The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Bin Laden in hospital:
What are friends for?

Nov 19, 2001

A French newspaper, Le Figaro, published an article on October 30 reporting that Osama bin Laden had been treated for serious kidney problems at the American hospital in the United Arab Emirate this past July. Supposedly bin Laden was visited in the hospital by family members, by the then head of Saudi intelligence and by ... the local representative of the CIA.

The CIA denied the report. Still, it is known that the CIA chief in question was recalled to Washington the day after bin Laden left the hospital. The Saudi intelligence man resigned afterwards.

These details were reported in two British newspapers, the Times and the Guardian. The British articles claim the information comes from French intelligence sources, who appear quite happy to embarrass U.S. intelligence officials.

Did the CIA really visit bin Laden in the hospital? It’s entirely possible. It is also possible the report could have been made up or exaggerated by French intelligence. It would hardly be the first time intelligence sources planted false stories. The U.S. services do it all the time. Nor is the rivalry between intelligence services limited to the U.S. and France. After the terrorist attacks, it was quite clear that the FBI and the CIA apparently don’t share information.

But it does makes sense that a CIA operative would visit bin Laden. After all, he was their guy, their well-trained good buddy in Afghanistan until just a few years ago.