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White House Rechecking Translation Before Releasing bin Laden Tape - 2001-12-12


The Bush administration appears to be nearing an announcement on the release of a videotape of Osama bin Laden. A team of translators has been reviewing the tape in which the al-Qaida leader speaks in Arabic about the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Bush administration officials originally cited several concerns that might prevent the release of the tape. Now, there appears to be only one problem standing in the way: the accuracy of the translation.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer indicates fears the release might hamper intelligence gathering have been addressed. But he notes the quality of the tape is poor, and steps are being taken to make sure every word in Arabic is translated correctly.

"To be thorough, to be accurate before anything is released to the rest of the world, the Defense Department has brought in four translators from outside the government to listen to every word and make certain there is agreement on what is said on the tape," he said.

Mr. Fleischer says President Bush will make the final decision in consultation with his national security team. "Clearly, the president hopes that information can be shared with the public. The only thing that would stand in the way is if there were anything in intelligence, or security could be compromised. That is not looking likely," he said. "So really it is just a matter of being diligent, thorough and accurate prior to releasing something to the world."

Administration officials and Senators who have seen the tape say it will convince the world that Osama bin Laden is responsible for the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. One senator called it "a frightening display of evil."

The videotape was found in an abandoned apartment in Afghanistan. It shows Osama bin Laden in conversation with another man, believed to be a cleric. Ari Fleischer says the al-Qaida leader had to know he was being taped, but the quality of the video indicates it was not meant for mass distribution.

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