Obama Gets His Man

I have listened with incredulity to the celebrations and claims that justice has been done. What did Barack Obama accomplish by killing Osama bin Laden? To say that justice has been done is to smugly ignore all the reasons the man had a following. Muslims have legitimate grievances against the corporate empire. President Obama thinks killing in the name of crushing al Qaeda is justified because they are at war with the corporate empire. Who has killed more innocent civilians in that war? Ah, that question is not up for discussion, because the answer does not speak well for US pretensions to the moral high ground.

As usual, whatever the empire does in what it calls self-defense is automatically moral and justified, whereas whatever an enemy does in response is automatically immoral and unjustifiable. This double standard may seem perfectly logical to apologists for the empire, but it cannot change the fact that this adventure violated Pakistani sovereignty and international law. Obama said during his triumphal announcement:

…we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was.

It is amazing how US politicians can say such things with a straight face. Is USA not directly responsible for over a million dead Iraqis, most of them civilians? If Afghanistan were not so sparsely populated, its death toll would probably be comparable. Rewriting history is a common practice of politicians. Obama may not want people to remember this, from one of his debates with John McCain:

Nobody talked about attacking Pakistan. Here’s what I said.

And if John wants to disagree with this, he can let me know, that, if the United States has al Qaeda, bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out.

The preliminary news reports state that Pakistan was not even informed of the plan. People may think this is nitpicking, or that informing Pakistan would have put the plan at risk, since bin Laden obviously had friends there and might have been tipped off, but Obama had made that qualification for a reason. If Pakistan were unable or unwilling to act, there might be a case that invading its territory is not a violation of international law. Otherwise there can be no case; the drone strikes and this operation were aggressive acts against a sovereign nation, extrajudicial killings without a trial that are supposedly acts of self-defense.

It might be arguable that this operation was self-defense, if it really would bring an end to the war on terror, but all it has done is make a martyr of bin Laden. A leaderless group that wants revenge for the death of their martyred leader may be far more dangerous than before. Bin Laden may end up being seen in retrospect as a restraining figure on the mayhem that is now likely to break out. Under his leadership, most of the attacks were planned and coordinated. Without a leader, al Qaeda may feel it is open season to attack Western targets in myriads of ways that do not require planning or coordination. Needless to say, negotiating an end to the conflict has been made well-nigh impossible. People may think it was impossible before, but if USA had given a hearing to the legitimate grievances of Muslims, and been willing to negotiate in good faith to deal with those grievances, there could have been a chance. Bin Laden used to be an ally, and if he could have been satisfied that USA was willing to change its ways, he could have persuaded his followers to put an end to this war. Now there is nobody of his stature to play that role.

Congratulations, President Obama. The war on terror was already unwinnable; now it may well be impossible to negotiate an end to it. The empire will fall, and by that time, history may not agree with his assessment that this was a good day for USA, or the world. Revenge may feel good, but it rarely if ever helps bring an end to a war. Why would the President not seize this moment to declare victory and an end to the war on terror? Because he recognizes the threat has not been lessened. What he refuses to recognize is that the threat will never be lessened by military means, so if this could not be an opportunity to end the war on terror, there will never be a better one. It is impossible for military might to crush a resistance movement with legitimate grievances, because the actions taken to crush it constantly create more enemies and fiercer enmity.

Obama hopes this killing will intimidate and demoralize these enemies. This is a peculiar failing of reasoning based on the fragile male ego, as if this great victory will teach these enemies a lesson about what will happen to those who dare mess with USA. Fear does not quell the will to exact revenge. There is plenty of racist reasoning as well swirling around the rationale of the war on terror. Kola Boof, a Sudanese womanist who claims to have been a mistress of Osama bin Laden, told an amazing tale of how her story was disbelieved and attacked by whites.

In 2002 when the London Guardian newspaper outed my forced sexual relationship with terrorist Osama Bin Laden, the American media initially had no problem with revelations that Somi kept an Egyptian-Sudanese mistress in Morocco in 1996. My birth name, Naima Bint Harith, summoned visions of an Arab-raised aristocrat who they assumed would look like Cher. When they found out I was not only Black—but looked fully Black—and that I’d been adopted and raised by Black Americans in the United States and returned as an adult to North Africa as a model-actress, they immediately announced that I was less attractive than Prince Charles’ mistress Camilla Parker Bowles or President Clinton’s mistress Monica Lewinsky and that it couldn’t possibly be true.

