From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]

Officials, friends can’t confirm Bin Laden death report / September 23, 2006

· France’s Chirac, U.S. intelligence downplay report that bin Laden
is dead
· Report’s source is leaked French defense ministry documents
· Saudi source tells CNN bin Laden is ill with a water-borne disease
· Bin Laden’s brother-in-law says he has heard no report of al Qaeda
leader’s death

PARIS, France (CNN) — A report that Osama bin Laden is dead has set
off a flurry of denials from U.S., French and Pakistani officials, who
say the newspaper report citing French intelligence cannot be
independently confirmed.

A Saudi intelligence official, however, told CNN on Saturday that the
al Qaeda leader is suffering from a waterborne illness. There have been
credible reports that the most wanted man in the world is ill, but
there is no intelligence indicating he is dead, the source said.

L’Est Republicain, citing a September 21 French foreign intelligence
document, reported that Saudi officials had received confirmation that
bin Laden died August 23 of typhoid fever in Pakistan. (Watch CNN’s Nic
Robertson reveal the latest intelligence on bin Laden’s health — 1:54)

“We believe this reporting to be unsubstantiated,” a U.S. intelligence
official said.

Other U.S. intelligence officials concurred, and White House spokesman
Blair Jones said, “We have no confirmation of that report.” (Watch a
former CIA director explain how this report could be confirmed –3:34)

A senior White House official with access to intelligence reports added
that he has made several calls to senior government officials and could
not verify the report.

Across the Atlantic, French President Jacques Chirac said the report
was “in no way confirmed” and that he was initiating an investigation
into who leaked the confidential document to L’Est Republicain.

“I was rather surprised to see that a confidential note from the
[General Directorate for External Security] was published, and I have
asked the minister of defense to start an investigation immediately and
to reach whatever conclusions are necessary,” Chirac said after trade
talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor
Angela Merkel in Compiegne, France.

Friend, family weigh in

Bin Laden’s brother-in-law, Jamal Khalifa, who was the al Qaeda
leader’s best friend when they were university students in Jeddah,
Saudi Arabia, told CNN that he has heard no report of bin Laden’s
death. The Saudi-based businessman has been married to bin Laden’s
sister, Shaikha, since 1986.

Khaled Batarfi, a managing editor at the Saudi newspaper Al Madina and
who was close friends with bin Laden when they were teenagers, said he
remains in touch with bin Laden’s immediate family in Jeddah. Family
members said Saturday they had heard nothing to confirm the report,
Batarfi told CNN.

Despite the fervent denials, journalist Laid Sammari, who wrote the
article, said in a telephone interview that he was confident the
classified document was authentic. His article states that Saudi secret
service agents on September 4 received reports of bin Laden’s death.

Saudi officials plan to make an official announcement after they
confirm the burial site for the al Qaeda leader, Sammari said.

In Pakistan, officials said Saturday that they had no confirmation of
bin Laden’s death. On Friday, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf confirmed
President Bush’s earlier statement that the hunt for bin Laden is still
on.

Al Qaeda was behind the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United
States that killed almost 3,000 people in New York, Pennsylvania and
Washington. The U.S. State Department is offering a $25 million reward
for information leading directly to bin Laden’s arrest or conviction,
according to the FBI.

The Airline Pilots Association and the Air Transport Association are
offering an additional $2 million reward.

Bin Laden’s most recent public message came June 30, when an audio
recording was posted on an Islamic Web site. He stated that Abu Hamza
al-Muhajer had replaced Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as leader of al Qaeda in
Iraq. Al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike earlier in June.

The CIA confirmed the voice on the tape was bin Laden’s.

The al Qaeda leader’s most recent videotaped statement was aired
October 29, 2004, on Al-Jazeera.

{CNN’s Katie Turner, Pam Benson, Peter Bergen, Elise Labott and Nic
Robertson contributed to this report.}

UNRELATED?
http://people.aol.com/people/article/0,26334,1151096,00.html
Bobby Brown: Whitney Divorce Rumors False
By Tiffany McGee / JANUARY 20, 2006

Bobby Brown is brushing off reports that he and wife Whitney Houston
are headed for divorce court. “The rumors are wrong,” Brown told PEOPLE
on Thursday. “They’re false.”

Among several recent reports about the couple, New York’s Daily News
said the R&B singer, 36, was telling friends that he was planning to
divorce Houston, 42. (The Atlanta-area based couple have a daughter,
Bobbi Kristina, 12). The Daily News also reported that earlier this
month Brown was seen with several women backstage at Connecticut’s
Foxwoods Casino.

Asked by PEOPLE on Thursday how the story started, Brown replied, “I
really couldn’t tell you. They say I said something about it, but I
joke a lot. … I don’t think I said it, but if I did it was a joke.
Trust me. … It’s someone that got the words mixed up.”

When Houston heard the story, Brown says, “Oh, she called me! She’s
calling me on a regular basis like, ‘Bobby! Did you say this? Did you
say that?'”

Brown describes Houston as “definitely upset.” As for himself, he says,
“There’s no way I can be upset, because I didn’t say it and I’m not
trying to divorce her, and that’s the most important thing.

