In a speech to business leaders in India, Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., gave credence to a rumor that the U.S. has captured Osama bin Laden and for political reasons is waiting for the right moment to reveal it, according to the Indo-Asian News Service.

Reps. Mike Thompson and Jim McDermott in CNN interview from Baghdad in 2002.

“There are already rumours circulating that Osama bin Laden is being held somewhere already and it’s only that they are trying to decide what day they should bring him out,” McDermott told Confederation of Indian Industry representatives at a luncheon in New Delhi on Thursday.

The remarks came as McDermott told his audience that the loss of jobs during the Bush administration and the Iraq war will cause Americans to pick a new president in the fall.

The congressman, who made a controversial trip to Baghdad before the war, said the bin Laden scenario may not influence the electorate since Americans are disturbed by the pictures of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqis at the Abu Ghraib prison.

“It is hard to take away the impact that has had on us,” he said.

McDermott tacitly accused the administration of a similar scheme in a remark to a reporter after the capture of Saddam Hussein.

“I don’t know if it was definitely planned on this weekend, but I know they’ve been in contact with people all along who knew basically where he was,” McDermott reportedly said.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright echoed the bin Laden rumor, suggesting to Morton Kondracke of Fox News: “Do you suppose that the Bush administration has Osama bin Laden hidden away somewhere and will bring him out before the election?”

A staff member at McDermott’s office in Seattle told WorldNetDaily the congressman is on his way back to the U.S. from India and unvailable for comment.

In September 2002, as Congress prepared to consider action in Iraq, McDermott expressed his mistrust of Bush in a television interview beamed to the U.S. live from Baghdad.

“I think the president would mislead the American people,” McDermott said.

He accused Bush of “trying to provoke a war” with Iraq, charging the White House has “put a gun at the head of Saddam,” saying, in effect, “‘We’re going to shoot you if you blink.'”

McDermott, joined on the trip by Reps. David Bonior of Michigan and Mike Thompson of California, insisted new weapons inspections would eliminate Baghdad as a threat to its neighbors.

At the New Delhi luncheon Thursday, McDermott criticized the U.S. administration in front of the Indian leaders, predicting Bush’s tax cuts will backfire on him and Americans will pick a new president because of the Iraq war, the IANS reported.

McDermott, who met with Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Commerce Minister Kamal Nath among other officials, told his audience a U.S. administration will end its term with fewer jobs than when it began, for the first time since 1932. In that year, Democrats returned power, and it will be the same this year, the congressman predicted.

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