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No mention of Bin Laden

Justin Webb | 18:28 UK time, Friday, 15 February 2008

WASHINGTON DC: In an interview a few hours ago with Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff revealed two interesting facts: that he is "comfortable" with the status of Pakistan's nukes - "they are in safe hands," he told me, with people "professionally and specifically focused on this".

And secondly, that Osama Bin Laden is now so unimportant, or so low down a list heavy with other concerns, that he did not even get a mention when Admiral Mullen held talks in Pakistan a few days ago.

Not mentioned? That is what he told me. America's senior soldier, holding meetings close to where the nation's top enemy is located and nobody mentions his name? Truly the world has moved on...

Osama Bin LadenUPDATE: An add to those thoughts... The admiral's office (keen blog readers!) call to point out that he himself does not regard Bin Laden as unimportant - of course - the question of his importance or lack of it was posed by me, and the admiral made it clear he is still a high priority.

In fact, I asked whether the trail had gone cold and the admiral said No. But my point is that the whole Wanted Dead or Alive thing, which so dominated the early days of the hunt (in fact that very phrase "the hunt for Bin Laden" sounds rather quaint now doesn’t it?) is no longer something that takes up the time of senior people.

My colleague Matt Frei interviewed President Bush a few hours ago and neither mentioned Bin Laden: he has disappeared mentally as well as physically...

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 07:20 PM on 15 Feb 2008,
  • Henry wrote:

Of course he'd say that! But I don't buy any of it. Pakistan and the US are more worried about bin Laden and his surrogates than they're letting on.

  • 2.
  • At 07:41 PM on 15 Feb 2008,
  • Scott wrote:

Yeah, well you know, he only killed 3000 people, and that was a long time ago. Not worth the trouble to pick him up really, is it?

  • 3.
  • At 08:09 PM on 15 Feb 2008,
  • raj rodrigues wrote:

Quite literally a question of being so close, that he/they cant see the wood for the trees. Perspective is what's been lacking ever since the beginning.

  • 4.
  • At 08:48 PM on 15 Feb 2008,
  • Jeff K wrote:

You have failed miserably as a reporter, your comments are completly politically biased. You have become part of the US propaganda machine. After trillions of dollars have failed to eliminate 1 man, calling him unimportant is political spin which is not only unprecidented in human history but propagates and is the epiotme of what is wrong with the thought processes of people who have obtained high levels of political command.

  • 5.
  • At 09:29 PM on 15 Feb 2008,
  • Matt wrote:

Maybe politicians and military officers removed from the real world do not remember Osama Bin Laden but I for one still openly cry when I see footage of the World Trade Center attack.

  • 6.
  • At 09:57 PM on 15 Feb 2008,
  • jim hart wrote:

If the media stopped publishing terrorists views and etc they would go away of their own accord. They(terrorists) want media attention and publication. Deny them it and they will shut up.

The comments of Admiral Mike Mullen are alarming and dangerous, and reflect the myopia of the Bush administration regarding the continuing danger of Al-Qaeda getting its hands on loose nukes. One major presidential candidate, Barack Obama, is on record as regarding Osama bin Laden's continuing safe refuge in Pakistan, and nuclear proliferation, as a dangerous nexus. If elected President of the United States, Obama will not be as disinterested in the continuing threat threat posed by Al-Qaeda and an unstable Pakistan with a nuclear arsenal.

  • 8.
  • At 10:07 PM on 15 Feb 2008,
  • Brett wrote:

The "nation's top enemy" is and always has been, the terrifying threat of popular democracy. Creating a climate of fear at home is one way to cow the domestic population into servile obedience, whether it's the old Soviet Union or the so-called "war on terror", or whatever else can be exploited to inculcate fear and conformity to authority with a rollback of civil liberties. Upholding comprador authoritarian regimes in Pakistan and around the world is always much preferred to the spread of popular insurgencies. The masters of the world are always far more "comfortable" with the spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction among their trustworthy client tyrants and dictators of their New World Order than they are with the spread of true freedom and democracy among the underlying populations of the world, at home and abroad. Obama and Billary are perfectly "comfortable" with that, too!

