September 23, 2006

"Saudi security services are now convinced that Osama bin Laden is dead."

According to a leaked French intelligence document:
"The chief of al-Qaida was a victim of a severe typhoid crisis while in Pakistan on August 23, 2006," the document says. His geographic isolation meant that medical assistance was impossible, the French report said, adding that his lower limbs were allegedly paralyzed.

Typhoid.
You will probably be given an antibiotic to treat the disease. Three commonly prescribed antibiotics are ampicillin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and ciprofloxacin. Persons given antibiotics usually begin to feel better within 2 to 3 days, and deaths rarely occur. However, persons who do not get treatment may continue to have fever for weeks or months, and as many as 20% may die from complications of the infection.
How hard would it have been to get him antibiotics?

If it's true that bin Laden has died of typhoid -- and I hope it is -- he joins this list of illustrious men felled by the tiny bacterium: Alexander the Great, Pericles, William the Conqueror, Franz Schubert, William Shakespeare.

ADDED: How long will it take before people start saying this is a scheme to help Republicans in the coming election?

UPDATE: "Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it had no evidence that Osama bin Laden had died...."

44 comments:

Mojave Joe said...

"ADDED: How long will it take before people start saying this is a scheme to help Republicans in the coming election?"

Well, that's the result of an administration that cryed wolf so often.

tiggeril said...

Is this the seventh or eighth time he's died?

"I'm not dead."
"'Ere, he says he's not dead. "
"Yes he is."
"I'm not."
"Well, he will be soon, he's very ill."
"I'm getting better"
"No you're not, you'll be stone dead in a moment. "

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Bioterrorism?

yetanotherjohn said...

Typhoid makes sense given that it is often associated with poor sanitation. I suspect whatever cave OBL is in doesn't have flush toilets. But your tag about making political hay about it made me think (curse you Anne and your socratic bloggin methods).

One of the talking points on the left has been that they would pull out of Iraq so the troops could be used to capture OBL. Obviously OBL's death would undercut that line of reasoning (though I suspect they would continue with the "lets redploy to Okinawa" part of it). The administration has been trying to go after the disease, societies that foment islamofacism, and has put less effort on the symptoms such as OBL the individual.

So who benefits if OBL really is dead. The democrats lose a talking point and there are likely to be short term elation that helps the GOP. But America tends to like to have a face they can put on their enemy. OBL serves as that face, just as Hitler and Hirohito served during WWII. While OBL being demonstrably dead would provide a short term advantage, I think in a way his loss could be a long term problem on the war on terror (which should be a bipartisan issue, so I won't assign it any partisan advantage). How many people would see OBL dead as a sign that the threat has passed, evne though the underlying disease still exists?

Then again, this is just a rumor. Like other rumors of OBL's death, it is likely to be "greatly exagerated". I think the false hope followed by the letting down of that hope if he turns out to not be dead, plays to the democratic talking points. It reminds people he hasn't been captured and makes them more likely to give the democrats another listen on their idea. Of course the democratic idea doesn't deal with how a retreat from Iraq would like make every regional allie question our resolve to bear any burden and endure any hardship, so catching OBL in Pakistan would be even harder.

I also find it interesting that the rumor of his death is surfacing right before a major attack is rumored to take place. So rumors stacked on top of rumors. There is a chance he is dead and the timing has nothing to do with us and there is a chance he is rumored to be dead and the timing is meant to benefit AQ (e.g. he seems to rise phoenix like from the rumored grave after a major attack). There is a real good chance that he is alive.

Gerry said...

"Well, that's the result of an administration that cryed wolf so often."

Perhaps you can give links to administration officials announcing previously that Bin Laden is dead, to support your claim that the administration has "cryed" wolf so often?

Thanks in advance.

Ann Althouse said...

Ruth Anne: I'm thinking: bagged spinach.

Gerry: My thoughts exactly (down to mocking the spelling).

George said...

Crying wolf is a way to get the enemy to bark.

This news leak could be an attempt to get al-
Qaeda members to use electronic means to communicate with each other in the hope that someone will ask about bin-Laden's health and the other party will inadvertently reveal his whereabouts.

