Wednesday, May 04, 2011
So apparently we won't be seeing the face of Osama bin Laden with a very large hole in it. President Obama, during an interview with 60 Minutes, confirmed that the grisly image of a dead Bin Laden won't be made public.
I have to admit that I thought it was best that the photos -- all of them -- be shown to the world, but I certainly understand the reasons for not showing them. The tin foil hat crowd wouldn't have believed it anyway and there was always the potential that it would add fuel to an already flammable situation in regards to the remaining members of al Qaeda. I trust the White House at least enough to believe that we killed the right guy and that Bin Laden's personal reign of terror is now over, since Bin Laden himself is at the bottom of the ocean.
But apparently I'm naive if I trust the White House any further than that.
It took almost no time at all for the never-satisfied civil libertarians on the left to begin forging an alliance with the usual suspects on the right who will look for any albatross to hang around the neck of President Obama in the wake of the Bin Laden raid. Their common cause: the question of whether the attack on the Bin Laden compound in Pakistan and the shooting of Bin Laden himself amounted to breaking the law. It's actually kind of entertaining to watch Glenn Greenwald and Judge Anthony Napolitano essentially stake out the same moral ground, with Greenwald of course arguing that changes in the White House's initial story of what happened amounts to potential proof of more malfeasance on the part of the government -- particularly, the Obama administration -- and Napolitano wondering aloud if the next White House hit will be on Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.
Both of these assertions, while sound from the perspective of pure logic, are kind of horseshit when you stop thinking only academically and add the real world to the mix. The White House had no choice but to speak publicly and offer details about the raid in the hours after it took place; there is such a thing as a fog of war, as much of a cop-out at that may seem, so it's not the least bit surprising that the initial description of what happened was adjusted. What's worth noting is that the Obama administration "came clean" about what exactly those discrepancies were almost immediately -- obviously at a pretty good amount of personal risk. As for making the claim that killing the world's most wanted mass-murderer has the potential to set in motion a series of events that will lead to the eventual assassination, by Barack Obama, of "whomever is an obstacle to his purposes," done "on a whim" is all kinds of ludicrous.
First of all, setting aside the notion that the SEALs who raided that compound had no idea what to expect and likely had to assume -- barring his immediately throwing up his hands in surrender -- that Bin Laden was an imminent threat on principle, why wouldn't the government of the United States be entitled to take out a confessed terrorist mastermind who was waging an ongoing war against the American people? Bin Laden wasn't a head of state and he wasn't a civilian; he fell into what is admittedly a murky area in between, but doubting that he was an ongoing threat to this country and the world and that he wasn't your average criminal would've been obscene. Once again, I get that from a purely logical standpoint, a criminal is a criminal -- but that's kind of bullshit. Bin Laden was much more than a criminal. There's also an argument to be made that while making him a martyr had the potential to bring down the wrath of his followers on the United States, keeping him alive could easily have led to attacks here and around the world from those attempting to force Bin Laden's release. Sure it's a hypothetical, but everyone debating this seems to be dealing in quite a lot of those right now. Sorry, but in my mind the man was more dangerous alive than dead. Period.
And while I'm apologizing, I'll bring up something I wrote a long time ago in reference to another topic: I have only a limited reservoir of outrage and indignation when it comes to the various injustices going on at any given moment around the world. The amount of concern that I'm willing to allow to claw at the inside of my brain and leave me in a state of apoplexy adds up to a kind of zero-sum game, and so I have to ration it. I'm sorry, but I just don't have the time or the inclination to worry about whether the rights of Osama bin Laden were respected by the guy who put a round from an M4 through his eye. I simply have better things to do with my life. Sure, maybe that's just my emotional side talking -- but you know something? So what?