Osama to Sweden: 'You're Safe!'

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The meme of the moment among the right-wing bloggers—they've already said it a hundred times or so on The Corner—is that Osama bin Laden's new 'Vote or Die' tape sounds an awful lot like Michael Moore. And they're right: He does sound like Michael Moore. Or, at least, like he's been watching Michael Moore.

Frankly, this makes me wonder if the tape is a hoax. I'm no expert, but I was under the impression that bin Laden was more likely to complain about the Reconquista of Iberia than the Florida recounts and the Patriot Act. (At least he didn't mention Kyoto.)

For the record, the CIA has "a high degree of confidence" that the video is real.

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  1. “Frankly, this makes me wonder if the tape is a hoax. I’m no expert, but I was under the impression that bin Laden was more likely to complain about the Reconquista of Iberia than the Florida recounts and the Patriot Act.”

    I took it as a sign that he’s trying to become more politically sophisticated, in the hope of creating a repeat of Spain. Maybe he’s learned a few things from Arafat and Moqtada Al-Sadr’s playbooks. And maybe the popularity of Moore’s flick encouraged him (note to the peanut gallery: I’m not suggesting that was Moore’s intention).

    But I suspect that the majority of Americans won’t pick up on the nuance, and will treat it the same as his older fire-and-brimstone, we’re-gonna-kill-you-all speeches. And most of those who do get the difference in rhetoric won’t give a damn about it.

  2. Eric II, a “repeat of Spain?” I thought the myth of “terrorist determined the outcome of Spain’s election” was laid to rest months ago.

    For the record…

    The Workers Party was way ahead in the polls even before the bombing.

    The Workers Party had been campaigning on a platform of pulling Spanish troops out of Iraq for months.

    The bombings changed neither the outcome of the election, nor the policies of the winning party.

    Are you suggesting, perhaps, that Osama is hoping to give ignorant right wing partisans a way to misinterpret the outcome of the election in a self-serving, though demonstrably wrong, manner? THAT would be a repeat of Spain.

  3. 1. Michael Moore and Osoma bin Ladin have never been seen together.
    2. Michael watches Osoma films.
    3. Osoma must be watching Michael Moore’s films, illegally.
    4. Both men think America is evil and built on evil deeds.
    5. Both men want Bush out of office.
    6. The two men each possess the ideal body-weight-to-height of the other — one being short and fat, the other 6′ 5″ & 160 pounds….
    7. Therefore, nothing…

    Eat Pork! the other white meat.

    Better for you NOT to vote, than to NOT know who you vote for.

    Vote on Wednesday.

    Of course bin Laden would watch Moore’s video about Bush.
    Ammunitiion for the mind to fire upon the masses via media. Recycling works!

    dj of raleigh

  4. The Swedes may be wondering just how “safe” they are. Osama made a veiled threat, after all. “Do things my way OR…”

  5. I took it as a sign that he’s trying to become more politically sophisticated, in the hope of creating a repeat of Spain. Maybe he’s learned a few things from Arafat and Moqtada Al-Sadr’s playbooks. And maybe the popularity of Moore’s flick encouraged him (note to the peanut gallery: I’m not suggesting that was Moore’s intention) –EricII

    That may well be. And I believe his motivation comes from weakness.

  6. I’ve read the transcript and seen bits of the footage on the news, and while i have no insight into the authenticity of the tape, the change in tone is certainly striking. If real, it looks as though Osama has gotten himself new writers. Could it be Adam Pearlman, the American born aQ member who was seen on a tape of his own? Maybe, I recall from Dan Darling’s latest piece over at Winds of Change that Pearlman (or whatever his Muslim name is now, I can’t remeber it) was acting as a sort of advisor on US affairs to aQ. Too bad the new tape doesn’t include credits.

    On the subject of this being a fake, a comment on Roger Simon’s blog explores this idea.

    http://www.rogerlsimon.com/mt-archives/2004/10/okay_bin_laden.php#c24807

  7. How could this video be faked? It’s obviously bin Laden and he says what he says. What’s there to speculate about? Also, bin Laden is not an idiot, and has shown some shrewdness and awareness of Western attitudes in previous videotaped speeches.
    I’m also not surprised he chose Sweden since it was a favorite vacation place for the bin Laden clan when he was a lad.

  8. “Btw, you aren’t accusing me of being a right-wing partisan, are you?”

    No, just your sources.

    “You could make the case that the public backlash towards Aznar’s government had as much or more to do with their initial attempts to blame the attack on the ETA as the government’s position on Iraq”

    Actually, I believe that the meta-issue, of the incumbant’s dishonesty about terrorism, war, and the threats facing the country, was demonstrated nicely by both his eagerness to follow Bush into Iraq and repeat the WMD stories, and by his sleazy attempts to blamd the ETA for the attacks, when he knew that wasn’t true. So I guess you could say that the attacks had the impact of solidifying the public’s existing distrust of the conservative commander in chief, but that certainly is not the point you were making in your first post.

    BTW, polls that are too close to call going into the final weekend, interspersed with the occasional lead for the challanger, indicate that the ruling party is about to be turned out.

  9. I see a change in OBL strategy in this tape, too. Before, he spoke to the US government, or to the country as a whole, trying to manipulate America. Now, he is speaking to the populace, and trying to sow division between the public and the government.

    His lumping of Bush and Kerry together tells me he knows both parties intend to destroy him and his network, and doesn’t see a benefit of picking one over the other. He seems to think that our political leadership is more ruthless than the country as a whole. Ooops.

  10. Seems like OBL to me. The more moderate, Michael Moorish tone was interesting. Could it be that he’s feeling a bit humbled, after we took down his organization in Afghanistan so easily and drove him into hiding for the last few years? And could this be a subtle endorsement of Kerry? “Hey, let’s negotiate! Give in to just a few reasonable demands and we can let each other alone!”

    On the other hand, it’s not the mark of political sophistication to announce news you want covered on a Friday afternoon.

  11. On the other hand, it’s not the mark of political sophistication to announce news you want covered on a Friday afternoon.

    Heh!

  12. “Actually, I believe that the meta-issue, of the incumbant’s dishonesty about terrorism, war, and the threats facing the country, was demonstrated nicely by both his eagerness to follow Bush into Iraq and repeat the WMD stories, and by his sleazy attempts to blamd the ETA for the attacks, when he knew that wasn’t true.”

    All of these things likely played a role, but the polls, protests, and street interviews done in the aftermath of the bombing showed that many Spaniards blamed Aznar’s policies for the attack, and that this blame affected the votes of some of them.

    Ask yourself one question: why did Aznar feel the need to rush to blame the ETA for the attack? Aznar took the risk of rushing to blame the ETA because he knew that he’d be hurt at the polls if it was discovered before Sunday night that Islamists were behind it. And he was.

    “So I guess you could say that the attacks had the impact of solidifying the public’s existing distrust of the conservative commander in chief, but that certainly is not the point you were making in your first post.”

    The point I was making was that OBL was trying to throw an election by convincing the American electorate that the policies espoused by Bush are the reason why they’re being attacked. Much like how the architects of the Madrid bombings wanted to throw an election by convincing the Spanish electorate that Aznar’s policies were putting them at risk.

    Regardless of whether Kerry would do a good job in prosecuting a war against Islamist terrorism, it’s clear that Al-Qaeda and their supporters would view a Bush defeat as a major propoganda victory, just like Aznar’s defeat. I don’t consider that enough of a reason to vote for Bush, but that’s a seperate matter. Unfortunately for him, OBL misreads the mindset of the American electorate in ways that are both flattering and unflattering to Americans.

    Btw, why aren’t you at the parade?

