Tag Archives: Osama

UN looking into legality of slaughter of bin Laden

Was this past weekend’s assassination of Osama bin Laden legal?

Unsurprisingly, in the articles that I’ve read online, Americans tend to say that of course it was — he was an “enemy combatant” with whom we were “at war”; U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder actually called, quite speciously, bin Laden’s assassination “an act of national self-defense” (and not, say, a revenge killing); and besides, Barack Obama had said when he was campaigning for president that if we got bin Laden in our sights then he would order him killed (as though if you simply warn someone that you will do something illegal, such as rape her or murder him, if you get the opportunity to do so and then do so, then your actual act is not illegal because hey, you’d given him or her a warning!) — while those outside of the U.S. are much less likely to make such a certain pronouncement, expressing problems with the facts that bin Laden was unarmed and that the raid on his compound was conducted without the consent or even the prior notification of the government of the sovereign nation of Pakistan. Bin Laden should have been captured, if at all possible, and put on trial, since everyone, even the likes of bin Laden, has the right to due process, these dissenters have expressed.

One of these dissenters, Kent University international lawyer Nick Grief, called bin Laden’s killing what it apparently was: an “extrajudicial killing without due process of the law,” and he noted that even Nazi war criminals were brought to trial at the end of World War II.

Louise Doswald-Beck, former legal chief for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said that bin Laden was not an enemy combatant but that “He was basically head of a terrorist criminal network, which means that you’re not really looking at the law of armed conflict but at lethal action against a dangerous criminal.”

Another British lawyer, Michael Mansfield, said, “The serious risk is that in the absence of an authoritative narrative of events played out in Abbottabad, vengeance will become synonymized with justice, and that revenge will supplant due process. … Whatever feelings of elation and relief may dominate the airwaves, they must not be allowed to submerge core questions about the legality of the exercise, nor to permit vengeance or summary execution to become substitutes for justice.” [Emphasis mine.]

And it looks as though the United Nations is investigating the legality of bin Laden’s assassination. Reports The Associated Press today:

Geneva – The United Nations’ independent investigator on extrajudicial killings* has called on the United States to reveal more details of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan hideaway to allow experts to assess the legality of his killing.

South African law professor Christof Heyns said in a statement [today] that Washington “should disclose the supporting facts to allow an assessment in terms of international human rights law standards.”

Heyns says “it will be particularly important to know if the planning of the mission allowed an effort to capture Bin Laden.”

His statement echoed similar appeals from other UN officials, human rights groups and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

U.S. officials say the raid is legal under U.S. and international law.

Of course “U.S. officials say the raid [was] legal under U.S. and international law.” How often does the perpetrator of a crime admit it?

In any event, it’s not like the U.S. is going to respect any adverse finding by the UN anyway. The UN Security Council would not rubber-stamp George W. Bush’s illegal, immoral, unprovoked and unjust Vietraq War, but the Bush regime went ahead and launched it anyway in March 2003. The U.S. respects the UN only when it is convenient for the U.S. to do so, which is one of the many reasons that the U.S. is so hated throughout the world: its blatant hypocrisy and double standards.

I still believe that the assassination of Osama bin Laden was meant, at least in part, for Barack Obama’s political gain. I believe that Obama wanted to show that he’s just as bad a bad-ass as George W. Bush tried to pass himself off as, and also, what’s better to counter the charges that Obama is not really an American and actually is Muslim than to snuff out Osama bin Laden, to take him dead or alive dead?

The so-called “swing voters” are susceptible to such wingnutty charges that Obama isn’t a citizen and that he’s actually a Muslim, and it’s the support of the “swing voters” (he’s screwed his progressive base) that Obama so very badly wants for his re-election.

Weirdly, though, in the White House photo of the gathering in the Situation Room during the operation to assassinate bin Laden that everyone has dissected to death —

In this image released by the White House and ...

— to me, Obama doesn’t look like the leader of all of it. To me, he looks like he’s just kind of shrinking in the corner, a bit bewildered and perhaps overwhelmed by all of it, and hell, just from this photo, Secretary of State Billary Clinton appears to be more in charge than Obama does. Obama appears in the photo to be an onlooker at most.

In any event, Osama bin Laden is dead, which even Al-Qaeda has acknowledged, and it’s not like there will be formal repercussions for the U.S. government for once again very apparently having violated international law.

But it will be interesting to see for how long the U.S. can maintain its position as the global bully. Bin Laden’s actions significantly weakened what he believed to be the “great Satan,” the American empire, costing the United States at least $3 trillion, pundits are saying. (Of course, much if not most of that $3 trillion went to greedy war profiteers, not for the actual benefit of the U.S., and much of it simply disappeared and remains unaccounted for to this day.)

