June 3rd, 2009
05:46 PM ET
14 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. TheFabOne

    They won't go after this clown who they said started 9/11, but they'll go after tax cheats who don't pay money to ultimately continue this stupid war.

    That's Bush-onomics for you.

    June 3, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  2. sensi johnson

    You are so small it is not even funny. It appears you still live in the caves and have no access to the rest of the civilized world.

    June 3, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  3. Slock


    You are the most ignorant person that I have ever had the dishonor of seeing post.

    June 3, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  4. Allen in Hartwell GA

    The former presidential administration tended to ignore Bin Laden a lot. If they had not done so they might have had to go after him. So much for Bush's promise to bring him back alive or dead!!!

    June 3, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  5. Turnabout is Fair Play

    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

    You truly are an ignorant, racist, Palin lovin' b!tch. I'm SO glad your radical neo-con old fool and his brainless ho didn't get into the Whitehouse.

    June 3, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  6. Dan, TX

    Barack the messiah is meeting the terrorists in Saudi and now he will say that USA a Muslim nation. During the campaign he was hiding his true colors, even his middle name. Now the true colors can be seen. Wait America, you will see more of Radical/Marxist Obama. He has nationalized GM which means he is gone one step ahead of Hugo Chavez. I do not know if CNN will tell the truth. If so, you should publish this letter and the facts. No moderation.

    June 3, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  7. You sure you can keep this up for 4 years?

    Oh god, Leslie said the word Hussien multiple times in her post, I guess that means Obama is a terrorist.

    Your cute, but that doesn't work anymore. Get back to work!

    June 3, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  8. Political Queen

    He's losing ground and he knows it. I believe this thing is done...President Obama is doing the right thing trying to bring about at minimum dialogue. I believe most Americans are done with the divide and fear strategy....we won't peace, please let there be peace!

    June 3, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  9. D. Tree

    The world is tiring of your threats and commandments, Osama – everyone is sick of you acting like you can order them around. The muslim world would rather listen to Obama than you, your days are numbered Bin Laden!

    June 3, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  10. Vicky-Santa Cruz

    Yes Leslie isn't that the TRUTH !!

    June 3, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  11. V. Clausewitz

    Actually Brian, it would be more fun to watch Bin Laden cut the heads off of a bevy of liberals. Of course they would have to put themselves in harms way first, which is something liberals are always good at avoiding.

    June 3, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  12. etl

    Leslie, you're a moron!

    June 3, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  13. Wise AZ

    Brian G, Sugarland , TX –
    Grow up. Bin Laden is the one who attacked us, not George Bush. What are you going to do when he attacks us under the Obama Adminstration? Obama will respond verbally with idle threats, just like Clinton. Bin Laden and his fellow terrorists would slit your throat in a minute.

    June 3, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  14. The Broker.

    All three! :Pro Obama. Where is the conflict? CNN.

    June 3, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  15. Eliki

    I just can't get over the fact that, you know, as I read the article, you know, and the words are scrolling down the screen, you know, that the SPOKESPERSON, you know, for the State Department can't QUIT saying YOU KNOW!!!

    I'm sorry Mr. Crowley but I probably don't stand alone in suggesting that you try something, you know, like maybe Toastmasters!

    Just some gentle ribbing...

    Have a nice day.

    June 3, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  16. The Broker.

    Moose in Limbo. CNN? How low can you get?

    June 3, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  17. Political Queen

    Leslie, get a hobby, how about to the opposite of Kate Gosselin, pay attention to your kids...who cares if he is indeed American, it's better than what we had for the last 8 years. Oh yeh, the previous administration really brought about a sense of pride and dignity in America...you know with torture, leaving so called "refugees" stranded after hurricane Katrina, lying to the America public, oh excuse donkey...that did nothing to destroy America's credibility, I mean, alianating ourselves, and bullying other countries, that's not destroying America, but trying to bring about respect, and a restored confidence in the greatest nation on earth, that's destruction. Get a life thing!

    June 3, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  18. Steve, Columbia SC

    I just hope our new president won't bow to the Saudi King and bin Laden when they meet.................

    When will our president understand that the goal of the Muslim world is to destroy all the our nation is and represents, both good and bad?

    June 3, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  19. GaryB

    If I was Bin Laden, I would be worried. The Bush administration needed a boogie man to push through a fair percentage of their agenda. Bin Laden was, simply put, more useful to them alive and free. I'm not saying that they wouldn't have captured Bin Laden if he'd raised his hands and said "hey I'm here", but they certainly had plenty of reasons - whether or not they consciously acknowledged them - to not go out of their way. Obama simply doesn't need Bin Laden the way Bush did. I don't think he'd have any problems giving the order to punch his ticket.

    June 3, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  20. John

    Leslie, give it up.

    Obama is not a Muslim. You people want it both ways. On the one hand, he belongs to a radical Christian church. On the other, he is a Muslim.
    You can't have it both ways. Sorry.

    Your buddy Bush didn't go after Osama Bin Laden, he just used him as a boogey man to get people like you to support his adventures in Iraq.
    You were played for a sucker by your own racism. Just like all racists.

    June 3, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  21. Cynthia - Arkansas

    The world is listening to President Obama. The message of Peace and respect of others is much more powerful that hate.

    June 3, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  22. Mitch

    Ah Leslie, ignorant to the last. I watched the airport greeting and for the life of me, I don't remember a bow of any kind. Care to share with us? As for the approach they're having with Bin Laden...kudos. Bin Laden is rotting in the mountains...hope he enjoys the same journey to obscurity that the GOP are travelling.

    June 3, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  23. Cincinnatian

    Leslie – your ignorance could be a recruitment tool for terrorists.

    Where do you get your news?

    Please get an education!!!

    June 3, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  24. Chad


    You are sick! I mean really, go get help! Your comment is so ignorant it makes most sane people laugh, but in these trying times it makes me sad. You are intitled to your opinion, but when your opinion is viod of fact it just makes you sound, and I mean this with the most respect, dumb. I know having a name that sounds Muslim would make it tempting to think he is a Muslim (which there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim, the problem is being a RADICAL Muslim...just like being a RADICAL Christian, Chatholic etc. is wrong...see Timothy McVeigh, or that psycho who killed the doc the other day in church!!!!). If my last name was McGee would that make me Irish Catholic to you? So in your world everybody has to have last names like Smith or Johnson is that it? Well that isn't the world we live in, nor will it ever be, or has it ever been.

    June 3, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  25. arithmetic is liberal

    bin Laden is dead. He's as dead as a doornail.

    The proof is in the pudding. After the election, his faithful number two couldn't shut up about Obama when talking to [scaring] other Muslims, but not a single mention by bin Laden about the President's name. You'd think that Osama bin Laden would have something to say about not trusting Barack Obama just because he has a Muslim-sounding name and Muslims on one side of his family.

    The truth is that there is no more bin Laden. The man behind the curtain is dead. He died of kidney failure years ago.

    June 3, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
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