June 3rd, 2009
05:46 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama officials fire back at bin Laden

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) - This kingdom is the birthplace of Osama bin Laden, so it was interesting to see how the terrorist tried to overshadow President Obama's trip here by releasing a new audiotape threatening America on Wednesday.

Perhaps just as interesting is the fact that unlike their predecessors in the Bush White House, who tried their hardest to ignore bin Laden, Obama administration officials took the rare step of engaging the 9/11 mastermind by charging his latest threat is just a desperate attempt to try and upstage the president's trip.

"I don't think it's surprising that Al-Qaeda would want to shift attention away from the president's historic efforts, and continued efforts, to reach out and have an open dialogue with the Muslim world," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters during a press briefing here.

Related: Purported bin Laden tape slams U.S. role in Pakistan

It was a message reinforced by officials throughout the Obama administration: "I think the timing is pretty self-evident and it doesn't take a rocket scientist on this one," declared Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

P.J. Crowley, spokesman at the State Department, got into the act as well by teeing up the president's Thursday speech in Cairo by taunting bin Laden a bit.

"You have, you know, the leader of the free world speaking from one of the great cities in the world," said Crowley. "And you have the - you know, bin Laden speaking from an undisclosed, you know, location. And I think that speaks - that speaks volumes in terms of the contrast."

Crowley added, "So I think there will be a contrast between the, you know, Bin Laden's vision of intolerance and perpetual conflict and the president's message tomorrow offering a vision of peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, and interconnected world, you know, for the 21st century."

In private, top Obama officials are even blunter, claiming bin Laden feels threatened that Obama's outreach - coupled with his vow to shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay - is pulling the terrorist's top recruiting tools off the table.

For his part, bin Laden charged in his audiotape: "Obama proved that he is walking the same road of his predecessors to build enmity among Muslims and increase the number of fighters against the U.S."


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (218 Responses)
  1. marquis

    Bin laden is like Rush limbaugh...both are feel they are being reduced to irrelevance and will say anything with shock value to keep the focus on them. President Obama has taken all their talking points and recruitment tools away.....

    Rush "republicans are for small governtment and tax cuts"

    Obama replies " in 8 years you grew the government and I just gave 95% of the country tax cuts"

    Bin Laden "Look how they look down on us and treat our bretheren at Gitmo"

    Obama "we extend a hand to everyone and acknowledge we have made mistakes in the past now is the time to move forward together, oh and by the way Gitmo is a mistake I order it to be shut down."

    June 3, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  2. bimmer

    Why is not Obama setting up ameeting with OSama to open up a dialogue?

    He is willing to talk to Ahmedinijad.

    June 3, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  3. jean

    Poor Leslie....It must be a hardship to be so ignorant. As for bin Laden: Why do we give this guy free press? Let him speak his hate sppech to himself in his cave mirror.

    June 3, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  4. Don

    FYI, Mr. President, he’s dead. You’re arguing with a dead man. You’ve seen Star Wars too many times. It’s not like Osama Bin Laden is Obi-Wan Kenobie. But I guess in your world dead men can vote, so why can't they make threatening tapes?

    June 3, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  5. Steve/Boston

    Leslie, dear, get a grip on your dum-dum-head, and really, get the correct information before making a total fool of your annonymous self. Obama is a Christian, and you are sadly out of touch. I'm guessing you're one of those really devout Christians...the holier than thou but completely wrong about the bible kind. I believe it was Jesus who taught that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Then there's that apparently bothersome to you teaching about loving our neighbor as ourself.

    So it seems to me that as a Christian, a decent human being, an extremely intelligent and practical man, and the leader of the free world it's just the right thing to do as POTUS to respect others and acknowledge our country's sins.

    Surely, you who seem to have the corner on Christian behavior can't argue with that. God bless.....

    June 3, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  6. bimmer

    If Obama is a Muslim because his father was a Muslim, has he not committed a crime–in the minds of the Muslim World–punishable by death by converting to christianity.

    June 3, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  7. Randy, Indiana

    Is this clown still alive? He's just pissed because we are not looking for him as hard.

    June 3, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  8. 2young2vote-OR

    Bin laden is nothing to Obama. President Obama is trying to help the world, bin laden just wants to destroy it

    June 3, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  9. Chris

    ==================================================
    "I don't think it's surprising that Al-Qaeda would want to shift attention away from the president's historic efforts to shift attention away from the president's historic efforts, and continued efforts, to reach out and have an open dialogue with the Muslim world," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters during a press briefing here.
    ==================================================

    Gibbs' statement is either misquoted or badly spoken. lol

    I'm not sure why he feels the need to respond to a terrorist leader who may not even be alive anymore anyway.

    Although I suppose pretty much any situation can turn into an administration cheer-leading moment for him, lol.

