Far be it from me, a civilian with no experience in espionage or counter-terrorism, to second guess the American intelligence agencies. But I have a hard time believing that Osama bin Laden is alive.
If this “evil mastermind” somehow survived the relentless and chaotic bombing of Afghanistan in late 2001, why isn’t he doing anything now? Why is he “holed up” in Pakistan? Why haven’t there been more attacks in response to our very visible torture of Muslims around the world?
Lest we forget, before 9/11, bin Laden was on dialysis. He was unable to live without being hooked up to a kidney pump that urinated for him. Forgive me if I find his survival in remote tribal areas of Pakistan to be not only unlikely, but outlandish.
Even though Israeli intelligence considers bin Laden not to be a threat—because they, too, think he is dead—we keep getting new tapes of his interviews. Odd, since on 9.28.01 he categorically denied having anything to do with 9/11, and then a confession tape magically appeared in December. Is the U.S. government capable of creating multiple forgeries to keep the bogeyman over our shoulders? Considering the extent to which Bush has shown he will go to distort the truth, it does not seem absurd that he would exploit a dead man for his own purposes.
Actual survival is not necessary for a supervillain in the minds of the people. Much like Emmanuel Goldstein in Orwell’s classic 1984, by providing the American populace with an untouchable nemesis, we have become permeable to the same types of propaganda that Orwell’s dystopia presented.
Bin Laden fits the role of supervillain perfectly. To begin with, he is rarely referred to in the American press as bin Laden, but colloquially as “Osama.” This gives everyday civilians a sense of camaraderie with this nefarious terrorist, and brings him into their lives. By keeping his reference to a first name basis, the press has provided a villain familiar to all Americans. While farmers in Poughkeepsie may not be high on the list of potential terrorist casualties, they will consider themselves at high risk because they know the enemy. They are, after all, on a first name basis with him.
The mistake of the spin doctors in creating this supervillain is that they attempted to shift the spotlight onto a man who was still alive. When President Saddam Hussein was removed from power and chased from Baghdad, most Americans were still too shocked and disoriented from the collapse of the country’s tallest skyscrapers to notice the bait and switch. But as time wore on, more people realized that bin Laden and Hussein were not the same person.
The spin doctors that work for the oil-rich Bush Administration were quite obviously trying to make Hussein their new supervillain, most obviously from his new nomenclature in the American press as, simply, “Saddam.”
Unfortunately for them, there was never an actual threat from Iraq towards the American People. Hussein was an inferior supervillain, and without a live bin Laden, they have been without a means of controlling the easily frightened American populace.
Their next move will be to create another villain. Look for another attack, coming soon, to an election near you.