Fascinating use of a propaganda icon. When they need to justify an invasion or escalation, they wheel out bin Laden’s corpse, wanted dead or alive.
DIFFERENT FACIAL STRUCTURE, DIFFERENTLY SHAPED NOSE
by Prof David Ray Griffin
I have no expertise in these matters, but if we assume, for the sake of discussion, that Haas’s suggestion, combined with the proposed early recording date (September 26), could explain why the bin Laden figure in the video appears too healthy and heavy, there would still be problems with his physical appearance. One of these, as I pointed out, is that this man’s nose does not seem to be shaped the same as that of Osama bin Laden. 46) This differently shaped nose, moreover, seems to be simply one part of a differently shaped facial structure. As one can see by comparing an undoubtedly authentic image of bin Laden with the face of the man in the so-called confession video, the nose of the real bin Laden appears to be much longer 47) – and it is hard to see how a video conversion that made a figure fatter by squashing it along the vertical axis could simultaneously make its nose appear longer.
So for Osseiran to make a convincing case, he would need to show that the conversion from the PAL to the NTSC format could also explain these differences.
WRITING WITH THE RIGHT HAND
Another problem mentioned in my book that Osseiran, as far as I know, has not addressed is the fact that, in the video in question, the bin Laden figure writes with his right hand, whereas the FBI’s webpage for “Usama bin Laden” as a “Most Wanted Terrorist” describes him as left-handed. 48)
This apparent anomaly cannot be explained, I pointed out, by supposing that his left arm was immobile – as it was in the post-November 16 video, which was released December 27 – because the bin Laden figure in this video easily raises his left hand above his head. This fact, of course, is not inconsistent with Osseiran’s thesis, according to which the video was taped on September 26, which may well have been before bin Laden suffered the stroke or whatever it was that caused the immobility of his left arm that is apparent in the post-November 16 video.
However, Osseiran and other defenders of the authenticity of this video could overcome this problem if they could provide convincing evidence that the FBI was wrong – that Osama bin Laden was, in fact, right-handed.
Evidence for this contention was provided in late 2009, in fact, in Growing Up Bin Laden, a book that Jean Sasson co-authored with Osama bin Laden’s first wife, Najwa bin Laden, and his fourth son, Omar bin Laden. According to Omar, his father was actually right-handed. Here is his statement:
“For the first time I will reveal a truth that my father and his family have carefully guarded for most of his life, for in our culture it is believed that any physical disability weakens a man. My father is right-handed, but he has to make use of his left eye for any task that requires perfect vision. The explanation is simple. When my father was only a young boy, he was happily hammering on some metal when a piece of the metal flew into his right eye. The injury was serious, resulting in a hushed-up trip to London to seek the care of a specialist.
“The diagnosis upset everyone. My father’s right eye would never again see clearly. Over the years my father taught himself to conceal the problem, thinking it better for people to believe him to be left-handed rather than allow them knowledge that his right eye barely functioned. The only reason my father aims his weapon from his left side is because he is virtually blind in his right eye. Perhaps my father will be angry that I have exposed this carefully guarded secret, but it is nothing more than a truth that should hold no shame.” 49)
If this claim is true, then the FBI was wrong to describe bin Laden as left-handed.
Certain facts about both Jean Sasson and Omar bin Laden, however, should lead us to be suspicious of this claim.
Jean Sasson: To put it bluntly, Jean Sasson is simply not a trustworthy author. John R. MacArthur, the publisher of Harper’s magazine, has called her “a propagandist for hire.” 50) The occasion for this description was Sasson’s 1991 book, The Rape of Kuwait, which rose to second place on the New York Times bestseller list in March of that year, thereby helping solidify American support for the plan of the George H. W. Bush administration, in response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait the previous summer, to attack Iraq. And that – other than making a lot of money – was the book’s purpose.
Sasson had proposed the idea of such a book to the Kuwaiti government, which was aggressively trying to convince Washington to attack Iraq on Kuwait’s behalf. In pursuing this objective, Kuwait paid Hill and Knowlton (H&K), a well-connected public relations firm, close to $11,000,000 to sell the war.