Though I was featured in a two-part interview with MSNBC where I was billed as “Former Mistress of Osama Bin Laden,” and not alleged-former mistress, and was allowed to tell my story in my own words—Peter Bergen, supposedly the world’s preeminent Bin Laden expert, insisted I was making up the story and other American experts claimed that the billionaire “bin ladin” family had an upper class etiquette that would not allow an “overtly religious non-sexual” Arab Muslim Osama to have a Black mistress (yet two of Somi’s twenty-five children are black and his Syrian grandmother would be considered a Black woman in the United States). Connie Chung and her producers at CNN asked my lawyer point blank, “Why would a man of Bin Laden’s wealth and stature have a Black mistress?”

It was not without reason that bin Laden compared the war on terror to a Christian crusade. USA has no interest in understanding why he and his followers are willing to risk their lives to fight the empire. In the judgment of the empire, they are savages that must be crushed. There is no lack of racism underlying this war on terror. As half black, perhaps the President should know better, but whatever wisdom his mixed heritage may confer on him, he has suppressed it so well it might as well not exist.

Another example of racism was the claim that bin Laden was a coward, hiding behind one of his wives as a human shield. Reuters reported the White House has backed away from that story. One might wonder what was the purpose of spreading such a rumor. The spin machine never misses a chance to cast the enemies of empire as barbaric monsters.

Bin Laden resisted capture, using a woman thought to be one of his wives as a human shield as he fired back, several officials told reporters. Ultimately, he was shot in the head above the left eye and died almost immediately. (Reuters news service later reported that the White House was backing away from the story, with an unidentified official saying the woman was not his wife and was not used as a shield.)

6 Responses to “Obama Gets His Man”

  1. Aletha Says:

    Today it comes out Osama bin Laden was unarmed, but allegedly made threatening moves, so he had to be shot. Give me a break. This is from an AP story at the Canadian Press

    Bin Laden was unarmed, fueling questions whether US ever planned to capture him alive
    By Adam Goldman,Matt Apuzzo, The Associated Press – 2 hours ago

    WASHINGTON — Osama bin Laden was unarmed when Navy SEALs burst into his room and shot him to death, the White House said Tuesday, a change in the official account that raised questions about whether the U.S. ever planned to capture the terrorist leader alive.

    Panetta said that bin Laden made “some threatening moves that were made that clearly represented a clear threat to our guys. And that’s the reason they fired.”

    The question of how to present bin Laden’s death to the world is a difficult balancing act for the White House. President Barack Obama told Americans that justice had been done, but the White House also assured the world that bin Laden’s body was treated respectfully and sent to rest in a sombre ceremony at sea.

    Panetta underscored on Tuesday that Obama had given permission to kill the terror leader.

    “The authority here was to kill bin Laden,” he said. “And obviously, under the rules of engagement, if he had in fact thrown up his hands, surrendered and didn’t appear to be representing any kind of threat, then they were to capture him. But they had full authority to kill him.”

    For the long-term legacy of the most successful counterterrorism operation in U.S. history, the fact that bin Laden was unarmed is unlikely to matter much to the Americans he declared war against. President George W. Bush famously said he wanted bin Laden “dead or alive,” and the CIA’s top counterterrorism official once promised to bring bin Laden’s head back on a stake.

    Yet just 24 hours before the White House acknowledged that bin Laden had been unarmed, Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, said: “If we had the opportunity to take bin Laden alive, if he didn’t present any threat, the individuals involved were able and prepared to do that.”

    On Monday, the White House said bin Laden was involved in a firefight, which is why the SEALs killed rather than captured him. On Tuesday, however, White House press secretary Jay Carney said bin Laden did not fire on the SEALs. He said bin Laden resisted but offered no specifics. Bin Laden’s wife rushed the SEALs when they stormed the room, Carney said, and was shot in the calf

    “Bin Laden was then shot and killed,” Carney said. “He was not armed.”

    This makes no sense at all. What kind of resistance was seen as so threatening the SEALS felt they had to shoot to kill? Is the reason this information is not forthcoming because it is too embarrassing to admit the SEALS were trigger happy? This is justice? Many international leaders are stating they would have preferred to see bin Laden tried. This is from Reuters

    Should bin Laden have been captured and tried?
    By Erik Kirschbaum
    BERLIN | Tue May 3, 2011 2:51pm EDT

    (Reuters) – While many world leaders applauded the U.S. operation that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, there were concerns in parts of Europe that the United States was wrong to act as policeman, judge and executioner.

