Safire made misleading assertion that Osama's "hope" is that videotape will lead to "defeat of Bush"


In his November 1 column titled "Osama Casts His Vote," New York Times columnist William Safire suggested that Osama bin Laden's "vain hope" in releasing a videotaped message just days before the presidential election "seems to be that the defeat of [President George W.] Bush will give him time to buy or steal a horrific weapon as an 'equalizer.'"

Safire's claim to know bin Laden's intent echoed the oft-repeated and unsupported speculation that terrorists would like to see Senator John Kerry win the election and entirely ignored the possibility that bin Laden's tape was meant to help Bush, not Kerry.

But as The Christian Science Monitor reported on November 1, Bruce Hoffman, vice president of external affairs and director of the Washington, DC, office of the nonprofit and nonpartisan RAND Corporation said he "agrees with those who see bin Laden probably preferring the current administration." The Monitor noted that, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official, bin Laden understands the American mindset and released the videotaped message to help Bush's reelection chances: "Bin Laden knows us well enough to realize that we will take offense at him, the most reviled man in the world, criticizing our president." Media Matters for America has previously noted other evidence suggesting that terrorists would prefer four more years of the Bush administration.

Safire also claimed that bin Laden's plan to elect Kerry would backfire, asserting that the videotape would "ensure the president's re-election." He labeled the videotape's release bin Laden's "latest misreading of American public opinion." Despite Safire's statement, MMFA has noted that recent polling data does not support the notion that bin Laden's video will "ensure" a Bush victory.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Terrorism
2004 Elections
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