I suspect these psych-ops events happen more often then we would like to think they do. Logic dictates that our side runs press scams on the global media just as the other side does on Reuters photographers in Lebanon and elsewhere.

The Drill SGT said...

And the French are now part of the vast right wing conspiracy?

My memory, faulty though it may be, seems to recall that previous OBL rumors were products of the LLL. People like Howard Dean saying things like: "We've captured OBL and we're just waiting for an October surprise to use him to Bush's best advantage..."

Notes on Typhoid. The scourge of armies. That's why all those leaders (military leaders) died of typhoid.

Siege = camp in 1 spot.
camp in one spot = lots of latrines
ignorance of the cause of disease = latrines located up stream of camp
high density camps = rapid spread of disease

World War I was probably the first war where the number of deaths from disease was less than the deaths from combat and that was only as a result of the industrial age invention of the machine gun.

WWII was the first war where we had the capability to attack diseases. Sulfa and penicillin.

tiggeril said...

What's the LLL?

I don't see what breastfeeding has to do with this. ;)

Mojave Joe said...

"... many a thousand widows shall this his mock mock out of their dear husbands; mock mothers from their sons, mock castles down . . . "

Henry V, act I, sc. 2, lines 283-86.

Barry said...

How hard could it be to get him antibiotics?

The downside of hiding in extremely rugged, mountainous and remote terrain is that maintaining your supply lines can be a real bitch. If there was a typhoid outbreak, it is not at all unreasonably that the complete local stockpile of antibiotics, such as they would have been, would be exhausted quickly and timely resupply impossible.

That being said, I won't believe that bastard's dead until I see a corpse and positive DNA identification.

One of the Five said...

Ann - This is the top story at Digg.com and sure enough the comment section is FILLED with Bush conspiracy and the upcoming elections.

Scott W. Somerville said...

It's probably just coincidence, but when was the big Taliban funeral that was in the news?

If it was AFTER Aug. 23, I'd love to send some special forces in with a spade to take DNA samples of whatever's left over there.

Icepick said...

If OBL is actually dead from typhoid, then that does NOT help the Administration politically. After all, they didn't get him, except perhaps indirectly.

downtownlad said...

I don't buy that he is dead for a second.

But even if he were - how would this help Bush? They would have proved themselves incapable of getting him on their own.

And if Osama is dead, people would start to question even further why we are in Iraq. That would probably help the Democrats.

I hope he's dead though.

Derve said...

ADDED: How long will it take before people start saying this is a scheme to help Republicans in the coming election?

I don't know, Ann.
What time did you post the addendum? ;-)

vnjagvet said...

Icepick:

It doesn't hurt them either. Dead is dead.

Moreover, I doubt that anyone in the administration will be trying to take credit for this if it be true.

That would be bad politics, and unRovelike.

LetMeSpellItOutForYou said...

If I were a member of coalition intelligence, I'd spread a rumor he was dead to prompt him to issue one of those loopy audio tapes as a response, which may yield useful information. My $.02.

XWL said...

I just hope the Osama Bin Laden is dead rumors don't get in the way of the Osama Bin Laden got himself a sex change operation rumors I was hoping to spread.

Poor Whitney Houston, first her marriage dissolves, then she loses her biggest fan.

David said...

Adapt and Overcome! Concepts foreign to our demcratic friends. It turns out the face of terrorism wasn't UBL afterall.

It was Islam!

Benedictus nailed Islam like a butterfly in a display case!

tjl said...

Chirac is now insisting it's all a regrettable misunderstanding. Quel dommage.

Of course, since it's Chirac, maybe OBL is really dead after all.

Hollywood Freaks said...

Andrew Sullivan has linked it to the elections.

Jim Hu said...

I've got some info on typhoid, antibiotics, and vaccines here

AST said...

If he is dead, we'll never be able to prove it. And how can they claim he's a martyr if he died from typhoid?

Revenant said...

How long will it take before people start saying this is a scheme to help Republicans in the coming election?