    U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder defended the action as lawful Tuesday, but some in Europe said bin Laden should have been captured and put on trial.

    “It was quite clearly a violation of international law,” former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt told German TV. “The operation could also have incalculable consequences in the Arab world in light of all the unrest.”

    Ehrhart Koerting, Interior Minister in the city-state of Berlin, said: “As a lawyer, I would have preferred to have seen him put on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC).”

    U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged the United States to give the United Nations full details about bin Laden’s killing. “The United Nations has consistently emphasized that all counter-terrorism acts must respect international law,” she said.

    In Brussels, European Union Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom wrote in a blog: “It would have been preferred to see Osama bin Laden before a court.”

    In Italy, former prime minister Massimo D’Alema, from the center-left opposition, said: “You don’t rejoice at the death of a man. Maybe if bin Laden had been captured and put on trial it would have been an even more significant victory.”

    That view was echoed in several newspaper editorials.

    Is it any wonder USA refuses the recognize the International Criminal Court? It would have to answer for its war crimes! Since Obama has steadfastly refused to prosecute officials of the previous Administration for their crimes, perhaps the ICC could step in to do the duty Obama is shirking. Obama will not allow that, because he is also guilty of war crimes.

    This is from the Ben Smith blog at Politico

    Fixing the narrative
    There are two straightforward goals in the White House’s narrative of Osama bin Laden’s death.

    First there’s a strategic imperative to cast bin Laden in the worst possible light. John Brennan, in describing him having allegedly used a woman as a “human shield” (something they no longer claim). It also described him as living in a “mansion,” which Garance Franke-Ruta notes was a bit of a stretch — though he was hardly roughing it. Brennan described how the story he was telling served the U.S. “narrative”:

    “Here is bin Laden, who has been calling for these attacks, living in this million-dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the front, hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield,” counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan told reporters yesterday. “I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years.”

    There may also have been an impulse to justify shooting bin Laden dead, and a weapon in his hands would have served that purpose.

    John Brennan apparently has no idea how ironic his words are. Just how false has the US narrative been over the years? If I had to say which narrative has more credibility, it would be a difficult choice, but I would say the narrative of bin Laden, while deplorable and sickening in many ways, has been far less disingenuous and hypocritical. He did not attempt to obfuscate his position, unlike Mr. Brennan and the whole political spin machine. The mainstream politicians and pundits are nearly unanimous in their praise for this “gutsy” operation, but then, USA has considered itself above the law for a very long time. American exceptionalism at work.

    There can be no honor or justification for shooting an enemy leader in cold blood. There was evidently no reason bin Laden could not have been captured alive. Officials are trying to make it sound otherwise, because they know bin Laden was killed for no good reason. What kind of threatening move could this unarmed man possibly have made that made it necessary to shoot to kill? This was not a healthy man, and I severely doubt he was an accomplished martial artist, able to overpower Navy SEALS with his bare hands! No, the President wanted him dead, so he sent in professional killers. Brennan said the SEALS were “able and prepared” to “take bin Laden alive,” if the opportunity presented itself. It did, but they killed him anyway. Why? Did he know too much?

  2. Aletha Says:

    Today the excuses for killing bin Laden were that the SEALS expected him to be wearing bombs, and that he may have been reaching for a nearby gun. The fact remains, if they really wanted to take him alive, they could have.

    Not everyone in USA is gloating over this assassination. This is from an AP story at the Washington Examiner

    When a terrorist dies, is it OK to gloat?
    By: JOCELYN NOVECK 05/04/11 8:28 PM
    AP National Writer

    When Hyojin Jenny Hwang wrote on Facebook that she was saddened by the sight of young Americans like herself jubilantly cheering Osama bin Laden’s death, the angry response was swift, even from friends.

    “One friend told me she felt judged for feeling happy,” said the 30-year-old mother from New Jersey. “And another one simply unfriended me on Facebook.”

    As the hours passed, though, and the initial giddiness settled a bit, Hwang, who says she feels strongly that a death should not be celebrated, received messages of support from people similarly unnerved by the scenes of euphoria. Those scenes have included chants of “USA! USA!” at the White House gates and ground zero; signs such as “Obama 1, Osama 0”; or T-shirts now available online, saying “GOT HIM!” and illustrated by a stick figure of a dead bin Laden.

