Friday, August 05, 2005

Slaughter at Hiroshima....sixty years ago
The Myths of Hiroshima
By Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin
The Los Angeles Times

Friday 05 August 2005

Sixty years ago tomorrow, an atomic bomb was dropped without warning on the center of the Japanese city of Hiroshima. One hundred and forty thousand people were killed, more than 95% of them women and children and other noncombatants. At least half of the victims died of radiation poisoning over the next few months. Three days after Hiroshima was obliterated, the city of Nagasaki suffered a similar fate.

The magnitude of death was enormous, but on Aug. 14, 1945 - just five days after the Nagasaki bombing - Radio Tokyo announced that the Japanese emperor had accepted the US terms for surrender. To many Americans at the time, and still for many today, it seemed clear that the bomb had ended the war, even "saving" a million lives that might have been lost if the US had been required to invade mainland Japan.

This powerful narrative took root quickly and is now deeply embedded in our historical sense of who we are as a nation. A decade ago, on the 50th anniversary, this narrative was reinforced in an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution on the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first bomb. The exhibit, which had been the subject of a bruising political battle, presented nearly 4 million Americans with an officially sanctioned view of the atomic bombings that again portrayed them as a necessary act in a just war.

But although patriotically correct, the exhibit and the narrative on which it was based were historically inaccurate. For one thing, the Smithsonian downplayed the casualties, saying only that the bombs "caused many tens of thousands of deaths" and that Hiroshima was "a definite military target."

Americans were also told that use of the bombs "led to the immediate surrender of Japan and made unnecessary the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands." But it's not that straightforward. As Tsuyoshi Hasegawa has shown definitively in his new book, "Racing the Enemy" - and many other historians have long argued - it was the Soviet Union's entry into the Pacific war on Aug. 8, two days after the Hiroshima bombing, that provided the final "shock" that led to Japan's capitulation.

The Enola Gay exhibit also repeated such outright lies as the assertion that "special leaflets were dropped on Japanese cities" warning civilians to evacuate. The fact is that atomic bomb warning leaflets were dropped on Japanese cities, but only after Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been destroyed.

The hard truth is that the atomic bombings were unnecessary. A million lives were not saved. Indeed, McGeorge Bundy, the man who first popularized this figure, later confessed that he had pulled it out of thin air in order to justify the bombings in a 1947 Harper's magazine essay he had ghostwritten for Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson.

The bomb was dropped, as J. Robert Oppenheimer, scientific director of the Manhattan Project, said in November 1945, on "an essentially defeated enemy." President Truman and his closest advisor, Secretary of State James Byrnes, quite plainly used it primarily to prevent the Soviets from sharing in the occupation of Japan. And they used it on Aug. 6 even though they had agreed among themselves as they returned home from the Potsdam Conference on Aug. 3 that the Japanese were looking for peace.

These unpleasant historical facts were censored from the 1995 Smithsonian exhibit, an action that should trouble every American. When a government substitutes an officially sanctioned view for publicly debated history, democracy is diminished.

Today, in the post-9/11 era, it is critically important that the US face the truth about the atomic bomb. For one thing, the myths surrounding Hiroshima have made it possible for our defense establishment to argue that atomic bombs are legitimate weapons that belong in a democracy's arsenal. But if, as Oppenheimer said, "they are weapons of aggression, of surprise and of terror," how can a democracy rely on such weapons?

Oppenheimer understood very soon after Hiroshima that these weapons would ultimately threaten our very survival.

Presciently, he even warned us against what is now our worst national nightmare - and Osama bin Laden's frequently voiced dream - an atomic suitcase bomb smuggled into an American city: "Of course it could be done," Oppenheimer told a Senate committee, "and people could destroy New York."

Ironically, Hiroshima's myths are now motivating our enemies to attack us with the very weapon we invented. Bin Laden repeatedly refers to Hiroshima in his rambling speeches. It was, he believes, the atomic bombings that shocked the Japanese imperial government into an early surrender - and, he says, he is planning an atomic attack on the US that will similarly shock us into retreating from the Mideast.

