The Spark

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

The bin Laden tapes:
They expose the U.S. government’s own heavy responsibility

Dec 17, 2001

On December 14, the U.S. government released a videotape showing Osama bin Laden laughing and boasting about the September 11 attacks that killed several thousand people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. In the words of Ari Fleischer, President Bush’s press secretary, “The tapes show the world just how evil Osama bin Laden is, and how he claims piety, while leading people to deaths...” And according to the U.S. government, this tape is the “smoking gun,” bin Laden’s confession in his own words, that he was the man responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Of course, there is always the chance that the video tape is merely a forgery of some kind. After all, the U.S. government admits that it possessed the tape for several weeks before releasing it. Given the U.S. record of lying to the American public and the world, for example, inventing supposed attacks out of whole cloth, like the Tonkin Gulf incident in 1964, it would come as no surprise.

Nonetheless, bin Laden – as he has shown himself to be – could very well have said all those things. But if the bin Laden tape is authentic, it doesn’t only implicate bin Laden in mass murder. It demonstrates the real hypocrisy of U.S. officials who today denounce him.

Who is this man, Osama bin Laden? He certainly is a mass murderer. But he is not just any mass murderer. No, as everyone knows, he was created by the U.S.’s intelligence agency, the CIA. He is no different today than when the CIA first recruited him more than two decades ago, when the U.S. encouraged him to attack not just the Soviet army, but the ordinary people of Afghanistan who dared oppose him. He was a terrorist then, and he is a terrorist now. The only difference is that he was the U.S.’s terrorist 20 years ago.

Bush knows this. Those at the head of the U.S. government and the U.S. military, who today denounce bin Laden, differ from him only in that they are guilty of mass murder on a much more incomparable scale. They don’t broadcast their own private meetings in the basement of the White House or the Pentagon, when they discuss one of their own “successful” campaigns or wars that have resulted in the deaths of thousands, tens of thousands and millions. We don’t see how they celebrated and gloated when new figures are released about the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians who have starved to death or died from disease because of the economic embargo. But they certainly do gloat, for example, when they brag about the destructive power of their weapons, the “daisy-cutter,” for example, whose main purpose is to decimate any human being standing within thousands of yards. They brag about their bombing of Iraq. They just don’t mention who was killed.

To get bin Laden, the U.S. is carrying out its own brand of mass murder. It bombs one of the poorest countries on earth, Afghanistan. It kills thousands and destroys what was left of the cities and villages that had already been destroyed by a quarter century of wars that the U.S. had encouraged, propagated and funded. And in the process, it imposes one more new dictatorship on the people of Afghanistan, this time led by the old rulers of the “Northern Alliance,” while at the same time buttressing the other dictatorships of the region.

Today, the U.S. promises that this war will eventually lead to an end to terrorism. It promises that even if and when the U.S. eventually “gets” Osama bin Laden and the rest of his cohorts, the terrorism will end.

No, this war will not end the violence. It will only be used to further tighten the grip of U.S. imperialism and the dictatorships that it supports. It will only lead to greater impoverishment of the population of the region. And it will turn the region into more of a powder keg.

The war in Afghanistan is only a prelude to even more bloody confrontations in the future. The price will not just be paid by the people living in the region. But working people in the U.S. will also be forced to pay an increasingly heavy price, both in terms of our lives, the wealth that we create, and with increasing repression by the government against us at home.

All those hypocrites, President Bush, the rest of his administration, as well as all the other officials of administrations past, could just as well have been pictured on the tape, sitting at the table with bin Laden, congratulating themselves about all the civilian casualties that they have caused, alternating their congratulations with jokes and religious pronouncements about “doing away with evil.”