In March 2000, witness to a meeting between bin Laden and his people, reported that the terrorist appeared weak and gaunt, coughed frequently and seemed to become easily exhausted. The man spoke to a doctor who accompanied bin Laden and was told the leader’s ailment was related to his circulation and his blood being not “‘cleaned” in the right way.
Around the same time, an unnamed officer in the intelligence community stated bin Laden has kidney failure and his ‘liver is going’. He said the terrorists were trying to find a dialysis machine for their ailing leader. In an interview with the Asiaweek, another [or possibly the same] unnamed member of the intelligence community, said of bin Laden, “the man is dying“.
by Prof David Ray Griffin
Most of the people I quoted in support of my thesis, moreover, used the word “probably.” Dale Watson of the FBI’s counterterrorism division, for example, said:
“I personally think [bin Laden] is probably not with us anymore.” President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan said: “I would come to believe that [bin Laden] is probably dead.”
Likewise, in an online essay with the same title as my book, I wrote: “If my little book, by showing that bin Laden has probably long been dead, can help shorten this war, it will have served its main purpose.” 99)
Osseiran, however, seemed to be saying that my evidence, besides not being conclusive, was not even very good. Supporting this claim would have required him to show that all of the evidence I provided was weak. He, however, simply ignored most of it.
In the aforementioned essay, I summarized the evidence provided in my book, dividing it into two types: objective and testimonial. The objective evidence was summarized thus:
“First, up until mid-December, 2001, the CIA had regularly been intercepting messages between bin Laden and his people. At that time, however, the messages suddenly stopped, and the CIA has never again intercepted a message.
“Second, on December 26, 2001, a leading Pakistani newspaper published a story reporting that bin Laden had died in mid-December, adding: ‘A prominent official in the Afghan Taliban movement . . . stated . . . that he had himself attended the funeral of bin Laden and saw his face prior to burial.”’
“Third, bin Laden had kidney disease. He had been treated for it in the American Hospital in Dubai in July 2001, at which time he reportedly ordered two dialysis machines to take home. If you have ever wondered what bin Laden was doing the night before the 9/11 attacks, CBS News reported that he was being given kidney dialysis treatment in a hospital in Pakistan. And in January of 2001, Dr. Sanjay Gupta said – based on a video of bin Laden that had been made in either late November or early December of 2001 – that he appeared to be in the last stages of kidney failure.
“Fourth, In July of 2002, CNN reported that bin Laden’s bodyguards had been captured in February of that year, adding: ‘Sources believe that if the bodyguards were captured away from bin Laden, it is likely the most-wanted man in the world is dead.’
“Fifth, the United States has since 2001 offered a $25 million reward for any information leading to the capture or killing of bin Laden. But this reward offer has produced no such information, even though Pakistan has many desperately poor people, only about half of whom have been supportive of bin Laden.”
The testimonial evidence consisted of statements by the following people:
- President Musharraf of Pakistan
- Dale Watson, the head of the FBI’s counterterrorism unit
- Oliver North
- President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan
- Sources within Israeli intelligence
- Sources within Pakistani intelligence
- Former CIA case officer Robert Baer
- Former Foreign Service officer Angelo Codevilla (who said: “Seven years after Osama bin Laden’s last verifiable appearance among the living, there is more evidence for Elvis’s presence among us than for his.”)
In belittling this evidence, Osseiran commented only on the testimonial evidence and two examples of the objective evidence, and most of these comments are weak.
OSSEIRAN’S STING HYPOTHESIS
His strongest treatment involved an alternative explanation for my first example of objective evidence – the fact that all interceptions of communications with bin Laden suddenly ceased in mid-December 2001. Osseiran wrote:
“Mr. Griffin and I agree on one thing, December 13, 2001 is a very important date. . . . One of Mr. Griffin’s arguments supporting the death theory is that it is the date bin Laden went quiet, i.e. no electronic intercepts. I have a more plausible take on this quietness and it is not death. December 13 also happens to be the date the Pentagon released the ‘bin Laden Confession Tape’. . . . When Bin Laden saw himself on TV confessing he realized that the taping was done by a covert camera and realized how close intelligence were to capturing him; Bin Laden would never let anyone that close again. . . . It is no coincidence bin Laden went silent on that date and into deep hiding; it was the only logical reaction to the release of the tape.”
If Osseiran’s “sting” hypothesis were plausible, this explanation for the sudden cessation of intercepts might seem convincing. As I have indicated, however, that hypothesis is, for several reasons, implausible.
Also, even if bin Laden had indeed decided to go into “deep hiding,” doing so successfully would have been no easy matter for this tall, very well-known man. Ignoring the fifth example of objective evidence I had provided, Osseiran failed to address the question of why, if bin Laden has been alive all these years, not a single person has reported his location in order to collect the $25 million reward.
With regard to my third example of objective evidence, Osseiran wrote:
“Assuming it is true that bin Laden had kidney problems, severity unknown, to present dialysis as the only effective treatment without considering other treatments that are more effective and readily available is simply disingenuous. There is an older treatment that bin Laden could have stocked up on.”
