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29 Oktober 2004 @ 12:47
Osama or Karl?  

An article in my morning paper reports on a videotape containing new warnings of imminent terrorist attacks:

The tape featured what was claimed to be an American member of Al Qaeda declaring — in English — that "the streets of America will run red with blood."

ABC, which has held the tape since Monday while it tried to authenticate it, acted after being told by the CIA the video bears "all the trademarks of an Al Qaeda production," reporter Brian Ross said on air.

Maybe I'm turning into a paranoid conspiracy theorist. On the other hand, surely one needn't be paranoid to distrust the CIA and the teevy nooze? At any rate, my first thought was that this bears all the hallmarks of a Karl Rove production. Listen:

The speaker, whose face is obscured by a headdress and who is identified only as "Azzam the American," says on the videotape: "My fellow countrymen, you are guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty. You are as guilty as Bush and Cheney. You're as guilty as Rumsfeld and Ashcroft and Powell."


He makes references to comedian Bill Maher, who once said suicide attackers were less cowardly than long-distance cruise missile launchers, and 9/11 Commission chair Thomas Kean.

I haven't seen the tape. I haven't heard the tape. But doesn't this sound like precisely the message the Bush administration would like everybody to hear right now? That more terrorist attacks are on the way; that Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Ashcroft and Powell are on the side of the innocent American victims; that Bill Maher and Thomas Kean and all the other voices of anything like dissent are somehow giving aid and comfort to The Terrorists? (Honestly, al Qaeda citing a comedian? Militant fundamentalism is inherently incompatible with a sense of humour.)

This much is clear: the videotape was made and released by a group committed to the cause of perpetual war. So it's definitely either al Qaeda or the Bush team....

Nuværende humør: cynicalcynical
stollman on 29. Oktober, 2004 21:54 (UTC)
There's certainly room to wonder about where the tape came from. The CIA both says that it has "all the trademarks" and that they "have been unable to verify the tape's authenticity" and that there are "real questions about its authenticity".

The tape hasn't been leaked in it's entirety, so it's hard to do any original research on it.

My current theory, based on the fact that it's got Arabic voiceover and other technical nice-to-haves, is that either the GOP or someone who thinks of themselves as Al Qaeda produced it, which wasn't cheap. If the GOP, it was intended as an October surprise kind of dealy. If Al Qaeda, it was intended NOT for consumption by the american public, but for use as a recruiting or morale-boosting tool. "See, listen to Azzam, the American, while he tells you how evil they all are over there." Either way, it's a PR tool, nothing more.
stollman on 29. Oktober, 2004 22:05 (UTC)
Oooh.. or I just thought of this. Maybe it's a fundraising scam.

You are some random guy, you get a couple of friends together with a bit of video production equipment... you put together this tape showing the mysterious "Al Qaeda operative", Azzam the American, telling the american people that they are going to pay in blood.

Then you put on your best "I'm a highly competent radical organizer" persona and start circulating the tape among likely-to-be-sympathetic people, and tell them that you can take donations (money, or weapons (which you can then sell for money)) and pass them along to "Azzam" and his cohorts to help fight the good fight.

Then you take the money and run.

Of course, locating the tape is a boon to the bush campaign, but thinking that they produced it isn't my theory of choice at the moment.
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 29. Oktober, 2004 22:21 (UTC)

Surely there are easier ways of rustling up some money to run with, though? And the timing of the appearance of the tape is just too perfect. This reeks of Rove to my nose.

From Joshua Green's article on Rove in The Atlantic:

A typical instance occurred in the hard-fought 1996 race for a seat on the Alabama Supreme Court between Rove's client, Harold See, then a University of Alabama law professor, and the Democratic incumbent, Kenneth Ingram. According to someone who worked for him, Rove, dissatisfied with the campaign's progress, had flyers printed up—absent any trace of who was behind them—viciously attacking See and his family. "We were trying to craft a message to reach some of the blue-collar, lower-middle-class people," the staffer says. "You'd roll it up, put a rubber band around it, and paperboy it at houses late at night. I was told, 'Do not hand it to anybody, do not tell anybody who you're with, and if you can, borrow a car that doesn't have your tags.' So I borrowed a buddy's car [and drove] down the middle of the street … I had Hefty bags stuffed full of these rolled-up pamphlets, and I'd cruise the designated neighborhoods, throwing these things out with both hands and literally driving with my knees." The ploy left Rove's opponent at a loss. Ingram's staff realized that it would be fruitless to try to persuade the public that the See campaign was attacking its own candidate in order "to create a backlash against the Democrat," as Joe Perkins, who worked for Ingram, put it to me. Presumably the public would believe that Democrats were spreading terrible rumors about See and his family. "They just beat you down to your knees," Ingram said of being on the receiving end of Rove's attacks. See won the race.
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 29. Oktober, 2004 21:57 (UTC)

Here's some similar speculation from Ellis Henican at Newsday.