- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Equipped with a tape damning of Osama bin Laden, President Bush's instinct is to share it with the American people. Unsurprisingly, some of his advisers seem reticent, even though it represents a wholesale public relations coup for the White House and America. The American people, though, are eager to see bin Laden reveal his involvement and delight in the horrific September 11 attacks.
In an interview on CNN's "Late Edition," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz emphasized the potential problems with publicly releasing the tape, saying it would raise questions regarding how it was obtained and possibly compromise intelligence sources. Surely, the very announcement that the tape is in U.S. hands, and such details as to where and when it was made, have already compromised those sources. Still, the administration must take immediate measures to secure all related intelligence sources, and then let the tape roll unedited and with English subtitles.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Monday that "there are good reasons why the tape should be made public," including, "the president's desire to be forthright, to share information publicly with the country, so people can see things in their own eyes and form their own conclusions." These are appropriate priorities for Mr. Bush, and it is a pity they didn't prevail earlier. In the wake of the attacks, the administration shortsightedly requested TV networks to desist from airing bin Laden's statements, citing the potential for coded messages and, more disturbingly, the public impact these tapes could have.
Also, there are strategic reasons for airing the comments. For example, the so-called Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, was only caught after his brother read the manifesto he wrote for the New York Times and recognized the authorship. And, more to the point, Nebraska geologist Jack Shroder told Reuters news agency that he could deduce where bin Laden was hiding based on the rock formations that bin Laden stood in front of while making one of his videotaped statements.
In the tape, which was made by an amateur hoping to document an al Qaeda dinner honoring an older mullah last month, bin Laden praises Allah that both towers collapsed, saying that he had expected more limited damage. Also, officials said, bin Laden sounds amused when he tells the group that his press aide, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, didn't know anything about the attacks before September 11 and rushed to tell him the news. There is much laughter throughout the tape, and bin Laden seems gleeful when he says that some of the hijackers had no idea they were on suicide missions.
So, let Americans view bin Laden, in all his casual but incomprehensible evil. As Mr. Bush succinctly summarized, "He's so evil that he's willing to send young men to commit suicide while he hides in caves." Indeed, Americans know evil when they see it.

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