My last word on the assassination of Osama bin Laden (I hope)

I had thought that the Osama bin Laden assassination would have run its course by now here in the United States of Amnesia, but, with nothing else to replace it – except, perhaps, for the “news” that Bristol Palin’s facial appearance indeed has been altered, she says, because she had jaw surgery (this is the most-viewed “news” story on Yahoo! News as I type this sentence) — it lingers still.

It’s a sign of the collapsing of the American empire that so many Americans have found comfort, I suppose the word is, in the assassination of a rather pathetic man in hiding whose last big show was almost a full decade ago.

I mean, how convenient it is to blame more than a decade of American stupidity and laxity* on one man, and how tempting it is to believe that with his death goes American stupidity and laxity. If bin Laden was the cause of all of our problems, then surely his death is the magical solution to all of our problems! Right? Right?

As I wrote right after I found out about it, bin Laden’s assassination has changed nothing except for the national “news” obsession du jour (or, in this case, de la semaine). Bin Laden had been fairly powerless for years before his assassination, and his largest achievement was in destroying the American economy.

And hell, he didn’t even have to do the work. It was the treasonous wingnuts of the unelected Bush regime, using their wet dream of 9/11 like the Reichstag Fire to fulfill their wingnutty wish list, who did the work for bin Laden, using 9/11 for years as their cover to push through a radical right-wing, treasonous agenda they otherwise never would have been able to push through.

And it was an hysterical, cowed populace that allowed them to, just as it had allowed them to steal the White House in the first place.

While President Barack Obama seems to have driven the final stake into the heart of “birtherism,” whose death was long overdue, and for at least the short term can stave off any charges that militarily he’s a pussy, sooner or later the economy is going to reassert its political gravitational pull on Planet Obama.

An NBC News poll taken late last week shows that while almost 60 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s handling of foreign policy (the bin Laden bounce, no doubt), almost 60 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy.

The bin Laden bounce has put Obama slightly above a 50-percent overall approval rating in the Gallup Poll after he had languished in the 40s for more than the past year, only occassionally hitting 50 percent or 51 percent in that time period.**

Given the weak field of Repugnican Tea Party candidates, however, Obama’s re-election is likely even in an economic environment that might otherwise seriously jeopardize a second presidential term.

But what Obama’s probable re-election means is the continued rightward drift of the nation, in which the new “center” is still right of center and continues going rightward. What’s good for Barack Obama’s personal political fortune, unfortunately, is bad for the nation and for the rest of the planet.

And how you do something matters. I don’t mourn the death of mass murderer Osama bin Laden any more than I would mourn the death of mass murderer George W. Bush or mass murderer Dick Cheney (or mass murderer Condoleezza Rice*** or mass murderer Donald Rumsfeld or…), but how it was achieved was shitty, regardless of how history, which up until now, at least, always has been written by the victors, might tell the story.

George W. Bush is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent human beings, is a much bigger mass murderer than was bin Laden, yet should a military team from a justice-pursuing Iraq (which was home to most of Bush’s victims) take out Bush on American soil like a military team from the U.S. took out bin Laden on Pakistani soil, Americans would be, literally, up in arms.

Even mass murderers like George W. Bush deserve a fair trial. Summary, extrajudicial execution, no matter who its victim is, is always wrong. The perpetrators of such tactics are no better than are their victims. And that’s what the Obama administration’s assassination of Osama bin Laden proved to the world: That the majority of the inhabitants of the United States of America is no better than was bin Laden.

Finally, I hope to make this my last post on Osama bin Laden’s assassination. But before I go I want to leave you with Ted Rall’s current column on the topic. Here it is, in full:

President Obama murdered Osama bin Laden. I am surprised that the left has been so supportive — not of the end result, but of the way it was carried out.

Imagine if the killing had gone down the same exact way, but under Bush. Armed commandos invade a foreign country, storm into a suburban neighborhood, blow a hole in a house and blow away an unarmed man in front of his 12-year-old daughter. The guy is a murder suspect. Mass murder. But there’s no attempt to arrest him or bring him to justice. They spirit his bloody corpse out of the country and dump it into the ocean.

Osama bin Laden was suspected ordering of one of the most horrific crimes of the decade. He might have been taken alive. Yet Obama’s commandos killed him. A big part of the puzzle — the key to the truth, who might have led us to other people responsible for 9/11 — is gone.

Barack Obama is our Jack Ruby.

Liberals would be appalled if this had happened four years ago. They would have protested Bush’s violations of international law and basic human rights. They would have complained about killing the Al Qaeda leader before questioning him about possible terrorist plots. They would have demanded investigations.

But this happened under Obama. Which means that even liberal lawyers who ought to (and probably do) know better are going along. At a panel discussion at the Justice Institute at Pace Law School, University of Houston law professor Jordan Paust asserted: “You can [legally] use military force without consent in foreign countries.”

“At some point a sovereign state [such as Pakistan] that’s harboring an international fugitive loses the right to assert sovereignty,” added Robert Van Lierop.

Paust and Van Lierop are, respectively, a leading opponent of torture at Guantánamo and a former UN ambassador known for his activism on climate change. Both are “liberal.”

In the U.S., conservatives and “liberals” agree: Might makes right. America’s military-intelligence apparatus is so fearsome that it can deploy its soldiers and agents without fear of retribution.

Might makes right. [Emphasis mine.]

In 2007, for example, U.S. Special Forces invaded Iran from U.S.-occupied Iraq in order to kidnap Iranian border guards. It was an outrage. In practical terms, however, there was nothing the Iranians could do about it.

