bin Laden’s undeserved bully pulpit

For the life of me, I can’t understand the preoccupation of the American media — from TV to newspapers to the free-lance pseudo-journalists of the Internet — with the periodic ranting of Osama bin Laden.

More disconcerting is the determination to disseminate his twisted messages as though he were a foe with legitimate aims rather than the vicious thug he is. Is it the same fascination one gets from watching a hideously ugly, menacing spider?

This maniac is responsible for killing more Americans on their own soil than any other outside force since the Revolutionary War. Yet every time his propaganda machinery gears up, he is immediately awarded star status, with every word analyzed. Can you imagine the outcry that would have ensued had the translated ravings of Adolf Hitler been broadcast to the nation during World War II? Talk about aiding and abetting the goals of one’s enemy.

And that is just what is occurring. The latest bin Laden video is little more than a call to recruit fanatics to his cause, which is, of course, to rid the world of as many of us and our allies as possible. The viability of this Saudi monster’s mission depends on swelling his terrorist ranks with men and women from Baghdad to Boston and beyond. That he is quite successful at it can be seen in the number of plots involving Western cells of fellow travelers in this country and throughout Europe since Sept. 11, 2001.

So why are we not using some discretion here?

A simple explanation might be that in the competitive world of journalism and the exercise of our First Amendment rights, we too often forget that the constitutional privilege granted by the nation’s founders carries with it as much obligation on our part as it does on the government. In other words, a free press has a clear responsibility to restrain itself, to refrain from furthering the positions and causes of those who preach inhuman solutions. At least, one would think so.

That does not mean that an aggressive press should not shine a light on evil. Certainly it should. In the case of bin Laden, however, his penchant for murdering the innocent is well known. There is a large difference between disclosing those with such heinous characteristics and allowing them to use you, which is exactly what bin Laden has been doing periodically since 9/11.

It would be easy to once again point the finger at the fiendish Internet and its army of bloggers, many of them utterly ignorant of any obligation to truth or responsibility. They rush to be “first” in providing the millions of computer addicts with the latest terrorist diatribe and threat. The fact is that the mainline distributors of our news, perhaps concerned about dwindling numbers of readers and viewers, have been just as irresponsible. Their haste to hit the airways or headlines with bin Laden’s every word has flagrantly exceeded the boundaries of good journalism.

Some of bin Laden’s attraction comes from his stature as one who could commit the most extreme crimes against humanity and not pay for it personally. With every failed attempt to locate and arrest or eliminate him, his legend grows not only among those who believe he is invincible, but also among the innocent who fear him and to whom he has become a household name for evil. The failure of the Western powers to find him has been his best recruiting tool among fanatics and those who are potentially so. He has no need, as other such crusaders before him, to be a martyr. Zealots flock to his name. His lieutenants who have been captured or killed have been replaced with those equally as vicious.

One can only hope that sooner rather than later the infirmities of age and the stress of running and hiding ultimately will do what the intelligence services of the world have failed to do. In the meantime, it can only be wished that those who understand that he is a cave-dwelling, murderous misanthrope will use better judgment in allowing him a periodic platform to address the people of a nation he hates. But don’t bet on it.

(Dan K. Thomasson is former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service.)


  1. Bill Robinson

    Substitute the name of Bush for bin Laden………..
    and sadly the article above still makes sense. Remarks like “raving maniac” and “killed more innocent americans than any other (outside) force since the Revolutionary War” can easily be applied to the current President and his string puller Cheney. Worst of all is that both these criminals are getting away with their ranting and murders and thievery. Bush wants the war to continue so he can become the richest man in the world (his new goal) and bin Laden wants it to continue because it is a fine training ground for new terrorists and because he continues to get money from the Saudis and the Iranians so they can prevent the rise of another democracy in the Middle East (Israel being the current one and only.)
    What should be the priority is to seek and destroy bin Laden, but that would be the beginning of the end for the cash cow called Iraq that is filling the pockets and offshore accounts of Bush & Cheney–so it just ain’t gonna happen. If we kill bin Laden (easily done if they really WANT to do it), we end the terrorism threat and the reason-of-the-moment to continue the Iraqi conflict. So there is no way that Bush or Cheney want to lose their ass in the hole.
    And you thought the war in Iraq was just an arrogant peacock strutting his stuff…
    Kill one man and they call you a murderer.
    Kill a million and they call you a conqueror.
    How many do you have to kill to be “The Decider?”

    Bill Robinson

  2. LurkingFromTheLeft


    …I said something very much like that to friends of mine the other day –

    …no difference between the two –

    …save for the beard – and Dumbass probably has that too – dresses up sometimes and pretends to be OBL –


  3. Carl Nemo

    Thanks John Q. for your suggestion. It is quite fascinating that by simply substituting Bush for OBL that the editorial flows almost perfectly and is still spot-on concerning content. It’s just too bad that this humorous substitution is linked to such a dark subject that also happens to be our current national paradigm. : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  4. adamrussell

    Ive never thought the idea of censoring your enemies was a good one. It wont stop his followers from getting his message. It would only stop the American people from hearing his message. Then I have to ask why you think the American people need to be protected from words?

    And if Osama Bin Laden calls Bush a murdering bastard, does that make it a lie just because he said it?