Finally, Hiroshima's myths have gradually given rise to an American unilateralism born of atomic arrogance.

Oppenheimer warned against this "sleazy sense of omnipotence." He observed that "if you approach the problem and say, 'We know what is right and we would like to use the atomic bomb to persuade you to agree with us,' then you are in a very weak position and you will not succeed.... You will find yourselves attempting by force of arms to prevent a disaster."

Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin are coauthors of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, published earlier this year by Knopf.


Go to Original

Witness to the Ghosts of Hiroshima
By Matt Condon
The Age, Australia

Saturday 06 August 2005

Radiation burns on the back of Kiyoshi Kitsukawa, a Hiroshima tram conductor who was standing with his back to the blast about 1000 yards from the centre of the explosion.

He was a small old man and he sat alone in the tram. It was late July and very warm and the tram was making its way through the southern suburbs of Hiroshima to the ferry terminal for the sacred island of Miyajima. The old man wore a large, floppy-brimmed canvas hat and a beige safari suit. He cradled in his lap a small bag. He had been watching me since I boarded near the A-Bomb Dome and sat on a bench opposite him.

As the tram emptied stop by stop along route two, he continued staring through his pair of enormous, thick-lensed spectacles. On occasion, I glanced at his kind, worn face and realized there was something not quite right with it - his features were curiously out of alignment. His left eye was smaller than his right, the difference exacerbated by the thick spectacle lenses. The cheekbone below the pinched eye was flat, in defiance of the other, which was round and full. It looked, to me, like a face that had suffered an accident a long time ago, and the imperfections were far away, on the horizon of a long life. At one point, it was just me and the old man in the tram, and this was when he rose slowly and sat beside me. "Where are you from?" he asked. His voice was thin and his English heavily accented but clear. "Australia," I said, turning to him.

He stared down at the carry bag in his hands. "Are you a soldier?" he asked.

I laughed at the unusual question. "No," I said.

"I remember the Australian soldiers in 1945," he said, "with the hats." He folded up one side of his canvas brim, making an impromptu slouch hat. "Very nice," he said, smiling.

Australian soldiers had taught him to speak English at a school in Hiroshima after the war. He had been born in 1928 and had been a "ship man" when he was younger. He gripped an imaginary ship's wheel with his old hands and motioned to steer from left to right. Then he said, unexpectedly: "I am of the atom bomb."

He rummaged in his carry bag and I noticed that the texture of the skin on his left hand was very smooth, an oddity consistent with his eye and his cheekbone. He was an old man divided into two sides. Eventually he produced a thick blue booklet the size of a passport. I had read of these books carried by A-bomb survivors. They were medical record books. "I am going to the hospital," he said, holding up the book. "Every week I go to the hospital." He tapped his knee with the book before returning it to his bag.

"I was visiting Hiroshima on that day," he said, recalling August 6, 1945. "The atom bomb. Wooosh." He raised a bunched fist and flicked his hand open to indicate the explosion. He looked at me with that crooked face and smiled again.

"I am of the atom bomb," he said.

I had come to Japan to retrace the steps of legendary Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett. As a young reporter, and in that early grappling for mentors and models, I had known of Burchett for a singular achievement - he was the first Western journalist into Hiroshima after the dropping of the atom bomb. In the 60 years since Burchett filed his report, "The Atomic Plague", for London's Daily Express, it has probably remained the greatest individual newspaper "scoop" of the 20th century and into the millennium. It's impossible to know now to what degree Burchett was writing for history, but you get the feeling, from the opening line, that the young Victorian reporter had an eye to posterity: "I write this as a warning to the world."

