Man Without Qualities

Monday, June 24, 2002

Having a Wonderful Time...?

There is some expressed skepticism now emerging about assertions that al Qaeda has not been severely damaged.

However, there has not been any effort by the Administration to challenge such assertions and the related assertions that bin Laden and other al Qaeda and Taliban leaders are "alive and well."

It is understandable that the Administration would not mount a campaign to refute such assertions, since there is presumably some strategic and political advantage in emphasizing the immediacy of the al Qaeda threat. The assertions may also be consistent with - or at least not clearly inconsistent with - what the what Administration knows, and much of that knowledge is almost certainly not possessed by the public and the media.

But it is less understandable that the media have not pointed out some rather odd aspects of these al Qaeda assertions.

Specifically, if bin Laden and Omar are free, alive and well, why have they not released a single videotape of themselves which was unequivocally created in the last month or so? There are clearly doubts about bin Laden's continued health and even his existence - the al Qaeda assertions that he is "alive and well" were clearly released to address exactly those doubts. Such doubts must have a severe affect on al Qaeda morale.

But don't such public assertions made without confirming, recent videotapes of these two men just tend to reinforce the opposite: that bin Laden and Omar are dead or seriously sick or wounded? Why would al Qaeda not release such tapes if they could? And what would stop them from making and releasing such tapes if bin Laden and Omar are actually "alive and well," as al Qaeda claims Regular release of such tapes had previously been part of al Qaeda's standard operating procedure - why has that changed if not that the tapes simply cannot be made?

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