    It’s one thing to be satisfied that the world’s most wanted terrorist has been killed by a U.S. Navy SEAL unit in Pakistan. But where does satisfaction end and gloating begin? It’s a question being posed online by ordinary Americans, religious figures, various commentators and several 9/11 widows. And it’s bound to be on President Barack Obama’s mind as he treads that fine line in a visit Thursday to ground zero.

    It was impossible to tell whether those Americans feeling uneasy with Sunday’s scenes of celebration were in the majority or minority; the few polls conducted since the news broke haven’t asked the question. But for three women who lost husbands on Sept. 11, the jubilant scenes were disturbing.

    Kristen Breitweiser said they brought back images of bin Laden supporters celebrating in the streets on that infamous day in 2001.

    “Forgive me, but I don’t want to watch uncorked champagne spill onto hallowed ground where thousands were murdered in cold blood,” she wrote Monday on The Huffington Post. “And it breaks my heart to witness young Americans cheer any death — even the death of a horrible, evil, murderous person — like it is some raucous tailgate party on a college campus. Why are we not somber?”

    Another 9/11 widow, Marian Fontana, wrote on Salon of how her son, Aidan, who was 5 when his father died, had gone to school on Monday and called at lunchtime, wanting to come home.

    “Everyone is talking about bin Laden. In every class, they are happy he is dead, but I don’t feel happy,” she said he told her.

    And Deena Burnett Bailey, of Little Rock, Ark., who lost her husband Tom Burnett, said she was struggling with how to talk to her teens about bin Laden’s death.

    “To say that I’m happy that he was killed just seems odd, and it goes against my Christian faith,” she said. “The girls and I were talking about it. … One of them said, ‘What can we say, Mom? We can’t say praise the Lord, he’s dead.’ I said, ‘I know. You just have to know that someone else made that decision, and that he will now stand before judgment for having killed so many people.'”

    Online, some Americans said they saw absolutely nothing wrong with Sunday’s outpouring.

    “If you cannot cheer about the demise of a truly wicked man who took so much from us, what do you celebrate?” asked Edward Hannigan, 45, of Chico Hills, Calif., editor of an online music magazine, on Facebook. In another post, he added: “I’m damn happy he’s dead. And on top of that, I hope it hurt. A lot.”

    But Donna Guhr, a waitress in Crestone, Colo., refused to cheer. “Out of ALL the people here in my town I’ve spoken with I only know two people who agree with the celebrating,” she wrote, also on Facebook. “Gives me hope.”

    In a follow-up phone interview, Guhr, 44, said she was concerned about scenes of the jubilation inciting retaliatory attacks. “He had a lot of followers, and they’re not getting any happier with us,” she said of bin Laden.

    She added that the celebrations made her recall a quote attributed to Gandhi: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

    Mr. Hannigan cannot imagine what could be celebrated, if not this? He needs to get a life! How about a birthday or holiday? Seriously, this article, and similar sentiments I have read, do give me some hope that the people of this nation are not all so bloodthirsty and vengeful as to think this assassination is something to celebrate. If bin Laden had been captured alive, even I might have celebrated, though I would still object to the violation of Pakistani sovereignty. Some are calling for Obama to withdraw from Afghanistan, or to speed up his timetable for getting out of there, but Obama will not change his strategy; he did this to convince people he deserves reelection, not to end the war on terror. The powers that be do not want to end that war; it serves their purposes and lines their pockets to keep it going.

  3. Aletha Says:

    The story gets stranger. A daughter of Osama bin Laden reportedly told Pakistani investigators he was captured alive, then executed in front of his family! This was from Al Arabiya, last Wednesday.

    Bin Laden’s daughter confirms her father shot dead by US Special Forces in Pakistan
    The official said a 12-year-old daughter of bin Laden was among the six children rescued from the three-storey compound.

    The daughter has reportedly told her Pakistani investigators that the US forces captured her father alive but shot him dead in front of family members. 

    Similarly, according to information Pakistani officials collected from detained persons, Osama was neither armed nor did inmates at the compound fire at the US choppers or commandos.

    “Not a single bullet was fired from the compound at the US forces and their choppers. Their chopper developed some technical fault and crashed and the wreckage was left on the spot,” a well-informed official explained. 