Burchett was almost 34 years old when he made his solo journey from Tokyo to Hiroshima to bring the facts of the bomb's devastation to the world, as he put it. At tremendous risk to his safety, he took the long train journey south, traveling in that delicate period between the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan's official surrender. It struck me, as a journalist and a novelist, that one day I would write a novel about this chapter in Burchett's life. The story had everything - war, flight, danger, heroism and, at the centre of it all, one of the defining moments in human history. I made some cursory notes.

Years later, I was browsing through a book stall at a Gold Coast flea market when I came across an extremely battered copy of one of the prolific Burchett's polemic books, This Monstrous War. The book dealt with the Korean conflict. By now I knew more about his life, his evolution into a "radical" journalist and his ability to polarize readers, colleagues, even governments. He was accused of being a communist spy, a traitor, a fabricator. His own country, for a time, refused to grant him a passport and re-entry into Australia. Since Hiroshima, his reputation had wobbled and stumbled.

I developed a theory, too, that the impact of what Burchett saw in Hiroshima, and the scoop itself, changed something inside him: that the dropping of the A-bomb was a schismatic moment for mankind, and also for Burchett's psychology. The theory had no basis in fact. It was the fancy of the novelist, trying to find a way into the head of an undeveloped character. I was already knitting a person called Burchett with the grand, subterranean themes of an unwritten novel. The A-bomb divided the 20th century. So, too, would atoms split in the mind of my Mr. Burchett, altering his view of the world, perhaps sending a hairline fracture through his soul.

When the Iraq conflict broke out in the wake of September 11, 2001, and the world witnessed the manipulation of the media by America, and truth, as they say, became a casualty itself, I kept thinking of Burchett and Hiroshima. In that instance, his purpose was the pursuit of truth. That purpose may have been tangled up with notions of future fame and accolades, of promotion and financial reward, of changing the world.

It is the dichotomy of reporting: at some points in your career you write for the public, but you also write for other journalists. "This is what I got," you're saying, "and you didn't." It was a dangerous, renegade act (often the prerequisite for defining moments) for which Burchett was later vilified by US government officials, who claimed he had fallen victim to Japanese propaganda. In some ways, it went to the very definition of reporting.

In the context of the contemporary world, with television and print journalists "embedded" with US troops invading Iraq (the word itself, embedded, so quickly redefined and attached to the media), I thought of Burchett and that warm September in 1945 when he walked through the ruins of Hiroshima with his notebook. I felt that something had been lost. That we had mislaid something very important about, or within, ourselves. That in modern times the media was like sediment, layer after layer of it, rolled out over feeling and empathy and rage and all those human responses to things that happen in the world. That everything would set like sandstone, and one day, beneath the many strata, a little fossilized truth would be found, embedded, fragile as a mosquito.

I'd bought Burchett's book This Monstrous War for $1, but didn't realize until I got home that it had been inscribed by the author. His best wishes and signature were scratched onto the title page in blue ink some time in the 1950s. When you begin a writing project you accept, beyond logic or reason, all manner of superstitions, totems, coincidences and signs. You believe they will help guide the arrow.

Surviving Hiroshima: Keiko Ogura
BBC News

Friday 05 August 2005

Keiko Ogura was eight years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She still lives in the city.
I wanted to go to school, but my father said 'I have a very strange feeling today - you shouldn't go to school, stay with us'.

That morning I was on the road near the house and all of a sudden I saw a flash of bluish white light - a magnesium-like flash and soon after a big sound with dust, and I was blown away and fell on the ground.

I found myself lying on the ground near the house. I thought the house was just in front of me but I couldn't see it because everything had become so dark and many pieces of wood and roof tiles and rubbish were falling on my head.

There was black rain falling... It smelled bad and there were many spots on my white blouse

And in the darkness there was a strong, strong wind like a typhoon. I couldn't open my eyes but tried to get back to my house and in the darkness I heard somebody was crying - my brother and sister.

I was 2.4km from the hypocenter but houses nearer the hypocenter had caught fire and were burning.

I saw long lines of refugees, just quiet, I don't know why they were so quiet. There were long lines, like ghosts.

