Like George Bush and Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden has the bully in him. We arrive at this conclusion through a distant rear door, since most of what we know about Osama bin Laden is derived from his actions – September 11, for example. The rest of his story remains just that: story. That’s why we have so few bites and b-roll. He wanted it that way.
As to how Osama became a bully, we don’t know and it hardly matters. Maybe it was the result of growing up a middle child in a large family. Or the effect of too much leisure time. Or too much money, power and privilege, a dangerous combination we’ve seen elsewhere. Your guess is as good as the CIA’s, and probably better since you probably use more than one source. The CIA consults itself and always comes to the same conclusion, which is drawn by whatever president is in power.
Our central intelligence agency, the one we count on for the heads up, is almost as busy sniping the FBI as they are playing with their toys, people-replacing data-collectors such as satellites that provide fabulously detailed grainy shots of rooftops – revealing a heretofore unknown truth: that humankind, when it comes to roofs, is glaringly unoriginal. Little else beyond that. The contents of these buildings, blame the roofs, is never shown. For that, it’s best to have a friend on the ground, somebody who can check it for you, using nonsynthetic eyes and ears, similar to the ones on our heads. “Friends” are things we used to have all over the world.
Osama bin Laden knew about the Western world, was schooled in it, apparently didn’t like it, made a decision to destroy it. He made a killing in the terror business, dabbling at first for revenge, then headed a pan-Arabic army of the Angry. This remains the alpha-omega of our knowledge.
We can speculate that this shy and depressed man is likely narcissistic, likely angry at his father, which is likely just garden-variety father-son competition with the heat turned on high, similar to W’s psychology. We can guess that Osama enjoyed the adulation of his admirers who called themselves al Qaeda and probably felt accepted into the special club of extremely smelly men who live together in caves launching international plots on shoestring budgets. To understand Osama one must read Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. It’s about our only source, unfortunately.
Osama either doesn’t interest us or doesn’t interest the mainstream press, or both. He’s just another swami in hiding who refuses to speak our language. Where’s the story here?
It’s all story, and we’d better listen to it because it has passed into legend while we weren’t looking. Osama, in an accomplishment beyond Einstein, somehow managed to turn back the clock a thousand years, using his opponent’s own weaponry. Lacking smart bombs, he improvised. He was somehow able to stir commitment — not the hand-on-the-Bible, palm-in-the-air type of commitment, but the say-goodbye-to-the-kids and strap-on-the-bomb variety.
He saw himself from another time. He must have, given his cave days. But what man of our time can resist the limelight? What tyrant doesn’t love a little press, even if it’s just a souvenir for the scrapbook? Why haven’t we heard from him since Tora Bora?
We have, three times, in taped messages judged both fake and real by various experts, though most agree the third is different, both in waveform and content, from the others, which may show telltale marks of editing that are blurred by the pass through cell towers. His first two messages are aimed as warnings to the U.S., while his third admonishes the Iraqis who are cooperating with the Americans. Smart money is on Saad, Osama’s son, doing a mean impression of Dad. Just as we often confuse fathers for sons on the phone, so too is our technology confused.
What to draw from this? Personally I suspect Osama is dead — and has been dead since Tora Bora. Mainly I believe this because dead men don’t talk. And that’s exactly what he’s doing.