He may be in a cave somewhere, but it is apparent that Osama bin Laden has a very effective means of global communications. By the same token, the far left-wing in the U.S. has an effective way of conveying its message to the rest of the world. They succeeded in getting an obscure anti-American book into the hands of bin Laden, who is now promoting it worldwide. The significance of the latest bin Laden tape is that the world’s top terrorist has made common cause with the blame-America-first crowd, which finds the U.S. guilty of everything that goes wrong on the planet.
By any measure, the terrorist propaganda apparatus is quite impressive. Echoing the thoughts of many others, NBC’s Tim Russert noted on the Imus radio program that it seems suspicious how Al-Jazeera keeps obtaining and airing terrorist video or audio tapes. He said Al-Jazeera must know where they are coming from and who is providing them. The obvious conclusion is that Al-Jazeera has a working relationship with the terrorists trying to kill Americans and destroy the United States. By extension, the U.S. networks airing the terror tapes from Al-Jazeera are facilitating bin Laden’s military and propaganda operations. Russert, a senior executive at NBC News, is in a position to do something about this. Will he?
It is significant that bin Laden, in his new message, alludes to “documents” cited in the Western press for his complaint that President Bush, the “butcher of freedom in the world,” had “planned to bomb” the Al-Jazeera office in Qatar. (U.S. and British officials have denied any such plan to bomb Al-Jazeera in Qatar existed.) Such a military strike would have set back al Qaeda’s propaganda operations. Considering that Al-Jazeera does work hand-in-glove with the terrorists, why is bombing the place such an outrageous thought? Al-Jazeera employees could be given advance notice to vacate the premises so innocent lives would not be lost, but its equipment would be destroyed. Those who reject this idea out of hand seem not to understand the point made in a previous tape by al-Qaeda number two man, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, that more than half of the war is occurring in the media.
Al-Jazeera, however, is only one part of the problem.
It is also curious why bin Laden, in the audio tape aired by Al-Jazeera, picked out an obscure book as a field manual for understanding and undermining U.S. foreign policy. CNN quickly did an interview with the author, William Blum, and titled it “Bin Laden’s Book Club.” It’s really not so funny.
Here’s a top terrorist, hiding out in Pakistan or Afghanistan somewhere, and yet he seems to be familiar with the latest releases from an outfit in Monroe, Maine, called Common Courage Press, the publisher of the Blum book, which distributes “political and academic writings from a progressive-left perspective.”
In the audio message, in which he announces new attacks against the U.S., bin Laden declares that it is “useful” to read the book, Rogue State, because it documents the sinister nature of U.S. foreign policy. The book has an entire section on how the U.S. is guilty of using weapons of mass destruction.
Blum tells me in an email that Osama bin Laden’s favorable citation of his book was a welcome development. “I hope it helps my book sales,” Blum says. “I’m swamped with media interviews.”
Blum says that if he were president, he would cut the U.S. defense budget by 90 percent and “announce that America’s global interventions have come to an end and inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union?”
The fact that bin Laden would cite the Blum book demonstrates that bin Laden is counting on a fifth column in the U.S. to undermine the war on terrorism and hand him a victory on the battlefield. Blum said, however, that “The fact that bin Laden and I share a strong dislike for certain parts of U.S. foreign policy and a liking for a certain book of mine should not make anyone jump to various conclusions. I do not like religious fundamentalists of any stripe, nor the societies they set up, but I can understand why [they] hate U.S. foreign policy and feel a need to retaliate against it.” In Blum’s world, it seems that the U.S. is by far the greater threat.
It is useful to consider Blum’s background. He is a former U.S. State Department employee and worked with CIA defector Philip Agee and his associates in the 1970s “on their project of exposing CIA personnel and their misdeeds.” Agee’s associates included Cuban Communist intelligence personnel. Agee fled the U.S. and lives in Cuba today but Blum continues to work in the U.S. as an “investigative journalist,” appearing regularly on college campuses to denounce the “American empire.”
In an essay written before the 2004 presidential election, Blum said that Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry had said some correct things about the situation in Haiti, where the Marxist Jean Bertrande Aristide was then trying to hang on to power, but that his overall approach to U.S. foreign policy was not that different from Bush’s. Kerry was just another “establishment politician,” Blum said. A story about his appearance on one college campus said that “he prefers Ralph Nader because he thinks Sen. John Kerry is no better than President George Bush.”
Rogue State has been published in 13 different languages, including Arabic.
Blum was hoping to attend the Havana 2006 Book Fair in Communist Cuba to promote another book, Killing Hope, also about U.S. interventions in the world. However, he says the U.S. refused to let him travel to the communist island. A Cuban publication referred to Blum as an “outstanding writer” and said that Killing Hope has already been published in Spanish by a Cuban publishing house. Perhaps the Arabic version is to follow. If so, it may be the next selection in the bin Laden book club.