Did bin Laden break up Bobby and Whitney?

September 19, 2006|By Clarence Page

WASHINGTON -- It's sad that Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston have decided to separate after 14 years of marriage, which sounds like a lifetime compared with most celebrity hookups. I only hope Mr. Brown didn't run out on irrational fear that Osama bin Laden might whack him.

I have no inside information as to why the two crooners want to untie the knot. I'm just trying to connect the dots. The final days of their relationship coincide roughly with a report that the leader of al-Qaida once had a major crush on Ms. Houston.

This comes from the autobiography of Kola Boof, a Sudanese-American feminist poet and novelist who claims to have been a former mistress of bin Laden.

In excerpts from Diary of a Lost Girl in the September issue of Harper's and on the magazine's Web site, Ms. Boof says she was kept against her will as bin Laden's mistress for four months in 1996. During that time, she says, he showed a liking for marijuana, Van Halen's music, American TV shows, Playboy and Ms. Houston.

Curiously, she says, he expressed disrespect for black women, even though Ms. Boof is a dark-skinned African.

She writes: "He explained to me that to possess Whitney he would be willing to break his color rule and make her one of his wives. ... For the entire time that I would be trapped in his palm, Whitney Houston's was the one name that would be mentioned constantly.

"How beautiful she is, what a nice smile she has, how truly Islamic she is but is just brainwashed by American culture and her husband Bobby Brown, whom Osama talked about having killed, as if it were normal to have women's husbands killed."

As the old song goes, love is strange. But imagine how Ms. Houston's husband took this news tidbit. Threats of homicide over a love triangle are not to be taken lightly.

So, as the crew said on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, Osama just may be rolling up to Whitney's doorsteps any day now.

But, relax, Bobby. There's probably not much chance that you are in al-Qaida's bombsights. Ms. Boof's credibility has been challenged by none other then Peter Bergen, a leading bin Laden biographer. He describes Ms. Boof's claim as "delusional."

Nevertheless, she's probably no less credible than "Curveball," the code-named Iraqi defector who provided the CIA with the bogus information that Saddam Hussein was building mobile biological weapons labs.

Or, for that matter, former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi, who was once the darling of Vice President Dick Cheney and other neoconservatives but who has since fallen out of favor. He is wanted for bank fraud in Jordan and is under investigation by several U.S. government agencies.

If federal agents and intelligence experts will believe those neoconservatives, why not Ms. Boof? In fact, the Osama-Whitney saga should be a heads-up for the Bush administration. You want to catch bin Laden? Stake out Ms. Houston's house.

But, knowing this administration, perhaps her house is already under surveillance. After all, as President Bush corrected a reporter during his Friday news conference, it's not eavesdropping, it's "the terrorist surveillance program."

And warrants? In the name of "keeping America safe," this administration is ready to do whatever it and its compliant legal advisers think it takes, then argue about it later before the courts and Congress.

And we know from Ron Suskind's book, The One Percent Doctrine, the administration's threshold for action is pretty low. The title comes from Mr. Cheney's view that possible terrorist threats, with even a 1 percent likelihood, must be treated as certainties.

The possibility of government eavesdropping is another reason for Mr. Brown, the target of several alcohol and drug arrests, to want to flee his wife's company. Maybe he's worried about his privacy. Some folks just aren't ready for Mr. Bush's war on terror.

Clarence Page is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. His column appears Tuesdays and Fridays in The Sun. His e-mail is cptime@aol.com.

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