Osama phones home

    After 13 months without calling or writing, Osama bin Laden has
    favored the world with a missive whose rambling content suggests that
    wherever he’s hiding it’s not on this planet.

    The aptly named nut graph of his audiotape _ he hasn’t put out a video
    since the fall of 2004 _ says, “You have occupied our lands, offended
    our honor and dignity and let out our blood and stolen our money and
    destroyed our houses and played with our security and we will give you
    the same treatment.”

    And this happy thought comes after he
    offered the United States a truce wherein we both have security and
    stability and work together to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Bush administration wasn’t buying. “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.
    We put them out of business,” said presidential spokesman Scott
    McClellan. Vice President Cheney was a tad harsher: “I think you have
    to destroy them.”

    The tape, whose authenticity the CIA verifies,
    is said to be of poor quality, suggesting it was produced under
    difficult conditions, and bin Laden’s voice is thin, suggesting he may
    have his own problems.

    Bin Laden addresses himself to the United
    States, but the timing, coming right after a drone strike killed four
    of his top operatives, indicates he hopes to show his followers that he
    is alive and in charge. Some say he fears being eclipsed by his No. 2,
    Awman Zawahiri, increasingly the face and voice of al Qaeda, and Abu
    Musab al-Zarqawi, who is doing real fighting in Iraq and not hiding in
    a cave remote from the battle.

    This tape is a little redolent of
    Hitler holed up in his bunker, ordering up nonexistent divisions and
    mapping out grandiose battle plans. Bin Laden insists the mujahideen
    are increasing in numbers and strength and the war is going so badly
    for the United States that its soldiers will soon commit suicide rather
    than fight it.

    He says that further attacks within the United
    States are “under preparation.” That may be vainglorious boasting, but
    no one doubts that bin Laden would attack us again in a second _ if he

    (Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)SHNS.com)