By Edward F. Haas
Itâ€™s been eight years since the United States invaded Afghanistan. After all these years many Americans have lost sight of the alleged purpose of our invasion – to hunt for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.
What has also been lost is any government inquiry whatsoever into the accuracy of the â€œsmoking gunâ€ evidence that the Bush Administration presented as the final justification for invading Afghanistan – the peculiar â€œOsama bin Laden confession video.â€
Released on December 13, 2001, the videotape of bin Laden and associates taking pleasure in the 9/11 attack was seen around the world – over and over again. I remember the 24 hour news channels playing the same scenes practically non-stop while the talking heads told their audiences that this was absolute proof that the United States invasion of Afghanistan a few months earlier on October 7, 2001 was the right action.
The corporate media, liberal and conservative, failed to question the Department of Defense Press Release 630-01 that accompanied the video release. No so-called professional journalist found the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the video unusual. The corporate types just accepted at face value that the videotape was discovered by U.S. forces in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. The names of the troops that discovered the video, the name of the unit, the circumstances as to how the video was actually discovered, and what prompted the troops to look at the video in the first place was never asked by the White House Press Corps or any other corporate media type. How U.S. troops discovered the video and what prompted the troops to explore the content of the video remains a mystery.
That is if you believe Press Release 630-01was factual.
Many Americans, as well as other people around the world, believe the video was a U.S.government fabrication. Others believe it to be the result of a sting operation taped in the last week of September 2001. This would mean that Osama bin Laden did not know he was being videotaped, and that the U.S. and foreign intelligence operatives had bin Laden in their sights prior to the U.S. invasion. A strong argument can be made that if bin Laden had been captured or killed before the U.S. invasion, support for the war would have been greatly diminished, particularly outside the United States.
A few years ago when I was writing the Muckraker Report, I used Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in an attempt to discover some facts surrounding the discovery of the video.
In a September 2006 letter from the Department of Defense, I was told that any information / documentation related to the discovery of the video would be found with United States Central Command (CENTCOM).
On February 26, 2007 CENTCOM received my FOIA request. In the request I wrote:
Please provide documents related to the discovery of the December 13, 2001 released Osama bin Laden video. Documents include action reports, logbook entries, e-mails, and transcripts, etc., which the U.S. forces that reportedly found the video would have recorded upon â€œdiscoveringâ€ the video. I am trying to identify the – who, what, when, where, and why of how this video dubbed the â€œconfession videoâ€ by the corporate media, was actually discovered.
To my amazement, nearly three years later, I finally received a response from CENTCOM. What didnâ€™t surprise me is that CENTCOM found â€œno recordsâ€ related to the discovery of the video. CENTCOM wrote:
â€œPursuant to procedures established in 5 U.S.C. 552, Freedom of Information Act and DOD 5400.7-R, Department of Defense FOIA Program, our search included all existing records in USCENTCOM. Despite our extensive search for documents pertaining to your request, we were unable to locate responsive documents.â€
I am of the belief that there is credible evidence that the video in question was the result of a sting operation. I also believe that it was taped before the U.S. invasion. The lack of any documentation supporting the governmentâ€™s claim that the video was discovered by U.S.troops in Jalalabad adds fuel to this belief. Had bin Laden been captured or killed rather than taped in September 2001, the current debate as to whether the United States should send more troops into Afghanistan could have possibly been avoided.
That is why it is impossible for me to support the war in Afghanistan at this time. Until the facts come out about the video and its discovery I will always believe the cause was fabricated – just like the war in Iraq.
Ed Haas is a freelance writer residing in Charleston, SC. He is the former editor of the Muckraker Report. Ed was the recipient of the 2008 Project Censored Award. This award recognized the Top 25 censored news stories of 2006-2007.