  13. How could it be a fake?

    I have not seen good enough clips to judge any of this, but I can think of at least two plausible ways:

    1. It’s not him. Let’s face it, Bin Laden had pretty extreme features. And the video’s in fuzzy longshot. Would it be THAT hard to fake– in a part of the world where many leaders have doubles?

    2. It’s him, but it’s dubbed. Take a longshot where he’s speaking calmly through his beard. Put in new words that match the movements roughly. Now, maybe a viewing of the real deal will make it obvious that’s not the case. But who’s seen it yet– besides al-Jazeera?

  14. Since I am now officially an election officer (just took custody of the ballots) I won’t comment on any political implications of the tape.

    I will, however, observe that Bin Laden must have a new manager. He’s got a new style, the writing is better, and he’s getting heavy rotation on prime time TV.

    With new management and a new style, I suspect that pretty soon he’ll try to make the leap from TV to film. Expect to see him starring in some of the indie films at North Korea’s next film festival. Anybody know how his merchandise is selling on the “Arab Street”?

  15. Hey, dj of raleigh is back!

  16. I’m moving to Sweden. You can never be too safe!

  17. In looking at the video and translation, I want to point out that what’s important is not what he said but what’s between the lines. Despite what most Americans (and Bush and Kerry) might said, this video is not aimed at Americans, but rather it’s for Arab Muslims. Everything about him is designed to make him look like a head of state and/or a leader of opposition in cultural war againest corrupt, and lavish Arab governments. That’s why he’s behind an important-looking desk, wearing a plain and simple dress that make him looking like a caliph. His language is designed to make him look big in eyes of Arabs,and his moderate tone is meant to make him look politically wise, capable of government in Muslim style. It’s really about winning the hearts and minds of the poor and religious Arabs, rather than scaring the Americans. Also, he’s aiming to drive a wedge between many Eurpoeans and Ameircans by linking Iraq war with Israeli’ army s own poor conduct.

    I doubt he thinks he can turn an election and it really dosen’t matter who wins. They both will continues Iraq War, which just make his job of recruitment much easier. Right now he is positioning himself for a possible role as a leader of general uprising, should it come. Keep in mind, he was a very patient man between 1993 and 2001 attacks on NYC.

  18. I’m surprised that so many fluent Farsi speakers post on this board. All we have is the suspiciously convenient translation that came wit this tape. What’s the Farsi word for “mess with” by the way? Digital audio and video manipulation is so easy in this world & the dramatic improvement in his health suggests to me that in fact, this could have been a very good actor. It would have been more believable if he stuck to his “death to the infidels, restore the caliphate” shtick. The text is like a freeper wet dream.

  19. Farsi? Not Arabic?

  20. If the Freepers would pull their heads out of their asses long enough to quit obsessing over left wing commentators they would see that OBL’s comments are more in line with what Pat Buchanan has been saying for a while now.

    Specifically, “Osama bin Laden and his crew up there in Tora Bora did not stumble on a copy of the Bill of Rights and go berserk that Americans are free in the United States. Read his fatwa, his jihad.” Buchanan said this on the September 12 broadcast of CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, among many other outlets as he was plugging his book, Where the Right Went Wrong: How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency. He goes on to list bin Laden’s three chief reasons for attacking the U.S.; our support of Israel, our military presence in Saudi Arabia and the crippling sanctions against Iraq which bin Laden claims resulted in the death of one million Iraqis.

    It is resoundingly ignorant for Bush to have spent the past two and half years whipping his vicious and small minded crowd of supporters in to a frenzy by telling them that OBL hates freedom, mom and apple pie.

    The world just ain’t that fucking simple.

    My only question is do Freepers intentionally focus their attention on people like Moore in an attempt to ignore the larger issues, or is this inbred short sightedness an unconscious reaction to being wrong all the time?

  21. Disclosure:

    I am one of the original “Osama is Dead” theory holders since about, oh, five minutes after the Tora Bora battle.

