According to the US government, on Sunday, May 1, Osama Bin Laden was killed by a team of US commandos near Islamabad, Pakistan.
Three other men were killed in the raid, one of them a son of Bin Laden. A woman was also killed, but we are assured that she was killed only when used as a human shield by the bad guys. Our gallant American soldiers are better than other soldiers. Americans only kill women who get in the way.
Bin Laden’s body, we are told, was dumped in the ocean, making the whole story conveniently unverifiable. No mention was made of cement shoes.
“Justice has been done,” gloated President Barack Obama in a television appearance at the White House.
Well, I hate to interrupt the whooping and high-fiving for Team America, but “doing justice” in a civilized society means due process of law, including a presumption of innocence until guilt is proven. Osama Bin Laden was accused by our government, not tried and convicted. Is justice done when the police gun down a suspect so the government need not even bother trying to prove his guilt?
To be more precise, Osama Bin Laden, a former CIA asset, was accused of terrorism by the very government that once supported him. On the face of it, this has about the same probative value as the accusations of an embittered ex-wife.
And do we really believe that there was any thought given to taking Bin Laden alive? Since when is assassination justice? Even lynch mobs sometimes go through the motions of due process — a “kangaroo court” — before stringing up their hapless charges.
But of course if Osama Bin Laden had been allowed to testify in court, the results might have been quite embarrassing to the US government that once supported him and the Israeli government that certainly had advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks that Bin Laden was accused of masterminding.
The assassination of Bin Laden might be seen as poorly timed, given that the United States is currently engaged in piously lecturing and bombing Muslim countries over “human rights.” But then again, when isn’t the US hypocritically scolding and killing other people over human rights?
White Americans apparently are to be hectored about decades-old lynchings of blacks (and only blacks) until we all go hang ourselves to make the voices stop. But Osama Bin Laden can be accused by the government that once worked with him, tried in the media, lynched with a hail of bullets, and dropped in the ocean, and Barack Obama thinks that “justice has been done.” This is the kind of stupid talk that makes people want to see Obama’s law school transcripts. You’d think that the product of an interracial coupling would be more sensitive.
Earlier on the same day, NATO warplanes tried to assassinate Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi who was visiting the home of one of his sons in Tripoli. Gadhafi and his wife survived, but his son Seif al-Arab Gadhafi and three of his children, ages six months to two years, were killed.
This is the second time that Gadhafi has lost a child to a NATO (read US) assassination attempt. In 1986, Gadhafi’s daughter Hannah was killed when Ronald Reagan had Gadhafi’s home bombed. In that case, Reagan was trying to show Gadhafi that he could not sponsor terrorism with impunity, and Gadhafi seemed to take the point. The lesson seems to have been lost on subsequent American presidents, however.
I remember the killings of Saddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay, as well as Qusay’s 14-year-old son Mustapha, in Mosul on July 22, 2003. The whole operation was staged like a mafia hit, and even discussed as such by military officials. An unnamed senior US military official in Iraq told UPI: “This is a very beneficial hit. They cannot feel anything other than doom, since if we can take down these guys, we can take down anybody.”
As I listened to the chorus of gloating from Bush and his flunkies Blair, Rumsfeld, etc., I had to wonder: If the 9/11 terrorist attacks meant anything, they meant that the United States is not invulnerable. Yet the entire course of America’s reaction to 9/11 was premised on invulnerability. Did George W. Bush ever give a thought to the possibility that if he went down that road, someday the enemy might retaliate, and Americans might be sifting his own daughters’ teeth out of ashes hoping to make a positive ID? Has the same thought ever crossed Barack Obama’s mind?
One of the most repugnant things about politicians are their little gentleman’s agreements not to assassinate one another. Instead, when they have conflicts, only the blood of the “little people” is to be spilled. But such agreements make perfect sense from the point of view of politicians. If they try to kill their opposite numbers and their families, their opposite numbers might try to kill them and their families back. And that is something they will not risk. Leaders do not regard themselves as expendable. And when leaders play by these rules, they prove that they really are leaders, not merely the expendable front men of hidden powers.
Thus, when heads of state start acting like terrorists, assassinating other heads of state and their families, you have to ask: Is it just hubris, a false sense of invulnerability that is begging for retribution, human or divine? Or are things not as they seem?
Can Gadhafi and Bin Laden be killed with impunity because they are just disposable flunkies rather than independent actors who can actually threaten to retaliate against their attackers?
Or is Barack Obama — who in one day has made himself the most hated man in the Muslim world twice over — himself just a disposable flunky, just a front man and a fall guy for the real killers operating with impunity behind the scenes?
Whatever the truth, I am upping my own security threat level to red, and I do not plan to fly in and out of Washington, D.C. and New York City for the foreseeable future.
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