  • 9.
  • At 12:38 AM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Gareth wrote:

No wonder George was relaxed! He got nothing but softballs from Mr Frei!
From Gareth in Donegal, Ireland

  • 10.
  • At 12:40 AM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Chris Neville-Smith wrote:

Actually, I don't see what the fuss is here. Given that all of the recent Al-Qaeda tapes have been done by the supposed number 2, I suspect power transferred to Al-Zawahiri a few years ago. (The last tape released from Bin Laden certainly didn't sound like he was too healthy.) Capturing Bin Laden will achieve very little if he's no longer in charge.

Even capturing Al-Zawahiri (assuming he's now the real leader) may not be that useful. Al-Qeada is better thought of as an ideology than an organisation, and it will take a lot more than removing a few figureheads to stop them.

  • 11.
  • At 12:48 AM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • jerry wrote:

Have they REALLY been looking for Osama?
If they have not found him by now, why are they still in their jobs?
It cannot be an issue of incompetence, there has to be another reason.

  • 12.
  • At 05:37 AM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Mary wrote:

#8 Brett: Yeah, but lets hope that they won't be as "comfortable" with the whole fear mongering tactic


  • 13.
  • At 07:03 AM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Mike wrote:

It's a good thing he's so unimportant otherwise it would be really pathetic that the self-proclaimed leader of the war on terror can't even catch a single man... I just wonder which came first?

  • 14.
  • At 07:46 AM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Greta wrote:

Painful to read Bush's interview transcript ... on every possible level, not least rhetorical ... like, like, like, ya know?

It's a curious burden to be so ashamed of one's President's words and deeds, especially living abroad.

On the other hand, "Don't talk like my President" is an ever-popular and instructive element in advanced, even intermediate Engish classes.

We could find Bin Laden if we wanted to ... but wouldn't that end the 10,000 year war?

  • 15.
  • At 08:44 AM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • George wrote:

There are rumors of Bin Laden being dead since 03.

The videos do not look like Bin Laden.

  • 16.
  • At 10:02 AM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Stefan wrote:

Benazir Bhutto told David Frost on the 2nd of November 2007, that Osama Bin Laden had been murdered.

Watch the video at 2min 14secs:

  • 17.
  • At 10:31 AM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Brian Halliday wrote:

Catching him would be the start of the biggest martydom for centuries. The USA would have to try and execute him. Fair trial maybe, but he's admitted he did it.(9/11)The muslim world already hates the USA for its total bias towards Israel and associates it with the persecution of the Palestinian people. The last thing the Americans want to do is put him on trial!

  • 18.
  • At 02:11 PM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Nich wrote:

The invasion of Afghanistan was very quick and for a little while there was the possibility Bin laden was dead. I heard a vey senior BBC journalist comment that it is best if Bin Laden vanishes, if he is dead he is a Martyr, if he is alive he can taunt and recruit, but if he disappears he is nothing" Despite a few grainy videos, this seems to have been exactly what has happened

  • 19.
  • At 02:22 PM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • BongoBrido wrote:

How about you explain why Benazir Bhutto, before her assasination, stated catagorically (To David Frost on 2nd Nov 2008) that Osama Bin Laden was murdered by Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh... then the BBC went on to censor this statement.

The original video went viral on the internet and the BBC have yet to explain their deliberate censorship of this claim.

A simple search for "Benazir Bhutto: Bin Laden Murdered" will take you to the video.

If you do not post this then it confirms my suspicions that the BBC are trying to hide this fact from the people.

Also, Bin Laden was in 2002 in a Saudi hospital undergoing Dialasis for a kidney disease and was visited by the CIA as reported in a Parisian newspaper. He was, even back then, not a well man. It is highly likely he is not alive today.

Ps. I have checked and this video does not impinge on any site rules.

  • 20.
  • At 04:44 PM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Clark Jordan wrote:

Astonishing that the best intelligence services in the world cannot find the world's tallest Saudi, traveling with a 200-300 man entourage and a dialysis machine, living in a country that is a US "ally". Makes one wonder if anyone was ever looking for him...after all, the US is the one who financed bin Laden in Afghanistan during the 80's against the Soviets. Perhaps they should check the address where he receives his CIA pension check.

  • 21.
  • At 05:12 PM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Justin wrote:

Mr.Bush told Chris Wallace in an interview just a couple of weeks ago that he asks for updates on where bin Laden is all the time.

