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Monday, September 20, 2010

Bin Laden is Dead; Long Live “Bin Laden”

In the trigger-happy post-9/11 world, the favoured way to instigate a war is to demand that the designated “evildoer” prove a negative.

Iraq was invaded because it couldn’t prove that it didn’t have WMDs. Iran is under constant threat of attack unless it can demonstrate that it’s not seeking nuclear weapons. And now Pakistan is being chastised for allegedly harbouring Osama bin Laden—who in all probability has been dead and buried for eight years.

Questioning Pakistan’s willingness to pursue bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last year told a group of Pakistani editors, “I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to.” And in a recent interview with Fox News, Clinton charged that “elements” of the Pakistani government know where bin Laden is hiding.

But what if bin Laden is not hiding in Pakistan? What if he’s been dead since December 2001? How then does Islamabad prove that some of its government officials are not concealing his whereabouts?

While the mainstream media rarely if ever question the belief that bin Laden is still alive, some cracks have been appearing in the consensus. In a September 11, 2009 piece in Britain’s Daily Mail, Sue Reid wondered, “What if everything we have seen or heard of him on video and audio tapes since the early days after 9/11 is a fake—and that he is being kept ‘alive’ by the Western allies to stir up support for the war on terror?”

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