Most of them were stretching out their arms because the skin was peeling off from the tips of their fingers. I could clearly see the hanging skin, peeling skin, and the wet red flesh and their hair was burned and smelled, the burnt hair smelled a lot.

And many people, just slowly passed by the front of my house.


All of a sudden a hand squeezed my ankle. I was so scared but they said 'get me water'. Almost all the people were just asking 'water', and 'help me'.

I rushed into my home where there was a well and brought them water. They thanked me but some of them were drinking water and vomiting blood and [then] died, stopped moving. They died in front of me. I felt regret and so scared. Maybe I killed them? Did I kill them?

And that night, 6 August, my father was so busy looking after the neighbors, but when he came back he said: 'Listen children - you shouldn't give water, some of the refugees died after drinking water. Please remember that.'

As a little girl I was so curious. I climbed up the hill, near our house... I was so astonished - all the city was flattened and demolished

Then I felt so guilty, and I saw them many times in my nightmares. I thought I was a very bad girl - I didn't do what my father said - so I kept it a secret. I didn't tell anybody this story until my father died.

There was black rain falling, black rain mingling with ashes and rubbish and oil, something like that. It smelled bad and there were many spots on my white blouse - sticky, dirty rain.

In the morning people were moving, brushing away flies from their skin. My house was full of injured people.

But as a little girl I was so curious. I wanted to see what the city looked like. My house was at the bottom of a hill - I climbed up the hill, near our house, and then I saw the whole city. I was so astonished - all the city was flattened and demolished. I counted just a couple of concrete buildings.

In Denial

The next day some of the buildings were still burning, and the next day, and the next day, and for three or four days I climbed the hill to see what the city was like.

I have a brother-in-law. He was living almost at the centre of the city - his family was very close to the hypocenter. Until now his family members were missing and he didn't want to recognize they were all gone, so he refused to say and report the family's names to the officials and he didn't want to visit Hiroshima.

Right now, he is living far away in Tokyo, and only last year he decided to report to Hiroshima city that his family members - his mother and sister - had passed away.

And there were so many people [who saw] so many dead or dying, but actually, most of them made up their mind not to tell anyone about what they saw.

This interview is from the series 'August 1945', from 3-14 August on BBC Radio 4, at 8.55 BST Mondays-Saturday, and at 9.55 BST on Sunday.

Soldiers Say "Give Peace a Chance"

"What Have We Done?"
By Dahr Jamail
Iraq Dispatches

Friday 05 August 2005

As the blood of US soldiers continues to drain into the hot sands of Iraq over the last several days with at least 27 US soldiers killed and the approval rating for his handling of the debacle in Iraq dropping to an all-time low of 38%, Mr. Bush commented from the comforts of his ranch in Crawford, Texas today, "We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq."

Just a two hour drive away in Dallas, at the Veterans for Peace National Convention in Dallas, I'm sitting with a roomful of veterans from the current quagmire.

When asked what he would say to Mr. Bush if he had the chance to speak to him, Abdul Henderson, a corporal in the Marines who served in Iraq from March until May, 2003, took a deep breath and said, "It would be two hits-me hitting him and him hitting the floor. I see this guy in the most prestigious office in the world, and this guy says 'bring it on.' A guy who ain't never been shot at, never seen anyone suffering, saying 'bring it on?' He gets to act like a cowboy in a western's sickening to me."

The other vets with him nod in agreement as he speaks somberly...his anger seething.

One of them, Alex Ryabov, a corporal in an artillery unit which was in Iraq the first three months of the invasion, asked for some time to formulate his response to the same question.

"I don't think Bush will ever realize how many millions of lives he and his lackeys have ruined on their quest for money, greed and power," he says, "To take the patriotism of the American people for granted...the fact that people (his administration) are willing to lie and make excuses for you while you continue to kill and maim the youth of America and ruin countless families...and still manage to do so with a smile on your face."

