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'Bizarre' praise of Osama
riles senator's challenger

Member of Murray's Washington delegation decries 'shocking' remarks
Posted: December 23, 2002
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Art Moore
 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
see Joseph Farah's commentary on this story

SEATTLE A potential Republican challenger to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., in 2004 is calling for the lawmaker to apologize for telling students last week that Osama bin Laden's nation-building tactics should be emulated by the United States.

"I think the statements she made about bin Laden are shocking, and they're bizarre, and they're uniformed," said Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Wash., in an interview with WorldNetDaily. "To try to suggest that bin Laden has a history of generosity and kindness that outweighs his hatred for America and his vows to destroy our country is just nuts."

Meanwhile, teachers from around Washington state have informed a Seattle talk radio host that Murray had made the same comments about bin Laden to their students. But despite comparisons by many of her constituents to Sen. Trent Lott's recent controversial remarks, Murray's statements appear to be generating minimal response from her Senate colleagues.

Last Wednesday, at the conclusion of a session with students at Columbia River High School in Vancouver, Wash., Murray said she wanted to bring up a further point to add to their discussion about alternatives to war.

"We've got to ask, why is this man so popular around the world?" she said in reference to bin Laden, the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "Why are people so supportive of him in many countries that are riddled with poverty?"

Murray said, according to the Vancouver Columbian newspaper, that bin Laden has been "out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven't done that."

The second-term senator then asked the students to ponder: "How would they look at us today if we had been there helping them with some of that rather than just being the people who are going to bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan?"

Nethercutt said he usually does not speak out against anyone in his state's delegation to the nation's capital.

Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Wash.

"But this one just hit me wrong because of the lasting implication it leaves with students who are impressionable," Nethercutt told WND.

"And to have a senator suggest that Osama bin Laden is a good guy and the U.S. hasn't done anything to help people is just nonsense.

He believes an apology is in order.

Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes contends that bin Laden was not building schools and health-care facilities but a terrorist infrastructure. Any benefits accrued by the people of Afghanistan or Sudan were done to buy off his protectors, he maintained in an interview with WND.

Bin Laden himself has denied that he and his followers are motivated by economic factors.

"Allah has ordered us to make holy wars and to fight to see to it that his word is the highest and the uppermost and that of the unbelievers the lowermost," bin Laden said in a 1998 interview that included ABC's John Miller. "We believe that this is the call we have to answer regardless of our financial capabilities."

Comments heard before

Murray told the Tacoma News Tribune that she was shocked by the response to what she considered a free-ranging discussion conducted in the American spirit of free speech.

"I am astonished the Republican Party would try to spin out of control a conversation with high school students," she said. "Republicans have been trying for six months to use the war on terrorism for political purposes."

But school teachers from around Washington state say that have heard these comments before from Murray at similar gatherings of students, according to Seattle talk radio host and former Republican gubernatorial candidate John Carlson.

"She is saying these things all over the state," Carlson said on his afternoon, drive-time show on KVI radio. "A U.S. senator is misleading children about Osama bin Laden."

Carlson's caller lines were lit up from mostly angry listeners for three hours on Friday afternoon. Many insisted that Murray should resign, asserting that her remarks were more egregious than comments by Sen. Trent Lott, who consequently stepped down from his Senate majority post on Friday.

A listener from Gig Harbor, Wash., calling for Murray to resign or be recalled, said, "I don't want my daughter growing up represented by this woman."

Talk show host Lars Larson in Portland, just across the Columbia River from Vancouver, Wash., promoted his afternoon show Friday with a teaser, "Trent Lott steps aside ... Sen. Patty Murray ... should she do the same?"

On his website, Larson included a link to a recording of some of Murray's comments to the students.

Previous story:

Democrat senator praises bin Laden
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Art Moore is a news editor with WorldNetDaily.com.

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