Is Osama bin Laden Dead?
That's the story being leaked from the French DGSE, citing a report from the Saudis. Of course, President Chirac says the report is "in no way confirmed." But note he doesn't deny that the document cited is real, and instructs the defense minister to trace the leak. In other words, it's a real document which may or may not be reporting a real event.
If the Saudis believe it to be true, why not announce it? I can think of several reasons, including the desire to avoid any way UBLs death (by Typhoid, if true) could be spun into anything like martyrdom. Some information you hang on to until it can do the most damage.
(I wonder how long it will be until somebody claims Bush "knew" and kept the information to himself--to spring it as an "October surprise"? Very unlikely to be the case, but ideal for people who see conspiracies everywhere.)
For now, we wait for more evidence. Some people you don't declare dead until you see the body, and even then you should stand ready to revise your opinion.
UPDATE: Time now reports they have Saudi confirmation of the illness, but not of the death.
Supposedly the DGSE is waiting until someone finds UBLs body. That's sensible.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, says that Saudi officials have received multiple credible reports over the last several weeks that Bin Laden has been suffering from a water-borne illness. The source believes that there is a "high probability" that Bin Laden has already died from the disease, but stressed that Saudi officials have thus far received no concrete evidence of Bin Laden's death.
"This is not a rumor," says the source. "He is very ill. He got a water-related sickness and it could be terminal. There are a lot of serious facts about things that have actually happened. There is a lot to it. But we don't have any concrete information to say that he is dead."
Pure speculation: there was a recent report of a botched chance to hit a large number of Taliban leaders gathered at a gravesite. Is it possible a Predator drone witnessed the burial?