I remembered reading at least one columnist declare that Bin Laden was dead some time ago, so I decided to search for the article. I couldn’t find the piece I was looking for, but along the way I found some interesting quotes that today bear repeating.
Mark Steyn definitely wins the prize for having the most egg on his face.
As for this Bush-failed-to-get-bin-Laden business, 2-1/2 years ago I declared that Osama was dead and he’s never written to complain. There’s no more evidence for his present existence than there is for the Loch Ness monster, which at least does us the courtesy of showing up as a indistinct gray blur on a photograph every now and again. Osama is lying low because he’s in no condition to get up.
Oh well, Mark — you can’t win ’em all. In the NY Post, Amir Taheri, too, has cause to be embarrassed. This is really precious.
With none of those labels having stuck to Bush, another conspiracy kite has been flown: the claim that Bush is cooking a big surprise to be sprung in October. Perhaps the sudden introduction of Osama bin Laden, the fugitive terrorist, on television just days before the election. We’ve been told that bin Laden was arrested months ago in Pakistan but kept on ice on Bush’s orders to be conjured, like a rabbit out of the magician’s hat, in October…… Well, there will be no “October Surprise,” and bin Laden, as far as I know, has been dead since December 2001 (despite CIA claims to the contrary, based on a couple of dubious audiotapes attributed to bin Laden).
Finally, at Democratic Underground, a writer known as The Plaid Adder prophecies exactly what transpired, but writes it off as most likely being absurd.
For instance, producing Osama bin Laden on October 31st would certainly be a nifty surprise for them; but frankly I don’t believe they can do it. This administration’s incompetence in matters of intelligence gathering and foreign policy has been shown up at every stage of the Iraq campaign. Why should we assume that the same team that actually did not bother to put together a plan for the occupation before they started the war could also manage to finally get their mitts on the man who has been either dead or eluding them for the past three years?
Plaid Adder, oh ye of little faith! Don’t be surprised if, on Tuesday, Pakistan captures Bin laden just in time for the Today Show. If you can imagine it, Rove can do it!
(And no, I don’t really believe Osama’s sudden return yesterday was a Karl Rove trick. I do believe it was Osama trying to make sure shrub gets re-elected so al Qaeda and other terrorists can thrive. You almost expected to hear after Bin Laden’s ravings, “I’m George W. Bush, and I approve this message.” Bin Laden is smart; this was no accident. Brilliant, and it really could throw the election back to bush. Maybe.)
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.