Pakistani leader repeats a long debunked hoax – or was it?


Afghan insurgent firing Sidewinder missile – a present from the CIA

The president of Pakistan apparently believes an Internet hoax alleging that Oliver North warned of the dangers posed by Osama bin Laden 20 years ago.

President Asif Ali Zardari, in an interview with the Fox News Channel that was televised Tuesday, said that North, the former White House aide at the heart of the Iran-Contra controversy, installed a security system for his home in the late 1980s “because he was scared of Osama bin Laden.”

That rumor emerged on the Internet shortly after the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. It has been thoroughly debunked by a number of reliable sources, including the U.S. Senate’s Web site and North himself…

In the interview, which was recorded Saturday in New York, Zardari said that his wife, Benazir Bhutto, a former Pakistani prime minister who was assassinated last year, had called President George H.W. Bush to complain about bin Laden, who was reported to have bankrolled a no-confidence vote against Bhutto.

According to Zardari, the phone call was placed on a secure line at the U.S. Embassy. He said Bhutto had “complained that why is an operator who is supposed to be an American destabilizing my government?”

Bush “hadn’t even heard of the name Osama bin Laden,” Zardari added, before repeating the claim about North’s testimony.

I can’t answer to whether or not Bush the Elder knew about Bin Laden in 1989. He certainly should have.

Cripes, I knew about Bin Laden in 1986. The occasional bit of reading, the odd conversation with visitors returning from North Africa and South Asia, made it quite clear what a dangerous fanatic Bin Laden was.

It takes more than a grain of salt to make all the tales of ignorance half-palatable.

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One comment

  1. keaneo

    I’m sort of 6 of one, half-dozen of the other.

    Do I think someone in intelligence gathering was tracking Bin Laden? Yup. Probably a whole station section.

    Do I think our bureaucrats knew (or know) how to communicate, share and learn from each other? Incompetents rarely do.

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