The United States’ 900-pound gorilla act might go over better if we weren’t a nation that constantly prattles on and on about how civilized we are, how important it is that everyone follow the rules. For example:

“We’re a nation of laws!” Obama recently exclaimed. “We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate.”

He wasn’t talking about himself. This was about PFC Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of supplying the big Defense Department data dump to WikiLeaks. Manning has been subjected to torture including sleep deprivation and forced nudity — treatment ordered by Obama.

Truth is, the Constitution, our treaty obligations and our stacks of legal codes are worthless paper. We’re not a nation of laws. We’re a nation of gun-toting, missile-lobbing, drone-flying goons.

U.S. officials do whatever they feel like and then dress up their brazenly illegal acts with perverse Orwellian propaganda. [Emphasis mine.]

“I authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice,” Obama claimed, as if blowing away an unarmed man in a foreign country was the moral equivalent of filing an extradition request with the Pakistani government and putting him on trial before 12 unbiased jurors in a court of law.

Justice is a legal process. It is not a military assault. [Emphasis mine.]

When considering the legality or morality of an act it helps to consider different scenarios. What, for example, if Pakistan had military power equal to ours? Last week’s lead news might have begun something like this:

“Pakistan has intercepted four U.S. helicopters over its airspace, forced them to land, and taken 79 heavily-armed commandos as prisoners. According to Pakistani military officials, the incident took place about 100 miles from the border of U.S.-occupied Afghanistan.

“‘They didn’t stray across the border accidentally. This was a deliberate act,’ said a Pakistani general. President Asif Ali Zardari has asked Pakistan’s nuclear weapons infrastructure has been placed on high alert as the parliament, the Majlis-e-Shoora, considers whether to issue a declaration of war…”

Or let’s assume a different reimagining. What if the United States really [were] a nation of laws?

Then the news might look like the following:

“Bipartisan demands for congressional investigations into the assassination of alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden quickly escalated into demands for presidential impeachment after reports that U.S. forces operating under orders from President Obama invaded a sovereign nation without permission to carry out what House Speaker John Boehner called ‘a mob-style hit.’

“Standing at Boehner’s side, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi decried Obama’s ‘cowboy antics’ and said she had received numerous phone calls from the relatives of 9/11 victims furious that true justice had been denied. Meanwhile, in New York, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon moved for sanctions against the United States…”

In fact, no one knows whether Osama bin Laden was involved in 9/11.

They suspect. They feel. They don’t know.

For what it’s worth, he denied it: “Following the latest explosions in the United States, some Americans are pointing the finger at me, but I deny that because I have not done it,” bin Laden said in a statement released on 9/16/01. “The United States has always accused me of these incidents which have been caused by its enemies. Reiterating once again, I say that I have not done it, and the perpetrators have carried this out because of their own interest.”

Why should we believe him? Why not? He admitted his responsibility for the East Africa embassy bombings in 1998.

Interestingly, the FBI never mentioned 9/11 on his “wanted” poster.

There was the famous “confession video” — but it was translated into English by the CIA, hardly an objective source. Arabic language experts say the CIA manipulated bin Laden’s discussion of what he had watched on TV into an admission of guilt. For example, they changed bin Laden’s passive-voice discussion to active: “[the 19 hijackers] were required to go” became, in the CIA version, “we asked each of them to go to America.”

“The American translators who listened to the tapes and transcribed them apparently wrote a lot of things in that they wanted to hear but that cannot be heard on the tape no matter how many times you listen to it,” said Gernot Rotter, professor of Islamic and Arabic Studies at the Asia-Africa Institute at the University of Hamburg.

Other [bin Laden] communiqués appear to take credit for 9/11 — but there’s a possibility that he was trying to keep himself relevant for his Islamist audience. Anyway, a confession does not prove guilt. Police receive numerous “confessions” for high-profile crimes. They can’t just shoot everyone who confesses.

I’m not angry that Bin Laden is dead. Nor am I happy. I didn’t know the guy or care for his ideology.

I’m angry that, without a trial or a real investigation, we will never know whether he was guilty of 9/11 — or, if he was, who else was involved.

Our Jack Ruby, Barack Obama, made sure of that.

Yup. And I’ve wondered if perhaps bin Laden was assassinated by the Obama administration because he knew too much, and a trial at an international court of law would have brought what he knew to light. 

*Our problems preceded Sept. 11, 2001. Our democracy pretty much was diagnosed with terminal illness when Americans just allowed Team Bush to steal the White House in late 2000. After that, anything else that followed, such as the devasation that was just allowed to occur on 9/11 and with Hurricane Katrina four years later, couldn’t have been a surprise.

**Obama enjoyed approval ratings in the 60s during his first six months in office. He then gradually slid into the 50s and then into the 40s.

***Rice’s recent interview on MSNBC was, um, interesting. She hasn’t changed a bit. You still know when she’s lying — it’s whenever her lips are moving. (Seriously, though, she always has the quavering voice of a liar, and when she’s really lying, she moves her head rapidly from side to side.)

While I doubt Rice’s sanity, as I doubt the sanity of any mass murderer/war criminal, I don’t believe that she actually believes the lies that she spews forth. I believe that she is terrified that one day she might actually be hauled before an international criminal court, and therefore she’s sticking to the same old lies about her part in the execution of the illegal, immoral, unprovoked and unjust Vietraq War that she’s been telling for years now.

About to leave a comment? Comments are a courtesy, not a right, and as such are subject to rejection or deletion. (You can always man up and post a blog piece of your own on your own blog; I’m not required to help you get your opinions out there.) General guidelines for leaving comments are here.

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