“She’s my friend,” he adds. “She’s the better half of me. They say
opposites attract, but we’re not opposites. We’re one person. We’re
loving life, and we’re just trying to be as good to each other as
possible. And we’re moving on.”

Brown went on to say that, despite his and Houston’s admitted drug and
alcohol battles and domestic squabbles (two years ago, police charged
Brown with misdemeanor battery after he allegedly assaulted Houston in
their home): “What’s important is that we love each other. It doesn’t
matter what people say. They want to try to break us down anyway.
That’s not for us. We’re here, and we’re gonna be together for a long
time, so people can expect us to stay together. … I’m with my wife
for the duration – and that’s life.”

One place they weren’t together was Brown’s gig on Thursday, at Toad’s
Place in New Haven, Conn. “She missed her flight because she had a
dental appointment,” said Brown, “but … I will dedicate this show to
her.”

GLIMMERS OF HOPE
http://www.cnn.com/2006/SHOWBIZ/Music/09/13/whitneyhouston.divorce.ap…
Whitney’s prerogative: Leaving Bobby Brown September 14, 2006

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) — The tumultuous marriage of Whitney
Houston and Bobby Brown — which withstood drug addiction, Brown’s
numerous arrests, the decline of Houston’s once-sparkling image and
domestic abuse allegations — is coming to an end.

The Grammy-winning, superstar singer filed papers in Orange County
Superior Court on Friday requesting a legal separation from her husband
of 14 years. The reason given was irreconcilable differences.

“It is a legal separation. It is not a divorce or a divorce petition,”
Phaedra Parks, an entertainment lawyer in Atlanta who represents Brown,
told The Associated Press.

Houston’s publicist, Nancy Seltzer, said the singer would have no
comment on the action.

Asked about speaking with Brown, Parks said, “Bobby’s not speaking with
anyone at this time.”

Houston and Brown, who had a home in Alpharetta, Georgia, have one
child, a 13-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina.

According to the court documents, mother and daughter now reside in
Laguna Hills, California.

Houston asked that she be granted custody of the girl and that Brown be
allowed visitation rights. She asked that property rights be determined
later.

When the couple wed in 1992 the union seemed to outsiders to be a
mismatch. Houston — one of the best-selling singers in history — was
a glamorous, pop superstar with a super-clean, princess-like persona,
whereas Brown, who rose to fame as a member of the boy band New Edition
before striking out on his own, was a sometimes coarse R&B singer with
a more street-wise image.

But as the years wore on, it would become hard to determine which one
was more troubled. Brown — best known for hits like “My Prerogative”
and “Every Little Step” — would be arrested numerous times for drugs
and alcohol, and once for hitting his wife, while Houston’s own battles
with substance abuse sullied her image. (Watch a recap of their
tumultous times — 2:24)

‘Crack is wack’
Together, the two were a tabloid editor’s dream. When Brown was
released from a stretch in jail a few years ago, an ecstatic Houston
greeted him by jumping into his arms and throwing her arms and legs
around him before a throng of fans and media.

And in a 2002 ABC interview with Diane Sawyer, an erratic-sounding and
wan-looking Houston, with a profusely sweating Brown by her side,
admitted dabbling in drugs but denied using crack, then uttered the now
famous phrase: “Crack is wack.”

Houston checked into a drug rehabilitation program in 2004 and again in
2005, announcing the second time that she was also using prayer to help
overcome her drug problems. Brown said at the time he was doing what he
could to help her.

“It takes two to make things work, so I have to be there for her just
like she was there for me when I went through my rehab stint,” he told
“Access Hollywood.”

The couple did separate for a time a few years ago, but their marriage
endured, despite rumors and speculation. Their life was put on display
last year with Brown’s reality series, “Being Bobby Brown” on Bravo.
The show actually made Brown look like a stable influence, while a
jittery Houston was on display; the couple often crudely talked about
their marriage and love life.

But earlier this year, the speculation of a possible split intensified.
Brown’s sister made headlines when she alleged in a National Enquirer
interview that Houston was addicted to crack. She also supplied photos
of what she said was Houston’s bathroom, littered with garbage and
evidence of drug use.

Recently, Houston has made attempts to clean up her public image. On
Tuesday night, she attended a public event with cousin Dionne Warwick
and mogul and mentor Clive Davis in Beverly Hills. And she is working
on an album of new material; she hasn’t released a record since 2002.

Houston, 43, won multiple Grammys in the 1980s and 1990s, including two
for the megahit “I Will Always Love You,” from the 1992 film “The
Bodyguard,” in which she also starred opposite Kevin Costner.

“I Will Always Love You,” won Grammys for record of the year and best
female pop vocal, and “The Bodyguard” soundtrack won album of the year.

Houston also won Grammys in 1985 and 1987 for best female pop vocal for
“Saving All my Love for You” and “I Want to Dance With Somebody (Who
Loves Me).” She won a Grammy for best female R&B vocal in 1999 for
“It’s Not Right But It’s Okay.”

Her musician husband recently reunited with New Edition for a show at
July’s Essence Musical Festival. The show got mixed reviews from the
audience when Brown jumped suggestively around the stage and made
vulgar remarks about his sex life with Houston.