There are people who could convince themselves that the cheesesteak I had for dinner last night was part of a Rovian plot.

However, I doubt that it will help Republicans if bin Laden died of natural causes. "We forced him to go into hiding and then he got sick and died" lacks oomph as a campaign slogan.

Fenrisulven said...

Not taking the word of the French on anything.

Even if true, OBL is only a symbolic target. I would prefer he perish via Hellfire missile, with his lieutenants surrounding him.

The Drill SGT said...

Fen,

There is a basic military maxim. Very few operations fail because they have too many troops or explosions because they have too much charge.

If we spot him with a predator, armed with a hellfire, sure take a shot, if not, get me a BUFF with 50 500 pounders and lets make big holes in the ground. :)

when you care to send the very best, get a BUFF.

Cedarford said...

Loved the mental image of Binnie dying from USA-bagged spinach (yet another insane food scare. One person may have died!!!So low risk you might as well eat what you got as lower risk per serving on your demise than a greasy pizza. And ignore the scare mongers who tell you you don't know where the next deady apple, cantaloupe or leaf of spinach is coming. Man was meant to live with bacteria in his environment...except for the real deadly cholera, typhus, and botulism outbreaks - only the very weak or immune compromized die of this stuff. Not to worry, Cedarford says, as he eats a lunch lasagna made from fresh bagged spinach..)

WWII was the first war where we had the capability to attack diseases. Sulfa and penicillin.

In WWII, typhus was the major killer in POW and concentration camps, according to British epidemiologists. It was what did in people weakened by malnutrition or starvation. Typhus was the #1 killer in many concentration camps, not executions. Something I believe was also the case in the British concentration camps of the Boer War. In WWII, some troops and civilian populations had good sanitation and medical care. In others, like in the Soviet Union, Belgium, Germany - typhus and cholera not only killed millions during the war, but raged well after the war ended.
**********************
Back on topic - I'm hoping Binnie bought it. But his death will make little difference in the war on radical Islam. Beware of people so fixated on him that they claim the war is over now and we can get on with the End of History.

peter hoh said...

This far away from the elections, I don't think the news (if true) will have any impact on voting. If US troops got him anytime between now and November, then it's a big boost for the administration, but even then, I'm not sure that it helps Republican politicians in statewide elections.

Frankly, I'm having a hard time figuring out what I would dream up if I had to come up with an "October surprise."

MadisonMan said...

Typhus, spread by flea infested rats and mice, is different from typhoid fever, which is spread by contact with sewage.

knoxgirl said...

What's the LLL?

I don't see what breastfeeding has to do with this.


Those La Leche-ers can be pretty tough...

JLR said...

I feel compelled to note that William Shakespeare did not die of typhoid fever.

The specific cause of Shakespeare's death is unknown, although a German professor recently speculated it to be a rare form of cancer. (see http://news.scotsman.com/scitech.cfm?id=278702006 )

Someone has already removed Shakespeare's name from wikipedia's list of "famous typhoid victims."

AllenS said...

If you're a martyr, and you die of typhus, do the 72 virgins have VD?

Johnny Nucleo said...

Whether he is dead or not, bin Laden has been neutralized as anything more than a propaganda threat. Operationally, he is no longer a player.

However, I hope he is dead because I want him off the table. I want to see what the Left does then.

Will there be whoops of joy from the Left, like there were when we captured Saddam?

Will they give props to Bush?

Will they declare the war over, so let's pack it up, or will they admit this thing is much bigger than bin Laden?

Who am I kidding? I already know the answers to these questions.

Drew W said...

I seem to remember reading some article in Slate years ago about bin Laden as real-life archvillain and what sort of adversary we expect an archvillain to be.

So rather than dying in some spectacular manner appropriate to his monstrous deeds, like the archvillain in a James Bond movie, it turns out he might have instead met his end as Mimi from La Boheme, coughing pathetically into his handkerchief. (If it turns out to be true, John Adams could write an opera about it -- picking up where The Death Of Klinghoffer left off.)

Paul Zrimsek said...

How long will it take before people start saying this is a scheme to help Republicans in the coming election?

