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'Extensive' porn stash: Three ways US has tried to sully bin Laden's image

- Staff writer

In this undated image taken from video provided by the Department of Defense, a man who the American government says is Osama bin Laden watches television. (Department of Defense/AP)

2. Million-dollar squalor

First descriptions of bin Laden’s compound pictured it as a million-dollar “mansion” (at least compared with other homes in the area) with many rooms and comfortable furnishings for his several wives and children.

“One of the ironies of this is … the image that bin Laden had tried to promote was that he was an ascetic living in a cave,” President Obama said on "60 Minutes." “This guy was living in a million-dollar compound in a residential neighborhood.”

Video and photos released by US officials several days later showed digs far less grand than one might expect for one whose family business was worth billions.

Bin Laden was pictured sitting on the floor, wrapped in a blanket, spending hours watching images of himself on televised videotape. His famous dark beard has gone gray, apparently dyed for his occasional taped messages. His bedside table held various medicines, including herbal Viagra.

The place seems more hovel than a guarded spacious residence for the leader of a worldwide movement, which made him the object of scorn.

“It looked worse than a teenage kid's room,” said Rush Limbaugh. “It looked like a crack house.”

All of which diminished bin Laden’s image in two ways: First as anything but an ascetic to be emulated by those willing to die for the cause he promoted, and then living isolated and in apparent squalor, watching himself on TV, seemingly obsessed with how he was portrayed in the world.


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