Bush knows that the one thing that could exonerate his reputation is if bin Laden is caught while he is in office.

  • 22.
  • At 06:06 PM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Steven wrote:

I think Brett is largely correct. The number one enemy of any government is it's own people. This fact only really becomes obvious in dictatorships, but the same is true in democracies.

In totalitarian regimes the people are beaten down with fear and violence and in democracies they are beaten down with propaganda.

That's not to say that democracies completely eschew internal violence.
We have seen time and time again that western governments are prepared to use some degree of violence towards protesters. To get away with that, they need the media on their side. Protesters are routinely demonised by the media in varies ways. Often the issue in the media becomes one of "will there be any trouble" rather than focusing on the issues the protest raises.

  • 23.
  • At 06:30 PM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Mike Dixon wrote:

When Governments and people stop being afraid of Bin Laden he will have no more power.

Justin - could you please explain what happens to Mitt Romney's delegate now he has endorsed John McCain. Will they have they choice of who to vote for at the National Convention?

  • 24.
  • At 07:26 PM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • John Crumley wrote:

Um, who is this guy you're talking about? -I don't understand. And is the election over or something?

  • 25.
  • At 07:50 PM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • schnail wrote:

Of course the Bush administration isn't concerned about catching bin Laden. How is there any profit for Bush and Cheney's buddies in that?

  • 26.
  • At 08:01 PM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

I'm not sure this is really saying anything particularly controversial.

I'm sure Bin Laden would have started to fall down the 'most wanted' charts when speculation about his state of health, especially rumours of kidney failure, started to spread.

Clearly I have no way of substantiating the accuracy of those rumours, but there are other individuals who are, no doubt, in better health and more active than the erstwhile 'America's Number One Enemy'.

Celebrity is so fickle these days - I am reminded of the words of Morrissey's song 'Last of the famous international playboys'..

  • 27.
  • At 09:59 PM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Charles wrote:

Come on!!!!! the bogey man is as real as Bin Laden! I am not saying he is not a real person but his role on the face of this little rock we have to share, with people who claim to be right and just. That really are greedy, power hungry psycho paths! is nothing!!!!! If we really knew who was dangerous and that they held positions of responsibility and some crazy idiots ticked their box in ballets! then you would not really sleep at night!

Wakey Wakey! wee willie winkie is running through YOUR town!

I found Matt Frei's interview with the President to be surprisingly interesting. I was particularly surprised to find myself agreeing with this President on a number of issues, including aid to Africa (for HIV AIDS amongst other things), where it is clear that this administrations significant efforts have been deeply unreported by the vast percentage of the mainstream media. President Bush has undoubtedly done a lot of damage to a great nation during this period in office. Yet it is also important to note where he has brought some good to the world and the increase in US financial aid to Africa has been one of the few highlights of his administration.

Hi Justin ! What you write is always interesting. I would have thought Admiral Mullen comments in his capacity of a military man; what matters most is the "politics" of the
U.S. administration, in this regard this is the worst administration in the history of the U.S., it subjected its hard working God fearing residents to an unprecedented
exposure of reprisals by those harmed by its policies whether at home or overseas, Bin Laden is one person who has a grudge against the U.S. admin , there are hundreds of millions out there who feel the same.
If this Admin. thinks like Bill Gates
and so many wonderful American citizens, Bin Laden himself would have never had a reason to do what he did. Thanks.

Yes well,
The BBC had edited out Benazir Bhutto saying that it was Omar Sheikh who had killed bin Laden when the Beeb re-broadcast the interview with David Frost from Al Jazeera.

So what.

  • 31.
  • At 10:24 AM on 17 Feb 2008,
  • george powell wrote:

I cannot agree with comment# 8. Sounds like a conspiracy theory. I think people get good government only when they take the time to understand the issues and in doing so see through false policies, electioneering jingoism and the dangers of special interests.

As for Bin Laden not being important, that is the sort of thing any gung-ho possy would say when their man eludes them. It is cheap and intellectually dishonest.

