WASHINGTON – President Bush said it was the right decision to release the confessional videotape of terrorist network leader Usama bin Laden bragging about his estimations of the death toll at the World Trade Center.
In a photo opportunity alongside the Thai Prime Minister Friday, Bush said the tape is a "devastating declaration of guilt."
"This is Usama bin Laden unedited. This is a man who murdered people, who sent innocent people to their deaths. This is a man who is so devious, so cold-hearted that he laughs about sending the suicide, so-called suicide bombers to their deaths," Bush said.
The president spoke to reporters a day after the Pentagon released the hour-long videotape of bin Laden discussing the Sept. 11 attacks with an unidentified Saudi Arabian cleric. Discovered in a home in Afghanistan, officials said it apparently was recorded early last month.
White House officials said they are glad they released the confessional videotape, that it speaks for itself, and what it says is damning.
Some advisors to the president initially suggested that the tape not be released to the public because they did not want to give bin Laden a platform for his views.
And they said that releasing the tape appears hypocritical because in the beginning of the war effort, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice asked the media not to broadcast bin Laden's videos because they did not want to give him a platform. Now, they are pushing the tape on the media.
Meanwhile, some in the Middle East are unconvinced that bin Laden played a role in the terrorist attacks on the U.S. Many in the Arab world watched the video on television. In some parts of the Mideast, public opinion remains against the United States because the public feels the U.S. war on terrorism is hurting innocent Muslims.
Some Arabic speakers said it also was not helpful that the audio on the tape was so poor that they could not follow what bin Laden was saying. The Bush administration said it had numerous translators work on the tape and that they agreed to a final translation that was released to the press.
The president dismissed charges in the Middle East that the tape was doctored.
"It is preposterous for anybody to think that this tape is doctored. That's just a feeble excuse to provide weak support for an incredibly evil man.
He said he had mixed emotions about releasing the video — knowing it would cause pain to families of the attack victims. Some of the victims' families have said that they do not need to see the tape to be reminded of the evil that bin Laden has cast on their families.