April 16, 2004


The Sydney Morning Heraldís Paul McGeough "is getting awfully Fisky", wrote contributor Elizabeth F. earlier this month. You betcha! Hereís Robert Fisk in November 2002:

Bin Laden is alive. There can be no doubt about it.

And hereís McGeough talking about bin Laden today:

He is alive and well.

If bin Laden is proved to be alive at this point, Iíll take out a year-long subscription to the SMH. Hey -- Iíll also take Paul out to lunch at the restaurant of his choice. He can bring Margo with him!

UPDATE. Andrew Sullivan has a three-word response to "Osama's" truce offer.

Posted by Tim Blair at April 16, 2004 04:07 AM

I don't know McGeough's work, but doesn't saying that Osama is well make it sound like he's cheering for him?

Posted by: Matt Moore at April 16, 2004 at 05:16 AM

All I can say is:

Amen, Andrew!

Posted by: Rebecca at April 16, 2004 at 06:11 AM

The utter wishful thinking of his comment rests in the "well" part. One could "reasonably" claim that Bin Ladin is alive, but to also claim he is well makes no sense. If he is indeed alive but hasn't been seen on video for over two years and has only released audio tapes and statements, doesn't that strongly suggest that he is not "well"? If he still wants to be in the game, which is apparently the case, wouldn't a videotape be much more uplifting for his followers? Why then wouldn't he appear in one unless he looks like something pancake makeup couldn't fix either due to disease or injury?

Posted by: JohnPV at April 16, 2004 at 07:04 AM

Rather strange that there has been no time specific video footage of ol' Bin Lid since around 9/11. Seems incredible that given the current digital technology available, he hasn't slipped a moving image to his mates Pilger, Marr, McGeogh, Kingston or the AB freakin C!
I reckon the bastard is entombed in some big Paki mountain. If he's not dead, he's got one hell of a headache!

Posted by: Kate at April 16, 2004 at 08:05 AM

Im with JohnPV on this one I think he basicallly looks too wasted to be able to go on TV without demoralizing his supporters.

Posted by: Scottie at April 16, 2004 at 08:21 AM

I had an argument with an acquaintance who believed Osama was "winning". My response?

"All right, all he needs to do is to go to Washington and have Dubya hand over the keys to the world."

"He CAN do that, can't he? can't he?"

Posted by: Quentin George at April 16, 2004 at 08:24 AM

The way the CIA pipes up with, "Oh yes, that's him," every time a tape emerges makes me certain he's dead...deader than a doornail...strawberry jam on the wall of a Tora Bora cave.

Posted by: Theodopoulos Pherecydes at April 16, 2004 at 08:57 AM

Three words? How very Den Bestey of him. I could have done it in two.

Posted by: Jorge at April 16, 2004 at 09:36 AM

The point is has anyone seen USB and J Kerry at the same time? About the same height.

Posted by: Peter at April 16, 2004 at 10:00 AM

And I've got a five word response for Andrew:

"What are you drinking, mate?"

Posted by: Brendan at April 16, 2004 at 10:59 AM

Tim, I have the better part of a one-year subscription to the Herald that you can have.

I finally got tired of the infantile drivel that passes for commentary at the Herald, so I restricted deliveries to weekends only. But now I am even tiring of that. And at the current delivery, the sub won't run out until May 2005.

The newsagency that the sub is organised through is on Bondi Road, so presumably there won't be any problem transferring it over.

Posted by: The Mongrel at April 16, 2004 at 11:34 AM

Andrew Sullivan, I concur, however I would have extended the response to four words - the last word beginning with 'c'.


Posted by: Razor at April 16, 2004 at 11:37 AM

Enjoy your subscription Tim.

Posted by: Xel at April 16, 2004 at 12:03 PM


A C.I.A. official said that after a technical analysis, the agency concluded that the voice was probably Mr. bin Laden's, and, given the reference to Sheik Yassin, was made in recent weeks.

Your mates think he's alive Tim.

Posted by: Ping at April 16, 2004 at 12:06 PM

'I finally got tired of the infantile drivel that passes for commentary at the Herald, so I restricted deliveries to weekends only.'

It's a bit like being a closet drinker. Cold turkey is the only way. Stop it now and send 'em broke.

Meanwhile, today, the Herald Sun agrees that SMH sister paper The Age is no good.

Posted by: ilibcc at April 16, 2004 at 12:27 PM

Bin Liner is a dead man, whether he's still respiring oxygen or not. I'd also like to second Andrews sentiments unless, of course, it has something to do with his gay agenda. ;o
(Did I just say that?)

Posted by: Mikey at April 16, 2004 at 12:42 PM

Mikey, I think Andrew's comment can by definition have nothing to do with a sexual agenda of either orientation.

Posted by: ilibcc at April 16, 2004 at 02:05 PM

Ah, yes, Andrew Sullivan's gender agenda. It's a scary thing...

Posted by: TimT at April 16, 2004 at 03:11 PM

ilibcc- Unless one sees an equivalence between homosexuality and fecking "yourself", which I do, so I took the liberty of making a joke at his expense. On further consideration I'll withdraw my second of Sullivans remark since I don't think Bin Liners "truce" embassy isn't worthy of any response, let alone infantile epithets. Coincidentally, I see a closer equivalence between homosexuality and infantilism.

Posted by: mikey at April 16, 2004 at 03:48 PM

Well, Mikey, you seem to know a lot about infantilism, any way.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at April 16, 2004 at 08:46 PM

"I see a closer equivalence between homosexuality and infantilism"

Please explain...

Posted by: Matthew at April 17, 2004 at 12:30 AM

NO, please don't.

Posted by: aaron at April 17, 2004 at 09:05 AM

For reasons I've discussed back in 2002, OBL is indeed still either dead or so badly injured and disfigured he dare not show his face lest it demoralise his supporters and cheer up his enemies.

As for the latest tapes (January and April 04), I'm sure there are plenty of Rory Bremners and other impersonators out there in the Al Qaeda world who are well able to replicate bin Laden's linguistics (speech patterns, accent, intonation etc).

As for science, voiceprint identification is the principal technology available, where spectrographs of voice recordings are compared, on the basis that no two people produce the same spectrographic curve. Accuracy of less than 1% is claimed, which sounds low. But it means that if you have, say, just a thousand volunteers you should be able to find a few duplicates that the machine cannot distinguish between. By comparison, the accuracy of DNA measurement is so great that the chance of two people having the same measured DNA is in the hundreds of millions.

And why else are the latest audio tapes, as were the previous ones, of such a scratchy quality, if not to make voice identification more difficult ?

If Osama were alive and well, you can be sure he would be using the media to put out regular stirring and defiant messages - and making them believable. That means, at the least, using good quality video that leaves viewers - friend and foe alike - in no doubt whatsoever about the identity of the speaker.

Imagine the effect that would have in encouraging his followers and depressing the West.

But it's very hard to do from an unknown grave deep in the Afghan mountains. His last video, remember, was in December 2001.

See also here.

Regards from Dublin.

Posted by: Tony Allwright at April 17, 2004 at 09:40 AM

with regard the NY Times.
This is the outfit in the days following September 11 who very quaintly insisted on referring to Uncle Osama as "Mr Bin Laden"!
No seriously.

As for McGeough, he is another Fisk. A shameless cheer leader for despotism. His work is crap, much like "Mike" Carlton of the SMH.How much do they pay that goose for his undergraduate crap?

Posted by: roger at April 18, 2004 at 07:08 PM