by Bryan Sacks
“If independent reporters ever want to gain evidence that proves that elements within the U.S. government had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks but failed to defend against them, or even anticipated and then enhanced the impact of the events for future effect, then transcripts of bin Laden’s U.S. intercepted communications between January — September 2001 would most likely make the case.”
–Ed Haas, Muckraker Report, September 21, 2006 http://www.muckrakerreport.com/id301.html
Most people will remember the infamous “bin Laden confession video” which was reportedly ‘obtained’ by US forces in Afghanistan after the fall of Jalalabad in November, 2001. The video, which has been offered as proof by the Bush administration that Osama bin Laden ordered the September 11, 2001 attacks, was broadcast in media outlets beginning in December 2001.
But now, a researcher claims that several kinds of evidence related to the video show that the US military’s story of its origin is false.
Drawing on information gleaned directly from translations of the audio, public statements by Tony Blair and mainstream news articles, researcher Maher Osseiran has offered a compelling account of the origin of the video. His shocking conclusion is that the video was not ‘obtained’ by US forces in Jalalabad; rather it was very likely the product of a US-sponsored ‘sting operation’, possibly conducted with the assistance of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, in late September, 2001.
Osseiran has been researching and publishing articles about the story for more than a year now, but now he has woven together the evidence into a coherent whole that yields some powerful indictments of the US Defense Department and top officials in the US and British governments. We urge everyone interested in this subject to read the Muckraker report of 9.21.06 on the subject linked above, to get a fuller account of the events discussed here and below. Please also review the article archive at the conclusion of the article where all information gleaned in this summary, and much more, can be found.
Below we summarize some of the critically important bits of evidence that, when taken together, suggest that:
a) the US has lied both about the origin of the videotape and the events by which it came to possess it; and
b) the true backstory of the tape’s creation may provide smoking-gun evidence of US foreknowledge and complicity in the 9/11 attacks.
Some of the key elements of Osseiran’s case are summarized below:
1. The Defense Department stated on December 13, 2001:
“The U.S. government released today a copy of a videotape of Osama bin Laden obtained by U.S. forces in Jalalabad, Afghanistan in late November. The video was filmed by unknown persons.”
“There was no doubt of bin Laden’s responsibility for the September 11 attacks before the tape was discovered,” said Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. The release of the tape was made after balancing the concerns about any additional pain that could be caused by its release against the value of having the world fully appreciate what we are up against in the war against terrorism. http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/2001/b12132001_bt630-01.html
In the preface of its transcript of the videotape, the DoD contended,
“in mid-November, Usama Bin Laden spoke to a room of supporters, possibly in Qandahar, Afghanistan. These comments were video taped with the knowledge of Bin Laden and all present.”
This solidifies the official claim that the tape was created in mid-November 2001, and that bin Laden meant for his comments to be taped.
2. Just three days afterward, however, on December 16, 2001, The Observer noted that: “several intelligence sources have suggested to The Observer that the tape, although absolutely genuine, is the result of a sophisticated sting operation run by the CIA through a second intelligence service, possibly Saudi or Pakistani.” http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,619480,00.html
This obviously contradicts the statement by the US Defense Department, and the information may be based on a UPI story of August 17, 2001 story – published more than three weeks before September 11 – entitled, “US Seeks Pakistan’s Aid to Get bin Laden”.
As Ed Haas of the Muckraker Report has written:
According to the UPI article, the United States discussed with Pakistani officials the possibility of “using U.S. special forces” for a sting operation inside Afghanistan. However, at that time, remember this was reported prior to the 9/11 attacks, the Pakistani government reportedly advised Washington against “a military operation inside Afghanistan because the Pakistanis believe that it will be counter-productive and further fuel religious sentiments in the region.” http://www.muckrakerreport.com/id301.html
3. Osseiran’s analysis of the confession video indicates with a high degree of precision that the portion of the tape depicting bin Laden’s discussion with Khaled Al-Harbi, the Saudi official, took place in late September, 2001, well before the US began its attack on Afghanistan. The argument for this is very strong, and includes the argument that when British Prime Minster Tony Blair spoke in late September 2001 of having been provided with “powerful and incontrovertible” evidence of bin Laden’s guilt, he was referring to evidence garnered from the confession video, though he did not say so at the time.
4. If Osseiran’s account is correct, not only has the US Defense Department lied about the origin of the tape as well as the circumstances of its coming to have custody of it, but it also becomes clear that the US was not interested in capturing or killing bin Laden immediately after the September 2001 attacks, despite having the opportunity. The confession video became useful in December 2001 after international pressure was building on the US to provide hard evidence of bin Laden’s guilt. The DoD press release makes reference to this pressure.
Yet if Osseiran is correct, the US had the evidence of bin Laden’s guilt (such as it is) in its possession well before the attack on Afghanistan, and could have provided the evidence to the Taliban and averted war. The Taliban, of course, back in September 2001 had offered to turn over bin Laden to the US in return for clear evidence of bin Laden’s guilt. But by doing so, the US would have lost its pretext to attack, and the inescapable conclusion is that the Bush administration was bent on war, and not on capturing bin Laden.
5. Since the confession video offers the only hard evidence that bin Laden was responsible for the attacks, it should have resulted in an FBI indictment for the crime. More than five years since the video surfaced none has been forthcoming, and in fact the FBI has acknowledged it has “no hard evidence linking bin Laden to 9/11. This is further circumstantial evidence that the confession tape is fraught with problems that, if exposed, would publicly confront US officials with their lies and throw into further doubt the true motives behind the war in Afghanistan.
6. The Muckraker Report submitted an FOIA request to the US Defense Department to provide documents “that demonstrate chain of custody of the December 13, 2001 Osama bin Laden video from the time it was discovered in Afghanistan until it was released for media consumption”; “that reflect the purchase order and contract made by the U.S. government with George Michael, Diplomatic Language Services, and Dr. Kassem M. Wahba, Arabic language program coordinator, School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University”; that demonstrate the authenticity process that the U.S. government undertook to authenticate the December 13, 2001 Osama bin Laden video”; and “that demonstrate the outcome of the U.S. government’s authenticity process.”
The DoD responded in bizarre fashion, writing that, “The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs conducted a search of its files and located no records responsive to your request.”
Thus the US Defense Department has admitted that there is no documentation for the circumstances by which it came to possess the tape, nor the circumstance by which it was authenticated.
7. The Muckraker Report also submitted a similar FOIA request to the FBI, to which they got the following response:
the material you requested is located in an investigative file which is exempt from disclosure pursuant to Title 5, United States Code, Section 552, subsection (b)(7)(A). http://www.muckrakerreport.com/id284.html
Title 5, United States Code, Section 552, subsection (b)(7)(A) seems exempt from FOIA disclosure “(b)(7) records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records or information (A) could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.”
What this apparently means is that the FBI is claiming the confession video is part of current “enforcement proceedings” – a current investigation! We remind reader sthat TWO ILLEGAL WARS have been prosecuted in the name of 9/11, and still the FBI will not permit a review of the documentation of the only publically-offered hard evidence linking Osama bin Laden to the crime.
Osseiran has his own point of view on the refusal: “The only evidence available to indict bin Laden is the tape. If anyone would have looked at it closely, they would have come up with the same conclusion that I have, which is why it’s being suppressed.”
Osseiran’s thesis will be viewed with skepticism by many who have concluded that the confession video is a fabrication. Until the FBI and DoD have fulfilled their obligations of full disclosure, we consider that skepticism warranted, despite the cogent analysis offered by Osseiran. But to those who want to dismiss Osseiran’s thesis out of hand because he accepts the authenticity of tape we must reply, with Osseiran, that some who are convinced the video a fake have themselves uncritically accepted the government’s timeline that the video was captured in November 2001. Osseiran provides evidence that the DoD has lied about this.
A second important point is: whether or not the video is a fake, both the DoD and the Bush administration are guilty of serious crimes. As Ed Haas has summarized:
If [the confession video is] fake, laws have been broken. If authentic, but filmed before the invasion of Afghanistan as part of a sting operation, then more laws have been broken because it would mean that the U.S. government had an opportunity to capture or eliminate Osama bin Laden prior to invading Afghanistan but passed on the opportunity in favor of gaining a videotape indictment of Osama bin Laden to use as promotional material for its invasion of Afghanistan, the global war on terror, and the invasion of Iraq, rather than going for the kill when given the chance. It suggests that exploitation of the 9/11 attacks for political and geo-political gains had a higher priority within the Bush Administration than bringing Osama bin Laden to justice.
This is a very important part of the 9/11 story, one with potentially enormous ramifications for the criminal Bush administration. It deserves strong support, and may provide the clearest path to charging the criminals within the Executive Branch and Defense Department with high crimes and/or treason. The need for a special prosecutor is obvious and urgent. Osseiran asks those who support this work to sign on to his petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/deniz18/petition.html
Article archive: On Osseiran’s research and conclusions: http://www.muckrakerreport.com/id362.html
DoD Press Release No. 630-01 on bin Laden Confession Video: