But one item that has resurfaced on the Internet in recent days is intriguing. The FBI wanted poster, listing the crimes for which he was wanted, made no mention of the 9/11 attacks.
The poster, as it still appears on the FBI website, says "Usama Bin Laden" is (now was) "wanted in connection with the August 7, 1998 bombing of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. These attacks killed over 200 people. In addition, Bin Laden is suspect in other terrorist attacks through the world." The agency wanted us to be on the lookout for limping Arab southpaws: "Bin Laden is left-handed and walks with a cane," it said. The poster offered a reward of $25 million from the U.S. State Department for information "leading directly to his capture or conviction." An additional $2 million was offered by the Airline Pilots Association and the Air Transportation Association.
Bin Laden has been, at least since 9/11, America's number one villain and was clearly the most infamous fugitive on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list. The poster on the agency website was dated June 1999 and revised in November 2001 — about two months after the 9/11 attacks and a month after U.S. forces began military action against Afghanistan in the effort to destroy al Qaeda forces there, overthrow the Taliban government, and capture or kill Osama bin Laden. So why was 9/11 not mentioned on the FBI wanted poster?
In 2006, an online publication called "Muckraker Report," contacted the FBI, according to a report on the Muckraker website by Ed Haas. Haas reported in the June 18, 2006 article that Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI, explained that 9/11 was not mentioned because "the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11."
"First and foremost," wrote Haas, "if the U.S. government does not have enough hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11, how is it possible that it had enough evidence to invade Afghanistan to 'smoke him out of his cave'? The federal government claims to have invaded Afghanistan to 'root out' Bin Laden and the Taliban. Through the talking heads in the mainstream media, the Bush Administration told the American people that Usama Bin Laden was Public Enemy Number One and responsible for the deaths of nearly 3000 people on September 11, 2001. Yet nearly five years later, the FBI says that it has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11."
Haas also referred to a video released by the U.S. government in December 2001 showing bin Laden and some of his cohorts rejoicing over the success of the 9/11 attacks. Often referred to as the "confession video," it was cited by administration officials and then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York as proof positive that Osama was the culprit — or proof redundant, according to Donald Rumsfeld, then Secretary of Defense. "There was no doubt of bin Laden's responsibility for the September 11 attacks before the tape was discovered," Rumsfeld said in a Department of Defense press release. The tape "removes any doubt that the U.S. military campaign targeting bin Laden and his associates is more than justified," Giuliani declared upon its release. In other words, it was, to borrow an ill-fated phrase, "a slam-dunk" that Osama was the mastermind behind the 9-11 atrocities.
So why would the FBI say, five years later and with Osama still at large, it had no "hard evidence" connecting Public Enemy Number One to 9/11. Perhaps the answer lies, at least in part, in the agency's role within the Department of Justice. The Muckraker article quoted the FBI's Tomb as follows:
The FBI gathers evidence. Once evidence is gathered, it is turned over to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice than decides whether it has enough evidence to present to a federal grand jury. In the case of the 1998 United States Embassies being bombed, Bin Laden has been formally indicted and charged by a grand jury. He has not been formally indicted and charged in connection with 9/11 because the FBI has no hard evidence (that) connected Bin Laden to 9/11.
Perhaps the FBI did not have any evidence on Osama for 9/11 because it was not seeking any. And it may not have been seeking any for two possible reasons: The Bush administration had already determined Osama was the perpetrator. And the administration and its Justice Department had no intention after 9/11 of ever bringing bin Laden to trial. "We're going to get him," President Bush declared. "Dead or alive, it doesn't matter to me." But it did matter. America wanted Osama — dead. From what we have been told, it appears likely he could have been taken alive by the Navy SEALs who confronted the unarmed terrorist in his penthouse apartment. Instead, he was shot to death and his body quickly disposed of.
There are plausible explanations for this, among them that he had weapons nearby, perhaps within reach, when he met his doom. And there had been reports that he might have been wearing explosive devices in order to take out his captors as well as himself and go out in a blaze of bloody glory. But is also seems likely that neither the Bush nor the Obama administration had any desire to capture Osama alive. If the Middle East is a tinderbox now, imagine what it would be like if Osama were on trial in New York or, more likely, at Guantanamo. Even the hasty disposal of his corpse in a "burial at sea" was done to assure there would not be a burial place that would serve as shrine and rallying point for extremists to gather and pay tribute to their holy martyr and vow to carry on his jihad.
Still, one might wonder. Judging by official reactions at the time, our government appeared clueless on 9/11 that an attack was coming. Yet it was able to tell us, nearly at once, exactly who did it. But of course, our government had not been clueless. Later we learned of the Presidential Daily Briefing of August 6, 2011 that warned, "Bin Laden determined to strike in US" and included an unconfirmed report that "bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft." The report was confirmed conclusively on September 11.
"On 9/11, it was obvious the intelligence community missed something big," George W. Bush recalled in his memoir, Decision Points : "I was alarmed by the lapse, and I expected an explanation." That was on page 135. The book ends 336 pages later without telling us if, in the remaining seven years and four months of his presidency, Bush ever got that explanation.
Now, nearly 10 years after the attacks, millions of Americans still wonder if we have been given the full explanation of what happened, and why, on that fateful day, September 11, 2001.