Just before reading e-mailed responses to his “Cafferty Files” question of the 4pm EST hour on Thursday afternoon's The Situation Room on CNN, “How important is the new Osama bin Laden tape?", Jack Cafferty proposed a conspiracy existed in the timing, one meant to help Bush justify his NSA wiretapping: “The last time we got a tape from Osama bin Laden was right before the 2004 presidential election. Now here we are, four days away from hearings starting in Washington into the wiretapping of America's telephones without bothering to get a court order or a warrant, and up pops another tape from Osama bin Laden. Coincidence? Who knows.” One viewer endorsed Cafferty's conspiracy theory: “It seems suspicious. Every time the Republicans get into trouble, bin Laden sends a tape. Is it possible bin Laden's working out of the White House?” Earlier, Cafferty took a shot at President Bush's decision to invade Iraq: “The thought of this mutant hanging out in a cave somewhere and sending taped threats to the American people makes me angry. Why wasn't this guy taken care of before we went wandering off into Iraq?” (Transcripts follow.)
At 4:08pm EST on the January 19 The Situation Room, the MRC's Megan McCormack noticed, by remote from CNN's Manhattan facility Cafferty set up his “Cafferty File” question of the hour:
“This latest audiotape is the first time we’ve heard from Osama bin Laden since right before the 2004 presidential election. In light of last week’s air strikes along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border that may have killed several high-ranking members of al Qaeda, it comes as no surprise that they would want to get the word out to the faithful that the bearded creep is alive and still running the show. It’s good for morale, you know. The Department of Homeland Security says there are no plans to raise the nation’s threat level, but the thought of this mutant hanging out in a cave somewhere and sending taped threats to the American people makes me angry. Why wasn’t this guy taken care of before we went wandering off into Iraq? Here’s the question. 'How important is the new Osama bin Laden tape?'”
At 4:55pm EST, Cafferty returned with the e-mailed replies from the audience, the text of which were displayed on screen, ending with a woman who endorsed his conspiracy theory:
“The last time we got a tape from Osama bin Laden was right before the 2004 presidential election. Now here we are, four days away from hearings starting in Washington into the wiretapping of America’s telephones without bothering to get a court order or a warrant, and up pops another tape from Osama bin Laden. Coincidence? Who knows.
“The question this hour is, how important is the new Osama bin Laden tape? Rex in Toronto writes, ‘Sounds to me like he’s got an attack in the can, and is only making an offer of a truce to placate fellow Muslims who criticized him for not giving fair warning to Americans before the 9/11 attacks. I’d say this tape is definitely a precursor to another attack on American soil.’ Jon in Westchester writes, ‘Osama’s new tape is extremely important. Bush is desperate to justify illegal spying. You can’t suspend the constitution without screaming ‘terrorist threat.’ Besides, the Republicans need a major distraction from the Abramoff mess. Bush couldn’t stay in office without bin Laden.’ John in Lexington, South Carolina, ‘It’s more important to this country than any other issue because it proves that President Bush is losing the war on terror. Going on five years later and our children will worry about Osama tonight. It makes me sick.’ Peter in Barnstable, Massachusetts, ‘Seems we’re playing into the hands of bin Laden, by making the tape the news item of the day. I believe exposure like we give him is exactly what this maniac wants and that it would frost him more if the only press he got was a brief mention of the tape on the last page of a local paper in Squeedunk, Iowa.’ Mike writes, ‘I don’t think the new tape’s important at all. Osama’s trying to put something out to make himself still look important. He’s not really the al Qaeda leader anymore. He’s a lot like the Queen of England, just a figurehead.’ They actually look a little alike, too. Dianne in Tampa, Florida, ‘It seems suspicious. Every time the Republicans get into trouble, bin Laden sends a tape. Is it possible bin Laden’s working out of the White House?’ Wolf?”
Wolf Blitzer, in CNN's Washington, DC bureau: “Dianne in Tampa, Florida. Thank you very much for that, Jack.”