Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Letter to the NY Times

At this point I don't know what to think about the Bin Laden mystery. We're not hearing any denials from any of the witnesses. No one has come forward to dispute the identity of the wives or children who were present. They're showing videos of Bin Laden watching himself on TV. Al Qaeda has acknowledged his death, for whatever that's worth. (Normally any pronouncement from that quarter would be widely ridiculed but in this case everyone seems to be taking it at face value.)

I'm still puzzled as to why they felt they had to dispose of the body so quickly and I'm annoyed over Obama's unwillingness to release the photos, but on balance it looks like they actually did off the guy, and on balance I have to admit that it's OK with me. Only I wish they did it in a less cowardly and reprehensible way. I am moreover deeply distressed that they felt they had to kill others on the scene, who may or may not have shared his guilt to the same degree. Surely those people deserved a fair trial even if you want to agree that Bin Laden didn't. But most of all I am incensed that they lied about the incident, and lied in the most reprehensible possible way, by making cold blooded murder look like heroism.

Maureen Dowd has written a particularly disgusting editorial in the NY Times, entitled Killing Evil Doesn't Make Us Evil, and I felt obliged to respond. This is what I wrote:
Our soldiers killed an unarmed man in cold blood when they could just as easily have captured him. And by the way they also killed some other people, including a child. What was THAT for? Moreoever, our President lied about it, making it into some sort of heroic firefight when it was nothing of the sort. The was no "fog of war," so why was it so hard for those in charge to get the story straight? Looks to me as though the truth came out only after they reminded themselves that there were witnesses present. Guess they forgot to kill everyone on the premises, what an embarrassing oversight.
I'll never again believe another word this President or anyone in his administration says about anything. I voted for him once, but no more. And I have no use for you, either, Maureen. Killing evil may not be evil, but killing innocent bystanders for no reason is. And lying about it to make yourself look better is. Too bad you don't get it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

More reasons for doubting the official Bin Laden story

But first, I just discovered the following very interesting items on the 'net. From the NY Times:  Obama Says He Won't Release Photos of Bin Laden's Corpse. And from Citizens for Legitimate Government: CIA Denies Bin Laden Was Captured Before Killed. "The CIA categorically denies two stories coming out of Pakistan, sourced to bin Laden family members: 1) that Osama bin Laden was captured at the scene and then killed minutes afterward; this from his daughter. 2) that a second bin Laden son, Mohammed, was thrown on the chopper as it departed Abbottabad. "We categorically deny both of those," said a CIA spokesman."

Both stories, sadly, confirm my suspicions, as expressed in the previous post. And also my deepest fears, not only about what actually may have happened (which seems bad enough) but also regarding what all the conspiracy theorists are going to make of them and also what ordinary people all over the world are going to think. In short, this REALLY LOOKS BAD!!!!!

Here are my reasons for doubting the story they've put out:

First, we have to consider how unlikely it would have been for Bin Laden to choose that particular place to hang out. Even if he was under the "protection" of the Pakistani military, the man had a huge price on his head -- so why tempt some soldier who might spot him or get wind of his presence and decide to rat him out?

How could he possibly have entered that compound un-noticed? Did they find a tunnel? Not that I've heard. By helicopter? How many suspicions would that have raised? It's a military site and they have checkpoints everywhere. People have to present ID. We're talking about a 6'5" Arab whose age is known. How does he get past the guards? Even assuming they've been bribed, how do you risk even one of them deciding to blow the whistle and collect millions in reward money?

How could they be sure they weren't being deliberately set up? Suppose Bin Laden hatched a plot to make it look like he was there, complete with "wife" to rush to "his" defense and then ID "him." They said his "wife" called out his name. What would she have said? "Get out of here Osama Bin Laden, they're after you"? Isn't that a bit wordy? Did any of them speak Arabic? Could they even understand what she said? If it's a setup then it's a great one. Either the mission fails and they have to admit an embarrassing mistake. Or the mission "succeeds" and they manage to convince the world he's dead when he's not. Clearly a win win for Bin Laden and a disaster for the rest of us.

