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October 28, 2004

Verbatim Transcript: That Censored ABCNews Half-Report

JENNINGS: US intelligence officials told us today that a videotape we've had in our possession for several days appears to have been produced by an organization connected to Al Qaeda. Our investigative unit has spent several days analyzing the tape. We also gave a copy to the FBI and CIA who have been checking it as well.

And ABC's Bryan Ross joins us tonight to tell us what the intelligence officials in the government have decided.

ROSS: Peter, we acquired the tape last Friday in Pakistan and now after days of anlaysis US officials say while they still cannot authenticate the voice on the tape, it has all the trademarks of an Al Qaeda production.


The tape features someone speaking English who claims to be an American, identified only as "Assam the American."

LUNATIC: No, my fellow countrymen, you are guilty. Guilty, guilty, guilty. You are as guilty as Bush and Cheney.

ROSS: His face is never fully visible and he makes no reference to where in the US he might have lived, if he ever did. The 75-minute long tape is marked with the logo and graphics of the same shadowy group called As-Sahab which as produced numerous audio and video tapes for Al Qaeda.

The threats are familiar but now in English, with a slight accent which law enforcement officals believe indicates that English is not his mother tongue.

LUNATIC: People of America, I remind you of the weighty words of our leaders Sheik Osama bin Ladin and "Dr." Ayman Al-Zawahiri, that what took place on September 11th was but the opening salvo of the global war on America, and that, Allah willing, the magnitude and ferocity of what is coming your way will make you forget all about September 11th.

ROSS: US officials believe there are several Americans working with Al Qaeda but that the voice of this man does not match any of them, making it impossible to fully authenticate the tape. The man on the pate appears to be well-educated, and well-versed in current and cultural events. He makes references to American television shows (VIDEO: BILL MAHER SHOUTING LIKE A JACKASS) and even the 9-11 commission (VIDEO: Tom Kean lowers the gavel).

He criticizes Muslims who have abandoned their faith and says Muslims are fighting a defensive war against the US and warns Americans the next wave of attacks could come at any moment.

LUNATIC WHO MISTOOK A PICNIC BLANKET FOR A HAT: After decades of American tyranny (prounounced TIE-ranny) and oppression, not it's your turn to die. Allah willing, the streets of America shall run red with blood matching drop for drop the blood of America's victims.

ROSS: The US is taking the tape very seriously. Copies are being provided to all thirteen current officials mentioned by name on the tape and the tape is being shown to captured Al Qaeda suspects in US custody to see, Peter, if they can Identify the man who calls himself Assam the American.

JENNINGS: Many thanks, Bryan.

Couple of points.

1. Without Al Qaeda's express endorsement of John Kerry, this tape simply isn't news at all. An imbecile speaking in florid but bad English about "streets running red with blood" is not news. They embargoed the only newsworthy part of the tape.

2. They seemed very careful to not let on that Al Qaeda has endorsed John Kerry-- that's a "political implication" they wanted to avoid -- and yet they had no problems whatsoever with leaving the impression that Al Qaeda is angry at Bush and Cheney personally, rather than America, the West, and modernity generally.

3. The cute distribution to only the 13 officials specifically named on the tape, while otherwise holding the video close, is a rather obvious attempt to keep the tape from being used in a campaign ad against Kerry. If there are only 13 persons who have the tape outside of ABCNews, they figure, any use of the tape for informing the public about Al Qaeda's presidential preference can be traced directly back to the 13 Republican officials, thus blunting the attack.

Hey, assholes-- it's a tape. Release it generally. Stop playing games.

"No Kerry Endorsement": A commenter says that FoxNews obtained the tape "independently of ABC" and did not mention an endorsement of Kerry (or, more accurately, a condemnation of Bush-Cheney and the promise of further violence should they be elected). The poster's implication seems to be, Therefore there is no endorsement.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. That is possible, of course. I haven't seen the tape, so I don't know. But the story reported by Drudge is that ABC released the tape to the government with the arguable Kerry endorsement missing or edited out. FoxNews certainly received its copy from a government source (who had, in turn, gotten it from ABC); it is hard to believe that within just a few days FoxNews contacted the man peddling the same video in Waziristan and purchased an original copy.

So the fact that FoxNews has an expurgated copy does not mean the true copy possessed thusfar only by ABCNews does not contain the reported -- and undenied -- endorsement of John Kerry for president.

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posted by Ace at 07:55 PM

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