  5. Boots

    For the life of me I can’t understand why the media keeps playing bogus tapes of a man ( OBL ) who has been a long time dead. Why do they insist on catapulting the propaganda for such a miserable regime?

  6. the Don

    Be afraid, be very afraid!

    I’m much more afraid of the madman in white house than I am of another madman hiding in wast mountains of Asia.

    Free press, you gotta be kidding!
    We have a corporate press, news is controlled, one reads, sees and hears what you are supposed to read, see and hear. In order to figure out any of what is printed in the newspapers and broadcast on TV you must think outside the box and then be able to read between the lines.

    But the truth does leak out–in the weekly or monthly local alternative papers and the internet.

    The conspiracy amongst the international banks, multinational corporations and the US government is the largest criminal enterprise in the history of the world.

    We have had the greatest erosion of our freedoms in the last 7 years than ever before in our history. If you disbelieve this than wait 5-10 years when half of our population will be in jail and the other half will be guarding us. Where will you be? Thomasson will be writing about how great it is that half the US is imprisoned because of the threat that we are.

    WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bush and bin Laden are two sides of the same coin (made of composite materials, not silver or gold). One could not exist without the other. Why do you think that one hasn’t been captured and the other hasn’t been impeached? In a just world they would be sharing the same cell in Guantanamo, you know, that illegal prison the US maintains in Cuba.

    Amazing how blind we are!

    We are f$$king doomed!!! hahahahaha

    Just another madman tilting at windmills,
    the Don

  7. SEAL

    Don: your point is the pertinent one. The two, Bush and Bin Hidin, are being deliberately maintained to continue the fairy tale of the war between good and evil. That’s why the press continues to give ‘ol Bin all the prime time play they can. Show the face of evil! Broadcast the threats! Gotta keep the american people mad and/or scared. Then follow that with with the face (WASP) of good that is “staying the course” to protect them from the evil (muslim) menace. The crusades – the holy war – continues.

    The most comical part of the illusion is that the current devil has Bin Hiden in caves in the mountains all this time. There is at least a 50% probability he has been dead for some time which would explain why he has been so successfull at eluding capture. But the concept of a man in constant need of dialysis existing in stone age conditions for such a protracted period of time stretches reality far beyond “the next generation” of his “star trek” status. From what we knew of his medical condition in the beginning, he would have to have no less than adequate medical care. Dialysis is not something that just anyone can perform in an unsanitary dusty cave. Therefore, if he is alive, he is living in a home or some building with one room set up for his constant scheduled dialysis treatments. He isn’t moving around very much.

    My guess is there is a “headquarters” someplace just over the border in Pakistan that many people, including us, knows about and bin Laden is more protected by us than anyone else. There’s also a very good possibility that he isn’t anywhere near the action and living with one of his thousand relatives someplace in the Middle East where he can over see his investments via computers that cannot be linked to him. The contest is to see whether he or Bush will make the most money out of this game.

  8. Carl Nemo

    Dan Thomasson, truly a superb outline concerning the situation in which we find ourselves. OBL the duty “boo bear” and our endless, Orwellian war against a faceless enemy; ie., “terror” a “noun” is evidently here to stay unless our citizens through responsible elected reps say enough is enough…!

    “This maniac is responsible for killing more Americans on their own soil than any other outside force since the Revolutionary War.” extracted from your article.

    Maybe so, but my personal contacts and research say that our leadership bridging two administrations from Clinton to Bush knew this plot was unfolding and did nothing about it. Saudi Arabia was heavily involved in this plot and OBL is a scion of the wealthy bin Laden family who owns the premier Bin Laden Construction Group in Saudi Arabia. Remember the Saudi’s are like “family” to the Bushistas. Say what…?! Gee where does loyalty to America and it’s citizens fit into the Bush paradigm concerning loyalty and familial bonding…?!

    If our leadership didn’t plan it outright, then the plot was detected and simply allowed to unfold, no different then the Oklahoma City debacle. In other words this was a “facilitated” false flag operation to serve the PNAC/Vulcan/AIPAC NWO agenda of turning America into an Orwellian police state paradigm.

    Guess what, it’s worked superbly well because the average American is less than discerning when it comes to what they expect from their leaders. Little do they realize that very soon, their only remaining right will be to “shop until they drop”. Open their mouths and they’l disappear never to be seen again post martial law; ie., “nacht und nebel”….night and fog an old expression for when Hitler’s infamous Gestapo picked up German citizens in the night (generally around 4AM) never to be seen again. In our time times there will simply yellow police/Homeland Security tape around the vacated residences. If they even proffer a reason it will be simply they were terrorists, drug dealers or both;ie., meaning “enemies of the state”…! The surviving “good people” will simply say, “thank God our government is on-the-ball protecting us from this terrorist scum,” then hey, “I hear there’s some good sales at the mall.” They could care less as long as it wasn’t “them”…! Unwittingly, little do they realize that eventually it will be “them”. : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  9. outhereinthewest

    whatever gave you the idea that is really OBL?

    even IF it is, whose payroll is he on?

    after all our fearless prez does need someone or
    somethin to keep this country terrified!

    just how can you expect for the ol MIC to keep
    goin if it couldn`t feed on this fear?

    since OBL has done such an outstanding job till
    now, it only makes sense to keep him on as the bad
    guy! Don`t it? if it wasn`t for him, who`d we need
    to have a war with then?