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)