|Subj:||Fw: Konformist: CIA's Funniest Home Video?|
|Date:||12/17/01 10:28:32 AM Pacific Standard Time|
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From: "robalini" <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2001 9:29 AM
Subject: Konformist: CIA's Funniest Home Video?
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Editor, The Konformist
CIA's Funniest Home Video?
If you have RealAudio, you can listen to some analyses of the
preposterous Osama bin Laden "confession" video.
You might detect desperation in the voices of the BBC interviewers as
they seek to dispel doubt about the video's authenticity. I did.
The video itself is here:
Problems with the tape:
- Its poor audio quality (so poor many native Arabic speakers claim
not to be able to make it out) - The English language subtitles the
US government insisted putting on it before releasing it
Then there are some other practical concerns:
- Why would someone who has managed to so skillfully elude the US for
years and years suddenly become so sloppy about his security to the
point that he would permit a video of a confession to serious crime
be made and then duplicated?
(It's especially strange since the only time bin Laden has been
credibly quoted on the subject of 9-11, he categorically denied
involvement in it.)
- The conversation is strangely stilted. It's almost as if it were
conducted with the purpose in mind of checking off a check list of
topics that support various cover stories that have been floated to
explain the unexplainable. "Hijackers in the dark as to their real
mission" - check, "Jet fuel expected to burn hot and cause structural
damage" - check. (Too bad Osama didn't explain how he managed to get
the US air defense to stand down that day. Now THAT would have been
- When would bin Laden and his buddies have had the time or peace of
mind to loll about at a relaxed dinner party between September 11 and
now? (When do they say this thing was shot anyway?)
- The appearance of this video in an abandoned house just as the war
appears to the in the mop up stage is hugely convenient and therefore
suspicious on the face of it
- Why can't bin Laden's personal videographer afford a better video
camera? There's no reason for the quality of the audio to be so
unclear. There's no interfering noise and the distance between the
cameraman and the speakers does not appear to be large. If the point
was to capture the statement of responsibility in order to rally the
troops with a mass duplicated video why not shoot it properly? Surely
bin Laden has the money for a proper camcorder and thanks to a
special CIA media project from the 1980s, there are plenty of old
Mujahedin around who know the ins and outs of shooting battlefield
The BBC article: "Arabs split on Bin Laden tape" if read with any
degree of care will reveal that the only evidence that the tape and
its translation are authentic is the assurance of unnamed US
government sources. Otherwise, every aspect of this production is
open for study.
Is it me or are these guys just getting more and more preposterous in
their attempts to justify themselves? They don't even seem to be
trying to make up good lies any more.
Osama Video Seems 'Too Good
To Be True' Says Pravda
By Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey
"Why such potentially damning evidence should have been left in a
house in Kandahar, conveniently discovered after a supposed victory
by the US-led alliance, giving for the first time the only real
evidence against Osama Bin Laden, is highly-suspicious."
The interviews took place in Afghanistan, the first in October with
the Qatar-based Arab TV station, Al-Jazeera, and in November, filmed
by an 'amateur', found in a house in Jalalabad. The first interview
was never revealed, or shown, due to a secret agreement between
Richard Cheney and the Emir of Qatar. The second is - strange.
The first is an exclusive interview between a frightened Al-Jazeera
reporter and an exultant and defiant Osama Bin Laden which took place
in Afghanistan on 20th October, the contents of which were used by
British Prime Minister Tony Blair on 14th November, in his public
accusation that Osama Bin Laden was behind the September 11th
The video reached the British and US governments through the work of
their respective secret services, after they discovered that a video
of the interview had been made and distributed throughout the Middle
East, whose leaders are reported to be increasingly worried about the
growing influence of Al-Jazeera in the area. Contacts from the
British and US secret services obtained copies of the video, which
has never been shown.
Al-Jazeera decided not to broadcast the interview after a private
meeting took place in October between US Vice President Richard
(Dick) Cheney, and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin-Khalifah Al
Thani. The Qatar royal family finances Al-Jazeera and has close ties
with the USA.
