Thursday, May 12, 2005
  No More Coffee for Bin Laden
By Anthony Wade

The news came out two weeks ago. The Bush White House got busted when they decided to stop publishing an annual report on international terrorism after the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the first year the publication covered such data. After five years of blustering and posturing from the cowboy in the Oval Office, he has managed to make the terrorism problem worse than it has ever been, in 19 years. Not exactly the press Bush was looking for.

How bad was 2004? The National Counterterrorism Center reported to the State Department that there were 625 "significant" terrorist attacks in 2004. In 2003, there was only 175 such incidents. These are the numbers that defy the Bush mantra of “smokin em out” and the repeated lie that we are winning this war on terror. Faced with these sobering numbers the Bushies do what they do best, they lie. They attempted to eliminate these statistics, prompting Congressman Waxman to correctly admonish:

"This is the definitive report on the incidence of terrorism around the world. It should be unthinkable that there would be an effort to withhold it - or any of the key data - from the public. The Bush administration should stop playing politics with this critical report."

Fast forward to this past week and the Bush White House had been coming under a fair share of criticism for this report and the apparent failed “war on terror”. Suddenly, there was good news! The report from the White House is that Pakistan, our alleged ally, had captured the number three person in Al Qaeda! We all watched in hushed tones as they announced the capture of…Abu Faraj al-Libbi.


Apparently, being third in command of Al Qaeda is akin to being the guy in the red shirt in any landing party from the original Star Trek series. Just like when you saw Kirk and Spock going to the transporter with a guy you never saw before you just knew he wasn’t coming back, whenever there is a key arrest in the war on terror, rest assured it is the third in command of Al Qaeda. I was never this cynical before Bush, but who can blame me? The number one guy in Al Qaeda is bin Laden. You know he can’t be caught because then he won’t be available to release a scary video before the next major election. The second in command is Zarqawi and we can’t catch him because he is too valuable a boogeyman to blame things on when something goes wrong in Iraq. That leaves the third guy. Like that third Tenor you can never remember, the third guy in Al Qaeda has been captured, or was he?

If you followed the GOP disinformation machine, you could have sworn this was the third most lethal man on the planet. Many hailed this as proof of progress in the failed war on terror. Bush wasted no time, milking the moment:

"Al-Libbi is a top general for bin Laden. He was a major facilitator and a chief planner for the al Qaeda network. His arrest removes a dangerous enemy who was a direct threat to America and to those who love freedom."

Well, not so fast Georgie. It turns out that this was not the third in command of Al Qaeda. In fact, intelligence experts referred to Libby as a middle-ranker derided by one source as “among the flotsam and jetsam” of the organization. Hmm, that is quite different than what we were told now isn’t it? I mean Libbi was described a “critical victory in the war on terror” and “major breakthrough in the hunt for Osama bin Laden”. Now, it sounds like Libbi was no closer to bin Laden than lets say, we are.

No, it turns out that Libby was not even on the FBI most wanted list, nor on the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program. Strange for such a top guy, no? It has now been reported by a former close associate of Bin Laden living in London: “What I remember of him is he used to make the coffee and do the photocopying.” Ok, apparently we caught, Al Qaeda’s clerk. A senior FBI official has now admitted that, al-Libbi’s “influence and position may have been overstated”. Do you think?

Prior to this admission, the lamest excuse imaginable was offered by an American official trying to explain his absence from the most wanted list by saying, “We did not want him to know he was wanted.” Wow.

This is the GOP disinformation machine at its best though. Faced with its failed war and the pressures from the report on terrorism, they concocted a story about arresting the number three guy in al Qaeda, knowing full well, they actually caught the al Qaeda pizza delivery guy. Their media machine ran with it. It was the lead story on all evening news. It was the topic du jour on all the talk radio circuit. Right-wing talking heads immediately were praising the war on terror and demanding the naysayers apologize. Soon, it moved to prime time as all cable news shows ran with it. What we had was a week of free propaganda for the President and his war.

Then, after the smoke clears, it turns out they were lying all along. Quietly, an unnamed official admits the arrest was overstated. The media does not provide similar coverage; instead what has resonated in the minds of Americans is that we nabbed the number three guy in al Qaeda. We didn’t. We got his secretary apparently and in the mind of George W. Bush, that is a major victory in the war on terror.

I can understand that rationale. With Libby safely in custody, who is going to make the coffee for al Qaeda?
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Samizdat: an underground system for the circulation of forbidden works of literature and political criticism in the Soviet era of Russia.

Location: Arkansas, United States

Angry, angry, angry ... but still, any day above ground is a good day.