    Security officials said they did not recover any arms and explosives during their detailed search of the compound on Monday and Tuesday. Also, they said, it was a simple house comprising 13 rooms, six on the ground floor and the remaining on the first and second floors.

    There is so much contradictory “information” swirling around this story, who knows what to believe. However, if this is true, it might explain why the Administration cannot seem to get its own story straight. Was there a firefight? Did the SEALs have any reason to kill bin Laden, besides revenge? If the “capture contingencies” that Reuters reports are accurate, this is another example of USA creating conditions of surrender they know are impossible, so the decision to go to war will seem unavoidable. This was also done to justify dropping the atom bombs on Japan, more recently the destruction of the former Yugoslavia, and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Q: What was the purpose of the U.S. commando operation?

    A: Aides to President Barack Obama have suggested that the commando team’s orders were to either capture bin Laden or kill him. However, U.S. officials familiar with the plan say there was an overwhelming expectation from the outset that bin Laden would be killed during the operation.

    In planning the operation, a senior U.S. defense official told a background briefing, “there were certainly capture contingencies, as there must be.” But U.S. officials said that the “capture contingencies” related to a possibility thought to be highly unlikely: a humble and abject surrender, in which the al Qaeda founder would put his hands up, raise a white flag and beg not to be shot. There has been no evidence presented that anything like this happened.

    Of course that was unlikely. That was the idea, to create a scenario so unlikely that the failure of bin Laden to surrender in such a way would be taken as a green light to kill him. It has been reported that bin Laden was not given enough time to say much of anything, and was a white flag supposed to be within his easy reach? No, Obama wanted bin Laden dead. Taking him alive and putting him on trial would have been messy, and Republicans might have tried to make a case that Obama sparing his life showed he was soft on terror. Not to mention the thorny question of jurisdiction; since bin Laden was wanted for terrorist acts in several nations, it would seem the proper venue would be the International Criminal Court, which USA refuses to recognize.

    Interviewed on 60 Minutes, Obama stooped to the Robert Gibbs method of demeaning his critics. Gibbs said last August that people who say Obama is like George Bush “ought to be drug tested.” Obama said,

    Justice was done. And I think that anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn’t deserve what he got needs to have their head examined.

    All criminals, even war criminals, deserve a fair trial. Obama, like Bush, thinks he is entitled to be judge, jury, and executioner of whoever is deemed an enemy of USA. I wonder if that prescription was a threat. After all, the Teen Screen program bribes teenagers to have their heads examined, and if they are found to be “abnormal,” they are prescribed drugs to correct their “problem.” Does Helmut Schmidt need to have his head examined? What about people who think the death penalty is immoral, or who object to the cold-blooded assassination of an unarmed defenseless enemy leader? Oh, it is argued the SEALs could not know he was defenseless, weapons were within easy reach and he could have been wired to blow himself or the building sky high. One can make all kinds of excuses for killing an unarmed enemy, but bottom line, justice was not done; that was revenge, pure and simple. If justice is to be reduced to revenge, no wonder men are perpetually at war. The cycle of revenge does not end when one side thinks it should.

    This is from the Kansas City Star yesterday:

    Kerry defended the president’s decision to order the raid, and the shooting of bin Laden: “I think those SEALs did exactly what they should have done. And we need to shut up and move on about, you know, the realities of what happened in that building.”

    Uh huh. We need to shut up and move on, because the truth is that this raid was a violation of international law, and even accepting that USA had a right to conduct this raid, there was no need or justification to kill Osama bin Laden. That truth is too embarrassing, so people should just shut up about it.

    Perhaps these statements by Obama and Kerry were in response to questions from abroad. This is from Reuters:

    U.N. rights investigators seek facts on bin Laden death
    By Stephanie Nebehay
    GENEVA | Fri May 6, 2011 12:05pm EDT

    (Reuters) – U.N. human rights investigators called on the United States on Friday to disclose whether there had been any plan to capture Osama bin Laden and if he was offered any “meaningful prospect of surrender and arrest.”

    Principles of engagement in such operations require the possibility of surrender, firing warning shots and if necessary wounding a suspect, rather than killing him, they said.

    David Sirota wrote an article for Salon, calling for the release of the live feed, so the facts of what actually transpired can be known. Sirota takes apart the arguments that national security trumps the right of the people to know the truth, and lampoons the shifting story line which officials have shrouded in the “fog of war.”

