WASHINGTON: In his tweets on Pakistan on Monday, US President Donald Trump claimed that he had identified Osama bin Laden as a threat to the United States in a book he wrote almost two years before the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. However, the US media on Tuesday said that his claim was not correct.
A fact-check by the Associated Press news agency showed that the book — The America We Deserve— had “only a passing mention of bin Laden”, pointing to the Al-Qaeda leader “as one of many threats to US security”.
Mr Trump in his tweets had also said that this information would have led him to find bin Laden if he had been president back in 2000. “Of course we should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did,” he had tweeted.
The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler dug up the relevant passage from Mr Trump’s 2000 book: “One day we’re told that a shadowy figure with no fixed address named Osama bin-Laden is public enemy number one, and US jetfighters lay waste to his camp in Afghanistan,” Mr Trump wrote. “He escapes back under some rock, and a few news cycles later it’s on to a new enemy and new crisis,” he added.
The rest of the text of the book doesn’t mention bin Laden at all. There are more pages mentioning Al Gore (five) than Al-Qaeda (zero) in The America We Deserve.
The AP story noted that President Trump felt the need to make this claim because of the “persistent criticisms” from a US war hero, retired Admiral William McRaven, who branded Mr Trump’s laceration of the news media “the greatest threat to democracy”.
As commander of the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command in 2011, Admiral McRaven oversaw the raid that killed Bin Laden in Abbottabad. He also oversaw the operation to catch former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2018