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A tape today surfaced in U.S. media outlets of someone purporting to be George W. Bush at a U.S. military base in Baghdad.
Intelligence analysts around the world are studying the videotapes. "It certainly looked and sounded like him, but we get so few glimpses at Bush in real-life situations that it is hard to tell," said one operative from a Western intelligence agency.
People who know Bush said it appeared to him. "That’s him, all right," said one longtime associate.
The tape shows the man claiming to be Bush praising U.S. attacks in Iraq. "We will stay until the job is done," he threatened.
The videotape was delivered to the Baghdad bureau of FOX News by an intermediary courier who has brought material before from the U.S. military, according to the U.S. network.
There were calls for FOX to be banned from some Arabic countries for broadcasting American militaristic propaganda.
The man claiming to be Bush said: "We did not charge hundreds of miles into the heart of Iraq, pay a bitter cost in casualties, defeat a brutal dictator and liberate 25 million people only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins."
Analysts pointed out that given the ongoing nature of the Iraqi resistance since "the end of major combat operations," that comment could have been recorded anytime in the past six months.
"When the man identified as Bush tells U.S. troops, ‘You are defeating the terrorists here in Iraq so we don’t have to face them in our own country,’ well, it’s a little hard to believe that even the Bush White House would try to spin that," said the operative from a Western intelligence agency.
"How could anyone believe, after all that has been disclosed about the lies and distortions used to manipulate the public into accepting this war, that U.S. troops are defending the American people in Iraq? No major world leader would be so obtuse or so low as to try to sell that to people at this stage."
Members of the Iraqi Governing Council who met with the man identified as Bush said they had met with a man identified as Bush and were delaying comment until Paul Bremer was available to tell them what their comments would be.
Omar Ali, an Iraqi in a poor area of Baghdad said: "I don’t understand why he didn’t stay. Just because the U.S. nearly starved us with the sanctions for 12 years, killed my cousin during the invasion, busted down my door last week and is trying to find a way to steal our oil — does he think that Iraqis would want to hurt him, our great liberator?"
Private Charles Sanders, who has been stationed in Iraq since the invasion said: "I was supposed to be back home by now. It was really getting depressing, but this is great. Sure, I don’t get to look into the eyes of my little girl, or hold my wife tenderly in my arms, but the president served me turkey!"
Susan Jones in Pittsburgh, who this morning was driven to tears while watching "Dances with Wolves" on cable TV, said: "I was planning on talking over the Thanksgiving Day table with my family about how we slaughtered the Indians and enslaved the blacks, bullied Latin America and bombed Vietnam, and now were occupying Iraq. I don’t know, is it just me, or do we just have this brutal aggressive side to us? But now I guess, well, just talk about Bush’s visit instead."
When asked whether she was certain the president had gone to Iraq, Laura Bush said she hadn’t noticed her husband had left the Crawford ranch. "I assumed he was out clearing brush," the First Lady said.
Correspondents Robert Jensen and Sam Husseini contributed to this report.
Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of the forthcoming "Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity" (City Lights Books). He can be reached at email@example.com.