Whopper of the Week: Osama Bin Laden.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Dec. 13 2001 11:58 AM

Whopper of the Week: Osama Bin Laden

Al-Qaida learns to love the U.N.

"Those who refer our tragedies today to the United Nations so that they can be resolved are hypocrites who deceive God, His Prophet and the believers. … Under no circumstances should any Muslim or sane person resort to the United Nations. The United Nations is nothing but a tool of crime."

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Osama Bin Laden in his second post-9/11 propaganda videotape, aired by Al-Jazeera on Nov. 3. Text courtesy of the BBC.

"The Afghan Islamic Press, often the voice of the Taliban, reported that some of the [al-Qaida] fighters were demanding that they be turned over to the United Nations [italics Chatterbox's], with diplomats from their home countries present."

John Kifner, "Heavy Bombing Resumes After Second Cease-Fire Breakdown," in the Dec. 13 New York Times.

Discussion: Chatterbox will concede that "the United Nations is nothing but a tool of crime," however vile and wrong-headed a statement, constitutes opinion rather than fact. Surely, though, there is a point at which a person's actions contradict his stated opinion so cravenly that the opinion becomes a lie. It's true that Bin Laden himself hasn't yet begged to be turned over to the U.N., but Chatterbox considers those fighting his last battle to be appropriate proxies.

Got a whopper? Send it to chatterbox@slate.com. To be considered, an entry must be an unambiguously false statement paired with an unambiguous refutation, and both must be derived from some appropriately reliable public source. Preference will be given to newspapers and other documents that Chatterbox can link to online.

Whopper Archive:

Dec. 7, 2001: Henry Kissinger

Nov. 30, 2001: Council on American-Islamic Relations

Nov. 23, 2001: Bud Selig

Nov. 16, 2001: Sara Jane Olson

Nov. 9, 2001: Donald Rumsfeld (item includes retraction)

Nov. 2, 2001: Dick Armey  

Oct. 26, 2001:  Gale Norton

Oct. 19, 2001: State Department Deputy Spokesman Philip Reeker

Oct. 12, 2001: Clarence Thomas

Oct. 5, 2001: Abdul Salam Zaeef

Sept. 27, 2001: Karl Rove, Ari Fleischer, and Dick Cheney

Sept. 20, 2001: Larry C. Johnson

Sept. 13, 2001: Yasser Arafat

Sept. 7, 2001: Tommy Thompson

Aug. 30, 2001: HHS spokesman Bill Pierce

Aug. 23, 2001: Variety Editor Peter Bart

Aug. 17, 2001: Tom Daschle

Aug 10, 2001: Robert Mueller

Aug. 3, 2001: Barbara Olson

July 27, 2001: Jeffrey Archer

July 20, 2001: George W. Bush

July 13, 2001: George W. Bush

July 6, 2001: Sumner Redstone

June 29, 2001: David Brock

June 22, 2001: Edmund Morris

June 15, 2001: George W. Bush

June 8, 2001: Nepali Prince Regent (subsequently, King) Gyanendra

June 1, 2001: Mary McGrory

May 25, 2001: Ari Fleischer

May 18, 2001: York, Pa., Mayor Charles Robertson

May 11, 2001: Ted Olson

May 4, 2001: Rear Adm. Craig Quigley

April 27, 2001: Ben Affleck

April 20, 2001: South Carolina state legislator Chip Limehouse

April 13, 2001: Gray Davis

April 6, 2001: Sumner Redstone

March 30, 2001: Spencer Abraham

March 23, 2001: George W. Bush, Rep. Jennifer Dunn, and/or the Treasury Department

March 16, 2001: George W. Bush

March 9, 2001: Russ Freyman, spokesman, National Association of Manufacturers

March 2, 2001: Paul O'Neill

Feb. 23, 2001: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton

Feb. 16, 2001: Oscar spokesman John Pavlik

Feb. 9, 2001: Lynne Cheney

Feb. 2, 2001: Bobby Thomson

Jan. 26, 2001: Denise Rich

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.

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