And as China is poised to become the world’s No. 1 economy within the next decade, as the U.S. economy continues to teeter on the brink of collapse, how long will the U.S. be able to call the shots globally?

It is in the long-term interests of the United States of America — and any other nation’s — to follow the rule of law. It is easier and more convenient, in the short run, to circumvent the law, but to circumvent the law often bites you in the ass later, often (if not usually) costing you more than if you had just done it right the first time.

Because he was not put on trial, but was assassinated, Osama bin Laden is now, to many in the Muslim world, a martyr whose manner of death only proves his assertions about American abuse of power against Arabs and Muslims to be correct. We Americans can, and should, fully expect bin Laden’s death to be avenged. And then we’ll avenge that. This tit-for-tat bullshit bloodshed can go on for years and years and years, which is exactly what the war profiteers and the weasels of the military-industrial complex want.

And just as the United States was somewhat recovering from its reputation as the global asshole that the treasonous members of the unelected Bush regime earned it, Barack Obama, by mimicking George “W. for Wanted Dead or Alive” Bush, has taken us backasswards again.

Can we at least take away that Nobel Peace Prize that he so prematurely was awarded while the UN investigates the legality of his unilateral order to assassinate bin Laden?

P.S. Reuters reports a little more thoroughly today of the United Nations’ looking into the legality of bin Laden’s assassination. Reuters reports today:

Martin Scheinin, UN special rapporteur on protecting human rights while countering terrorism … and Christof Heyns, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said that in certain exceptional cases, deadly force may be used in “operations against terrorists.”

“However, the norm should be that terrorists be dealt with as criminals, through legal processes of arrest, trial and judicially-decided punishment,” the independent experts said in a joint statement.

“In respect of the recent use of deadly force against Osama bin Laden, the United States of America should disclose the supporting facts to allow an assessment in terms of international human rights law standards,” they said. “It will be particularly important to know if the planning of the mission allowed an effort to capture bin Laden.”

Scheinin, a Finnish law professor who teaches in Florence, and Heyns, a South African human rights law professor, report to the UN Human Rights Council, whose 47 members include the United States. …

Navi Pillay, the top UN human rights official, also called this week for light to be shed on the killing, stressing that all counter-terrorism operations must respect international law.

“We’ve raised a question mark about what happened precisely, more details are needed at this point,” her spokesman Rupert Colville told a briefing in Geneva [today].

*Those Obama apologists and American jingoists who take exception to the word “assassination” (as though only, say, an American president could be assassinated) at least cannot argue that bin Laden’s killing was indeed, at the least, an extrajudicial execution.

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The bin Laden assassination account du jour

OK, so first, we were told that Osama bin Laden was armed and posed an immediate threat to the U.S. Navy SEALs who shot him dead in Pakistan this past weekend.

Then, we were told that he wasn’t armed, but that nonetheless he still somehow was threatening to the SEALs — maybe he had a bomb* on him, even! (Of course, anyone could have a bomb hidden on [or in…] his or her body, so using that “logic,” it’s OK to shoot dead anyone.)

Now, we are being told that the SEALs had planned to kill bin Laden no matter what.

Reports Yahoo! News today:

The SEALs’ decision to fatally shoot bin Laden — even though he didn’t have a weapon — wasn’t an accident.  The administration had made clear to the military’s clandestine Joint Special Operations Command that it wanted bin Laden dead, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the discussions.  A high-ranking military officer briefed on the assault said the SEALs knew their mission was not to take him alive.

Publicly, the White House insists it was prepared to capture bin Laden if he tried to surrender, a possibility senior officials described as remote.

John Brennan, the administration’s top counterterrorism official, told reporters on Monday if “we had the opportunity to take him alive, we would have done that.”A senior intelligence official echoed that sentiment in an interview [yesterday], telling National Journal that if bin Laden “had indicated surrender, he would have been captured.”

But bin Laden didn’t appear to have been given a chance to surrender himself to the SEALs.

“To be frank, I don’t think he had a lot of time to say anything,” CIA Director Leon Panetta said in an interview airing on “PBS NewsHour.”

There is a word for this kind of thing: Fuck.

One of my U.S. senators, Dianne Feinstein, who is chair of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, has said that she was informed of the planning of the raid on the compound in Pakistan that held bin Laden in December.

In December.

One, if bin Laden (still) were such an imminent threat that he needed to be summarily executed on the spot, then why did it take the Obama administration that long to finally get him?

