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1.22.2006
  bin-Laden Plug Drives Book Sales
Osama bin Laden has a book for you.

In an 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 William Blum's "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower," published in 2000 and updated in November.

In his audiotape, bin Laden wrongly attributed a quote to the introduction of "Rogue State." Instead, he read from another Blum book, "Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire."

"He made a mistake; he got them mixed up," Blum said.

The author, who said he left a State Department job in 1967 because he opposed the Vietnam War, has been speaking out against U.S. foreign policy for nearly 40 years.

" 'Rogue State' was inspired by the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999," Blum said. "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 the region.

America repeatedly has 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."

The author said he heard about bin Laden's comments Thursday, when transcripts started hitting the Internet.

"I was amazed and amused," Blum said. "It's good publicity for the book. ... If he shares with me a deep dislike for the certain aspects of U.S. foreign policy, then I'm not going to spurn any endorsement of the book by him. I think it's good that he shares those views, and I'm not turned off by that."

Before bin Laden mentioned "Rogue State," Amazon.com ranked the book 209,000 on its sales list. By Friday night, the book was No. 27.

"Rogue State" is published by Common Courage Press in Monroe, Maine. The book is available for purchase at www.commoncouragepress.com for $12.32, as well as at Amazon.com and independent bookstores.

Blum described his view of bin Laden's war on America.

"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, he said, "they would learn what bin Laden is talking about — our whole sordid record of foreign policy. I think the book would help them understand why we are being attacked."

Blum and other writers shared a Project Censored award in 1999 for articles about U.S.-supplied materials in the 1980s that enabled Iraq to develop chemical and biological weapons. Project Censored, founded in 1976, says it honors "stories of social significance that have been overlooked, underreported or self-censored by the country's major national news media."

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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