Monday, May 9, 2011

Osama's death. One week later.

If you are sick and tired of listening to anything to do with Osama bin Laden, I recommend my short story from Saturday, "One Way to Stay Out of Jail." It has action, humor, and staying one step ahead of both cops and robbers.  Enjoy.

Now, onto this week ......

As more and more details leak out about Osama bin Laden's death, the situation becomes more, um, interesting.

I will, for the moment, ignore conflicting reports.  One report had Osama using a wife for a human shield. Another said he was simply shot outright, and the wife was still alive. We had help from Pakistan. Pakistan knew nothing about it. Pakistan supports our efforts, Pakistan threatens to blow us out of the sky if we ever do that again .....  One report by Eric Holder said that bin Laden's assassination was in "national self-defense." Bin Laden wasn't olding launch codes to a nuclear arsenal, and, to some accounts, didn't even have a weapon inside the mansion he was living in. If this was "national self defense," it must have been a "preemptive strike."  Or it was simply an assassination. So, we'll see exactly how the details shape up in the long run.

Fun Facts: Assassination

When I say assassination, I don't mean that as a derogatory term. There is a defense in Texas that is known as "he needed killing." I'm relatively good with that idea. I'm going to cry no tears for bin Laden. I personally believe all life is sacred up to the point when one person desecrates that sanctity. I don't care if you call it the code of Hammurabi, justice, revenge, or retribution (meaning "to repay," or "to pay someone what they are owed," or "payback"). My preference, as stated last week, is that we might have taken bin Laden alive. He had intelligence we could have found a use for.

However, I think justice was served. As I noted last week, Osama himself would have been put to death under Koranic law, if some people weren't just using it for their own convenience. And in a modern fashion ... where would we have put him? Solitary confinement in Guantanamo Bay for the rest of his life?  Maybe in general population somewhere in New York ...

Given those options, two to the head is the most merciful anyone could have been to him.

What is odd for me is the general reaction.  While it is not V-AQ day (as opposed to V-E or V-J day), I have the feeling this is as close as we're going to get. There will be no signing of a peace treaty with al-Qaeda, they keep saying as much.  So, the War on Terror will probably end with what's left of al-Qaeda hiding in the mountains in a few more years, and no one will notice.

German's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has taken fire because she was "glad" the mission was a success. Some Europeans castigated her because the attitude wasn't "Christian" -- which is odd coming from a continent that told Pope John Paul II to shove Christianity where the sun don't shine.  And they're obviously ignorant of Christianity, since St. Thomas Aquinas even admitted that there is an argument for tyrannicide. And since Osama was the tyrant of his own little terrorist empire, I'm thinking he qualifies.

Germany's Siegfried Kauder said "I would not have formulated it in that way. Those are thoughts of revenge that one should not harbor. That is from the Middle Ages."  So is Maga Carta, movable type, an a whole bunch of other nifty stuff. Call it the "Dark Ages" all you like, buddy, but ignoring everything that happened from the fall of Rome to Rousseau is to miss a lot of stuff. Then again, he also said it was against international law .... and that the UN should create international law.  When international law is created, Mr. Kauder, get back to us.

Even the Dali Lama said it was okay the nail the bastard.

Fun Facts: Waterboarding.

How many people has the United States waterboarded? With all of the political jabbering, I figured that the CIA must have waterboarded every last person in Guantanamo Bay, and every prisoner in Iraq, Afghanistan, and whoever we could kidnap.

The final number .... Three.  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.(The CIA says that KSM was waterboarded over 183 times. KSM himself says it was only 12 ... someone's math is screwed up.)

With a little research, I've discovered that nobody of consequence on the Right has argued that waterboarding, or any other form of coercive interrogation, should be even the first recourse in interrogation (or at all with legitimate prisoners of war). It's something in an interrogator’s toolkit for hard-core senior terrorist leaders, that's about it. And when I say nobody of consequence, I mean no one from the head of the RNC, down to friggin Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

The usual critics of waterboarding have insisted that the tradeoffs involved don’t need to be debated, because coercive interrogation never yields any information of any use in any situation....

By waterboarding in 2007, the US got the name of a certain bin Laden courier. It was by following this courier that the US was able to find bin Laden.
So, never say never.

