The AP adds this to the rumor mill - the French intelligence report is authentic but the content has not been verified:
The French defense ministry on Saturday called for an internal investigation of the leak of an intelligence document that raises the possibility that Osama bin Laden may have died of typhoid in Pakistan a month ago but said the report of the death remained unverified.
...The daily newspaper for the Lorraine region in eastern France printed what it described as a confidential document from the French foreign intelligence service DGSE citing an uncorroborated report from Saudi secret services that the leader of the al-Qaida terror network had died.
The contents of the document, dated Sept. 21, or Thursday, were not confirmed by French or other intelligence sources. However, the DGSE transmitted the note to President Jacques Chirac and other officials, the newspaper said.
Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie “has demanded an investigation be carried out of this leak,” a ministry statement said, adding that transmission of the confidential document could risk punishment.
Document exists but cannot be confirmed
Defense Ministry spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau, clarifying the statement, said that the DGSE document exists but that its contents — that bin Laden is allegedly dead — cannot be confirmed.
The DGSE, or Direction Generale des Services Exterieurs, indicated that its information came from a single source.
“According to a reliable source, Saudi security services are now convinced that Osama bin Laden is dead,” said the intelligence report.
The Ace of Spades has good coverage, including an excellent "I Question The Timing" analysis. Dems who have been fearing an "October Surprise" can be excused a bit of non-surprise now.
And yes, we went through a similar exercise in 2004 - TNR worried about a "July Surprise" where Bush would disrupt Kerry's convention by announcing the capture of Osama or another High Value Target. It's hard to believe that the NY Times took the notion seriously enough to prepare a front page, just in case.
POINT TO PONDER: The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. Osama being considered to be dead works well for Bush, Musharaff, and Osama.
MORE: TIME magazine has a Saudi source with a similar story:
Fugitive al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, believed to be on the run in rugged terrain in the Afghan-Pakistani border region since the September 11 attacks five years ago, has become seriously ill and may have already died, a Saudi source tells TIME, echoing earlier reports in the French media.
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."
Mexico and South America are the most common areas for U.S. citizens to contract typhoid fever. India, Pakistan and Egypt are also known high risk areas for developing this disease.