Did Morgan Spurlock Find Osama bin Laden?

Did Morgan Spurlock Find Osama bin Laden Photo Some minor blog buzz over a two-day-old (ancient in Internet terms) MSNBC report that Morgan Spurlock may (or may not) have found Osama bin Laden.

Rumors are flying that filmmaker Morgan Spurlock of “Super Size Me” fame may have done what the United States government has failed to do for the last six years — find Osama bin Laden.

The speculation first began at the Berlin International Film Festival in February, where Spurlock showed a select group of potential buyers 15 minutes of footage from his new documentary, “Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden?” The film follows Spurlock through the Middle East in his search for the elusive leader of al-Qaida. According to Slashfilm.com, The Weinstein Co. quickly snapped up the picture after seeing the clips.

Given that the speculation has been ongoing (by someone; I certainly wasn’t aware of it) since February and that even the MSNBC report didn’t exactly lead the papers, I’m guessing that this is just really well-done marketing hype. Come to think of it, since it took ten months for the buzz to reach me, maybe it wasn’t all that well done.

Debbie Schlussel weighs in with a detailed analysis which comes down to “Spurlock is a poopy face who doesn’t hate Muslims enough” but there may be more to it that I’m missing. Michael Goldfarb provides similar analysis but he’s at least quick about it.

Jane Hamsher is not entirely without a point when she observes, “Now, in a rational world it would challenge credulity that an indie filmmaker would succeed at a task that the US government had spent hundreds of billions to accomplish — and failed miserably. But given the fact that the administration has been running the country with all the efficiency one would expect in a bad Monty Python film for the past seven years, maybe not.”

Still, if nothing else, you’d have to figure someone at CIA would have seized Spurlock’s tape by now and used it for clues.

Photo credit: Brian Brooks/indieWIRE

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, Popular Culture, Terrorism, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    But given the fact that the administration has been running the country with all the efficiency one would expect in a bad Monty Python film for the past seven years, maybe not.

    There are a couple of different ways in which this can be taken. Presumably what Ms. Hamsher means is that the other side of the aisle would have done a better job. Experience suggests that the problem is the size and remoteness of government itself.

    As evidence, may I submit the state of Illinois? Despite being governed by Democrats (and where I live that extends from the lowest office-holders to the city and county as well as the state), there’s no conspicuous display of competence.

  2. NoZe says:

    Is there such a thing as a “bad Monty Python film?”

  3. James Joyner says:

    Is there such a thing as a “bad Monty Python film?”

    A fair question. “The Meaning of Life” was certainly not as good as the first three, especially “Grail” and “Brian.”

    Presumably what Ms. Hamsher means is that the other side of the aisle would have done a better job. Experience suggests that the problem is the size and remoteness of government itself.

    I largely agree. The personality of the chief executive has some influence, though, and Bush is certainly more cautious of secrecy and less interested in the views of others than most. But I’m guessing OBL would be at large were Gore or Kerry president now, too.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    But I’m guessing OBL would be at large were Gore or Kerry president now, too.

    Something I’ve debated almost endlessly with Dan Nexon of The Duck of Minerva is what would have happened had Al Gore been president in 2001. My own view is that, had Al Gore been president, the attacks on 9/11 would still have taken place, we still would have invaded Afghanistan, and we still would have invaded Iraq. Many political postures would be switched with regular Democrats supporting the wars and regular Republicans opposing them, on similar grounds to those on which the isolationist Republicans of 1940 opposed our entry into the war in Europe.

    What the far left would have been doing is anybody’s guess. I think they’d’ve been unhappy.

  5. James Joyner says:

    What the far left would have been doing is anybody’s guess. I think they’d’ve been unhappy.

    A pretty safe bet, regardless of scenario.

  6. Grewgills says:

    My own view is that, had Al Gore been president, the attacks on 9/11 would still have taken place, we still would have invaded Afghanistan,

    Quite likely.

    and we still would have invaded Iraq.

    Really? What do you base this bit of conjecture on?
    Who in a Gore WH would have been pushing for war with Iraq?
    Gore came out early against the idea of invading Iraq. Did he not really believe any of what he said? Was he just being contrary?
    Do you really think that his publicly stated position was just sour grapes?
    Maybe that is why he’s always talking about AGW.

  7. Steve Plunk says:

    Dave Schuler has it right. No matter who was president we would pretty much be where we are.

    If Spurlock actually found OBL then why not say it now instead of playing the American people? Withholding this information (if true) will damage him more than help him. If he didn’t find him he has already damaged himself by insinuating he did. He’s in a no win situation with the public if he doesn’t tell all of the truth soon.

  8. Rick DeMent says:

    and why would anyone quote a mental midget like Debbie Schlussel? I mean come on in what world is “…a poopy face who doesn’t hate Muslims enough” considered cogent analysis?

