Chapter 108: How Many Lies?

Previous: A Good Question

Osama bin Laden
was blamed for the attacks
of September 11, 2001 ...
Mycroft slumped on the couch with his head in his hands. Sherlock gestured toward the cognac. "Pour him another, Watson," he said. "It won't do him any harm now."

The detective turned toward his brother and asked, "How much pressure was there about Afghanistan?"

"None, really," replied Mycroft. "There was no need for pressure. The righteousness of the mission was obvious to all of us."

"Is that so?" asked the detective, as I handed his brother another snifter of Vernet's finest.

"Indeed," replied our guest. "And this is -- as I understand it -- one of the reasons why the pressure over Iraq was so great. People were understandably reluctant to divert our forces from the theatre where they were needed, and in which their presence was truly justified.

"Thank you, Doctor Watson," he added, taking another sip.

"And what, according to your sources, justifies our presence in Afghanistan?" asked Sherlock.

"Oh, my!" replied Mycroft. "I'm surprised you don't know this. The attacks of September 11, 2001, were not justified, or justifiable, by any means. They surely called for a powerful and dramatic response, did they not?"

"But against whom?" inquired Sherlock. "Were the people of Afghanistan really behind those attacks?"

"It was not the people," replied Mycroft, "but the Taliban government, which protected Osama bin Laden and refused to hand him over to the Americans for trial."

"You're serious?" asked the detective.

"Never more so," replied his brother.

"Are you aware," asked Sherlock, "of any evidence implicating Osama bin Laden in the September 11th attacks?"

"We were told," said Mycroft, "that there was no doubt about it."

"Told by whom?" continued Sherlock. "The same people who told you about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction?"

"Now that you mention it," replied Mycroft, "I do believe you are correct."

"How many other lies did they tell you?" asked his brother. "And how many of them did you believe?"

"What are you saying?" asked his brother.

"Everything you have told us," replied Sherlock, "and, unless I am much mistaken, everything you have been told -- about Iraq, Afghanistan, and September 11th -- has been false.

"Immediately after the attacks, the Americans announced that they had evidence implicating Osama bin Laden, but no such evidence was ever produced.

"In fact, although the FBI had Osama bin Laden on its Top Ten Most Wanted list, it never mentioned anything about him in connection with the September 11 attacks -- because, according to an FBI spokesman, the Bureau had no hard evidence against him.

"Surely, if they had such evidence, they would have lost no time in parading it before the eyes of the world. And therefore it is entirely reasonable to deduce that they had no such evidence.

"It follows, then, that their claims about bin Laden's guilt, and especially about their ability to prove it, were outright lies."

"We were told," replied Mycroft, "they had found a videotape in which Osama bin Laden is seen confessing. Was that a lie, too?"

"Have you ever seen that videotape?" asked Sherlock.

"I can't say I have," replied his brother.

"You haven't missed anything of value," answered the detective, "if you value evidence implicating the alleged villain. But if you value evidence of deliberate fraud, I suggest you find a copy of that video and study it closely."

"Why do you say that?" asked Mycroft.

... but the actor who played bin Laden
in the "confession video"
didn't look very much like him.
"The man in the video," replied Sherlock, "is most certainly not Osama bin Laden. He doesn't even look very much like him. He is much more heavily built, his nose is substantially broader, and his skin appears to be several shades darker.

"Fundamentalist Muslims, such as bin Laden, don't wear gold, and yet the man in the video sports a gold ring. And he can be seen writing with his right hand, whereas the real bin Laden was left-handed."

"You're saying the video must be a forgery," said Mycroft.

"In every possible way," replied Sherlock. "The text, as translated by the Pentagon and added to the video in the form of English subtitles, appears to leave no doubt that the speaker -- whoever he is -- claims responsibility for the attacks. But independent analysts, people fluent in Arabic but not affiliated with the Pentagon, have stated very firmly that the words attributed to the speaker are not to be heard in the original."

"Are you sure about this?" asked Mycroft.

"Absolutely," replied Sherlock. "I could go on and on about it, and I probably will. But you're very tired, and there's no rush. Why don't you occupy my bedroom for a while? Lie down and relax, and see if you can sleep. We will have plenty of time to talk tomorrow."