  • 32.
  • At 01:52 PM on 17 Feb 2008,
  • Allan wrote:

Osama Bin Laden has served his purpose and is no longer really relevant. We in the UK and USA need to wake up and see what is really behind what's going on.
There are 2 relevant documentaries available floating about the internet that I believe are essential viewing. Firstly "Taking Liberties" and then "Zeitgeist"
Watch these, you may not agree with all that's in them but they will give you something to think about.

I doubt very much if this will get published as the powers that be won't want you to see or think about these things.

We need to wake up NOW!!!!!

  • 33.
  • At 01:59 PM on 17 Feb 2008,
  • Aysar Aziz wrote:

Many people in the US, ie, politicans, journalists, analysts, etc, constantly talk about Pakistans nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands.

Yet these same people will get very offended if someone in Pakistan question the security of the US weapons and the danger of US nuclear arms falling into the hands of US right wing terror groups with very anti Islamic views. For example, the Michigan Militia, etc etc.

Sadly, Americans have a false perception of their superiority over people in the East, who to be honest, are generally perceived as being stupid, evil and incompetent.

This ridiculous attitude has to be changed, for the dignity of the American people.

  • 34.
  • At 04:37 PM on 17 Feb 2008,
  • John Crumley wrote:

Does 'Charles' mean me?!

  • 35.
  • At 05:19 PM on 17 Feb 2008,
  • Kathryn L. Edwards wrote:

I suppose if he really had nothing to do with the planes that crashed into the pentagon and the WTC wants the point in getting him. It is just really hard for me to believe that they have just forgot about him, the man that got though all of our security and resources to do the damage that was done and they aren't worried about him anymore. It's not just the Admiral the U.S.A. president has also said this just what is going on?

  • 36.
  • At 07:00 PM on 17 Feb 2008,
  • Raymond Denson wrote:

The Taliban government offered to hand over Bin Laden if the Americans could supply evidence of his complicity in the events of 9/11. The Americans had no evidence, so they responded with a bombing campaign. Apart from a video, conveniently found in Islamabad (a clumsy CIA forgery) no evidence has been produced to this date which might show that anyone in Afghanistan was in anyway responsible for the 9/11 tragedy. The Americans have made no serious attempts to seek Bin Laden because his capture would be a major embarrassment which might reveal to the world that 9/11 was a "false flag" operation.

  • 37.
  • At 07:04 PM on 17 Feb 2008,
  • Tim Midgley wrote:

Osama bin Laden popularity in Western Europe and the Middle East is greater to day than he has ever previously enjoyed.

He is a cult hero to millions who despise globalisation and who are not of the Muslim faith. However he has enabled his religion to become the fastest growing religion on our global planet.

The fear is; our ‘so called’ leaders appear to believe that he will disappear as his followers will, if they don’t mention his name.

Until our forces leave the Middle East and there is peace between Israel and Palestine Osama bin Laden will remain the hero he is too many and only due to our treatment of prisoners in Cuba and around this global village. Osama bin Laden will retain his hero status he has with the anti-globalisation movement moreover more people of differing faiths daily and not just Muslims.

  • 38.
  • At 08:38 PM on 17 Feb 2008,
  • Luci Smith wrote:

I look forward to the time when nobody mentions George W. Bush, who in my opinion has been responsible for a lot of terrible things that have happened to Americans. It is a strange time that we live in, and I find it interesting with the comments of listeners, som of whom do not seem to be able to see the reporter's sense of irony.

  • 39.
  • At 09:06 PM on 17 Feb 2008,
  • JohnJoseph wrote:

this just adds to the conspiracy theory guys who say 911 was an inside job. they showed a scapegoat for a shortwhile in Bin Laden and then attacked Iraq to take the focus away.

now ordinary people also dont care anymore about Bin Laden.

US support for Musharaf with billions of $ worth of military aid while crippling sanctions on Cuba is just the sort of hypocrisy that make these conspiracy theories so believable.

  • 40.
  • At 01:45 AM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • Matthew Connaughton wrote:

Scott, Matt, Feff K; Go educate yourselves!!!

Even if Bin Laden wasn't a US asset, he is worth more worth alive than dead anyway... stick with me...

Which ever way you look at it, the Bush administration use Bin Laden and 'TERROR' alerts (such as your traffic light system) to induce fear and subservience upon the american people ( Patriot act, anybody??).