In the interview, an aggressive and determined Osama Bin Laden
refuses to answer the reporterís questions and he himself dictates
the theme of the discourse. He manages again to portray his message
that the attacks against America were justified by this countryís
support for Israel, which stole lands from the Palestinians and
continues its campaign of terror today.
He declares that ìthe battle has been moved to inside America and we
must continue until we win this battle, or die for the cause and meet
our Creatorî. Linking these attacks with their cause, he declared
ìEvil terror is that which America and Israel are practising against
our people, and what we are practising is good terror which will stop
them from doing what they doî.
Osama Bin Laden and Islamist extremists have tried to explain the
cause behind the international terrorist movement with the
justification that while Israel refuses to adhere to UN Resolutions
which instruct this country to leave the Palestinian lands it
occupied and to cease the practice of building colonies on them,
settled by Jews, the stakes would be raised in their fight to claim
back the lands which were taken from them.
However, there is nothing concrete in this interview which
incriminates Osama Bin Laden, the references to the September 11th
attacks being too vague, and after the event.
In the second video, which mysteriously appears in a private house in
Jalalabad, filmed by an amateur and screened on Sky News on Thursday,
the evidence incriminating Osama Bin Laden in the terrorist attacks
on September 11th would be devastating - at face value.
However, Arabic-speaking Pravda.Ru contacts were present watching
this video clip and it can be stated that what was claimed and seen
are two different things. What was seen were video shots of Osama Bin
Laden (no doubt it was him, unless the video industry used its best
technicians to produce a professional-looking montage), speaking in
the distance with a group of fellows, talking about the September
11th events in great detail.
Whether or not the voice was his can be debatable. The Arabic-
speaking contact of Pravda.Ru in Lisbon pointed out that anyone could
have dubbed on the voices because there are no close-ups of the lips
of the people while speaking. What he could hear was a lot of
mumbling and during the mumbling, the supposed translation comes up
with some incriminating phrases.
Why such potentially damning evidence should have been left in a
house in Kandahar, conveniently discovered after a supposed victory
by the US-led alliance, giving for the first time the only real
evidence against Osama Bin Laden, is highly suspicious.
Also suspicious is the fact that Osama Bin Laden mentioned names of
those held responsible for the hijackings. If Osama Bin Laden has the
means and intelligence to fight the Soviet Union during ten years, to
play cat and mouse with the USA for another ten years and to see the
Taleban walking home, armed after what was supposed to be one of the
mightiest military attacks in history, himself only he knows where,
the second video seems too good to be true.
Proof Or A Fake? World
Divided Over Bin Laden Tape
LONDON (Reuters) - Nations backing the U.S.-led fight against
terrorism pointed to a videotape of Osama bin Laden on Friday as
damning evidence to nail him conclusively as the mastermind behind
the suicide attacks on the United States.
Many ordinary Muslims, however, dismissed the videotape as a fake,
saying it was yet another U.S. ploy to sully his name and detract
attention from rising tension in the Middle East where Israel has cut
ties with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
Official reaction in many Muslim states, mindful of restive public
opinion at home, was muted or circumspect at best.
Germany, Britain, Japan and Saudi Arabia were among the first to
accept the videotape of the Saudi-born Islamic militant released by
the Pentagon on Thursday as authentic.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and British Foreign Secretary
Jack Straw said the videotape proved without doubt bin Laden was
behind the September 11 attacks which killed nearly 3,300 people, and
vindicated the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.
``The video is authentic. It proves that bin Laden and his terror
band were behind this,'' Schroeder told reporters at a European Union
summit in Belgium.
``Any last doubts about the necessity of the fight against this kind
of terrorism have been removed,'' he added.
In the tape, bin Laden appears chatting with top aide Ayman al-
Zawahri, an Egyptian, and a man identified by U.S. officials as a
Sheikh Sulaiman of Saudi origin, praising the attacks and saying he
did not expect them to inflict so much damage.
He also makes a specific reference to Egyptian Mohamed Atta as being
in charge of the mission in which hijacked airliners plowed into the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
In Tokyo, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, the top
government spokesman, told a news conference:
``We believe that the video provides evidence for his (bin Laden's)
involvement in the attacks.''