At the center of the H&K campaign was the testimony of a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, going only by the name “Nayirah,” who said that, after the Iraqis invaded her country, she worked as a volunteer in a hospital. “While I was there,” she testified tearfully to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on October 10, 1990:
“I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns, and go into the room where 15 babies were in incubators. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die.” 51)
HOW KUWAIT DUPED THE TIMES’ “BEST SELLERS” LIST
This was pure fabrication. This girl, whose full name was Nayirah al-Sabah, was the daughter of Saud al-Sabah, Kuwait’s ambassador to the United States, who was a good friend of President George H. W. Bush. Rather than having observed these events, she had been given these lines by H&K, which thereby earned the millions it was paid: “[O]f all the accusations made against [Saddam Hussein],” wrote MacArthur, “none had more impact on American public opinion” than this story of babies being ripped out of incubators. 52)
Evidently to garner still more support from the American public, Kuwait agreed not only to give Sasson a big advance on the book – which she reportedly wrote in nine days in order to get it published before the bombardment of Iraq began – but also to put up over $1 million to buy hundreds of thousands of copies of the book to get it on the New York Times list of bestselling books – a story that MacArthur told in “How Kuwait Duped The Times’ Bestseller List.” 53)
Calling The Rape of Kuwait “lurid and wildly inaccurate,” MacArthur pointed out that it, among other things, “embellished on Nayirah’s tall tale of atrocities.” 54) Also calling this book “a piece of propaganda financed by a foreign government with an interest in driving the United States into war,” he characterized it as “154 pages of nonsense and lies.” 55)
SASSON’S BOOKS – PLAGIARIZED
Sasson’s next two books – entitled Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil, and Princess: Sultana’s Daughters – raised even more serious questions about Sasson’s honesty. They were purportedly based on the diaries of a Saudi princess using the alias “Sultana,” but they were almost certainly plagiarized.
A plagiarism suit was brought by Friederike Monika Adsani of London, originally from Austria, who provided evidence that these books had been plagiarized from her own book manuscript, “Cinderella in Arabia,” which recounted her recently ended 23-year marriage to a wealthy Kuwaiti. Back in 1988, she said, she had sent this manuscript to Peter Miller, a New York literary agent, but he told her there was no chance of getting it published. In 1992, however, after Sasson’s books had appeared, Adsani, seeing similarities between the experiences of Princess Sultana and her own and discovering that Peter Miller was Sasson’s agent, charged that Sasson’s manuscript had plagiarized her “Cinderella in Arabia.”
A New York Times story about the lawsuit provided this summary of some of the similarities listed by Adsani and her lawyer:
“’Cinderella’ is the story of a woman who marries the first-born son of a wealthy, influential Kuwaiti family. Her husband was educated in medicine in England. In ‘Princess,’ the woman marries the first-born son of a wealthy and influential Saudi family. Her husband was educated in law in England. In both books, . . . the wife encounters strong opposition from her mother-in-law, who tries to break up her marriage. There is physical conflict between the women and the use of witchcraft and sorcery against the children, which results in injury to one of them. Both wives are physically inspected by their in-laws. Both fight with their husbands and are punched by him. Both partly design and build dream homes next to a mosque that have nearby private zoos. Both women decide they want a divorce, then reconcile, then decide to escape after their husbands turn to other women. Both women get venereal diseases from their husbands, who have been infected by prostitutes.” 56)
Adsani’s lawyer also had a statement by a professor of English, supported by 32 pages of examples, which said that “Princess and Sultana’s Daughters are substantially similar to Monika Adsani’s manuscript entitled Cinderella in Arabia.” The lawyer had affidavits, furthermore, from a former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and from another expert on the country, both of whom said that Sasson’s books contained so many obvious errors that they could not possibly have been based on diaries of a Saudi princess. 57) Adsani’s lawyer even had a statement from the former CEO of Knightsbridge (which had published Sasson’s first book, The Rape of Kuwait), who said that Peter Miller had approached him in 1990 about publishing “a non-fiction manuscript by a woman who he said had lived many years in the Gulf region,” which “would be much more successful if it were published under Jean Sasson’s name.” 58)
It spite of such evidence, the judge took the side of the defense – which was representing not only Sasson and Miller but also some very powerful publishing corporations: William Morrow, Avon Books, the Hearst Corporation, and Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group. In 2001, Adsani’s manuscript was published as Cinderella in Arabia: A Cross-Cultural Autobiography. 58) The reviews on Amazon.com suggest the correctness of agent Peter Miller’s reported belief that the story could be a commercial success only if rewritten by someone such as Jean Sasson. This does not change the fact, however, that it appears that Miller and Sasson got away with plagiarism.
In 2003, Sasson published Mayada, the supposed account of an Iraqi woman oppressed by Saddam’s regime. In Soft Weapons, Gillian Whitlock used this book as a prime example of “propaganda generated through the veiled best-seller,” which proved useful in “naturalizing aggressive military strategy as a benevolent intervention.” During Sasson’s promotional tour for the book, Whitlock added, she even personally “attested to the sight of advanced weaponry . . . in Iraq” and “assure[d] the American public that loyal Iraqis enthusiastically welcome occupying American troops as a liberating force.” 59)
Finally, besides providing false propaganda about the Arab-Muslim world herself, Sasson also endorsed Norma Khouri’s bestselling but totally fraudulent “memoir” about Jordan, Honor Lost (originally Forbidden Love), calling it a “true story.” 60)
It would seem, therefore, that one looking for the truth should not trust anything that is found only in a Jean Sasson book, especially if it is something that might have propaganda value for the United States and its military allies.
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