Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Where's Osama?

Like this fellow, I've wondered why it has been three years since Osama bin Laden has released a video that bore any signs of having been made contemporaneously. My hunch is that he's dead. Otherwise, such a lengthy silence would be entirely out of character.

That, however, raises the question: Why didn't George Bush or Dick Cheney even attempt to respond when Kerry and Edwards claimed -- in each of four debates -- that Osama had somehow escaped Afghanistan alive and unharmed? As has been said before, even if you think that Bush has the most venal and opportunistic motives for everything that he does, he would still have made every effort to capture Osama simply for the extraordinary political advantage. The charge is just silly, and should have been easy to answer, especially by the fourth debate.

So why did Bush and Cheney hold back on responding to that charge?

UPDATE: As pointed out in comments, it might be because Osama was killed long ago and Bush doesn't want to give any hints for fear of making him into a martyr.

This seems plausible to me. Another thought I had was that Osama has been captured -- perhaps even at Tora Bora -- and Bush doesn't want to reveal that fact because (1) Al Qaeda might then be motivated to threaten terrorist attacks to gain Osama's release and (2) Osama is providing valuable intelligence, even unwittingly.


Blogger Fredrik Nyman said...

I think Matthew Heidt's explanation (that I got by way of Powerline) makes sense:

BEGIN EXCERPT:You hadn't heard? Well, I'm not breaking news, President Bush knows damn well that UBL has been dead for quite some time. But why would Bush keep it to himself? If he were to disclose his knowledge that UBL is dead he would blow John Kerry's doors off in the election, and yet he remains silent. Why?

Maybe you're wondering how I know he's dead. Perhaps one of my SEAL buddies let me in on the secret? NO. I know because a publicity whore and grandstanding scumbag like UBL could not possibly resist the multitude of opportunites to inspire his cult members. His number 1, Zwahiri, has appeared on video or audio broadcasts every few months since 9/11. UBL has not been heard from since Tora Bora despite developments in the GWOT in Afghanistan and Iraq that make it unthinkable for him to have remained silent.

Zawahiri decided that it was better to just pretend that UBL was alive because there was no plausible martyr story to tell. UBL went out running for his life like a coward. He is dead.

By why not make it public? After all, this is the one thing that could ensure the President's re-election. Because the President knows that making UBL a martyr would serve to further inspire his minions, and he realizes that preventing this from happening is more important than his re-election. Instead, UBL remains forever silent even as his recruits yearn to hear his voice. Eventually these cultists will realize themselves that UBL went out like a punk, not a martyr and that the AQ head shed has been lying to them for years. That realization combined with US combat boots knocking their teeth down their throats will go a long way to beating this cult into submission. But it is important to recognize that the President's committment to killing terrorists supercedes his committment to his own re-election.
END EXCERPT:(You really need to enable blockquote)

11:31 AM  
Blogger Bob Taylor said...

The best explanation of no response to the insults of Kedwards is that to do so would either endanger some other diplomatic endeavor, or compromise an intelligence asset - a problem neither of the Kedwards have because they can't be bothered to take the time for their offered intelligence briefings.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Sister Sunshine said...

Fascinating conjecture!

8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems highly unlikely that OBL is missing from al Qaeda ranks and they don't know about it. And if they knew about it, they'd be acting on the information in the ways you describe.

It seems even more unlikely that the U.S. could capture OBL and actually keep a lid on it. Too many people involved, too many chances for leaks, too much glory at stake.

Besides which, the intelligence, security and diplomatic arguments you mention should apply just as well to the capture of Saddam, and we knew about that within hours.

OBL's silence could be because he is ever more sensitive to the risks that attend recording audio or video missives and shuttling them to news agencies. Or perhaps he's ailing audibly or visibly and so such broadcasting such recordings would be to poor "public relations" effect.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To think that OBL has been captured or killed and the U.S. is keeping that information under wraps is ludicrous for two reasons.

First, it would be impossible to keep such information from leaking to our 24/7 hypersensitive media outlets.

Second, this is a tight election year where the so called war on terror is the ultimate issue and Bush is receiving tremendous criticism for his efforts. The last thing his administration and spin police would do is cover up any positive OBL news.

10:55 AM  

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