Taking a deep breath to steady himself he continues as if addressing Bush first-hand; "You needs to resign, take the billions of dollars you've made off the blood and sweat of US service members....all the suffering you've caused us, and put those billions of dollars into the VA to take care of the men and women you sent to be slaughtered. Yet all those billions aren't enough to even try to compensate all the people who have been affected by this."

These new additions to Veterans for Peace are actively living the statement of purpose of the organization, having pledged to work with others towards increasing public awareness of the costs of war, to work to restrain their government from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations and to see justice for veterans and victims of war, among other goals.

I type furiously for three hours, trying to keep up with the stories each of the men shared....about the atrocities of what they saw, and committed, while in Iraq.

Camilo Mejia, an army staff sergeant who was sentenced to a year in military prison in May, 2004 for refusing to return to Iraq after being home on leave, talks openly about what he did there:

"What it all comes down to is redemption for what was done there. I was turning ambulances away from going to hospitals, I killed civilians, I tortured guys...and I'm ashamed of that. Once you are there, it has nothing to do with has to do with you as an individual being there and killing people for no reason. There is no purpose, and now I'm sick at myself for doing these things. I kept telling myself I was there for my buddies. It was a weak reasoning...because I still shut my mouth and did my job."

Mejia then spoke candidly about why he refused to return:

"It wasn't until I came home that I felt it-how wrong it all was and that I was a coward for pushing my principles aside. I'm trying to buy my way back into heaven...and it's not so much what I did, but what I didn't do to stop it when I was there. So now it's a way of trying to undo the evil that we did over there. This is why I'm speaking out, and not going back. This is a painful process and we're going through it."

Camilo Mejia was then quick to point towards the success of his organization and his colleagues. "When I went back to Iraq in October of 2003, the Pentagon said there were 22 AWOL's. Five months later it was 500, and when I got out of jail that number was 5,000. These are the Pentagons' numbers for the military. Two things are significant here-the number went from 500-5,000 in 11 months, and these are the numbers from the Pentagon."

While the military is falling short of its recruitment goals across the board and the disaster in Iraq spiraling deeper into chaos with each passing day, these are little consolation for these men who have paid the price they've had to pay to be at this convention. They continue to pay, but at the same time stand firm in their resolve to bring an end to the occupation of Iraq and to help their fellow soldiers.

Ryabov then begins to tell of his unit firing the wrong artillery rounds which hit 5-10 km from their intended target.

"We have no idea where those rounds fell, or what they hit," he says quietly while two of the men hold their heads in their hands, "Now we've come to these realizations and we're trying to educate people to save them from going through the same thing."

After talking of the use of uranium munitions, of which Ryabov stated 300 tons of which were used in the '91 Gulf War, and 2,200 tons and counting having been used thus far in the current war, he adds, "We were put in a foreign country and fire artillery and kill people...and it shouldn't have even happened in the first place. It's hard to put into words the full tragedy of it-the death and suffering on both sides. I feel a grave injustice has been done and I'm trying to correct it. You do all these things and come back and think, 'what have we done?' We just rolled right by an Iraqi man with a gunshot in his thigh and two guys near him waving white flags....he probably bled to death."

Harvey Tharp sitting with us served in Kirkuk. His position of being in charge of some reconstruction projects in northern Iraq allowed him to form many close friendships with Iraqis...something that prompts him to ask me to tell more people of the generous culture of the Iraqi people. His friendships apparently brought the war much closer to home for him.

"What I concluded last summer when I was waiting to transfer to NSA was that not only were our reasons for being there lies, but we just weren't there to help the Iraqis. So in November of '04 I told my commander I couldn't take part in this. I would have been sent into Fallujah, and he was going to order me in to do my job. I also chose not to go back because the dropping of bombs in urban areas like Fallujah are a violation of the laws of warfare because of the near certainty of collateral damage. For me, seeing the full humanity of Iraqis made me realize I couldn't participate in these operations."

