Need some more help here, folks.

1. A tape appears that seems to have Osama bin Laden’s voice on it. [Transcript here. As far as I can tell, no American news outlet decided to print or post the full transcript, as opposed to soundbites.] Update: a reader points out that the Bush Administration formally asked the American media to censor al-Qaeda communications more than a year ago. Another reader is upset that I switched the link to the BBC from my earlier reference to World Nuts Daily. WND apparently copied it from the Beeb.

2. The voice on the tape says the following:

We also stress to honest Muslims that they should move, incite, and mobilize the [Islamic] nation, amid such grave events and hot atmosphere so as to liberate themselves from those unjust and renegade ruling regimes, which are enslaved by the United States.

They should also do so to establish the rule of God on earth.

The most qualified regions for liberation are Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, the land of the two holy mosques [Saudi Arabia], and Yemen.

Needless to say, this crusade war is primarily targeted against the people of Islam.

Regardless of the removal or the survival of the socialist party or Saddam, Muslims in general and the Iraqis in particular must brace themselves for jihad against this unjust campaign and acquire ammunition and weapons.

This is a prescribed duty. God says: “[And let them pray with thee] taking all precautions and bearing arms: the unbelievers wish if ye were negligent of your arms and your baggage, to assault you in a single rush.”

Fighting in support of the non-Islamic banners is forbidden.

Muslims’ doctrine and banner should be clear in fighting for the sake of God. He who fights to raise the word of God will fight for God’s sake.

Under these circumstances, there will be no harm if the interests of Muslims converge with the interests of the socialists in the fight against the crusaders, despite our belief in the infidelity of socialists.

The jurisdiction of the socialists and those rulers has fallen a long time ago.

Socialists are infidels wherever they are, whether they are in Baghdad or Aden.

3. Colin Powell says that the voice on the tape is genuine and that the tape proves that al-Qaeda is “in partnership” with Iraq, whose rulers the supposed bin Laden just finished calling “infidels.”

4. Glenn Reynolds says:

Personally, I think this is evidence that Osama is dead, and that the CIA is supplying these tapes for purposes of its own. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that).

But now that he’s admitting a “partnership” with Iraq, it’s going to be tough for people who’ve been saying “you can’t even catch Osama” to deny this evidence. Heh.

So let me get this straight:

1. Colin Powell tells an obvious fib. (It wasn’t obvious when he told it, because he’d seen the transcript and the rest of us hadn’t. But it’s pretty obvious now.) Why? Isn’t his credibility worth more than that? Or is he just counting on the reporters not to notice, or to be afraid to report, the distance between what he said and what was true?

2. Glenn Reynolds thinks that bin Laden is dead, and the tape is a fake. He also thinks that’s OK. Why? This isn’t wartime deception; no enemy is being fooled at all. Does Glenn enjoy being lied to by his government? Or does he just think that any tactic is justified to whip up public support for a war? If that’s his belief, then is that sort of lying only good when it’s done officially, or does Glenn think he too has the right, or perhaps even the duty, to deceive his readers if that’s useful to the cause?

3. If they were faking the tape, why wouldn’t the CIA make it say what Powell said it said?

4. But if bin Laden is dead and the tape is a fake, then how can anything on it mean that bin Laden is “admitting” anything at all?

A note to the warhawks: This sort of stuff makes it really, really hard for those of us who are trying our best to support your cause but who don’t like being bullshat.

A note to the peace camp, and especially to those on the fence: An idea isn’t responsible for the arguments made on its behalf. There is no valid inference from the proposition “Bush and his friends are a bunch of liars” to the proposition “Saddam Hussein’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon is nothing to worry about.”


Here’s an explanation that covers all the facts: Iraqi intelligence has bought or intimidated Glenn Reynolds, or alternatively Glenn is dead and the blog is now maintained by an impostor in Iraqi service. In either case, they’re using Instapundit to help discredit the case for war. Colin Powell was drugged or hypnotized into making that embarrassing claim.

If you find that unbelievable, don’t even try believing what Reynolds and Powell said. You’ll just strain your brain.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: