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Bin Laden's losing bet
Asia Times ^ | Jan 14, 2004 | Stephen Blank

Posted on 01/13/2004 5:25:53 PM PST by Forgiven_Sinner

By Stephen Blank

The United States' global "war on terrorism" has clearly entered a new phase. Regardless of how one feels about the US-led war in Iraq, the results of that war, and especially the increased capability that US forces have shown in fighting terrorism, capturing Saddam Hussein and gaining valuable intelligence thereby, have had a decisive effect. Even if there has never been any connection between Saddam's government and al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden placed a strong wager in terms of resources and men on Iraq, and he appears to be in great danger of losing his bet.

The tape bin Laden released early this month indicates his sense of gloom and of failure that the Arab states remain in power and have not actively resisted the Americans. In fact the exact opposite has happened, particularly once Saddam was captured. Libya has not only announced the termination of its nuclear and other programs for weapons of mass destruction, Muammar Gaddafi has also invited foreign inspectors into Libya and has now publicly put out feelers to Israel. Egypt has tried to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians - and has duly become the latest recipient of the Palestinians' usual gratitude for such endeavors, so it is unlikely to persist very strongly in its efforts. But it is likely that its ties to Israel will improve, even if only slightly. And in any case Hosni Mubarak, not the Muslim Brotherhood, still reigns.

Syria not only improved ties with India - for bin Laden a leading enemy of Islam - it has also found reason to make similar gestures to Turkey, another of bin Laden's betes noirs and principal targets. Clearly it too feels the US heat and pressure as more and more revelations of its duplicity and conniving with Iraq to evade sanctions become clear. The United Kingdom and the US have both told President Basher al-Assad that he too must give up his weapons of mass destruction at once and do so unconditionally without any regard for Israel's supposed possession of such weapons. Iran too has announced its willingness to have inspections and apparently to make a rapprochement with the US and Europe. And we should probably assume that those elements of al-Qaeda who have found a refuge in Iran are first of all under very tight wraps and, second, probably can sense the ground shifting beneath their feet.

All these defeats signify the failure of bin Laden's quest, and the tape reveals that his response, an entirely predictable one, is to call for more violence and to exhibit more signs of the megalomania that figures like him usually possess. For here he casts himself as the only true defender of the faith against a sea of infidels, betrayers, etc.

However, his worst defeat has taken place, or is about to take place, in Pakistan. Here again the terrorists overreached. By trying and failing twice to assassinate President General Pervez Musharraf, they apparently convinced him that the risks of terrorism outweigh those posed or allegedly posed by India. Therefore the conflict with India must be at least suspended. Moreover, it is clear that the future of Pakistan is at stake and that the terrorist blowback is too great to ignore any longer. Thus Musharraf has acceded to enormous external pressure, much of it but hardly all of it from Washington, and has announced his unconditional readiness to begin consolidated negotiations with India over all outstanding issues, including Kashmir. At the same time, on Thursday Pakistani forces launched a new offensive against al-Qaeda's troops and followers. Very likely there will also be a domestic crackdown on them as well.

For bin Laden and his supporters these Pakistani developments portend the greatest danger he has probably experienced since late 2001. Pakistan, not Iraq, is the original second front in the "war on terrorism". The bombings in New Delhi and Kashmir in late 2001 and early 2002 were strategically intended to take the heat off bin Laden by forcing Pakistan to redeploy forces to the border with India in Kashmir and thus relieve the military pressure on Pakistan's borders with Afghanistan. This relaxation very likely helped bin Laden and his retinue escape Afghanistan and hide out in northwestern Pakistan, an area that has long resisted any effective governmental supervision from Islamabad. Given the numerous local supporters of the jihadi elements and those ensconced within the government, military and intelligence establishments of Pakistan, bin Laden could enjoy an apparently tolerable level of safety.

This period appears to be coming to a close. Since every issue will be on the table in the Indo-Pakistani negotiations, those discussions will not be confined to terrorism in Kashmir. Instead, the entire relationship between the Pakistani state and all the terrorist organizations operating in Pakistan will be a major subject of the discussions, as will both governments' future relationship with Afghanistan. Since Pakistan has used movements such as the Taliban and al-Qaeda to put constant pressure on Afghanistan, the necessity to raise this issue in the context of an effort to reach an overall peace with India under very watchful foreign eyes will pressure bin Laden and those associated with him from at least two directions, India and Afghanistan, if not also from within the Pakistani state.

Given the likelihood of such intensifying pressure upon both bin Laden and his "protectors" within Pakistan, we can reasonably expect an even bloodier and unrestricted terrorist offensive in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and possibly Iraq, if not globally. The intensification of terrorism in advance of efforts to negotiate a comprehensive peace has always been a recognizable trademark of Palestinian and other Arab terrorists with regard to Israeli-Arab negotiations and the same pattern is likely to manifest itself here again. For bin Laden, the jihadis in and out of Pakistan's government, and the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan the stakes could not be higher. But because the same is true for both the Indian and especially the Pakistani government, the terrorist offensive, however vicious it might be, is unlikely to succeed if those two states' political leadership can forge ahead regardless of the threats.

While the announcement of these forthcoming negotiations is to be welcomed by everyone, particularly the long-suffering populations of these states, we should not entertain any illusions about the ease with which they will proceed, or the speediness by which issues will be resolved. But even more important, we should also not harbor any illusions that these negotiations can proceed in an atmosphere of calm. Unfortunately, the advent of peace talks is so great a threat to those who have lived too long by terrorism to forsake it that they will continue to kill their own people as well as innocents in order keep those talks from succeeding.

While bin Laden appears to have lost the wager he made last year about Iraq and a worldwide or at least Islamic explosion of terrorism, that does not appear to have softened his resolve. Increasingly restricted and in danger of being trapped in Pakistan, he and his proteges can increasingly be expected to behave like plungers at the gambling table and to double and then redouble their bloody wagers.

Stephen Blank is an analyst of international security affairs residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: arabstreet; binladen; iraq; terrorism
An excellent analysis of the war on terror. I'm looking forward to seeing this published in the NY Times. ;)
1 posted on 01/13/2004 5:25:54 PM PST by Forgiven_Sinner
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
One other area where Bin Laden has lost ground, not mentioned in this article, is that he has pi55ed off the Saudi government and is under strong attack there, finally.
2 posted on 01/13/2004 5:40:28 PM PST by expatpat
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To: expatpat
bin-Laden is dead. Has been for 2+ years. Dust don't rust, and it sure as hell don't speak......
3 posted on 01/13/2004 5:45:47 PM PST by yooper (If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there......)
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To: yooper
Why oh why oh why cannot people admit the fact that bin Laden is dead? A megalomaniac who hasn't been seen for two years? Give me a break. He's a pile of crushed bones under several hundred tons of mountain rock.
4 posted on 01/13/2004 6:03:37 PM PST by Trickyguy
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To: All
OPINION: Bin Laden deader that old dirt, but his evil spirit of hate lives on. A "message" from "Bin Laden" usually indicates an attack is coming. Saad bin Laden Al-Zawahiri (sp) are most likely in Iran.
5 posted on 01/13/2004 6:11:18 PM PST by Cindy
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To: Cindy
CORRECTION: Saad Bin Laden AND Al Zawahiri
6 posted on 01/13/2004 6:11:52 PM PST by Cindy
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To: TexasCowboy; Dog Gone; Flyer; Eaker; TWfromTEXAS; humblegunner
worth the read ping ..........
7 posted on 01/13/2004 6:13:37 PM PST by HoustonCurmudgeon (PEACE - Through Superior Firepower)
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To: HoustonCurmudgeon
So what if we are making the world a safer place? I still won't vote for Bush if gets the illegal aliens to go home in three years gives the illegal amnesty.
8 posted on 01/13/2004 6:19:42 PM PST by Flyer (Happy Birthday Houston Area Texans!)
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To: yooper
Yes, I agree -- I think he was either wiped out in one of those big bombing attacks around Tora Bora, or is very sick. Otherwise we would have seen video of him, to rally the demented 'troops'. I probably should have said 'Al-Qaeda' rather than 'Bin Laden'.
9 posted on 01/13/2004 6:21:03 PM PST by expatpat
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
Good piece. Should be colorful spring in the badlands and the cities of Pakistan this spring.
10 posted on 01/13/2004 6:22:00 PM PST by swarthyguy
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To: Trickyguy
Wasn't there a report from November or December 2001 that a Special Ops team saw Bin Laden go into a cave complex in Southern Afghanistan and called in an air strike on the target? If I recall correctly, this sighting was so credible that multiple bombing runs were made on the target, reducing the area to rubble. A few days later, the CIA intercepted an Al Qaeda communication indicating that Osama was either dead or critically injured.

Did this really happen or am I just having wishful dreams?

11 posted on 01/13/2004 6:33:26 PM PST by Stonewall Jackson (Eagle Scout class of 1992.)
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To: HoustonCurmudgeon
Bush not only declared war on the terrorists, but he's winning it. That's something no Democrat would do.

He's been remarkably successful, as this article points out, but I'd guess about 10% of Freepers would rather see a Democrat be President next year.

Strange.

12 posted on 01/13/2004 6:43:32 PM PST by Dog Gone
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
Enjoyed this, thanks.
13 posted on 01/13/2004 7:06:06 PM PST by Letitring
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To: yooper
No doubt about it! I'm with you on this one. Osama is history, and has been for some time.
14 posted on 01/13/2004 7:08:51 PM PST by From The Deer Stand
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To: expatpat
He's also pissed off Pervez by trying to kill him twice already. Pervez now actually has to choose between really fighting terrorism or supporting the extremists in his country. I'm thinking a dictator like him would choose to live.
15 posted on 01/13/2004 7:14:40 PM PST by pragmatic_asian
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To: Dog Gone
HELL NO! W all the way, come rain or shine! 100 FT of snow wouldn't keep me from the voting booth!! NO WAY NO HOW!
16 posted on 01/13/2004 7:29:58 PM PST by RoseofTexas (r)
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To: Dog Gone
but I'd guess about 10% of Freepers would rather see a Democrat be President...

Naw, its just that 10% of Bush's decisions are really boneheaded.

17 posted on 01/13/2004 7:37:56 PM PST by Last Dakotan
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To: Last Dakotan
Perhaps, but I've been around here awhile. 10% of Freepers won't vote for any Republican, at least at the Presidential level. Who will you vote for?
18 posted on 01/13/2004 7:46:36 PM PST by Dog Gone
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
I've been struggling to find a parallel for this behavior pattern by the (possibly late) Osama bin Laden. It is the notion that a specific society is in such a state that a single horrific event will provide the seed crystal for a major revolution in either that society or the others around it. It is the self-flattery of the megalomaniac, not on the scale of a Hitler or a Lenin or Trotsky, or even a Marat or a Castro or a Lumumba, but on a much more petty, futile and ultimately self-destructive level, that of a small-time criminal who's shooting straight for the front pages.

Charles Manson.

There seems to me to be the same level of self-delusion, self-aggrandizement, self-everything. Osama wanted to be nothing less than the Caliph of a revolutionary Islam, and fully expected that the common people would rise up, throw off their current ruling class, and flock to his banner. And, in addition, that the United States would rage impotently and do nothing but drop bombs from a safe distance.

I do not think he intended to bring the WTC down, only cause a spectacular explosion, not that he wouldn't (and the event, didn't) greet such an outcome with glee. But even so, no one who had read of Pearl Harbor should be forgiven the illusion that the Americans won't fight if prodded that way and at that level. That it was an underestimation made before, and by smarter people than bin Laden, does not excuse it. It was a massive miscalculation that truly did change the world, but not in the way intended.

At some point his adherents and fellow-travelers are hoping that the United States will go back to sleep, and that they will be able to resume business as usual. That hope is fading, and it should, because we're not done yet.

19 posted on 01/13/2004 7:59:32 PM PST by Billthedrill
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To: yooper
Yep -you are right. bin Laden has been dead for 2+ years now.

MY QUESTION: Why does the CIA keep him alive? Every tape that comes out, the CIA says that it is bin Laden, witness the one just last week. Meanwhile, I remember last year when one "new bin Laden tape" came out, people that actually KNEW bin Laden said it was not him. They quickly were never heard from again. And the CIA says it's bin Laden.

WHY?

Ok- hate to answer my own question. I am all for keeping the bogey man alive and all - but he's DEAD!

Gotta go, there is a knock at my door, maybe the FBI using the Patriot Act on me or something....
20 posted on 01/13/2004 8:06:32 PM PST by pittsburgh gop guy
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To: yooper
bin-Laden is dead. Has been for 2+ years. Dust don't rust, and it sure as hell don't speak......

Hear, hear.

Osama Bin Laden (1957-2001)

21 posted on 01/13/2004 8:28:06 PM PST by Texas_Dawg (Most of the FReepers opposed to illegal immigration are opposed to immigration/immigrants entirely.)
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To: pittsburgh gop guy
WHY?

Because until you can absolutely say it is him and demonstrate this conclusively, what's the point in saying his dead?

22 posted on 01/13/2004 8:30:25 PM PST by Texas_Dawg (Most of the FReepers opposed to illegal immigration are opposed to immigration/immigrants entirely.)
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demonstrate that he is dead, I mean.
23 posted on 01/13/2004 8:31:11 PM PST by Texas_Dawg (Most of the FReepers opposed to illegal immigration are opposed to immigration/immigrants entirely.)
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
I can't stress this enough - NONE OF THIS WOULD BE HAPPENING IF ALGORE HAD WON THE ELECTION!

Ponder where we would be right now if that feckless pantywaist was formulating foreign policy from the Oval Office.

(shudder)
24 posted on 01/13/2004 8:36:38 PM PST by reagan_fanatic (Ain't Skeered...)
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To: Cindy
Agreed---IMHO he's hanging with Che in a place that doesn't smell too good. Speaking of Che, didn't the Bolivians/CIA keep his death quiet for a very long time in order to deprive his followers of his martyrdom? My history of scumbag Cuban revolutionaries is a little rusty, however, so I may be wrong.

Anyway, my guess is that Rummy delivered a vial of DNA personally to the Oval Office shortly following Tora Bora. Just an opinion.
25 posted on 01/13/2004 8:39:59 PM PST by wolf24
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
The intensification of terrorism in advance of efforts to negotiate a comprehensive peace has always been a recognizable trademark of Palestinian and other Arab terrorists with regard to Israeli-Arab negotiations and the same pattern is likely to manifest itself here again.>
No. Things have changed. We don't negotiate with terrorists. Period. We just hunt them down and kill them. As the Israelis have learned ... start at the top.
26 posted on 01/13/2004 8:56:35 PM PST by Tunehead54 (Support Our Troops!)
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To: Forgiven_Sinner; Victoria Delsoul; harpseal; Travis McGee; dennisw; veronica; glock rocks; ...





Good analysis, thanks for the post.


27 posted on 01/13/2004 9:57:32 PM PST by Sabertooth (Eighteen solutions better than any Amnesty - http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1053318/posts)
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To: Sabertooth
Thank you for the ping, FRiend. Most interesting article.
28 posted on 01/13/2004 10:12:24 PM PST by xJones
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To: reagan_fanatic
I can't stress this enough - NONE OF THIS WOULD BE HAPPENING IF ALGORE HAD WON THE ELECTION!

ALGORE would still be holding meetings. The first meetings would have been with the UN, apologizing for whatever misunderstandings had driven those poor hijackers to commit suicide.

And while waiting for the UN's approval to bomb another aspirin factory, he would have been meeting with environmentalists to weigh the adverse effect of bombs on the environment -- provided the UN gave us permission to defend our sovereign nation.

29 posted on 01/13/2004 10:35:34 PM PST by bjcintennessee (Don't Sweat the Small Stuff)
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To: Sabertooth
Excellent Ping, Gratias Ago!
30 posted on 01/13/2004 10:56:41 PM PST by sleavelessinseattle (Militant Islam is a political movement NOT a religious one...What does it take to wake up the media?)
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To: Last Dakotan
Naw, its just that 10% of Bush's decisions are really boneheaded.