Tharp goes on to say that he believes there are still Vietnam vets who think that that was a necessary war and adds, "I think it's because that keeps the demons at bay for them to believe it is justified...this is their coping mechanism. We, as Americans, have to face the total obvious truth that this was all because of a lie. We are speaking out because we have to speak out. We want to help other vets tell other vets their keep people from drinking themselves to death."

When he is asked what he would say to Mr. Bush if he had a few moments with him, he too took some time to think about it, then says, "It is obvious that middle America is starting to turn against this war and to turn against you...for good reason. The only thing I could see that would arrest this inevitable fall that you deserve, is another 9/11 or another war with say, Iran. There are some very credible indications in the media that we are already in pre-war with Iran. What I'm trying to do is find a stand Americans can take against you, but I think people are willing to say 'don't you dare do this to us again.' My message to the American people is this-do you want to go another round with these people? If not-now is the time to say so."

The men are using this time to tell more of why they are resisting the illegal occupation, and it's difficult to ask new questions as they are adding to what one another share.

"I didn't want to kill another soul for no reason. That's it," adds Henderson, "We were firing into small see people just running, cars going, guys falling off was just sad. You just sit there and look through your binos and see things blowing up, and you think, man they have no water, living in the third world, and we're just bombing them to hell. Blowing up buildings, shrapnel tearing people to shreds."

Tharp jumps in and adds, "Most of what we're talking about is war crimes...war crimes because they are directed by our government for power projection. My easy answer for not going is PTSD...but the deeper moral reason is that I didn't want to be involved in a crime against humanity."

Ryabov then adds, "We were put in a foreign country to fire artillery and kill people...and it shouldn't have even happened in the first place. It's hard to put into words the full tragedy of it-the death and suffering on both sides. I feel a grave injustice has been done and I'm trying to correct it. You do all these things and come back and think, what have we done?"

Michael Hoffman served as a Marine Corps corporal who fought in Tikrit and Baghdad, and has since become a co-founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

"Nobody wants to kill another person and think it was because of a lie. Nobody wants to think their service was in vain," says Hoffman.

His response to what he would say to Mr. Bush is simple, "I would look him straight in the eye and ask him 'why?' And I would hold him there and make him answer me. He never has to deal with us one on one. I dare him to talk to any of us like that, one on one, and give us an answer."

Hoffman then adds, "What about the 3 year old Iraqi girl who is now an orphan with diseases and nightmares for the rest of her life for what we did? And the people who orchestrated this don't have to pay anything. How many times are my children going to have to go through this? Our only choice is to fight this to try to stop it from happening again."

Earlier this same day Mr. Bush said, "We cannot leave this task half finished, we must take it all the way to the end."

However, Charlie Anderson, another Iraq veteran, had strong words for Bush. After discussing how the background radiation in Baghdad is now five times the normal rate-the equivalent of having 3 chest x-rays an hour, he said, "These are not accidents-the DU [Depleted Uranium]-it's important for people to understand this-the use of DU and its effects are by design. These are very carefully engineered and orchestrated incidents."

While the entire group nods in agreement and two other soldiers stand up to shake his hand, Anderson says firmly, "You subverted us, you destroyed our lives, you owe us. I want your resignation in my hand in the next five minutes. Get packin' Georgie."

Ou Est Bin Laden?

Bin Laden (Still) Determined to Strike in U.S.

Tomorrow, August 6th, marks the four-year anniversary of President Bush receiving a President's Daily Brief (PDB) entitled "Bin Laden Determined To Strike In US." After fighting two separate wars and spending hundreds of billions of dollars in the name of fighting the war on terror, the sad and unfortunate fact is that bin Laden is still determined to strike in the U.S.