You haven't failed as a reporter for your comments Mr Webb for your Bin Ladencomments, but your colleagues and you have ALL failed to question the US government properly as to whether or not a man in a cave (who the mightiest military in the world CANNOT TRACK may I add) in need of dialysis treatment was capable of co-ordinating the sepember 11th attacks.

Pitiful - Bin Laden was never a threat and his enigmatic stature plays directly into the hand of the PNAC mob and their agenda.

Start playing people the then-live news (cnn abc, fox etc) coverage from 9/11 and remind everyone about multiple explosions that brought down the twin towers!!!

Grow a pair, BBC!!!

Matthew C, Manchester, UK

Apologises to other posters who had written about Benazir Bhutto.
When I wrote “So what” I meant that I wasn’t surprised that BBC hacks, think, in their pedantic mind set, that it is their responsibility to filter information for us.

  • 42.
  • At 08:23 AM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • Ding wrote:

So who is George Bush?

  • 43.
  • At 02:44 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • Wahid wrote:

If you don't already know, Bin Laden is dead - old news - obviously the media is the west is not going to mention this. They want people to think that this bogey man is dangerous so the war on terror continues. Its funny how Bhutto mentioned Bin Laden was killed and 12 hours later Pakistan imposed martial law so that everyone diverts their atention to Pakistan instead of these comments by Bhutto. Then they killed her off. We live in a corrupt world. Of course there are terrorists now who think that Bin Laden is some sort of hero, they don't know that AL-CIA-DUH is a myth so they will continue to fight. Wake up people!

  • 44.
  • At 03:01 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • balti wrote:

see the fbi most wanted web page, he's not wanted for 9/11

  • 45.
  • At 05:28 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

Bin Laden? It's amazing people are still talking about this guy. They will never find him because they've never been looking for him because he never did anything. There is no war on terror. Al-Qaeda is nothing more than a rudimentary gang, no more powerful than the bloods and the crypts in Los Angeles. The only war is the war on the middle class and civil liberties by our governments, our corporations and the media. The worst part is that once people hear someone like me talking they immediately call me crazy as if it is a shock to hear that your government would lie to you or kill their own people. Yet our governments lie to us all the time and the U.S. government kills its own people everyday by not providing universal health care and the lack of gun control and their handling of Hurricaine Katrina.

When will we as world citizens decide to finally take on world back from the rich elite power hungry people and corporations that would see us suffer just to make a buck.

Mark from Canada

  • 46.
  • At 09:35 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • Turtle U.S. wrote:

Does he even exist? You cant catch someone who never existed. The whole 9/11 mess was a huge hoax anyway. A hoax in the sense that 3,000 people did die but who murdered them is the question isnt it?? Way to many unanswered questions. The Bush administration will make Nixon and his buddies look like a tea party when this is all said and done and the truth comes out in 20 years!

  • 47.
  • At 09:38 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • bill wrote:

you are not fooling anybody with that picture.that man in the picture is really andrea bocelli.

  • 48.
  • At 01:56 AM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • Lance wrote:

I know I am late with my posting, but I don't get out must and my crayons are dull. But, from all I have read here it sounds a lot to me like "1984", the book not the year. I think it was written by George Orwell.

  • 49.
  • At 02:13 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • Talleyrand wrote:

Hello Mr. Webb,
OBL hasn't disappeared, he was never visible. In fact, there is a good case to be made for the fact that OBL was more important to the Bush administration alive and sort of hanging out in some cave than dead. Imagine they would have "got him" in November 2001? They could never have invaded Iraq, and they would never have been able to get away with turning my former country, the USA, into a banana republic that maintains the ultra-rich on the backs of the rest. Imagine that! I believe Bush, the neo-cons and many others thank the day OBL got away.
Having said that, I imagine they might well unpack him shortly before the elections to support a Republican candidate, so that the lunatic fringe wing of the party can continue its task of dismantling the constitution (except for Amendment # 2, of course). Maybe OBL will even make an appearance himself to support the GOP as he has done in the past. After all, the surest way of destroying the USA is to have another moron at the helm backed by foaming-at-the-mouth ideologues.

As a nation, we have become so dumbed down, its amazing we can still survive. It's momentum, obviously.

I gather you will not publish this, so enjoy reading it.


Talleyrand (a journalist, too, by the way)

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