“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Is Bin Laden dead? Does it matter?

'Mullah Omar hasn’t seen bin Laden for years'

4 January 2007
PESHAWAR - Taleban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar has added to the mystery over Osama bin Laden, saying he had not seen his ally and fellow fugitive since U.S.-backed forces ousted the Taleban from Afghanistan in late 2001.

“No, I have neither seen him, nor have I made any effort to do so, but I pray for his health and safety,” Omar said in an e-mailed response to questions sent by Reuters.

The questions were relayed to Omar through his spokesman Mohammad Hanif, and a reply was received late on Wednesday.

A half-dozen audio tapes of bin Laden were circulated during the first half of 2006, but the Al Qaeda leader last appeared on video tape in late 2004, while tapes of his deputy, Ayman Al Zawahri, have been issued regularly.

A video tape of bin Laden was released late last year, but it was identified as old footage, and the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States passed without any word from the Al Qaeda leader.

Speculation over the whereabouts and health of bin Laden boiled over in September when a French provincial newspaper reported that he had died of typhoid in late August.

Though several governments and intelligence agencies rebutted that report, saying they had no evidence to suggest bin Laden had died, nor did they have any clue to where he was.

The wealthy Saudi-born bin Laden helped bankroll the Taleban after moving to Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, and he reportedly married one of Omar’s daughters to cement their alliance.

The best guess to bin Laden’s whereabouts remains somewhere on the rugged border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, in the ethnic tribal lands where Omar’s Taleban counts on support to fight an insurgency against U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan and the government of President Hamid Karzai."


  1. Osama Lives!
    Unless his head is on a pike.
    His body wrapped and buried in a Oscar Myer wiener skins.

    Better than Che', there are not even reliable reports of his death.

  2. I forget, did the CIA ever confirm any of the tapes that have been released?

  3. This PBS piece, from 16 Jan 06, just shows how this subject will not fade away.

    SPENCER MICHELS: The newest audiotape from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was reportedly recorded this month. Parts of the CIA-verified tape appeared to speak directly to the American people. Bin Laden talked of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, conflicts he said his organization is winning.

    Is it coincidental that is been a year?

  4. It is hard to believe that with that much money on his head, no one has seen or heard of him.

  5. It matters a great deal.
    Much more than you seem to think, charlotte.
    Confirmed dead, he is just another dead Jihadist. But missing, he lives on forever, always about to strike a blow for Allah. Keeping the idea of armed Jihad alive, in the minds of the faithful.

    Like Che' or Zapata
    only on a global scale

    An iconic legend

  6. trish said the other night, the US would not make the same mistake and take him alive as they did with Saddam.

  7. trish is here to speak for herself.

  8. While the Doctor, runs the operating room.
    As trish says.

    Some where, out there
    beneath the deep blue skies

  9. We need a couple of new iconic legends. Remember the GI that got attacked by a tiger in Viet nam?

  10. the cultural divide is wider than we realize.

  11. As long as bin Laden lives, the plug on TWAT cannot be pulled. His life has impact all around.

  12. Oh, Yasser Arafat is still dead.

  13. "Saddam is dead!!" - rufus
    "The US is not winning" - GW Bush

    Neither one is important at the moment.

    New Generals or retreads of the past? As Admiral William J. Fallon is slated to replace General John Abizaid at Central Command and LTG David Petreaus will take over for George Casey as MNF-I commander in Iraq, according to ABC News.

  14. The democrats are playing it very coy about their plans for Iraq. I just listened to Trent Lott on Mathews. Bush is going to have his hands full if not tied by the sounds of things.

  15. Meanwhile, things are looking gooder and gooder in Somalia. There are lessons here, I am sure.


  16. Lesson #1: Win

    EVERYONE loves a winner, even the Dems.

  17. Speaking of Democrats loving or loving democrats, Nancy Pelosi looked pretty hot up there today. Don't you agree Allen?

  18. Back at the ranch,

    "I'll be ready to outline a strategy that will help the Iraqis achieve the objective of a country that can govern, sustain and defend itself sometime next week," the president said. "I've still got consultations to go through."

    Lesson #2: STFU

    Do something, ANYTHING, then talk.

  19. Deuce,

    Mrs. Pelosi, excuse me, Speaker Pelosi is no Dennis Hastart.


  20. >allen

    Is there such a word as "gooder"? But this excellent piece of news certainly deserves the creation of a new word or two to express our indescribable joy.

    The Ethiopian armored column and Somali forces pushing southward since the fall of Mogadishu last week appear to have finally reached Ras Kamboni and are engaging a significant element of the remnants of the Islamic Courts. "Government troops backed by Ethiopian soldiers were fighting about 600 Islamic militiamen in the southern tip of Somalia," reports The Associated Press. "The Somali forces have surrounded the Islamic militiamen 'from every direction' in the [sic] southwestern district of Badade, near the Kenyan border."


  21. A rolling stone deserves to catch a little of this.

  22. harrison,

    re: gooder

    When my daughter was 2 1/2, she taught me the indispensable word "gooder". It suggests something better than “better” but not yet “best”.


  23. trish,

    re: Is that what you're afraid of? The plug being pulled?

    Hardly! But, then, I'm not the administration. Thar be monsters and daemons, beyond.

  24. The tactical/operational importance of Osama can be debated late into the evening.

    If he is alive, some will say he is doing nothing living day to day, trying to avoid the 500 pound JDAM.

    Others will say that he is providing guidance to Al Qaeda cells through his messages and his clandestine communications network.

    I tend to agree more with the former than the latter.

    But one thing I do believe is that the capture/killing of Osama bin Laden has tremendous IO value on both sides.

    For the west, it would be a triumph, and many could write about the importance of perseverance in the Long War.

    For those who subscribe to radical Islamic philosphies, or who have been seduced by the che-like countenance and resistance chic of the human cancer that is bin Laden, his death would deflate their hopes and demoralize their numbers. Yet another would-be Saladin would be fallen, leaving nothing to his followers but broken promises and despair.

  25. Continued, by Bob W.

    Operationally on the ground all over the world, probably not a whole lotta change in the War on Terror.

    A big morale boost for the troops, though.