Author `Amazed and Amused’ by Book Plug From bin Laden

Jan. 20, 2006
c.2006 Newhouse News Service
rogue state cover

WASHINGTON — Osama bin Laden has a book recommendation for you.

In the audiotape released Thursday, the al-Qaida leader said: “If you (Americans) are sincere in your desire for peace and security, we have answered you. And if (President) Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book `Rogue State.”‘

That would be “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower,” published in May 2000 with a new edition in November 2005. Its author is William Blum of Washington, D.C.

But bin Laden was mistaken about a quote he read that he attributed to the Introduction of “Rogue State.” He actually read an excerpt from another of Blum’s books, “Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire.”

“He made a mistake, he got them mixed up,” Blum said.

Blum has been speaking out against American foreign policy for nearly 40 years. He said he left a U.S. State Department job in 1967 because he opposed the Vietnam War, and has been writing and lecturing since then.

“`Rogue State’ was inspired by the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999,” Blum said in a telephone interview from his Connecticut Avenue apartment. “We were told it was an `act of humanitarianism,’ but I didn’t believe that for a moment.”

NATO conducted bombing raids in an attempt to halt ethnic cleansing in that region.

America has repeatedly used “bombings, invasions, torture and weapons of mass destruction,” Blum said. “It’s what we do.”

Blum said he sees the 320-page “Rogue State” as “a mini-encyclopedia of the many kinds of unhumanitarian actions of U.S. foreign policy.”

He heard about bin Laden’s comments late Thursday afternoon, when transcripts started hitting the Internet.

“I was amazed and amused,” Blum said. “It’s good publicity for the book.”

Blum described his view of bin Laden’s war on America — although, he added, “I’ve not been following him as an individual” through the years.

“He sees anti-American terrorist attacks as under the category of retaliation,” Blum said. “In previous tapes he’s used that word — retaliation. I don’t like what they do, but it’s understandable intellectually.”

If Americans read his book, “they would learn what bin Laden is talking about — our whole sordid record of foreign policy,” Blum said. “I think the book would help them understand why we are being attacked.”

His other books include “Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II” and “Superpower Principals: U.S. Terrorism Against Cuba.”

Blum and several other writers shared a Project Censored award in 1999 for writing articles about materials supplied by the U.S. to Iraq in the 1980s that enabled the country to develop chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Project Censored, founded in 1976 at Sonoma State University in California, says it honors “stories of social significance that have been overlooked, underreported or self-censored by the country’s major national news media.”

“Rogue State” is published by Common Courage Press in Monroe, Maine; its motto is “Books for an Informed Dissent.” Spokeswoman Susan Yentes said the book is available for purchase at for $12.32, as well as at and independent bookstores. As of noon Friday, the book was No. 43 at

Bin Laden quoted Blum as writing: “If I were president, I would stop the attacks against the United States. First I would give an apology to all the widows and orphans and those who were tortured. Then I would announce that American interference in the nations of the world has ended once and for all.”

Blum said he used those phrases in “Freeing the World to Death” and in other writings and speeches, but not in “Rogue State.”

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