Bin Laden's Reference to Book Rogue State
by William Blum
February 15, 2006

On January 19 the latest audiotape from Osama bin Laden was released and in it he declared: "If you [Americans] are sincere in your desire for peace and security, we have answered you. And if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book 'Rogue State', which states in its introduction ... " He then goes on to quote the opening of a paragraph I wrote (which appears actually in the Foreword of the British edition only, that was later translated to Arabic), which in full reads:

If I were the president, I could stop terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize — very publicly and very sincerely — to all the widows and the orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. I would then announce that America's global interventions — including the awful bombings — have come to an end. And I would inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but — oddly enough — a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims and repair the damage from the many American bombings and invasions. There would be more than enough money. Do you know what one year of the US military budget is equal to? One year. It's equal to more than $20,000 per hour for every hour since Jesus Christ was born.

That's what I'd do on my first three days in the White House. On the fourth day, I'd be assassinated.

Within hours I was swamped by the media and soon appeared on many of the leading TV shows, dozens of radio programs, with long profiles in the Washington Post, and elsewhere. In the previous ten years the Post had declined to print a single one of my letters, most of which had pointed out errors in their foreign news coverage. Now my photo was on page one.

Much of the media wanted me to say that I was repulsed by bin Laden's "endorsement". I did not say I was repulsed because I was not. After a couple of days of interviews I got my reply together and it usually went something like this:

"There are two elements involved here: On the one hand, I totally despise any kind of religious fundamentalism and the societies spawned by such, like the Taliban in Afghanistan. On the other hand, I'm a member of a movement which has the very ambitious goal of slowing down, if not stopping, the American Empire, to keep it from continuing to go round the world doing things like bombings, invasions, overthrowing governments, and torture. To have any success, we need to reach the American people with our message. And to reach the American people we need to have access to the mass media. What has just happened has given me the opportunity to reach millions of people I would otherwise never reach. Why should I not be glad about that? How could I let such an opportunity go to waste?"

Celebrity — modern civilization's highest cultural achievement — is a peculiar phenomenon. It really isn't worth anything unless you do something with it.

The callers into the programs I was on, and sometimes the host, in addition to numerous emails, repeated two main arguments against me.

(1) Where else but in the United States could I have the freedom to say what I was saying on national media?

Besides their profound ignorance in not knowing of scores of countries with at least equal freedom of speech (particularly since September 11), what they are saying in effect is that I should be so grateful for my freedom of speech that I should show my gratitude by not exercising that freedom. If they're not saying that, they're not saying anything.

(2) America has always done marvelous things for the world, from the Marshall Plan and defeating communism and the Taliban to rebuilding destroyed countries and freeing Iraq.

I have dealt with these myths and misconceptions previously; like sub-atomic particles, they behave differently when observed. For example, in my email last month I pointed out that "destroyed countries" were usually destroyed by American bombs; and America did not rebuild them. As to the Taliban, the United States overthrew a secular, women's-rights government in Afghanistan, which led to the Taliban coming to power; so the US can hardly be honored for ousting the Taliban a decade later, replacing it with an American occupation, an American puppet president, assorted warlords, and women chained.

But try to explain all these fine points in the minute or so one has on radio or TV. However, I think I somehow managed to squeeze in a lot of information and thoughts new to the American psyche.

Some hosts and many callers were clearly pained to hear me say that anti-American terrorists are retaliating against the harm done to their countries by US foreign policy, and are not just evil, mindless, madmen from another planet. Many of them assumed, with lots of certainty and no good reason at all, that I was a supporter of the Democratic Party and they proceeded to attack Bill Clinton. When I pointed out that I was no fan at all of the Democrats or Clinton, they were usually confused into silence for a few moments before seamlessly jumping to some other piece of nonsense. They do not know that an entire alternative world exists above and beyond the Republicans and Democrats.

Just recently we have been hearing and reading comments in the American media about how hopelessly backward and violent were those Muslims protesting the Danish cartoons, carrying signs calling for the beheading of those that insult Islam. But a caller to a radio program I was on said I "should be taken care of", and one of the hundreds of nasty emails I received began: "Death to you and your family."

One of my personal favorite moments: On an AM radio program in Pennsylvania, discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

The host (with anguish in her voice): "What has Israel ever done to the Palestinians?"
Me: "Have you been in a coma the past 20 years?"

This is a question I could ask many of those who interrogated me the past few weeks. Actually, 60 years would be more appropriate.

William Blum is the author Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II (Common Courage Press) as well as Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower (and also The Real Drug Lords). His website is at (click twice).

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And as for that Bin Laden tape, it's a fake, along with all the other Bin Laden tapes from 2002 onwards. See Kevin Barrett's article on the latest tape. If you want to read some authentic Bin Laden see:

Usama bin Laden Says the Al-Qa'idah Group
had Nothing to Do with the 11 September Attacks

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