    That being said.

    When this tape came out, I was ready to throw in the towel on that theory. I was ready to admit that I was wro… wro… wrong and Bin Laden may be dead.

    But I’d like to think out loud about some things that have been bothering me.

    Does this tape in any way shape or form suddenly seem very ‘worldly’ of Bin Laden? I don’t speak his language, and have not SEEN the tape, but I have read the transcript. Does it strike anyone that *something* is wrong with it? The man goes from spewing out Wahabiist fundamentalism to suddenly talking about obscure political machinations in the United States with references to the Back Street Boys and trivia from Sex and the City.

    What I’m really trying to say is that it’s too clean, too perfect. Highly political. It’s almost as if one of Clinton’s former advisers had him run everything past a focus group before they produced the speech.

    So I have a new and tentative theory. My theory is that the video is old, and whoever the current Al Qaeda gatekeepers are have been preparing this tape for over a year. During the preperation, they released tons of decade old videos of Bin Laden vacationing at the Black Sea, with bad audio purportedly from OBL coupled with it. If OBL was alive, it would have been to their benefit to release a real video of OBL giving reference to time and dated material. But they didn’t. Only audio (usually bad) or irrelevent and non-recent video with (ostensibly) OBL talking over it. Why?

    I’m honestly curious about this– and I’m not coming up with this theory simply because I can’t admit I may be wrong about OBL being dead. I fully admit the possibility with this new tape It’s just that it seems there’s something fishy about this video.

    Paul

  22. You’d also think the audio and picture quality would be better…unless the makers were trying to fudge up a fake. The script sounds like it came from someone who had some familiarity with American politics and pop culture but didn’t quite get it…like John Kerry.

  23. The “worldly” content of this tape is not that new. Doesn’t anybody remember the tape he put out a couple years ago in which he blasted the U.S. by using a number of left-wing talking points, including Bush’s refusal to sign Kyoto?

  24. Yeah, but that tape was kinda dubious too. Mamoun Fandy did a great debunking of it on NPR.

  25. How could this video be faked? It’s obviously bin Laden and he says what he says.

    How could Star Wars be faked? It was obviously Luke Skywalker wielding that light sabre.

    I believe everything I see. It makes life so much simpler. Let’s face it. Thinking can be such a bitch.

  26. “What I’m really trying to say is that it’s too clean, too perfect. Highly political. It’s almost as if one of Clinton’s former advisers had him run everything past a focus group before they produced the speech.”

    Pakistan State Television probably helped in the production. Out side of the whole killing and religion thing I can’t say I really disagree with OBL…get troops out of Saudi Arabia, don’t support Israel and corrupt middle eastern regimes with US tax dollars — ok what am I missing? Had we keep out of it OBL would have limited himself to Saudi Arabia, maybe Egypt and not focused his wrath on us. Also is it lost on anyone about the whole death thing — The Lancet says 100,000 mainly civilian lives lost since we invaded Iraq — OBL’s mayvbe killed 10-15k in his wildest dreams — OBL i s a wicked murder — Bush is someone half the people in this country are gonna vote for — brilliant…

  27. Why not 101,769? The figures have been scrutinized elsewhere and have suffered for it. It didn’t start with 911 – don’t forget the 90’s. OBL sucks and is showing it.

  28. Bin Laden’s new style doesn’t mean that it’s faked. It just means that he’s got better accommodations, and a good satellite TV downlink. I mean, the guy was hiding out in caves before. No wonder he didn’t have any topical pop culture references. Now that he’s well fed and living in the lap of western Pakistani luxury, it’s natural for him to kick back and bone up on what new cultural decay we crazy infidels have come up with recently.

  29. “If OBL was alive, it would have been to their benefit to release a real video of OBL giving reference to time and dated material. But they didn’t.”