NOT ON WAR FOOTING: Prior to 9/11, President Bush was enjoying "the longest presidential vacation in 32 years" (until this month) at his ranch in Crawford. It was during this time in August that he received the PDB. Prior to receiving the brief, the Bush administration had been told by experts, including outgoing Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, that the administration would have to "spend more time on terrorism generally, and on al Qaeda specifically, than any other subject." Bush said of his mindset during these boiling days in August on the ranch that he "didn't feel that sense of urgency, and my blood was not nearly as boiling." The Washington Post described Bush as "carefree" on August 7, 2001, the day after receiving the brief. When asked on April 10, 2004, whether Bush had read the PDB, a senior administration official said, "I don't have any information on that." Condoleezza Rice later downplayed the PDB as a "historical memo." Approximately four years later, it appears some things have not changed all that much. U.S. News reports Bush is at the ranch not for a "working vacation" but instead to "relax."

BUSH SHOULD FEEL THE URGENCY: Yesterday, a videotape message from Ayman al-Zawahri, al Qaeda's number two, who is considered to be "bin Laden's brain," was released declaring that al Qaeda is in fact still determined to strike the U.S. With language directed at the Bush administration, Zawahri said, "If you continue the same policy of aggression against Muslims, God willing, you will see horror that will make you forget what you saw in Vietnam." Bob Ayers, a counterterrorism expert at Chatham House, a think tank in London, said of the videotape: "Such messages are usually a call-to-arms, sort of top-down guidance to go forth and do your thing." Thus, it appears likely that President Bush could indeed be receiving a PDB tomorrow, exactly four years after the original, bearing a similar title and warning that al Qaeda is planning another attack on the U.S. -- with the same individual(s) spearheading the effort.

IS BIN LADEN IN CONTROL? The American public is asking an understandable question: "Why no sense of urgency for capturing bin Laden?" After all, the London bombings seem to have underscored al Qaeda's continuing lethality and bin Laden's inspiration of, if not direct control over, global terrorist attacks. Richard Miniter, author of "Losing Bin Laden," said, "I think bin Laden is still alive, still in control because he's able to hold Al Qaeda together, these various factions together, which otherwise don't get along." A major question confronting Western intelligence "is whether Zawahiri and bin Laden are calling the shots on terrorist attacks or merely taking credit after the fact for the actions of loosely affiliated terrorist groups." Ben Venski of the think tank IntelCenter, which closely tracks al Qaeda statements, said it would be foolish to assume al Qaeda is not directing attacks. The Congressional Research Service recently produced a report, however, concluding that tapes are merely an attempt by bin Laden and Zawahri to "create a lasting leadership role for themselves and the al Qaeda organization as the vanguard of an emerging, loosely organized internationalist movement."

BIN LADEN'S PRESENCE STILL BEING FELT: Just recently, new evidence has come to light that bin Laden "bankrolled the bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia in retaliation for Australia sending troops to Iraq." Saudi Arabia's new ambassador to the U.S., Prince Turki al-Faisal, recently said a number of terror attacks in

Saudi Arabia since 2003 "were under the immediate directions of the leadership of al Qaeda, particularly bin Laden." And in Iraq, where attacks against Americans occur daily, military officials believe "U.S. forces are coming under intensified attack by suicide bombers and improvised explosives dispatched by followers of fugitive Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose jihadi group has declared itself al Qaeda's arm in Iraq, apparently with Zawahiri and bin Laden's blessing." The message is clear: as long as bin Laden is alive, he continues to be at the heart of global terrorist activity. Despite CIA Director Porter Goss's statement that he has an "excellent idea" of where bin Laden is, there has been no palpable sense that the administration has changed its priorities or its focus in going after him. When given the opportunity to comment on the Zawahri tape yesterday, Bush notably failed to mention any pledge to capture or kill Zawahri or bin Laden. Recall, shortly after 9/11, Bush pledged to capture bin Laden "dead or alive." However, on March 13, 2002, approximately six months later, Bush backtracked, saying: "I am truly not that concerned about him." Yesterday's comments by the president indicate there is plenty of room for greater urgency over the threat of bin Laden.