WASHINGTON – Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday that a videotape of Usama bin Laden found in a private house in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, is further proof of the Al Qaeda leader's involvement in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In the 40-minute tape, the existence of which was first reported in The Washington Post, bin Laden speaks in Arabic to a cleric about the attacks. He praises Allah for the damage done at the World Trade Center, which was greater than he had expected.
"He does in fact display significant knowledge of what happened," said Cheney on NBC's Meet the Press, "and there's no doubt about his responsibility for the attack on September 11." Cheney said he had seen parts of the videotape.
Bin Laden says on the tape that he was at a dinner when he was told an airplane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers, according to the Post, which quoted unnamed senior government officials. Bin Laden shared the information with his dinner companions, and they cheered.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, appearing on ABC's This Week, said the tape "confirms everything we've known about him already."
Wolfowitz added that with the tape's discovery, "maybe we've stop hearing any more of these insane conspiracy theories that somehow the U.S. has made this up or somebody else did it."
On Fox News Sunday, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Air Force Gen. Richard Myers said he had also seen portions of the tape.
"Intelligence officials are still trying to determine if the tape is authentic," Myers said, "and if so, what it means."
Neither Cheney, Wolfowitz or Myers would say how the United States obtained the tape. The Post reported that Bush administration officials are debating whether and how to make it public.
Previously intercepted communications that allegedly tied bin Laden or associates to the attacks have not been released to the public, citing intelligence concerns. But British and Pakistani officials have said Washington has provided them with evidence they say shows bin Laden's role in the attacks.
Asked if the government would make the tape public, Cheney said that was not his decision. But, he added, "We've not been eager to give the guy any extra television time."
Some officials hope that making the tape public could counter concern in the Muslim world that bin Laden has been unjustly accused of involvement in the attacks, the Post said.
In October, after the Bush administration expressed concern, U.S. television networks agreed not to air video transmissions from bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network without screening them first. The administration called the tapes propaganda.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.