    Uh, Paul, if you’d read a transcript of the latest video, you’d know that bin Laden specifically says “Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al Qaeda.” Unless you presume that bin Laden recorded a whole bunch of tapes back in 2001 with the names of every prominent Democrat who might be running for president this year, the Kerry reference is a very strong indicator that the tape was made within at least the last 10 months and more likely the last six.

  30. Ha ha, Raymond. I didn’t know al-Qaeda were special effects masters, but maybe you’re right. Maybe the video was shot in the New Mexico desert by Stanley Kubrick, just like the moon landing (the fact that Kubrick is supposedly dead is just part of the conspiracy). Maybe bin Laden never existed in the first place. Maybe he’s really Andy Kaufman. Maybe everything you’ve ever experienced was beamed into your head by an adolescent space alien as part of a high school science project. I’m glad you got me thinking…

  31. Inside sources at Al Jazeera are telling me that Bin Laden made the recording recently. However, originally when they taped it, a rant against Howard Dean started, which was strange because Osama’s lips weren’t moving. On the second take an Ashlee Simpson song started playing, and once again his lips weren’t moving.

    On the third try he gave a speech that mentioned Kerry, and this time his lips moved in sync with the recording.

    He blamed all the confusion on acid reflux disease.

  32. Maybe everything you’ve ever experienced was beamed into your head by an adolescent space alien as part of a high school science project.

    Here’s an anecdote.

    Long ago in a far-away galaxy, before the Bush Deathstar ruled the universe, there was a teacher. A 6th-grade teacher. An American 6th-grade teacher with a degree in Education, teaching in… an American public school in the US.

    One of his students told me that they were learning all about dinosaurs, and how difficult life was for human beings, what with all those dinosaurs running around trying to eat them.

    The next time I saw this teacher, I couldn’t wait to tell him about this. Kids say the darnedest things and all that.

    “Jim,” I said. (For his name was Jim.) “Little Billy said…” and I proceeded to recount my discussion with little Billy (for that was the child’s name).

    And Jim said: “Yes, that’s what I told them.”

    “Did you really?” I asked. “Where did you get the idea that men and dinosaurs lived at the same time?”

    “Alley Oop.”

    Your tax dollars at work.

    I’m glad you got me thinking…

    It’s what I do.

  33. Uh, Paul, if you’d read a transcript of the latest video, you’d know that bin Laden specifically says “Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al Qaeda.”

    sr:

    I have read the transcript, and re-read my original post… more carefully this time. The only portion of my post which you quoted, was a reference I was making to ALL the previous (and highly disputed) tapes by OBL with 10 year old footage coupled with audio- or ‘recent’ footage, with no reference to dated material. Suddenly, they come out with a new tape and has recent references which (I assume) are properly translated and tied to the video. He could have been releasing one of these types of videos each previous time. But no. They did everything BUT release a relevant video of him. And most of it was poor audio.

    You failed to respond to the primary question I have about all this. What gives? I’m not disputing that he made references to Kerry. But I also don’t speak Arabic- and I haven’t SEEN the tape, I’ve only read the transcript. Does the audio match the video? And why such cagey language? Where’s the old fire and brimstone OBL that we all know and love? I’m looking for deeper meaning here.

    Paul

  34. (Okay, since the subject of the Sweden quote now has a thread of its own, let me try this again – this time with a link to the NYTM column so I don’t look like such a baffoon…)

    He should tell us why we didn’t hit Sweden for instance.

    …and the first thought to pop into my head was: “Sweden? Did he say Sweden? You mean, the ‘country that has no army?’

    JMJ

    P.S. The “Sweden” reference is about a quarter of the way into the column.

  35. so I don’t look like such a baffoon…)

    You didn’t look like a buffoon.

    People were joking with w@whitehouse.gov , who had posted the Sweden comment on another thread.

    (ps – “Oh. You live in Switzerland. What a coincidence. My mother-in-law is Swedish.”

    An accurate quote.)

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