- The Washington Times - Monday, December 10, 2001

Vice President Richard B. Cheney said he has seen parts of a new videotape that proves Osama bin Laden was behind the September 11 attack on America.
"He does, in fact, display significant knowledge of what happened, and there's no doubt about his responsibility for the attack on September 11," Mr. Cheney said yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"This is one more piece of evidence confirming his responsibility," the vice president said.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was asked on ABC's "This Week" whether the tape clearly shows that bin Laden planned the attacks. "I think it's very clear, yes," he replied.
The discovery of the 40-minute Arabic-language tape was first reported yesterday by The Washington Post. The newspaper said it was found in a private home in Jalalabad.
Mr. Cheney said yesterday on NBC that the tape shows bin Laden in a meeting or interview with a cleric, "talking about the events of September 11."
Said Mr. Wolfowitz on ABC: "It's disgusting. I mean, this is a man who takes pride and pleasure in having killed thousands of innocent human beings. It confirms everything we've known about him already.
"Hopefully, we'll stop hearing any more of these insane conspiracy theories that somehow the United States has made this up or somebody else did it," he said.
Officials who appeared on network news talk shows yesterday did not offer any details about what was on the tape. But wire service accounts, citing unnamed U.S. officials who had seen the tape, said bin Laden was meeting with a cleric and recounted being at a dinner when he was told a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.
Bin Laden then said he told the others at the dinner, and they cheered. In the tape, bin Laden described the damage around the World Trade Center twin towers as greater than anticipated, told his happy guests that more was coming, and praised God for the success.
According to the U.S. officials, the tape shows bin Laden had advance knowledge of the time and means of the attacks, along with the targets.
On the tape, bin Laden also recalls tuning into news shows hours before the planes hit, waiting to see the first accounts of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which killed more than 3,000 people.
Bush administration officials are weighing whether to release the tape. On NBC, Mr. Cheney said that's not his decision to make.
"We've not been eager to give the guy any extra television time," he said.
Mr. Wolfowitz, in an interview on CNN's "Late Edition," said releasing the tape could raise questions of how it was obtained and possibly compromise intelligence sources.
But Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, and Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican, who also appeared on CNN, both called for the tape to be made public.
"The world needs to see this. The world needs to understand the threat this guy represents to mankind," Mr. Hagel said.
Catching bin Laden and mopping up the rest of his al Qaeda terrorist group, however, will not be an easy task, Mr. Wolfowitz said on "This Week."
"The most important thing for the American people to understand is our objectives remain very largely to be done in the future," he said. "Enemies that are half-defeated can be very dangerous, and they can take a long time to clear out."
According to U.S. officials on yesterday's talk shows, the precise whereabouts of bin Laden and Mullah Mohammed Omar remained unknown.
Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on "Fox News Sunday" and CBS' "Face the Nation" that the United States has general information about where they may be hiding. But he said the hunt for both continues, as nothing is firm.
Of bin Laden, Gen. Myers said on CBS, "Our latest information is that he is in the so-called Tora Bora area, there in the hills with some other al Qaeda fighters, and they are fighting fiercely with opposition forces, some of our forces, and some of our air attacks, trying to survive."
But on Fox, he said, the United States does not have "absolute ground proof" as to the accuracy of those reports.
Mr. Wolfowitz was more blunt when he was asked where bin Laden and Omar are.
"I wish I did know. We are looking as hard as we can," he said on ABC.
The deputy defense secretary said the military is tracking every report it receives.
But "people need to understand that most of these reports have the quality of rumor," he said. "If all the rumors concentrate in a certain area, you tend to think that's where they probably are. But these are people on the run."
On CNN, Mr. Wolfowitz said he believes Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban militia that ran Afghanistan for a half-decade and sheltered bin Laden, is "most likely in the Kandahar area." Nevertheless, "if he turned up somewhere else, I would not be totally surprised," he said.
As for bin Laden, he said, "I suppose it is theoretically possible that he could take plastic surgery, disguise himself as a woman and hide somewhere in the mountains of Chechnya, and it might be a long time before we find him. Obviously, we would like to get him and bring him to justice."
However, the United States got a diplomatic setback yesterday in that quest to bring bin Laden to justice. British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said that if his country's forces captured bin Laden, they would not turn him over to the United States if he faced execution.
On another matter, Gen. Myers said that John Walker Lindh, the 20-year-old American captured while fighting for the Taliban, is providing information to U.S. Marines at a desert base south of Kandahar.
The joint chiefs chairman said Mr. Lindh, whom he described as a "detainee right now," not a prisoner of war, has already provided useful information.
He said U.S. officials were trying to determine if Mr. Lindh had additional information that could aid in U.S. military or intelligence operations in Afghanistan or could prevent future terrorist attacks.
The Bush administration is still trying to determine how to handle the Lindh case.
"The evidence is pretty strong that he was right in the middle of it," Gen. Myers said on Fox. But administration officials and congressmen, when asked about the case yesterday, said it is complicated and cannot be resolved hastily.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide