…about the bin Laden video is that it was intended to be posted in time to commemorate the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, but was obtained prematurely by American authorities. This AP story isn’t very illuminating, except for these paragraphs near the end:
During the video, bin Laden’s image moves for only a total of about 3 1/2 minutes in two segments, staying frozen the rest of the time while his remarks continue.
A former senior U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it might have resulted from a technical glitch while al-Qaida passed the video through a variety of computer sites to mask its cyber trail.
The United States intercepted the video before it was released on Islamic Web sites where al-Qaida usually posts its messages, a U.S. counterterrorism official said in Washington. U.S. officials had analyzed the video for hours before transcripts and videos were leaked, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
This raises interesting questions about our ability to monitor communications emanating from bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders. I’ve long wondered whether our intelligence services have tapped into al Qaeda’s communications networks in general, and into bin Laden’s communications in particular. If that were true, it would help to explain why the organization’s cells have repeatedly been rolled up before they could do any damage.
Of course, if that were the case, it’s hard to see why the authorities would betray the fact to al Qaeda by publishing analyses of the video before it has officially appeared.