Among the scant official Muslim reaction, Saudi Arabia's ambassador
to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz was
``The tape displays the cruel and inhumane face of a murderous
criminal who has no respect for the sanctity of human life or the
principles of his faith,'' he said.
In the United Arab Emirates, Information Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin
Zaid al-Nahayan said: ``There is no doubt in my mind that bin Laden
was behind those operations.''
But ordinary Muslims from the Caucasus to the Indian Ocean branded
the tape a fake.
Chechen rebels, accused by Russia of complicity with bin Laden,
questioned the authenticity of a tape, saying on their kavkaz.org web
site that it raised more questions than answers.
``The quality of the tape was quite bad,'' it said. ``Modern
technology makes it possible to alter any taped sound.''
In Pakistan, the Jamaat-e-Islami party said even the U.S. media had
expressed doubts about the tape.
``This is totally manufactured. It's a drama,'' party spokesman
Amirul Azeem told Reuters in Islamabad.
The Pakistani government issued no formal reaction but a Foreign
Ministry official, who wished to remain anonymous, said Pakistan
needed no convincing over bin Laden's guilt.
Doubts over the videotape were expressed by both moderate and
militant Islamic groups in Indonesia, the world's most populous
``I am sick with its (U.S.) propaganda to cover up their war crimes
in Afghanistan,'' said Muhammad Rizieq, leader of the radical Islamic
Defenders Front. ``You know Americans have all the technology. Making
up a videotape is so easy for them.''
The more moderate Nahdlatul Ulama group, which has some 40 million
members, was also critical.
``Is Osama the culprit? It still looks rather doubtful, doesn't it?''
said the group's leader Hasyim Muzadi.
In Malaysia, government leaders in the mainly Muslim nation remained
silent, but Muslim opposition party members dismissed the tape as a
In Arab states, some called the tape a distraction from the Israeli-
``The tape... is irrelevant since Arabs have already condemned the
attacks in the United States. The focus now should be on Sharon and
his criminal acts against the Palestinians, which the U.S. is
ignoring,'' an Omani university lecturer said.
December 14, 2001
The Camera That Couldn't Shoot Straight
By Yusuf Agha
After days of anticipation, television viewers the world over
witnessed the grand premiere of the mystery tape in which, according
to British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, "bin Laden confirms his
guilt" and consequently "totally vindicates the action that we, the
U.S. and the international coalition have taken in Afghanistan."
The tape, the proverbial smoking gun, was found late November in a
house in Jalalabad under circumstances enshrouded in mystery. The
Pentagon which, apparently, spent two weeks agonizing over its
release, proffered the tape to the networks with a translation of the
The Pentagon gives us the setting for the tape. "In mid-November,
Osama bin Laden spoke to a room of supporters, possibly in Kandahar,
A paraplegic Sheikh visits bin Laden. "We came from Kabul", he tells
his host. "We asked the driver to take us, it was a night with a full
moon." Later, he places the conversation in context to "this holy
month of Ramadan". The full moon of Ramadan occurred around the 30th
of November, not mid-November - exactly around the time the tape was
The transportation service in war-ravaged Afghanistan must be
extraordinary. First, the tape moves from Kandahar to Jalalabad at a
speed that would make Fedex envious!
Then, our paralyzed tourist, who regrets he could not move between
mosques in Mecca to gauge reactions because "My movements were truly
limited," conveniently transports himself from Kabul to Kandahar at a
most inconsiderate time for travelers. The Northern Alliance
surrounds Kabul looking for 'Arab Taliban', and as the on November
30th edition of Dawn (Pakistan) reports: "Near the southern city of
Kandahar, more marines and equipment have been ferried in to bring
their strength to slightly more than 1,000, (Pentagon's) Clarke said
in a Thursday briefing."
But the marvels of Afghan communication do not cease there. Ten
thousand bombs have had little effect on the luxuries in the valley,
for as Sulayman (Abu Guaith) tells us: "I was sitting with the Shaykh
in a room, then I left to go to another room where there was a TV
set. The TV broadcasted the big event." Osama tunes in to the radio,
Sulayman is on the TV. Maybe Ali was on the internet? Ah! Thank
goodness for AT&T Broadband!