    Another peculiar angle of this story is a doctored photo published by the Hasidic newspaper Der Tzitung, removing Hillary Clinton and Audrey Tomason, on the grounds that

    Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women.

    The editors go on to heatedly deny Judaism does not respect women.

    The Jewish religion does not allow for discrimination based on gender, race, etc.

    I wonder what “discrimination” means to these clowns. Orthodox Judaism is as sexist as any fundamentalist religion, and do not get me started on the treatment of the Palestinians.

    The propaganda machine is swinging into high gear, with the release of the bin Laden “home videos,” which are meant to cast bin Laden as a pathetic old man obsessed with his image. I think US officials are projecting their image obsession on bin Laden, and their attempts to portray bin Laden this way are pathetic. If this is hoped to demoralize his followers, it is far more likely to have the opposite effect. Obama says we do not need to “spike the football.” How can he say such things with a straight face? What kind of message does he think this propaganda effort is sending?

  4. Aletha Says:

    More nonsense issued from the lips of Attorney General Eric Holder. This is from the Irish Times

    Bin Laden killing was ‘not an assassination’
    The Irish Times – Friday, May 13, 2011

    LARA MARLOWE in Washington

    MORAL DEBATES prompted by the killing of Osama bin Laden continued to roil US politics yesterday when the attorney general Eric Holder said bin Laden’s killing was legal and “not an assassination”. Senator John McCain deflated claims from the right that torture led the US to bin Laden.

    The commando raid that killed bin Laden was a “kill or capture mission”, Mr Holder told the BBC. “It was not an assassination. If we could have captured him, if we could have taken him alive . . . we would have done.”

    Mr Holder added: “The opportunity to capture [bin Laden] never presented itself” and the navy seals who killed him “did what they thought was necessary and consistent with the law, consistent with our values.” If bin Laden “had indicated very clearly that he wanted to surrender, they were prepared to take him in that way.”

    But the US “had intelligence that perhaps he would have some kind of explosive device wrapped around him” and did not know what weapons were “potentially in the facility”.

    Asked whether the operation was legal, the attorney general repeated that it was “an act of national self defence”. Not only had bin Laden killed thousands of Americans on September 11th and “hundreds” of Britons in the London bombings, but the US was now learning from material taken from his compound “that in fact he was still intimately involved in the planning of other atrocities. And so the determination to conduct this operation was consistent with the law”.

    In Europe, prominent figures including former president Mary Robinson and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams have expressed regret that bin Laden was not captured and tried. In the US, Prof Noam Chomsky, film-maker Michael Moore and actress and radio talkshow host Rosie O’Donnell have been pilloried for expressing similar views.

    US authorities harbour no qualms about the manner of bin Laden’s death. “The one thing I didn’t lose sleep over was the possibility of taking bin Laden out,” president Barack Obama told CBS News in an interview on May 8th.

    “Justice was done. And I think that anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn’t deserve what he got needs to have their head examined.”

    How can these people say these things with a straight face? The opportunity to capture bin Laden never presented itself? It presented itself on a silver platter! The SEALs were not willing to take any chances, so they shot him in cold blood. Evidently the intelligence was faulty; bin Laden was not wearing any explosives, which should not have been that difficult to ascertain. What Holder meant by indicating very clearly the desire to surrender, I have already cited from Reuters:

    a humble and abject surrender, in which the al Qaeda founder would put his hands up, raise a white flag and beg not to be shot.

    Those conditions were meant to be impossible. The plan was to assassinate bin Laden, pure and simple. If he had begged not to be shot, would that be in a language the SEALs could understand? Would they care? Obama did not care a fig. He made the political calculation that killing bin Laden would be more popular among US citizens than capturing him, international law be damned. Obama is right up there with the most bloodthirsty pundits, pillorying anyone who dares to suggest bin Laden did not have to be killed. No doubt he would like to examine my head, so he could commit me to a mental institution! Is it any wonder I feel the need to keep my true identity secret?

    Meanwhile, the drone strikes on Pakistan have been stepped up. This is from Reuters

    U.S. intensifies drone aircraft attacks in Pakistan
    By Kamran Haider and Missy Ryan
    ISLAMABAD/WASHINGTON | Thu May 12, 2011 6:30pm EDT

    (Reuters) – A U.S. drone aircraft fired missiles at militants in Pakistan on Thursday, killing eight of them, Pakistani officials said, as American officials vowed to press forward with such attacks after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden in his Pakistani hideout.