    June 3, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  10. Kyle

    Does anybody actually give a rats rear end about your stupid Negro In America reports? I mean seriously, I can summerise the whole thing in one sentence; 40's, blunts, complaining, more complaining, fro picks, absentee fathers, moronic speech patterns, idiotic spending choices with government-provided jobs (in form or another), non-stop excuses at work for being late or missing work and babies that no one takes care of; that about sum it up?

    June 3, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  11. Know the facts

    The Bush administration certainly had a funny way of "ignoring" Osama bin Laden. Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfield, Rove, etc., would quote Osama anytime they had a chance. Perhaps, journalists should stick to reporting the facts, and not making them up.

    June 3, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  12. Mike in Cincinnati

    Al Qaeda's biggest fear is coming true.... that Obama's approach to international affairs is undercutting their influence. You can tell that this trip is making them squirm.

    June 3, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  13. Andy

    Trouble with people like Leslie is they don't understand that even most Republicans support real Americans like Obama, rather than those few who reject the Constitution and would have us deny a true American hero as our first African American President.

    The fact is Leslie and his type of extremist have more in common with Al Quaeda than they'd like to admit. They are opposed to women's rights, they are opposed to civil rights and they are opposed to religious freedom.

    June 3, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  14. Van - Bloomington, Ill.

    This (firing back at bin Laden) is potentially a mistake. To respond so quickly to these Al Qaeda renegades gives them way too much credibility. Obama's not running against bin Laden... just let him be.

    June 3, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  15. james

    If she supports the slaughter of the unborn, then she should not be supported! But being a democrat...........she probably does. Typical democrats are ignorant.folk that compromise their integrity to support their own race in elected or appointed situations. They have the scruples of a con man.

    June 3, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  16. D

    Brian G, Sugar Land, TX,

    Wouldn`t it be great if all people who thought violence and revenge were productive solutions got the same?

    I`d be disgusted with anyone who would pay per view to see that.

    June 3, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  17. mike

    He,s Chaneys gardner.Dah

    June 3, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  18. Jesus

    Oh Leslie, you are pathetic.

    Obama is about as Muslim as you are.

    Why don't you just focus on popping out more inbred children instead of illuminating the boards with your stunning wisdom

    June 3, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  19. Ben

    For Leslie,
    Writing the childish gibberish that you chose to write is offensive and detrimental to our country. If you can't stand behind our elected president, then keep your mouth shut. George Bush was literally the least intelligent president in our history and I still wouldn't compare him to Bin Laden. Grow up or shut up.

    June 3, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  20. NC Paralegal

    To Leslie, when the country is threatened we Americans stick together. There are no Dems or Repubs. I hope you remember that the next time you write something so stupid. Many Americans were killed because of Bin Laden this is not a time to insult the president.

    June 3, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  21. Jon in CA

    It's quite a shame CNN fails to remove posts like Brian G who calls for the killing of President Bush.

    Brian is no better than the Islamic jihadists wanting to kill President Bush themselves.

    Liberals = terrorists

    June 3, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  22. RST

    Leslie, you are a very small person.

    June 3, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  23. smartest person in the room

    Leslie June 3rd, 2009 5:58 pm ET

    Bin Laden has nothing to worry about Hussein Obama, he was busy in Riyadh bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia.

    Bin L:aden shouldn't get mad with Hussein Obama, both of them are MUSLIMS, both of them have one goal in life – destroy America. Bin Laden should be supprotive of his brother

    -------------------------------–

    CNN can you please tell me how you allow/post this persons comments and not mine...... what the hell....... atleast my comments are based on fact and not fiction and possible contribute to other readers overall intellect rather then this person...... it is this kind of person that will be the downfall of our great nation NOT muslims,

    June 3, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  24. Jon -- Atlanta, GA

    (Its times like this that I wish the SNL skit The Rock Obama were true)

    Wow, Leslie,..sounds like you came fresh off a whole day of listening to Limbaugh... how can you and others like you hold that much hatred, bigotry and ignorance in your hearts and minds? It amazes me that whenever something comes up about the middle east that we have uninformed, closed-minded, talking-point-spouting, hate mongers popping up like dandelions on our freshly tilled political landscape.

    So for Leslie and people like Leslie, and the other factions and fractions of the freshly fragmented GOP, I have two things to say....

    You think you see one-party rule now? See you fools in 2010...

    June 3, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  25. Seriously?

    "I don't think it's surprising that Al-Qaeda would want to shift attention away from the president's historic efforts to shift attention away from the president's historic efforts"

    Third Typo I`ve found in as many articles–are you just that lazy? It`s almost as ridiculous as Spokesman...

    You have, you know, the leader of the free world speaking from one of the great cities in the world," said Crowley. "And you have the — you know, bin Laden speaking from an undisclosed, you know, location. And I think that speaks — that speaks volumes in terms of the contrast."

    June 3, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
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