Two, since the Obama administration had bin Laden’s nabbing in the works at least since December, why the fuck has it been unable to get its fucking story straight?

I have as much confidence in the Obama administration as I did in the bumbling Bush regime.

This bullshit bungling is supposed to help Obama’s re-election campaign how?

*The Los Angeles Times reports:

After saying Monday that the American operatives who raided the Pakistani compound had orders to capture Bin Laden if he gave himself up, U.S. officials [yesterday] added an important qualifier: The assault force was told to accept a surrender only if it could be sure he didn’t have a bomb hidden under his clothing and posed no other danger.

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Bin Laden laughs at us in hell

I don’t shed a tear over the death of Osama bin Laden (in so small part because he’s been fairly irrelevant for years now), but you know, this return to the jingoistic stupidity that we saw in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, is unsettling. Luckily, no Americans have been killed this time (only American lives matter, of course), so hopefully something else soon will become the next top news story (you know, something related to Donald Trump or Charlie Sheen or Lindsay Lohan), but how long can it be before the “birthers” will demand to see bin Laden’s death certificate, and then, once that is produced, proclaim it to be a fake?

I read that the song “We Are the Champions” has been sung at U.S. bin Laden death celebrations. Yeah, we are the champions, all right — and it only took us 10 years and thousands upon thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. We rule!

More chilling than the words and actions of my jingoistic cohorts, of whom I expect precious little, however, are those of President Barack Obama, of whom, despite his string of broken campaign promises, I still expect more.

“Today we are reminded that as a nation there is nothing we can’t do,” Obama proclaimed today about the snuffing out of bin Laden. (“We do big things” is one of the campaign slogans that Obama rolled out during his last State of the Union address, since “hope” and “change” don’t work anymore.)

Jesus fuck.

When we make such feel-good statements as “as a nation there is nothing we can’t do,” are we really supposed to say that about the killing of one individual? Even someone like Osama bin Laden?

Is this what “American greatness” has come to: our ability to kill one man after 10 years, hundreds of billions of dollars and the killing of tens of thousands before him? (That’s a rhetorical question, but I’ll answer it anyway: Yes.)

Our bloated-beyond-belief military-industrial complex and insane tax breaks for the rich and the super-rich have put us into a huge federal budget deficit, they’re telling us that it’s all our public school teachers’ fault and they’re talking about destroying Medicare, the polar fucking ice caps are melting, for fuck’s sake, and the people are in the streets like Ewoks over the news reports that Osama bin Laden (whom they’d forgotten all about) is dead!

Speaking of which, apparently we couldn’t even handle bin Laden’s corpse correctly, with the media reporting now that burial at sea actually is not the preferred way to bury a Muslim; the preferred way is to bury him with his or her head pointing toward Mecca.

One Muslim cleric put it this way: “If a man dies on a ship that is a long distance from land, then the dead man should be buried at the sea; but if he dies on land, then he should be buried in the ground, not to be thrown into the sea. Otherwise, this would be only inviting fish to a banquet.”

Oops.

Of course, the whole argument was beyond bizarre anyway: We snuffed out Osama bin Laden, but not to worry! We handled his body correctly! (Except that apparently we didn’t.*)

And I’m seeing all over the place the simple-minded assertion that Osama bin Laden is now in hell.

If he is in hell (actually, I don’t believe in hell, but I’ll play along with the simpletons), he is celebrating his stunning victory over the United States of America, his “great Satan.”

After all, bin Laden’s stated objective was to destroy the American empire, and while the empire already was on its way out before his henchmen hijacked some airplanes some 10 years ago,  bin Laden certainly helped along the demise of the American empire. He caused, at least indirectly, the deaths of more than 4,000 of our troops on top of the almost 3,000 Americans killed on Sept. 11, 2001, and had a huge hand in destroying our economy after the treasonous war profiteers (such as Dick Cheney’s Halliburton) used 9/11 as their pretext for looting the U.S. Treasury of hundreds of billions of dollars in the names of “national security” and “national defense.”

I suspect that Osama bin Laden surprised himself in how successful he was in accomplishing his objective of destroying the American empire, and Americans’ incredible stupidity and short-sightedness fairly guarantee that bin Laden will get the last laugh, with a banner reading “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” behind him — even if in hell.

*Bin Laden’s body reportedly was disposed of within 24 hours, as Islamic law requires, and it’s understandable that the U.S. power elites didn’t want a gravesite for bin Laden’s followers to be able to visit, but some experts are saying that the burial at sea might cause blowback.

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