Monday, May 2, 2011

Too Much, Too Little, Too Late

Osama Bin Laden's death should be a cause for relief. The mastermind of 9/11 is gone. 
But I'm left with an uneasy feeling.

Firstly, as Jerry Haber points out it wasn't just the guilty who died. A woman was targeted and killed by the U.S. force.

Secondly, I heard several times in the media coverage interviewees using the phrase "justice has been served."

Well,  according to the Guardian report:
As the raiding party closed in on the last unsecured room in the compound, Bin Laden, who according to the White House had no weapon, was shot dead. US officials say – and there is no independent verification of this fact – he was shot twice, once in the chest and once in the head. "Done in by a double tap – boom boom – to the left side of his face," wrote Marc Ambinder of the National Journal, a beltway insider's journal.
That sounds to me like the execution of an unarmed man. Since the death penalty is controversial at best and Osama Bin Laden was not served with a legal process, how can this be called justice?

The New York Times offered a different angle:
Pakistani authorities, kept in the dark by their allies in Washington, scrambled forces as the American commandos rushed to finish their mission and leave before a confrontation. Of the five dead, one was a tall, bearded man with a bloodied face and a bullet in his head. A member of the Navy Seals snapped his picture with a camera and uploaded it to analysts who fed it into a facial recognition program.
Since, so far, the only source for this information as to what happened in the compound rooms has been the United States government, there is no way right now of verifying what actually happened.
I am suspicious of the argument that time was pressing. Clearly, there was enough time for:
1. the Navy Seal's picture
2. transmitting the picture, running the facial recognition program, making an evaluation and transmitting that through command to the Navy Seals.
3. removing Osama Bin Laden's body for burial at sea.
Why could the forces not have stunned him and removed him for interrogation and trial?
It is clear, even from President Obama's statements, that the U.S. goal was not justice but retribution by execution.

The scenes of people rejoicing at the news of the killing in Time Square and elsewhere are IMHO distasteful. I sincerely hope that President Obama did not order an execution to satisfy that sentiment.

If Osama bin Laden was too potent a leader to be taken captive and put on trial like Saddam Hussein, then we better put on our thinking caps fast. Let's figure out Osama's allure and fix that problem.
Killing him won't do it and there's no cause to rejoice until we do.

Already the U.S. and its allies are bracing for the inevitable counter-attack. If Osama Bin Laden was the figurehead of Al Qaeda,  he will not inspire his followers any less now that he is a martyr.

Lastly, we have lived through 10 years of disastrous U.S. policy in response to and justified by 9/11. These policies resulted in the killing of many more innocent lives than were lost on 9/11.
How can the death of Osama bin Laden make that right?

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