In Part 3 of this series, we finished by discussing the discrepancies between the video image of bin Laden in the infamous Confession Tape and other photos of bin Laden, such as the montage above. Now we are get deeper into the analysis of the tape itself, but first, if you want to get up to speed on this series, here are the links to the previous three articles:
Part 1 (click here)
Part 2 (click here)
Part 3 (click here)
Now we are going to look more deeply at bin Laden "confessing" to a sheikh that he had perpetrated 9/11. The tape was "found" by good fortune in Jalalabad sometime in, apparently, November, 2001 and was analyzed and translated first by the Pentagon, and then be outside translators. Here is a portion of an NPR report describing this find on Dec 13, the date the Pentagon released the information:
JIM LEHRER: A most chilling videotape was made public today. The pentagon released a tape of Osama bin Laden discussing the successful attacks of September 11. Administration officials said it makes clear that bin Laden was the mastermind behind the operation. Ray Suarez begins our report.
RAY SUAREZ: The tape bore a label indicating it was made on November 9. Administration officials wouldn't reveal exactly how or when they got it, except to say it was found in a house in Jalalabad after anti-Taliban forces moved in. The U.S. Government translated the Arabic conversation and provided subtitles. The tape, which has a home video quality, shows bin Laden sitting on the floor in a bare room in a house in Kandahar. With him are several other men, including two aides and an unidentified cleric, or Sheikh. Bin Laden, identified on screen as UBL, made it clear he planned the September 11 attacks. (source)
Here is an NPR online synopsis of this same top story:
Dec. 13, 2001 -- The Pentagon has released a videotape of Osama bin Laden, that it says provides additional evidence that the al Qaeda leader is responsible for the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Administration officials say the tape shows bin Laden had specific knowledge of when and where those attacks would occur before they took place.
The videotape -- discovered in a private home in Jalalabad, Afghanistan -- shows a relaxed bin Laden discussing the attacks in Arabic with another man who appears to be a cleric. On the tape, bin Laden says he was pleasantly surprised by the amount of destruction caused at the World Trade Center; he only expected the top portion of the twin towers to collapse.
According to a translated transcript issued by the Pentagon, bin Laden says the attacks on the World Trade Center did more damage than expected. "...we calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy, who would be killed based on the position of the tower," he says, according to the transcript. "We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all. (...Inaudible...) due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for."
Bin Laden also indicates on the tape that he knew of the attacks in advance. "We had notification since the previous Thursday that the event would take place that day," he says. "We had finished our work that day and had the radio on. It was 5:30 p.m. our time... Immediately, we heard the news that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. We turned the radio station to the news from Washington. The news continued and no mention of the attack until the end. At the end of the newscast, they reported that a plane just hit the World Trade Center." (source)
Sounds pretty much on the up and up so far, although the Pentagon's refusal to say how and when they recovered this tape should raise a red flag, and the extraordinary luck in finding one small video in a city of some 160,000 Afghans is, well, extraordinary. But hey, stranger things have happened.
But now things start to get a little weirder. Read this NPR prologue to the fully translated transcript released by the Pentagon: