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. Sandra in El Paso

    I never cease to be amazed by the sheer ignorance of people like Leslie. "There ain't no reasoning with stupid."

    June 3, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  2. shawn - ga

    They are freindenemies afterall this is just a show

    June 3, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  3. Pleeze

    That was not Bin Laden. Why have we not seen a picture of the man in over 2 years?

    June 3, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  4. Simmy

    It will be joy to have Bin Laden captured or killed on President Obama's watch......I don't believe it's that difficult to find him.....I don't anyone in the former admin. was looking for him....

    June 3, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  5. Hopeful Optimist

    Obama will handle it right because he's thought it all out beforehand, unlike the previous bunch who REACTED rather than taking a proactive stance. This trip will be seen by historians for many years as being of epic proportions. And this too has been thought out for many, many months, perhaps years, by Obama, because he sees things from a world stage. Oh how I'm sure the Republicans hope he fails in this.

    June 3, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  6. Brant, Houston, TX

    lol @ bin laden. Who let him out of his cave?

    June 3, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  7. mike,texas

    I wish dick and his friends would stop making these low budget videos.

    June 3, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  8. Mark from Brooklyn

    Osama Bin Ladin is coming off pathetic. Osama was only so successful because he had an idiot like Bush and a villain like Cheney to play off of. Obama is a hero, and now Osama will be the villain.

    And Leslie, you really should talk your mental illness pills. If you're going to participate in political discourse, at least stay in reality. But now days that may be a little hard to ask of a conservative right winger.

    June 3, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  9. the rev. charles w. daily

    Is Rush Limbaugh merely getting richer with his manic personality and his borderline personality disorder? Or is his I.Q. really the
    best of what public education can provide given the genetic material

    June 3, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  10. Lynn

    Leaslie: You are a total ignoramous.

    June 3, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  11. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    So if GITMO is a top recruiting tool, how is it that Bin Laden had no trouble finding people for the 9/11 attacks, attacks on US African embassies, the USS Cole, and others that preceded our opening of GITMO? Let's not forget that he had virtually taken over Afghanistan with his Taliban allies long before Bush or GITMO. Of course these facts don't square with popular liberal alternate history so you never seem to hear about them.

    June 3, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  12. To Leslie-the-hater


    you must be very unhappy and I really think you need counseling to deal with your issues. Normal people don't have so much hatred in them. Normal people don't need to make false statements about others with the purpose of raising conflict and hate. Regardless of your political afiliations and/or your religious views, you should be proud to have a President who is comitted to peace, civil rights and diplomacy.

    Your radicalism and hatred toward your own countrymen make you another Osama Bin Laden who just happen to be on the other side of the spectrum.

    June 3, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  13. Moderate Democrat

    Hey, I recognize that dude. He's George Bush's former business partner.

    Ironic that he attacked america as well as was a business partner of Georrge Bush? Nope, not ironic at all. Completely predictable for anti americans to hang out and do business with each other!

    June 3, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  14. bimmer

    If Obama shakes hands with Osama, will he be impeahed?

    June 3, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  15. K

    Just because your name is Leslie it does not make you an American automatically. I can understand you may not like Obama or his policies, but to call the President Osama Bin Laden's brother and you taking issue with him because of his Muslim background makes you the most Un-American person of all and to a large extent ignorant. In fact it is people like you who are the bane of this great country's progress in leading the way for the rest of the world.

    So either you contribute in a positive way or just shut up.

    June 3, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  16. joe smith

    has anyone noticed, oil stands at $68.00/barrel..it was $32.00/barrel January 20th, 2009..see any similarities, and we all thought bush/cheney were oil pirates..

    June 3, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  17. Jim

    You have got to be the most ignorant person on the internet. Either that, or you enjoy the attention spreading LIES and trash gets you. That myth was debunked a loooooong time ago. You really should get out of the cave more often. Or are you busy shacking up with Bin Laden in his private cave? Please, do us all a favor, all of us grown-ups want to have a real discussion. Go play and don't come back until you're told to.

    June 3, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  18. New Day

    Hey, Leslie- just curious, if you repeat stuff a ton of times, do you start to believe it? I mean, the people that believe your spew need no convincing and those that know just how full of crap you are, aren't going to be swayed just because you and your ilk repeat it for the billionth time.

    By all means, keep repeating it, tho. The more "right" the repubs go, the more centrist the president looks. Thanks for that, btw.

    June 3, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  19. bimmer

    Perhaps Obama should give his speech outside the cave and Osama will be so smitten he will ome out to hug his long lost brother.

    June 3, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  20. RR

    Leslie, your a complete idiot!

    June 3, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  21. Tim, Seattle

    "Bin Laden shouldn't get mad with Hussein Obama, both of them are MUSLIMS, both of them have one goal in life – destroy America"

    Leslie....your racist and religious intolerant views are just ugly. What an awful pig you are. Its people like you that are ruining America, not the President and not the majority of America that doesnt care if there was Muslim faith somewhere in his family.
    HAte all you want, this president is succeeding despite your ugliness and impotent rhetoric. Maybe you should leave America. You dont belong here anymore, apparently.

    Best of all, you and Your GOP cant do squat about it (one finger salute to you)!

    June 3, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  22. Tim

    Brian G, Sugar Land, TX:
    "Wouldn't it be great if we could draw and quarter both bin Ladin and Bush at the same time.
    Oh, I would do a serious pay-per-view for that!"

    So would I!

    June 3, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  23. bimmer

    If Obama was never a Muslim, why is he telling the Muslim world he was one of them?

    June 3, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  24. Frank White

    Could we eliminate State Department spokespersons who can't complete a sentence without using "you know"?

    June 3, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  25. Juan

    Osama bin laden or obama bin laden there is no difference.

    June 3, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
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