I don't know if you've ever been waterboarded. It's simple. Basically, put yourself into a position where you are upside down, or at least slanted on an angle so you're close enough. Pour water down your nose. Not a lot, maybe an ounce or two. Breathe through your mouth. Congratulations, you've been waterboarded. I've waterboarded myself once, and possibly more than the time and water limit suggested by CIA guidelines. It sucks, but it's not lethal, and there is no possibility of drowning.
Yes, I waterboarded myself for research. I'm a little wierd.

Fun Facts: Iraq.
Okay, KSM was waterboarded into getting us the courier who we followed to Osama. Iraq was an utter waste of time ....
According to Wikileaks, there was a fellow named Hassan Ghul (does anyone else want his first name to be Naz?) who added the final bit of intelligence that led us to the courier, and to Osama.
Where did we get this Ghul?  Iraq.
Damnit, more politics.
I know I'm going to get branded as being a member of some sort of right-wing organization, be it the Taxed Enough Already party, the Republican, the Glenn Beck party, what have you.  I've made my political statement, so you can label me what you will.
I am a very traditional person.  You could say I follow the Geneva convention, which states that illegal combatants have no rights.  However, that is a position under the traditional rules of war. Anyone who works for the enemy, who operates in your terrotory, and does not wear a traditional uniform, used to be given the label of "spy," and was eligible for a quick ticket to the afterlife.  And I don't mean a trial, I mean a field execution.  The traditional rules of war made certain everyone played by the rules, because violation meant death.

During the Cold War, we developed the concept of spy swaps. Everyone came home alive. But that was during a non-shooting war, and, somehow, those rules have expanded to every aspect of war.
I've been told by people I respect, that the United States is the civilized country, therefore we should give terrorists trials, and all the rights afforded to US citizens under the constitution. Considering that every other country on the planet does not extend their rights to non-citizens, I think that's a little daft, but what the hell.
The problem is that we it is a historical oddity to give trials to soldiers for acts of war. War criminals, even in Nazi Germany, were mostly civilians, or operating non-military organizations. We tried people who operated death camps, not soldiers fighting against other soldiers.

Most terrorists are not soldiers. They are illegal combatants. Had the Iraqi army stood and fought during the Iraq war in 2003, they would have fought other soldiers, and no one would have been prosecuted for defense against an incoming army.... unless, of course, they spent their time under Saddam killing unarmed civilians, in which case, they were screwed either way.

But I'm the sort of person who waterboards myself for research, so I'm a different sort of daft.

Back to bin Laden a moment.
Can I at least be glad that we have checked Osama off the "to do list"? My first thought is more a matter of "About bloody time. We got the sucker. Whew."  Can I be glad that he won't be planning anything more? He won't be killing anyone else anytime soon? Assuming he's been doing anything lately? That this is the closest to justice he's ever going to get?

Though I am curious. How much of this exuberance is that he's dead, and how much is V-J day, 2011? How many are under the mistaken impression that his death means the end of every terrorist extremist psycho out there? Because that overblown rhetoric is the real danger. "Osama is dead, the threat is over." If that's the case, reality is going to become most unpleasant.  It's not V-J day. Or V-AQ day. It's a good start, though.

El-Alamein was the middle point of World War II, when things started to look good for the Allies. What Churchill said "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
The end of Osama is not the end. But this may, hopefully, be the beginning of the end.

And, while it will not be V-AQ day for at least a few more years, I suspect this will be the only time to have a party. Osama's death is a milestone. I'd have a party if he was captured. That he is taken off of the chessboard of the war is a reason for partying, no matter the method.

Osama is now a martyr.  But martyrs can't release video tape.


Last week Nancy Pelosi credited President George W. Bush for getting Osama bin Laden. 

He was castigated for allowing waterboarding.... It got the name of the courier.

He was castigated for taking his eye off the ball and going into Iraq. It gave the US the "linchpin" to getting close to the courier.

Nancy Pelosi is saying good things about George Bush.... It may be the end of the world.


  1. Technically, what I said was that we should've given bin Laden in particular (not ALL terrorists) the Adolf Eichmann treatment (abduction, public trial, execution) if possible ... and I conceded that it may not have been possible under the circumstances.

    But otherwise, yeah.


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