The note for this passage, however, referred the reader to a Wikipedia article about peritoneal dialysis. 100) So the treatment Osseiran had in mind was not an alternative to dialysis, but simply an alternative to the type of dialysis, called hemodialysis, given in clinics. The most important difference is that one undergoes peritoneal dialysis by means of a permanent tube in the abdomen, “with the primary advantage being the ability to undertake treatment without visiting a medical facility.” Osseiran’s claim that peritoneal dialysis is “more effective” than hemodialysis is not supported by the article, which says, in fact, that “PD is less efficient at removing wastes from the body than hemodialysis.” 101)
The main problem with Osseiran’s statement, however, is that the issue is not what bin Laden could have done, but what he reportedly did do, and my book referred to multiple reports that, besides undergoing dialysis in a hospital in Dubai, he had transported dialysis machines to Afghanistan. (More recently, moreover, I learned the above-mentioned fact that, according to CBS News, he was in a hospital in Pakistan getting dialysis the night before the 9/11 attacks. 102) It would seem, therefore, that bin Laden preferred hemodialysis to the other type. I also reported that, according to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the video released December 27, 2001, indicated that bin Laden was in the final stages of kidney failure. Osseiran’s speculation about bin Laden’s possible options did nothing, therefore, to undermine the evidence provided by these reports that he was near death because of kidney disease.
Osseiran did make a valid point in saying that, “if bin Laden survived Tora Bora and made his way to Pakistan,” he might have received a kidney transplant (which could have extended his life for many years). In engaging in this speculative possibility, however, Osseiran simply ignored my second type of evidence: the report of bin Laden’s funeral in the Tora Bora area in the middle of December – a rather striking piece of evidence simply to ignore.
Osseiran also ignored my fourth example of objective evidence – the report that bin Laden’s bodyguards were found in 2002 without him, which CNN took as a sign that he was no longer alive.
With regard to the testimonial evidence I provided, Osseiran’s only comment was to say that heads of state and intelligence officials “are not reliable sources.” That may in general be the case. But one of the principles of historiography is that, if a person makes a statement that runs counter to the official stance of the organization to which that person belongs, this is a reason to accept it as an honest statement of the person’s belief.
In sum: Osseiran’s attempt to dispute my conclusion that Osama bin Laden probably died in December 2001 consisted of an alternative to one of my examples of objective evidence, a weak responses another, a weak response to the testimonial evidence, and no response whatsoever to three examples of objective evidence. I will continue, therefore, to maintain that the presently available evidence suggests that bin Laden probably died in December 2001.
Osseiran and I share the desire to help bring the Af-Pak war to an end. We also agree that the truth about Osama bin Laden, if it were to become publicly known, could help bring about that result. We even agree that a proper understanding of the bin Laden videotape released by the Pentagon on December 13, 2001, is crucial for understanding the truth about bin Laden. We disagree, however, on the proper understanding of that videotape.
Concluding that this video was a fabrication, I believe this conclusion to be important for two reasons. First, it destroys the government’s primary exhibit for its claim that bin Laden acknowledged responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. Second, as one of the three most obviously fabricated bin Laden videos, it provides a basis for suspecting all of the post-2001 video and audio tapes to be fabrications.
Osseiran and I also disagree on the twofold question of the persuasiveness and importance of the evidence that Osama bin Laden has long been dead. For me, that evidence is strong enough to conclude that he is probably dead, and this conclusion is important because it undermines, even for people who still accept bin Laden’s responsibility for 9/11, the public rationale for the continuation of the war in Afghanistan and its extension into Pakistan.
The conclusion that bin Laden has most probably been dead since December 2001 is also important because, in conjunction with the evidence that the video released December 13, 2001, is a fabrication, it provides a strong reason for considering all of the post-2001 bin Laden tapes to be fakes – fakes that were created, evidently, to maintain support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and other policies that were justified on the basis of the 9/11 attacks. If so, they constitute a massive, illegal propaganda effort directed at the American public.
Osseiran, by contrast, seems unconcerned with the question of whether bin Laden is alive or dead and also with the question of whether some or all of the bin Laden tapes issued from 2002 until the present are fakes. For him, the all-important truth is that the tape released December 13, 2001, was the product of a sting operation set up by the CIA, during which US forces could have killed or captured bin Laden. Getting that truth revealed, Osseiran claims, would undermine the war by showing that it was launched for a purpose other than, or at least in addition to, that of killing or capturing bin Laden. Osseiran was apparently motivated to attack my work because I have not accepted what he considers this all-important truth.
But the question of Osseiran’s motivation is irrelevant to the only important question, which is whether his criticisms are correct. Although three of them are not, as we have seen, I gratefully acknowledge the correctness of the criticism about the Al Jazeera interview.
Becoming aware of the authenticity of that reported interview has helped me strengthen my case with regard to the crucial issue: the bogus nature of the “bin Laden confession video” released December 13, 2001.
David Ray Griffin is a former professor of philosophy of religionandtheology. Recently, Griffin has published a number of books on the subject of the September 11 attacks, suggesting that there was a conspiracyinvolving some elements of the United States government.
Disclaimer:The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.
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