror Masters, a veritable manifesto of the War Party (neocon wing), Michael Ledeen calls for "creative destruction" in the Middle East: that is precisely what Bin Laden and his fellow fanatics are joyfully awaiting. With the last remnants of Arab secularism in power – the Ba'athists and the PLO – wiped out in the center of the region, what Norman Podhoretz calls "World War IV" will commence, pitting the U.S. and Israel (with compliant Turkey reluctantly but dutifully tagging along) against the entire Muslim world, personified by Bin Laden.

The lesson of how this story unfolded and is being reported is that truth is irrelevant to our captive news media and putty in the hands of our government. The news is not reported: it is shaped, spun, and molded to fit the party line.

The problem with the effort to shape the news is that the truth eventually comes out, and this process has been greatly accelerated by the advent of the internet. CNN has "excerpts" from the Bin Laden missive, which completely undercut the administration's claim of a "link" between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime:

"It doesn't matter whether the socialist (Ba'ath) party or Saddam disappear…. And it doesn't harm in these conditions the interest of Muslims to agree with those of the socialists in fighting against the crusaders, even though we believe the socialists are infidels. For the socialists and the rulers have lost their legitimacy a long time ago, and the socialists are infidels regardless of where they are, whether in Baghdad or in Aden. ..."

Having succeeded in diverting Americans away from the war on Al Qaeda, and instead focusing on the alleged danger from Iraq, the War Party suddenly finds itself confronted with a rude reminder – and Americans begin to remember a name that our government would like to believe everyone has forgotten: Osama bin Laden.

The first supposedly "full text" translation of Bin Laden’s message comes from the BBC, and it seems to be at variance, in many places, with CNN's. Whole paragraphs seem to have been left out or unaccountably altered in the BBC version, which hardly seems long enough to take up its alleged length of some fifteen minutes. This story is spinning so fast it threatens to unravel before our very eyes….

– Justin Raimondo

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.

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