Rappoport, Jon

MAY 2, 2011. 9:15 am, Pacific Time. Everything could change minute by minute, but right now there are serious questions...

The face photo of a dead bin Laden that has been circulating on British media online sites is a fake. That has been confirmed by TheGuardian site. It's a composite of an old bin Laden photo and an unknown dead man whose face was mashed up. The Guardian has the photos on its site, and you can see the fake was put together from two others.

GEO TV, a Pakistani media outlet, had apparently been reporting that Pakistani forces just killed bin Laden. That story: a Pakistani military helicopter was doing a search mission and was shot down by unknown persons. Pakistani troops then engaged in a fire fight with the shooters, and in that clash bin Laden was killed.

Now, however, on the GEO site, the story is changed. The new version is the official one. A US operation killed bin Laden.

Of possible relevance: In all the press reports I watched last night (Sunday), I heard no reference to the exact time of the attack on the house in Abbottabad. It's elementary journalism to nail a fact like that down. What happened?

What about the DNA test on bin Laden? Last night (Sunday), US news outlets were reporting that a DNA test match had already been made between the man US Seals killed and bin Laden. So apparently, they already had a genuine DNA sample from bin Laden. But DNA testing takes time. How was the match arrived at so quickly?

Now, US news outlets are changing their tune. The DNA testing is underway. It wasn't used to confirm bin Laden's death. Instead, "facial recognition" was employed. This is not described. Does it mean eyeballing the corpse? Was facial-recognition software used to ID a photo of the dead bin Laden?

It appears, from press reports, that about a month ago, the White House was significantly leaning in the direction of believing bin Laden was living in the walled compound in Abbottabad. So since then, what measures were taken to assure he didn't leave? Nearby ground surveillance? That could arouse suspicion. Satellite viewing? If so, and if bin Laden had fled, could he have been tracked and killed before disappearing?

For a long time, reports have circulated claiming bin Laden was already dead. The Pakistan Observer reported he died in December of 2001.

So far, since yesterday, neither US or Pakistani officials have released a photo of the corpse of bin Laden. The White House is now, it's reported, debating about whether to release a "gruesome" picture. 

We are told bin Laden was living in a large house in Abbotabad, which is a town where the Pakistani version of West Point is situated-a mile or two away from bin Laden's hideout. Also, many retired Pakistani military officers live in the town. Two accused terrorists, CNN reports, Umar Patek and Tahir Shehzad, were arrested in Abbottabad in the past year, in house raids staged by Pakistani troops. Why would bin Laden set up shop there? Why would he stay after the raids? Although there appears to be evidence Pakistani officials have shielded bin Laden over the years, one can't rely on all the military people in the town to follow suit.

And then there is the fact that this compound stuck out like a sore thumb in the area. It was far bigger than any other house in the area, had been built at a cost of $1 million, it had walls and security wire, the residents burned all their trash, and the women in the house spoke Arabic. Was bin Laden, the terrorist genius, announcing his presence?

President Obama claimed, last night, that bin Laden's burial would be handled in accordance with Islamic custom. So the press is now reporting his body has been dropped at sea. At least one Muslim cleric claims this is not Islamic custom, the body must be buried in the ground-and if officials are worried the site could become a rallying point for terrorists, the secret grave could remain unmarked. The body is gone. No photo of it has been released. We have no details about how "facial recognition" was achieved. We have conflicting stories about who staged the attack. A phony death photo of bin Laden's face has been discredited. The DNA-test story initially released has now been withdrawn.

On August 15, 2010, General Petraeus stated that capturing bin Laden was still high on the US agenda. So now, two-and-a-half months before the date American troops are supposed to come home from Afghanistan, there is a "mission-accomplished" public relations tune that can be played...and a partial drawdown of troops, plus a repeated hailing of the killing of bin Laden can be used to assuage bitter feelings about the the next presidential election season approaches.

A few days before the 2004 election, a bin Laden video surfaced. Its authenticity was questioned. Some speculated it helped George Bush win a second term in office.


MAY 2, 2011. 11:30 AM, Pacific Time. This is an update on the article, BIN LADEN QUESTIONS, that I wrote earlier this morning.

It's important to understand that, in one stroke, the image of President Obama has changed.

The effects may not be noticed for a little while. But his stature vis-a-vis the coming election...this is a new ballgame.

And therefore, IF the reported death of Bin Laden is a fraud, some major political op has been waged.

Up to this point in his first term, Obama has failed to fulfill one of the basic requirements of a president in many voters' eyes. His health plan didn't do it. His bailout of Wall Street didn't do it. His handling of the recent Middle East crisis didn't do it. His military foray into Libya didn't cut it. His jobs program certainly didn't rate high.

And his continuation of the war in Afghanistan was an indifferent bog.

For many, including some independent voters, Obama hasn't presented himself as a distinctly AMERICAN PRESIDENT.

That was always his weak point. Bush may have stumbled across his lines in speeches, he may have launched a crazy war in Iraq, but he was a cowboy. He was cozily American.

But Obama? No dice.

However, now, "at his direction," as commander-in-chief, Obama has run a military/CIA/seal attack that killed public enemy number one.

This wasn't policy wonking. It wasn't trying to broker peace. It wasn't hope and change. It wasn't high-IQ stuff. It wasn't "every American deserves health care." It wasn't snippy little remarks aimed at Republicans. It wasn't "hang in there, I know it's tough but we'll get the economy rolling again."

It was search, attack, and destroy. It was: you want tough guy? Thisis tough guy.

His stature just went from 1 to 9. All of a sudden, he's presidential, not just a politician. And presidential is hard to beat in a race for a second term. Subconsciously and instantaneously, many, many Americans already know a defeat for Obama in 2012 would amount to a rejection of the man who killed bin Laden. And to them, that doesn't feel right. That doesn't sit right. That seems like a slur. A slap in the face to a personage who did what America has been aching to do since 9/11. A slap in the face of America itself.

"The man who killed Osama bin Laden has just been defeated in his attempt for a second term as president of the United States."

Get it? That doesn't sit well. That doesn't compute. How could that happen?

Then there is this. All the criticisms of Obama, the man, and his presidency-and there have been many-can't have quite the same impact and sting they had before yesterday. They are now balanced out by the fact that he killed bin Laden. The weights on the scales have changed.

"Mr. Trump, you want to know whether this guy has a valid birth certificate and he just took out bin Laden?"

It takes time for people to realize these tectonic shifts in the subconscious have occurred. But this one just happened.