Bin Laden video transcript oddity

By Sean Osborne, Associate Director, Military Affairs & By Douglas J. Hagmann, Director

7 September 2007: According to official U.S. government sources, the video from Osama bin Laden was reportedly obtained and transcribed today - 7 September 2007. The complete transcription, obviously transcribed after the video was obtained, was presented to news outlets in PDF format. One such copy can be downloaded in its entirety below. (Click on article title or “read more” above for complete article)

When analyzing the transcript, however, it was noted that the date of transcription is yesterday, 6 September 2007, one full day before the video was allegedly obtained. The date is prominently displayed in the lower left hand corner of the document in a traditional U.S. format (MM/DD/YY). Usually, an official government document will use the DD/MM/YYYY format.

Additionally, the transcript begins with the number “2? on the bottom center of the document, which was apparently scanned as a picture file and formatted into PDF. Although this is not unusual, we note that the cover page appears to be missing based on the page numeration.

On the left-hand margin the format is M/D/YY, or it could just as easily be D/M/YY. This is a widely unacceptable, non-standard format where the month/date are ambiguous during the first 12 days of any month of the year. (is 9/6/07 September 6 2007 or is it 9 June 2007).

On the right-hand margin the format is YYYY/MM/DD. This date format is the “complete date” of the ISO 8601 format (The accepted International Standard) first published in 1988. This completely unambiguous formet was redacted from some copies of the .pdf.

What does this all mean?

We don’t know. Combined with other oddities related to this video, however, it does make one wonder.