"I time the questioning!"

F15C said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
F15C said...

"Whether he is dead or not, bin Laden has been neutralized as anything more than a propaganda threat. Operationally, he is no longer a player."

Strategically, OBL is very important to those in his organization who are operationally important. He is their ultimate military commander and vindicator. He alone struck the decisive blow against us so far in this war.

From a military perspective, OBL is not the greatest of leaders. The hornet's nest he stirred up with 9/11 put him way in over his head and the record bears that out and to make matters worse a lot of his top leaders have been captured or killed. Further, one does not have to be a military strategist to know that you would prefer your enemy have the least capable leader possible. There is the real possibility that if OBL is killed, his replacement may well be a better leader than he - and that would not be good for us.

As it stands, it is clear that OBL is unable (so far anyway - thank everyone who has worked to stop him) to carry through on his pledge to "kill 4 million Americans, 2 million of them children" ( quote from June 2002 if memory serves). His being ineffectual in the post-9/11 world is clear to his adherents and to his enemies.

Whether better or not, he will certainly be different. Much of our current intelligence assessment of Al Qaeda would have to be tossed and redone in light of a new leader's dynamic and process, at great expense in time and treasure.

There is a reasonable argument that killing Bin Laden too soon would be a double-edge sword. Getting him is not the end game (contrary to what many of the not-too-bright variety of the left would like to pretend). On the one hand, killing or capturing the ultimate decision maker behind 9/11 would be psychologically nice and a victory certainly. But on the other hand, if we kill him, he becomes legend to his followers and a never-ending source of inspiration. And we also then have to deal with the new leader who may well be far more capable than OBL.

There is an argument to be made that a reasonable long-term strategy would be to isolate and minimize OBL - but not kill him.

Simon said...

If I was going to concoct a news story about Osama Bin Laden to help in the midterms, I'd concoct a story wherein he was killed in a firefight with a covert ops force, not this weak-ass "dying from typhoid" crap. It's the Democrats who don't even know how to do propaganda right, the GOP's had the hang of it for a while.

Personally, I want him sent to the gas chamber - put in the stocks on the House of Representatives floor until he expires from all the hot air coming out of the minority side. Or, you know, feed him to the lions in Giants Stadium. Whatever works.

Troy said...

Finally the high cost of prescription drugs does some good.

He wanted to usher in a 7th century AD world and he died -- if reports are true -- in a medieval sorta way. Plague might've been better, but typhoid will do.

Garage Mahal said...

If I was going to concoct a news story about Osama Bin Laden to help in the midterms, I'd concoct a story wherein he was killed in a firefight with a covert ops force, not this weak-ass "dying from typhoid" crap. It's the Democrats who don't even know how to do propaganda right, the GOP's had the hang of it for a while.

Except you would have to present some kind of evidence if it was done by our military. Just having "Bin Ladin DEAD" hitting every blog, newspaper, 24 hour cable would do much.

Karl Rove fingerprints? I doubt it. But after the hatchet job he did on Kerry, and McCains daughter, planting bugs in his office, there is nothing beneath this guys contempt.

Revenant said...

I can't believe how few people realize that the death of bin Laden will *hurt* the Republicans, not help them. Bin Laden's death will make Americans feel that the terrorist threat has lessened; that, in turn, will make national defense and the war on terrorism less-important issues in 2006 and 2008.

Trust me, Karl Rove probably has wet dreams about a world in which bin Laden lives another 50 years and keeps releasing a fresh "death to America" videotape every election cycle or so.

Jim C. said...

LLL = Loony Liberal Left

revenant said, "Trust me, Karl Rove probably has wet dreams about a world in which bin Laden lives another 50 years" (emphasis added)

I see remarks like this often. I can only speculate that people who use them actually find these thoughts, um, pleasurable. And I'll leave it at speculation because I really don't want to know for sure.

Revenant said...

I see remarks like this often. I can only speculate that people who use them actually find these thoughts, um, pleasurable.

Are you implying that Karl Rove isn't one sexy hunka hunka burnin' love? It's Gitmo for you, buddy.