The White House is weighing whether to release a videotape of Osama bin Laden that officials say shows his involvement in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. An announcement is expected soon.
White House officials say the tape is incriminating, and leaves no doubt Osama bin Laden was responsible for the terrorist attacks.
They indicate they want to make the video available to the public, but first want to make sure that no intelligence sources are compromised. They also want to double-check their English translation of the tape, which is all in Arabic.
President Bush has seen the videotape, which shows Osama bin Laden discussing the September 11 attacks with a Muslim cleric. He says it shows the true nature of the man. "It just reminded me what a murderer he is...and how right and just our cause is," he said.
The President predicts people who see the tape will walk away with strong impressions. "This man wants to destroy any semblance of civilization for his own power and his own good. He is so evil that he is willing to send young men to commit suicide while he hides in caves," he said.
On the videotape, Osama bin Laden reportedly gloats over the deaths in the attacks on the World Trade Center, saying the damage exceeded his expectations. He also talks about some of the men who conducted the attacks, and according to several reports says they did not know they were on a suicide mission.
White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer, who saw a transcript of the English translation of the tape, says it validates everything the Bush administration has been saying about Osama bin Laden and his role in the events of September 11. "There is information that is on those tapes that shows to the world just how evil Osama bin Laden is," the spokesman said.
Mr. Fleischer confirms the tape was found in a private residence in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. However, he indicates its journey into American hands was very complicated.
He says this videotape is very different from the recorded messages from Osama bin Laden provided earlier to news organizations by al-Qaida. The White House called the earlier videos pre-packaged propaganda. But this one apparently was taped by an amateur, and shows a spontaneous conversation.
"If this was the same pre-packaged propaganda it would have already been provided by the people who did it to outlets in the Middle East, probably to al-Jazeera, where it would have already been played.
There are strong signs that, if the White House does decide to release the videotape, it will do so on Wednesday at the earliest. That would give experts time to handle all remaining questions related to the release. It would also mean that the first public broadcast of the videotape would not detract from solemn ceremonies Tuesday marking the three-month anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.