Mazar-i-Sharif has fallen, Kabul has been captured, and the world
reacts with horror at the great massacre at Qala-i-Jhangi. But while
both CNN and Fox blurt out 24 hours on news of the war, Osama appears
calm and unruffled - and the historic conversation does not drift to
the war at all!
And then comes the glaring confession - the Christmas wrapped
pronouncement that will allow Mr. Ashcroft to nail bin Laden to the
military tribunal door.
Osama narrates from the prosecutor's dream script: "We calculated in
advance the number of casualties We calculated that the floors that
would be hit ... I was the most optimistic of them all.
(...Inaudible...) Due to my experience in this field, I was thinking
that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure
of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit ..."
Lead the prisoner out, General, the firing squad is ready!
The damnation continues: "We were at (...inaudible...) when the event
took place. We had notification since the previous Thursday that the
event would take place that day. We had finished our work that day
and had the radio on. It was 5:30 p.m. our time."
"Our time!" An editorial comment so as not to confuse the average
American reader, who will be confused that the attack commenced at
8:30 AM EST.
Ask yourself this: Have you ever created a home video where the
effects were this bad? Here is OBL with his billions of dollar funds,
and all he gets for Christmas is this Video Camera that can't shoot
"The tape was of such poor quality and Bin Laden's words so difficult
to discern that viewers took away from it what they wanted," writes
Michael Slackman for the LA Times. He continues with a quote from one
Rashwan from the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies
in Cairo. "'It's a real scandal,' he said, laughing. Bin Laden is a
multimillionaire, a man said to posses extraordinary technological
capabilities, a man who released previous videos that were slick and
well produced, he said, so how could this be his work? "
He continues: "But Rashwan also saw other problems in the tape: When
a visitor from Saudi Arabia arrives, his voice is clear and there are
frequent close-ups. But Bin Laden's voice is always muffled and the
camera never zooms in on him."
Truly, the sound is atrocious. In many parts, the transcript
reads: "OBL: (...Inaudible...)," and to add to the poor quality of
audio, a persistent cough permeates the background. Hafiz al-Mazari
of Al-Jazeera TV, appearing on ABC's nightline, talked about problems
of voice and video synchronization.
Mr. Mazari also mentioned that he had interviewed Mr. Ashcroft three
days prior to its release, but the Attorney General admitted he had
not seen the tape. Apparently it did not pose enough interest to
America's chief prosecutor!
To add further confusion to the already murky audio, video and poor
translation, the sequence of the events is reversed on the tape. It
begins with the end of the visit, a helicopter site visit occupies
the middle, and the ending sequence of the tape brings up the
beginning of the visit!
And then there is the constant riddle why the tape was left lying
around so carelessly, after all the pains to film it at a moment of
siege, by a man reported to be so paranoid, and rightly so, that he
does not sleep in the same place twice.
Indeed, those who were convinced of bin Laden's guilt from the day
Mr. Bush declared he was wanted 'Dead or alive', find their belief
strengthened by the mystery tape. As Judith Miller of the NY times
writes, "What now seems indisputable after the release of the tape is
Mr. bin Laden's responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks."
Those caught in between, are still doubtful. Charles Shoebridge,
reporting in London's Guardian believes "The video is not quite the
smoking gun the Americans claim it to be."
Can it be entirely coincidental that the tape was found so shortly
after the US government sought the cooperation of Hollywood to assist
it in its War on Terror? The Australian daily The Age poses the
question: "If computer-generated graphics can fake Forrest Gump
shaking President John F Kennedy's hand and the late John Wayne
hawking beer, how can viewers be sure that a videotape of Osama bin
Laden bragging about the September 11 attacks is real?"
If this was indeed a Hollywood production, one cannot but regret that
instead of modeling its magnum opus on visual effects of The Matrix
or The Mummy (quite appropriate in the Arab context of bin Laden),
they chose the Blair Witch Project instead.
Yusuf Agha lives in Boston, MA.
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