"So why only on audio? Why no video tape? Is he sick? Yes, say the usual American 'intelligence sources'. It's the same old story: Osama bin Laden talks to us from the mouth of a cave, from within a cave, from a basement perhaps, from a tape almost certainly recorded down a telephone line from far away. Yesterday's message, broadcast as ever by al-Jazeera television, was a reminder that security - not sickness - decides his method of communication.
"We invaded Afghanistan to find Bin Laden and we fight and die in Iraq to kill his supporters - yet still he eludes us, still he threatens us, still he taunts us.
"How much longer can this nonsense go on? President Jacques Chirac warns that France - of all countries - might use nuclear weapons, if attacked. On whom, I wonder? America blows Pakistani children to pieces and claims it has killed five wanted men, including a bomb-maker. But there's absolutely no evidence. Bin Laden says that America will be attacked again unless it accepts a truce in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Weren't we supposed to be winning the 'war on terror'? Oh no, the 'experts' tell us, Bin Laden and al-Qa'ida are losing, that's why they want a truce. Some hope."
Muslim scholars, meanwhile, offer interpretations of the latest message from the West's "enemy number one."
UPDATE: Conservative US commentators are increasingly isolated from reality and the American people. Soon after the airing of Bin Laden's tape, they compared the statements by the al-Qaeda leader to critics of the Bush administration. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said that terrorists "take a great deal of comfort when they see" politicians and other critics like Mike Moore "attacking United States policies." "Open debate" is important, he stressed, as long as one supports and the war and the President.