Also, how do you claim he was IDed by his wife? If you don't know the guy's identity then you don't know the "wife's" identity either. Who IDed the "wife"?

We learned recently from Panetta what I'd already suspected (see yesterday's post): they actually had no evidence whatsoever that Bin Laden was on the premises. They were operating on a hope and a prayer. Chances of failure were awfully high, as were chances of a major embarrassment. Somebody stuck his neck way out there and it looks like that somebody might well be trying really hard to cover his ass with a raft of lies.

So what if it's a "Muslim custom" to bury the dead within 24 hours. Show me a directive from any branch of the US military insisting that all Muslim combatants killed on the battlefield get buried within that time frame. Suddenly this is official US policy? If you want to convince us then prove it. Show us the directive.

If they were looking for OBL and he was unarmed, as they now admit, then the first concern would be to identify him, NOT shoot him in the head and blow half his brains out. So the story I've quoted above, which is apparently coming from his "daughter," rings true. If they actually found someone that resembled Bin Laden, they'd have photographed him and sent the photos off for identification. They'd have then taken a blood sample. And they would have held this person until they were sure it was actually him. Once he's been IDed, and if it actually was him (which I strongly doubt) then a decision would have to be made whether to hold him for trial or simply execute him on the spot. There's NO WAY they'd have decided to immediatly get him on board a boat and bury him at sea, that makes no sense at all. Unless it's not really him, in which case it does make some (twisted) sense, because if it's not him, you and your buddies are guilty of murdering those people on the first floor (remember them?). And if it IS him, then the first thing you want to do is make sure the rest of the world accepts that it's him by encouraging an independent autopsy and DNA testing by independent agencies. All we have at this point is the word of the (ever-(un)reliable) CIA. How convincing is that?

I feel sure they have photos. Of some guy who maybe looks a bit like Bin Laden, but isn't him. The photos probably reveal no wound, because they would have been taken prior to executing the poor guy, for identification purposes. How do you identify a face with a huge hole in it? And why take a picture after you've done such an awful deed? As proof of your guilt?

I've been defending Obama up till now because I've always been convinced of his basic honesty. But now I have doubts, because by now he has to be extremely suspicious, and he has to have seen whatever photos were taken. But I suppose he sees that it's too late now to back down and confess that, "Hey folks, maybe we goofed. Maybe it wasn't Bin Laden after all."

And I'm sorry, but this is the 21st century folks, and we've been subject to all sorts of violent images for many years now. I remember seeing a horrible photo in the National Enquirer of Jayne Mansfield after her auto accident, with most of her brains hanging out. I remember seeing a large gathering of high school students, fascinated by the video of Daniel Pearl being beheaded, as transmitted via a school computer. I couldn't watch, but they did.

So when Obama tells us it would be "inappropriate" to make public the one piece of evidence that might be used to confirm the story he's putting out, I have to confess: I cringe.

Some Bin Laden Scenarios

I've been trying very hard to find some way of making sense out of the Bin Laden stories emanating from the White House and sorry, but they don't make sense. I say this with a large measure of distress, because, first of all, I badly want to believe justice has been served and Bin Laden has been taken out. By whatever means, that's fine with me. Secondly, the last thing I want to do is encourage the usual conspiracy theorists, especially the wide-eyed and poorly informed "9/11 Truth" believers, whose ideas about the 9/11 attacks border on lunacy and are clearly the result of mass hysteria.

So let me make myself clear from the start. NO, I do not think this is a government conspiracy. NO, I do NOT think it has anything to do with 9/11. NO, I don't think the Jessica Lynch story of Bin Laden hiding behind his wife and firing on the Seals, who then heroically took him out in self defense, was concocted by Barack Obama as part of some effort to make the event seem more heroic or to help him get re-elected. My reason for rejecting that possibility is that Obama isn't stupid. Contradictory reports make the whole thing sound suspicious (which it certainly is) and thus have the potential to be a huge embarrassment for the administration, which is going to have a lot of explaining to do after all the celebrating has died down. After all he's been through with the "birther" nonsense, Obama has to have been extra concerned with fomenting yet more conspiracy theories, so conspiring to lie in such an obvious way would have been the last thing on his to-do list.

So NO, I do NOT think Obama is evil. NO I do not think he's duplicitous. However, YES, I DO think he's naive and easily manipulated. But you knew that already, if you've been paying attention to how easy it's been for the Republicans to play him since he took office.

I have no interest in producing yet another conspiracy theory, especially since I don't think there was a conspiracy, at least not a conspiracy of the usual sort. I see it as more of a fiasco, followed by some fumbling attempts to save face. However, I do NOT think we are getting the whole story and I DO think something went very wrong with what must have already been a pretty lame plan to begin with. Here are some scenarious that DO make sense, at least more sense than what the White House has been putting out:

1. The CIA get some information from the usual dubious sources and on the basis of totally circumstantial evidence (they admit this) decide there is a chance Bin Laden is living in a certain compound in Pakistan. With White House approval they send in the Seals, who engage in a firefight, then make their way to the third floor, where they encounter an unarmed male who might or might not be OBL. They take him into custody unharmed, take photos, electronically mail them to CIA headquarters, where it is determined that a. it IS Bin Laden or b. it is NOT Bin Laden. Assuming a. for the moment, they summarily execute him, presumably as ordered, and arrange for a rapid burial at sea, since an autopsy would reveal the manner in which he was killed. They concoct a story about him having a weapon and resisting, rather than having to admit he was executed.

2. Same as above, except it turns out NOT to be Bin Laden. In this case, a decision is made to execute him anyhow and tell the President and the world that it WAS Bin Laden, since telling the truth would be enormously embarrassing. He has to be buried at sea because otherwise their deception would be revealed. This would have to have been a CIA decision because it was the CIA that would have verified the phony DNA match.

In neither case would they be able to produce a photo of a man with a hole in his head, because it's very unlikely that an unarmed man would have been shot immediately, before his identity could be verified. That makes no sense, as I see it. And after they executed him there would have been no reason to take a picture. So if you see a picture of Bin Laden with a bullet in his head, you'll know I'm wrong. And I'll breathe a huge sigh of relief, because I really want to believe their story, whether it makes sense or not.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Botched Operation?

You'd be hard put to find anyone anywhere in the world who's less of a conspiracy theorist than I am. Imo the "birthers" are complete idiots, and I've had very disturbing disputes with people whose opinions I thought I respected over the "911 Truth" movement, which is even more idiotic. I never took much interest in the JFK assassination theories, though I do think it possible that more than one person was involved. And I have no use whatsoever for those who so badly want to believe that "aliens from outer space" with flying saucers have somehow invaded Earth. 

Nevertheless, there are some things that really bother me about the reports surrounding the Osama Bin Laden assassination. What bothers me most is the fact that his body was so quickly buried at sea. I also wonder at the practically instantaneous DNA  results, which look extremely suspicious, because identifying DNA is a science and not a magic trick. And now, hearing the reports coming from PBS, I see NO indication that anyone had actually identified OBL prior to the attack.

Given the riskiness of this operation, and what was at stake were it to fail, one can't help but wonder whether those involved might have decided to make their mission more "successful" than it actually was by claiming just a bit more certainty than the evidence warranted. The great question for me is: was our President actually so stupid as to order such a rapid disposal of the body at sea? or was this a decision made on the spot by those claiming to have assassinated Public Enemy Number One?

Also suspicious is the report that he was shot in the head. Meaning that the photographic evidence, if it will ever be released, may well be far from definitive. Why shoot him in the head anyhow? Snipers are trained to aim for the center of the chest, the easiest target and also the most effective.

Sorry, but there is something about this incident that bothers me. As much as I hate the idea of encouraging conspiracy nuts, I'm afraid I have no choice. If Bin Laden was NOT where they thought he was, and some relatively innocent people had been killed, then there would have been a huge temptation on the part of the assassination party to play games with the evidence. If Obama insists the body was disposed of at his order, I'll back off, because I trust the guy to tell the truth. If otherwise, then I just don't know what to think . . .
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