    The third such strike since bin Laden’s killing on May 2 indicated an intensification of the attacks compared with the weeks before the al Qaeda chief was shot dead in the U.S. raid on a compound in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad.

    The U.S. bin Laden raid has embarrassed and enraged Pakistan’s military and worsened already strained U.S. ties.

    “There are absolutely no plans at present to cease or scale back U.S. counterterrorism operations in Pakistan,” one U.S. official said on condition of anonymity. “Efforts to thwart terrorism will continue.

    A drone fired two missiles at a vehicle in the North Waziristan region on Thursday headed toward the Afghan border, killing eight militants, Pakistani officials said.

    The CIA regularly launches attacks with pilotless aircraft at militants in Pakistan’s Pashtun tribal lands who cross into Afghanistan to battle Western forces there.

    The use of missile-armed Predator drones to attack militants has widened a diplomatic divide with Pakistan and sharpened anti-U.S. anger — but killed few senior militants.

    What are these drone strikes accomplishing, besides showing how tough Obama is on terror? Few senior militants have been killed? That means more faulty intelligence. Those drone strikes are supposed to be directed at high-value targets when there is actionable intelligence and Pakistan is unwilling or unable to act? The CIA and Obama do not care how bad the intelligence is; if there is a chance of getting one of the bad guys, it does not matter if mistakes are made or how many civilians are killed. Some militants may have been killed, but the civilian casualty count is far higher. No matter; that is supposedly unavoidable collateral damage of the fog of war. The point is, USA sees an opportunity to clean house, so it will take every opportunity to kill as many enemies as possible, hoping to cripple or at least demoralize them. This is in keeping with the promise Obama made, to crush al Qaeda. He may know his efforts will have the opposite effect, but in the world of political reality, it hardly matters what the actual consequences are. What matters in that world is how all this can be spun to his advantage.

  5. Aletha Says:

    US officials are puzzled by an unreleased audio message from bin Laden taken from the compound. It seems they want to believe bin Laden was so fixated on violence, he could not appreciate the relatively nonviolent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. This is from CNN

    Unreleased bin Laden audio message called ‘puzzling’
    By Pam Benson, CNN
    May 13, 2011 7:48 p.m. EDT

    The official said it is “puzzling” that bin Laden would “suddenly join the bandwagon on the uprisings,” months after they started and not mention all of the Arab nations in turmoil. For instance, the official said it was a “head scratcher” why bin Laden would not indicate his support for the uprising against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, a man bin Laden detested.

    “Why not try to inspire AQIM,” said the official, referring to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a regional affiliate.

    Since protests began across the Middle East, U.S. officials have said the movement undermined al Qaeda and offered an alternative to dissatisfied youth.

    “The revolutions in Tunisia and in Egypt and the protests elsewhere that are leading to reforms in a number of governments I think are an extraordinary setback for al Qaeda,” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on March 1. “It basically gives the lie to al Qaeda’s claim that the only way to get rid of authoritarian governments is through extremist violence.”

    Why is it not possible that Osama bin Laden could appreciate the overthrow of tyrants who were considered US allies? The method may not have been what he thought would be necessary, but is it not the result that counts? USA has a habit of underestimating its enemies and casting them as irrational monsters. Mr. Gates may like to spin the overthrow of these tyrants as setbacks for al Qaeda, but they could be more of a setback for USA. As for Libya, the al Qaeda branch there is presumably a small minority of the rebels, so bin Laden may not have wished to take sides. In Tunisia and Egypt the revolutions have ostensibly succeeded, at least insofar as the tyrant has been toppled. In the other nations, the outcome is very much in doubt. Perhaps bin Laden wanted to be on the right side of history, even though the revolutionaries did not have to resort to the tactics he espoused. I find it ironic that US officials are so puzzled by this message. It may not fit their image of bin Laden as evil incarnate, but rarely is a prominent resistance leader as shallow and inflexible as USA wants to believe bin Laden was.

  6. Aletha Says:

    President Obama has gotten another of his most wanted, US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. Some has raised questions about assassinating a citizen without due process of law. This story is from the New York Times

    Judging a Long, Deadly Reach
    Published: September 30, 2011

    WASHINGTON — The killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen struck on Friday by a missile fired from a drone aircraft operated by his own government, instantly reignited a difficult debate over terrorism, civil liberties and the law.

