My first reaction to the new Osama tape mirrors the point others have raised. Why is there no new terror alert as a result of this recording? During the election, we had plenty of 'em; they kept a sector of the populace in a constant state of anxiety. Since then -- well, correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I can recall, there have been no alerts whatsoever.
Some have also questioned whether the tape is real. Even if the voice is that of Osama Bin Laden, it could still be a fake, thanks to advances in technology. Check out this Washington Post
piece from 1999:
"Gentlemen! We have called you together to inform you that we are going to overthrow the United States government." So begins a statement being delivered by Gen. Carl W. Steiner, former Commander-in-chief, U.S. Special Operations Command.
At least the voice sounds amazingly like him.
But it is not Steiner. It is the result of voice "morphing" technology developed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
By taking just a 10-minute digital recording of Steiner's voice, scientist George Papcun is able, in near real time, to clone speech patterns and develop an accurate facsimile. Steiner was so impressed, he asked for a copy of the tape.
I have no way of knowing if this technology has been applied to any Bin Laden recording. But no-one can deny that the article referenced above raises unnerving possibilities.
A manipulation of this sort would explain why Osama has recently shown a tendency to say what Republicans would like
him to say. He discusses polls in America
. He no longer dwells on obscure (to Americans) points of Islamic history or theology.
Faked audiotapes and television broadcasts were prophesied by Dr. Steven Metz and Lieutenant Colonel James Kievit (of the Army War College) in their extraordinary 1994 document The Revolution in Military Affairs and Conflict Short of War
, which is one of those revealing "think" pieces the Pentagon probably wishes had never seen a public release. You can read the file here
Interesting, wasn't it, how an Osama communication hit the public in late 2004 -- just in time to help deep-six John Kerry's chances?
By the way, you may be interested to learn that rightists have put this latest development to typically bad use. This conservative blog
includes the following observation:
Sounds to me like raising a white flag without admitting defeat. I am sure all the lefties will jump on it and agree with Osama's "opinion" (or more likely an attempt at creating deeper fissures between left and right in the US) that it is big business that supports Bush and the war. Um, excuse me, but there was a little matter of the destruction of the WTC and damage to the Pentagon and loss of three planes and thousands of innocent civilians...
I am forever struck by the contrast between the way right-wingers think
we think and the way we actually do
think. This boob, like many of his boob brethren, actually believes that progressives want to do business with Osama Bin Laden. Anyone who studies this blog knows that -- to the contrary -- I've consistently damned Bush for not capturing him, and for coddling the Saudis who have supported Al Qaeda. I've damned the Bush administration for ignoring warnings of the WTC disaster and for not conducting a genuine investigation of how the hijackers moved about this country so freely. And, because the enemy of your enemy is not
always your friend, I've damned the Reagan/Bush I administrations for supporting Bin Laden's efforts against the Russians.
Scan the Democratic Underground
responses and you will see many insults hurled toward Bush but not one iota of support for Bin Laden.
Alas, conservative fantasists will believe precisely what they want
to believe -- and apparently, they want to believe that Democrats wear "I like Osama" t-shirts. Folks who view reality as a malleable commodity can be described in one word: Nuts.