Then I guess we are still ahead of the game because 90% of Clinton's decisions were really boneheaded!! And I'm bettin 100% of Dean's decisions would be boneheaded, if he were given the chance.............NOT.
31 posted on 01/13/2004 11:17:19 PM PST by BriarBey
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To: yooper
If he ain't dead, he's surely deaf and maybe blind after the repeated blast pressures from Daisy Cutters and MOABS falling on his cave.
32 posted on 01/13/2004 11:29:52 PM PST by Indie (Hopefully my post is void of hate speech and spurious flames)
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
BTTT
33 posted on 01/13/2004 11:39:51 PM PST by Dajjal
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To: Dajjal
BTTT
34 posted on 01/13/2004 11:58:26 PM PST by baseballmom
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To: Sabertooth
Thanks for the ping Saber.
35 posted on 01/14/2004 4:19:20 AM PST by Dog (Impersonating Pigpen since 1956)
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To: pragmatic_asian
Good point.
36 posted on 01/14/2004 7:50:42 AM PST by expatpat
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To: Trickyguy
Why oh why oh why cannot people admit the fact that bin Laden is dead? A megalomaniac who hasn't been seen for two years? Give me a break. He's a pile of crushed bones under several hundred tons of mountain rock.

I agree. As proof I submit that there has never been a more opportune moment for him to surface publicly than when Saddam was captured, and NONE of the tapes, etc., confirm him as a contemporary, living carbon unit.

37 posted on 01/14/2004 8:04:07 AM PST by wayoverontheright
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
I'm looking forward to seeing this published in the NY Times. ;)

LOL!

38 posted on 01/14/2004 8:10:04 AM PST by kevao
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To: Dog Gone
...but I'd guess about 10% of Freepers would rather see a Democrat be President next year.

Call me a 90 percenter.

39 posted on 01/14/2004 8:15:13 AM PST by Aeronaut (In my humble opinion, the new expression for backing down from a fight should be called 'frenching')
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
The United States' global "war on terrorism" has clearly entered a new phase.

First humiliation, then denial. Then frustration, accompanied by more denial, then impotence, accompanied by bluster, then disillusionment, accompanied by loss of allies and realignment of power, then derision from the masses, then peace.

40 posted on 01/14/2004 8:19:24 AM PST by wayoverontheright
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To: Sabertooth; Forgiven_Sinner
Thanks for the ping Saber :), good read!
41 posted on 01/14/2004 4:04:44 PM PST by Flipyaforreal
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To: Flyer

Conservatives Should Support the President Now and in November Because…

Posted by Flyer to quidnunc
On News/Activism 01/13/2004 7:23:55 PM CST #153 of 704

Conservatives Should Support the President Now and in November Because…

Because we can't turn this country around in four years and if we don't reelect President Bush we will lose what progress we have made. Is he better than his father? Yes. Is he better than Bill Clinton? Yes. We are on the right track, just don't expect us to get there tomorrow.


Your current post:

So what if we are making the world a safer place? I still won't vote for Bush if gets the illegal aliens to go home in three years gives the illegal amnesty.


Hmm... So, where exactly do you stand? (btw, I'm not expecting an answer. I just thought these two posts were just a bit contradictory)
42 posted on 01/15/2004 2:52:34 AM PST by texasflower (in the event of the rapture.......the Bush White House will be unmanned)
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To: texasflower
I stand by . . .

Conservatives Should Support the President Now and in November Because…

Because we can't turn this country around in four years and if we don't reelect President Bush we will lose what progress we have made. Is he better than his father? Yes. Is he better than Bill Clinton? Yes. We are on the right track, just don't expect us to get there tomorrow.

The other was just humor. But you are sharp for catching me in what appeared to be a contradiction.

43 posted on 01/15/2004 7:12:34 AM PST by Flyer (Happy Birthday Houston Area Texans!)
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To: Flyer
I thought maybe it was something like that. I knew someone from Houston would have the kind of good sense to say the first one!

By the way, hi neighbor. I live in Tomball.
44 posted on 01/15/2004 9:30:53 PM PST by texasflower (in the event of the rapture.......the Bush White House will be unmanned)
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To: Flyer
Hey, I just remembered that we "talked" about where I live before. Sorry for being repetitive!!
45 posted on 01/15/2004 9:37:15 PM PST by texasflower (in the event of the rapture.......the Bush White House will be unmanned)
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