    For the Obama administration, Mr. Awlaki, 40, had joined the enemy in wartime, shifting from propaganda to an operational role in plots devised in Yemen by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula against the United States. Early last year, officials quietly decided that his actions justified making him a target for capture or death like any other Qaeda leader.

    But a range of civil libertarians and Muslim-American advocates questioned how the government could take an American citizen’s life based on secret intelligence and without a trial. They said that killing him amounted to summary execution without the due process of law guaranteed by the Constitution.

    That argument was pressed unsuccessfully in federal court last year by the American Civil Liberties Union and Mr. Awlaki’s father, Nasser al-Awlaki, a former agriculture minister and university chancellor in Yemen. A federal judge threw out their lawsuit, noting that the younger Mr. Awlaki had shown no interest in pursuing a claim in an American justice system he despised.

    On Friday, Jameel Jaffer, the A.C.L.U.’s deputy legal director, said that the drone strike, which killed Mr. Awlaki and another American, Samir Khan, violated United States and international law. “As we’ve seen today, this is a program under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process, and on the basis of standards and evidence that are kept secret not just from the public, but from the courts,” Mr. Jaffer said.

    The administration’s legal argument in the case of Mr. Awlaki appeared to have three elements. First, he posed an imminent threat to the lives of Americans, having participated in plots to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner in 2009 and to bomb two cargo planes last year. Second, he was fighting alongside the enemy in the armed conflict with Al Qaeda. And finally, in the chaos of Yemen, there was no feasible way to arrest him.

    Critics noted that the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states that no one shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” In ordinary circumstances, a trial and conviction would be required before government officials could order an execution.

    No public legal process led to Mr. Awlaki’s becoming the first American citizen to be placed on the C.I.A.’s list of Qaeda-linked terrorists to be captured or killed. Officials said that every name added to the list underwent a careful, if secret, legal review. Because of Mr. Awlaki’s citizenship, the decision to add him to the target list was approved by the National Security Council as well.

    It was, of course, Mr. Awlaki’s very American qualities — his fluency in the language and culture of the country where he spent half his life — that made him such a dangerous radicalizing force.

    The American-educated son of an American-educated Yemeni technocrat, Mr. Awlaki embodied the puzzle of radicalization: How could an American citizen reach the point of calling in eloquent English, via the megaphone of the Internet, for the mass murder of his fellow citizens?

    Unlike Osama bin Laden, whose convoluted Arabic-language Web messages struck many Western Muslims as foreign and strange, Mr. Awlaki’s unaccented English, sprinkled with colloquial Americanisms, often hit its mark. He leaves an ineradicable electronic legacy, on CD and on the Web, and for those drawn to jihad, his death in an American missile strike may give his story a new gloss of martyrdom.

    There goes the New York Times again, conflating radicalism with anti-US extremism. There was nothing radical about this man or his message. But radical is the popular epithet thrown at whoever is being attacked; Republicans call Obama radical, Democrats call Republicans radical, and both call Muslim extremists radical. Perhaps they wish to evade the true meaning of the word, which all of the above cannot countenance, because a true radical is no friend of the mainstream or extremism.

    Be that as it may, difficult circumstances do not create an excuse to do an end run around the Constitution. The purpose of freedom of speech is to protect the rights of unpopular minorities to have their say. Mr. Awlaki considered himself at war with USA, which supposedly made him a legitimate target. Where is the line drawn? The notorious COINTELPRO more or less conflated all dissent with treason. Mr. Awlaki could have been put on trial in absentia. This secret review is insufficient to justify an assassination in a free country. If the President wishes to acknowledge he has taken on executive powers more appropriate for a fascist state, at least that would be honest. It does not matter that Bush Jr. set the precedent; Obama was supposedly a constitutional scholar who would renounce unconstitutional executive powers. No, he wants to be seen as tough on terror, as tough as any Republican, so who cares about due process of law or what the Constitution requires before a criminal can be executed? It is claimed the war on terror changed everything, but did it change the Constitution? If USA must sacrifice its Constitutional principles in order to “win” the war on terror, the war is already lost; Osama bin Laden and his fellow travelers may have lost some battles, but they have won the war. Besides, as a strategic practical matter, creating martyrs usually backfires.

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