Monday, May 02, 2011

So Why Think?

Naturally I am elated over the killing of Osama bin Laden, especially after all these years. And like most everyone else I have been following the story on the news channels. So, even though I am highly pleased, I am also completely mystified. I had, as you probably remember, pretty much given up hope that George W. Bush would ever find bin Laden. Indeed, I suspected that he might even not want to find him, as he had been at one time apparently a CIA “asset” and perhaps still was. Now that he has been killed I guess my na├»ve conspiracy theory was wrong. Nonetheless, I still wonder about things. For example, I first heard on the news that there was a firefight in which bin Laden was a participant and got shot. I heard he was shot in the head. Later I heard he was shot in the eye. Still later I heard he was shot in the left eye and also in the chest. Then I heard he was shot twice in the left eye, while he was on the third floor of his compound, and he did not reach for a weapon. I am sure I did not imagine this, it is what I definitely heard on the news. Now if he was a participant in an actual firefight and got shot that is one thing, but if that is not what happened it is quite another thing. If he was not in a fight how did he get shot in the eye, or twice in the same eye? Is this even true?

This raises the question of why he was shot and killed rather than captured, if he was not actively engaged in the fighting, and if he did not reach for a weapon. Surely he must have been a repository for all kinds of important information about al Qaida, information that could be put to good use in our continuing “war” against them, which everyone acknowledges is not going to end with his death. At first I heard the order was to kill him outright, then later I heard there was an option and he could have been merely captured. So what was it? One story has it he was preferred killed because capturing him and bringing him to trial, and all that, would have lingered on for years and years, and so on, and thus would have been highly undesirable. This is, of course, a reasonable explanation. But another explanation could be (if you think about it) that he possessed information that the powers that be did not want revealed (I’m not really a conspiracy buff but I can’t somehow not at least entertain this as a possibility). If he had been a CIA asset at one time (during the Russian/Afghanistan war) he would have at least have had information about that period of time, the U.S. involvement, and so on. And if he continued to be valuable to the U.S. for some reason (even perhaps just as an excuse for the “war”) he would also have no doubt had other valuable information (it does seem to me that Bush, in eight years, could have located him had he truly desired to do so, it only took Obama a bit over two years).

There is also the question raised by his burial at sea. First of all, where he was killed is a long way from the water. They must have thrown his body quickly on a plane and headed straight for the ocean, so what was the rush? One explanation given is that according to Muslim belief a body has to be buried within 24 hours, and they did not want to offend Muslims. While their desire to not offend might be admirable, burying people at sea is not a Muslim practice, except perhaps in very rare circumstances where a Muslim dies when far out at sea and there is no other possibility (as I understand it Muslims are supposed to be buried in the ground with their heads facing east). Perhaps in our eagerness not to offend we just made a honest mistake. Another explanation has to do with their desire to make sure bin Laden would not have a recognized grave site or a shrine that could inspire people to visit there and celebrate his martyrdom. This makes more sense to me but, then, the question arises that perhaps there was something about his death or his body they did not want exposed (like, what if, for the sake of the argument, he had been shot once in the back of the head instead of once or twice in the eye). I am not trying to create a conspiracy on purpose, these are simply questions that arise because I think, so perhaps it is better not to think.

Finally, for the moment at least, there are questions about his residence. I have maintained all along that I did not believe he was living in a cave (at least I had that much right). The huge million dollar compound he was living in was apparently constructed five years ago, was eight times larger than any other in the neighborhood, and was only about a mile from the Pakistan equivalent of West Point (and apparently only about two miles from a golf course). It was also in one of the most desirable and upscale places in Pakistan to live, with many retired Pakistani Generals and other officers retired there. There is no way that local people could not have been aware of this, and no reason I can imagine why they would not have been curious about it. Indeed, this happened on Bush’s watch, at least two years prior to Obama’s Presidency, so where was the CIA then? Thus it is virtually certain that at least some people in Pakistan knew Osama bin Laden was living there but did not tell us about it. Now they claim they were in on the raid, but apparently were not, so if not, why not? This cannot bode well for U.S./Pakistani relations in the future.

I believe the basic story. The CIA somehow identified an important trusted courier and through following him located the compound where Bin Laden was living. By carefully researching the place they determined that it was, indeed, bin Laden who was living there. When President Obama was satisfied our intelligence was probably correct he rightly ordered an attack by the crack Navy Seals who performed with virtual perfection and successfully killed bin Laden, who was absolutely identified by his youngest wife and through DNA. What I find harder to believe is why was his whereabouts not discovered sooner, did he participate in the firefight or not, how many times was he shot, and where, why was he so quickly and strangely dumped into the sea (if he was), and why was he killed rather than captured if, indeed, that was a possibility. It is also the case that the Navy Seals will presumably never be identified, we will probably never know who it was that actually killed bin Laden, and if any photos are released they will probably be carefully selected. In short, we will almost certainly never know what really happened, so why bother to think about it at all? It seems increasingly obvious that the powers that be do not want us to think, even if we had the facts to work with.

1 comment:

Bubblehead said...

Why bury him so quickly, and at sea? Easy. We wanted to avoid having his gravesite be a shrine for jihadis. Had we not disposed of the body in an unrecoverable place before Monday morning U.S. time, some lawyer representing some distant bin Laden relative would have filed suit for possession of the body -- and they probably would have won.