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Whoops, I Think We Lost One Of The Number 2 Guys!

Reported by Donna - November 2, 2005

The screen flashes 'War On Terror'. A banner soon follows, 'Top Al Qaeda Operative Escapes From Prison.' That's how the story started today on Studio B with Shepard Smith. Smith said, "He's considered one of Osama Bin Laden's top lieutenants. One of the most feared terrorists in all of Southeast Asia, and he got out."

Scared yet? Wait, it gets better.

My transcript (paraphrased but pretty much verbatim):

Shepard Smith: The U.S. says he was one of four suspects who escaped from an Afghan military prison in July. (Comment: What? In July?) The officials just confirmed that he's gone. Security now ramped up across Afghanistan as the war on terror rages in Iraq. (Comment: What? It's ramped up now for an escape that happened in July?)

Smith spoke with Bret Baier at the Pentagon.

Bret Baier: Four months later we now know that an Al Qaeda big wig escaped U.S. custody. We reported back in July that four Al Qaeda suspects escaped the detention facility at Bagram Airbase. The search continued right after that escape. (Comment: Who wrote that line? The Pentagon?) U.S. officials are now saying, now confirming ,that a man named Omar al Faruq was one of the four in July. The military only released Faruq's alias as they were searching for the four escapees around Bagram.

Now Faruq is said to be one of Osama Bin Laden's top lieutenants in Southeast Asia, as you mentioned. He was captured by Indonesian authorities in 2002, was said to be planning a number of attacks against U.S. and western interests. The Indonesians then turned him over to the U.S. and he ended up at the Bagram Airbase detention facility, escaped in July.

His name surfaced last night at Fort Bliss, Texas, in the court martial of an army sergeant charged with mistreatment of detainees. The prosecution asked to have him, Faruq, as a witness. The defense said he was no longer in detention. (Comment: And this is how we found out? Why the secrecy?)

Also, about two weeks ago, now we know, Al Arabiya, the Arabic Television Network, released a video. They said that these four men on the video were said to have escaped from the detention facility at Bagram. One of the four believed to have been Faruq.

The U.S. officials now say they believe the four men are still in Afghanistan or Pakistan somewhere and still very dangerous.

Comments: First of all, if this had happened during President Clinton's administration, Fox would have been crying 'foul'. For four months the United States government, the Pentagon, knew that Omar al Faruq, a top lieutenant of Osama Bin Laden had escaped. As usual, with this administration, everything is shrouded in secrecy. How did we find out he escaped? During a court martial! He was called as a witness and couldn't be produced. That is the only reason that we know this today or it would still be secret.

For Smith to start out with all his dramatics of the news of an escape, you would have thought it just happened. This is the Fox twist or the Fox trot. This is how they 'dance' around the story. Then, for Smith to say that security was now 'ramped up' in Afghanistan is almost laughable. But perhaps the most ridiculous line is when Baier says that U.S. officials now say they believe the four men are still in Afghanistan or Pakistan somewhere. How comforting, great job.

Why is it we always hear a Fox News Alert whenever we capture one of the several number 2 guys of Osama Bin Laden, but it takes four months to find out about an escape by one of them? And, the only reason we found out was through the military judicial system?

Outrage is how the American public should feel. Outrage at this administration for the secrecy and Fox for the way they portrayed the story.

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