Pale Wire (Popscene)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Osama's Book Club

Besides his cryptic offering of a "long-term truce on fair conditions," the thing that most struck me about the Bin Laden tape released today was this unexpected recommendation:

If Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you [the American people] to read the book ''Rogue State,'' which states in its introduction: ''If I were president, I would stop the attacks on the United States: First I would give an apology to all the widows and orphans and those who were tortured. Then I would announce that American interference in the nations of the world has ended once and for all.''

Assuming the AP got the translation right, I think Bin Laden is talking about William Blum's Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, a book which forthrightly offers readers a catalog of terrorist acts committed by the US government. Chapters include: "Bombings," "Perverting Elections," "Kidnapping and Looting" and "A Concise History of US Global Interventions, 1945-Present."

A quick google search finds that many chapters are available on the Web in English and a variety of other languages. I also netted Blum's personal Web site, which bears the provocative index line "American_Holocaust.htm." The online resources all say that Blum is a former State Department official who left the government disgruntled over the Vietnam war and committed himself to writing and speaking out against American aggression.

In what I can only interpret as a big scoop for PaleWire, I think I might have caught Osama misciting his source. The "if I were president" quote he invokes above does not appear in the introduction to the pirated 2005 edition of Rogue State floating around the Web. In fact, an interview with Blum on the Znet Web site credits the quote in question to the dust jacket for Blum's more recent collection of essays Freeing the World to Death. But there is evidence that the phrase appeared in a 2002 edition of Rogue State. Though even if we grant him the benefit of the doubt, this still suggests Osama is slipping behind the times. Even his anti-American literature is out of date. Dude is losing his edge.