  9. James Joyner says:

    in what world is “…a poopy face who doesn’t hate Muslims enough” considered cogent analysis?

    A sardonic one, perhaps.

  10. Tano says:

    I must say, the “Gore would have invaded in Iraq” argument has always struck me as one of the lamest attempts possible to defuse incoming criticism for having supported the war, by those who did so, and now see the error of their ways.

    Invading a strictly controlled, secular dictatorship as part of a war against Islamic extremist terror was not, to put it mildly, an obvious path. The logic was convoluted and specious – that Saddam would invest years of time and money to arm himself with the mega-weapons, and then give them away to some shadowy group that he could not control and whose goals were inconsitent with his own.

    And even if you could swallow that, and felt that Gore might conclude that disarming Saddam was the key to advancing our interests, and thus a confrontation was necessary, one would also have to claim that Gore would have abandoned the efforts of the inspectors the way Bush did, when they were well on their way to discovering the nothingness that we eventually discovered.

    Beyond the mere assertion, I have never heard any convincing argument on these points.

  11. Dave Schuler says:

    I must say, the “Gore would have invaded in Iraq” argument has always struck me as one of the lamest attempts possible to defuse incoming criticism for having supported the war, by those who did so, and now see the error of their ways.

    Maybe so but I didn’t support the invasion of Iraq and wouldn’t have done so regardless of who was in the White House.

  12. Grewgills says:

    Maybe so but I didn’t support the invasion of Iraq and wouldn’t have done so regardless of who was in the White House.

    Fair enough, but the question is can you support your view that Gore would also have invaded Iraq? Why do you think he would have launched an invasion and occupation of Iraq?

    BTW do you think that if he did he would have done so with a similarly low level of initial troop commitment? Do you think his aides and allies would have labeled all dissent support for terrorists? Would we have had ads with pictures of Republicans quick cut with images of Osama?

  13. Dave Schuler says:

    Fair enough, but the question is can you support your view that Gore would also have invaded Iraq? Why do you think he would have launched an invasion and occupation of Iraq?

    Because he made the case for it himself. Here’s a quote from a speech he made in 2002:

    The President should be authorized to take action to deal with Saddam Hussein as being in material breach of the terms of the truce and therefore a continuing threat to the security of the region. To this should be added that his continued pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is potentially a threat to the vital interests of the United States.

    In the same speech he warned about the dangers of short-changing Afghanistan.

    BTW do you think that if he did he would have done so with a similarly low level of initial troop commitment? Do you think his aides and allies would have labeled all dissent support for terrorists? Would we have had ads with pictures of Republicans quick cut with images of Osama?

    I would hope not but I honestly have no idea.

  14. Grewgills says:

    and in that same speech he also said,

    I am deeply concerned that the policy we are presently following with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century.

    and

    Moreover, no international law can prevent the United States from taking actions to protect its vital interests, when it is manifestly clear that there is a choice to be made between law and survival. I believe, however, that such a choice is not presented in the case of Iraq.

    and

    We also need to look at the relationship between our national goal of regime change in Iraq and our goal of victory in the war against terror. In the case of Iraq, it would be more difficult for the United States to succeed alone, but still possible. By contrast, the war against terror manifestly requires broad and continuous international cooperation. Our ability to secure this kind of cooperation can be severely damaged by unilateral action against Iraq. If the Administration has reason to believe otherwise, it ought to share those reasons with the Congress — since it is asking Congress to endorse action that might well impair a more urgent task: continuing to disrupt and destroy the international terror network.

    and

    It is worth noting, however, that the conditions in 1991 when that resolution was debated in Congress were very different from the conditions this year as Congress prepares to debate a new resolution. Then, Saddam had sent his armies across an international border to invade Kuwait and annex its territory. This year, 11 years later, there is no such invasion; instead we are prepared to cross an international border to change the government of Iraq. However justified our proposed action may be, this change in role nevertheless has consequences for world opinion and can affect the war against terrorism if we proceed unilaterally.

    and

    The foreshortening of deliberation in the Congress robs the country of the time it needs for careful analysis of what may lie before it. Such consideration is all the more important because of the Administration’s failure thus far to lay out an assessment of how it thinks the course of a war will run — even while it has given free run to persons both within and close to the administration to suggest that this will be an easy conquest. Neither has the Administration said much to clarify its idea of what is to follow regime change or of the degree of engagement it is prepared to accept for the United States in Iraq in the months and years after a regime change has taken place.

  15. M1EK says:

    Dave, your citation is fundamentally dishonest. Giving the president the authorization to threaten force IF CERTAIN CONDITIONS AREN’T MET is not the same thing as saying “we declare war; send in the troops”.

    For one thing, the conditions WERE met, and Bush invaded anyways.