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Wednesday, May 26, 2010 

The semi-truths from which a thousand conspiracy theories are born...

They're some japesters, the CIA, aren't they? When they weren't transporting detainees around the globe on private jets, delivering them to the world's finest dungeons, they were looking at cornering the terrorist video market:

The agency actually did make a video purporting to show Osama bin Laden and his cronies sitting around a campfire swigging bottles of liquor and savoring their conquests with boys, one of the former CIA officers recalled, chuckling at the memory. The actors were drawn from “some of us darker-skinned employees,” he said.

Those with very long memories might remember the video of bin Laden supposedly found in Jalalabad in Afghanistan back in December of 2001, featuring the al-Qaida leader helpfully talking about the September 11th attacks to a man identified as Khaled al-Harbi. A very fortuitous find indeed, and one which at the time was questioned, especially as it showed an apparently chunkier bin Laden than the one photographed a couple of months earlier.

The tape, according to the usually reliable Jason Burke, was completely genuine, simply not found as it was claimed. Instead it was recorded as part of a sting even more elaborate than the kind pulled off by Mahzer Mahmood, most likely involving Saudi intelligence and a dissident preacher named Ali Saeed al-Ghamdi. Now the conspiracy loons, already convinced the video was faked, have just the sort of background evidence they need to further justify their prejudices. As Jamie suggests, the reality of the unreleased fake bin Laden tape was likely even more primitive:

Yeah, a couple of Puerto Ricans and some bloke from Samoa in a false beard. Very convincing, I’m sure.

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