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May 3, 2011

America wrestles its conscience post-bin Laden

Hillary Clinton stood shoulder to shoulder with Kevin Rudd earlier today in Washington, two life-long opponents of the death penalty, praising the extra-judicial killing of an unarmed man. But it changes everything when it's Osama bin Laden.

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Hillary Clinton stood shoulder to shoulder with Kevin Rudd earlier today in Washington, two life-long opponents of the death penalty, praising the extra-judicial killing of an unarmed man.

But it changes everything when it’s a very, very bad unarmed man named Osama bin Laden.

“It’s critical that this man, this murderer, was brought to justice,” Rudd declared, adding his appreciation for the Navy SEALS who gunned down the terror leader who claimed responsibility for 9/11 almost 10 years ago.

There was no grave tone or conscience gymnastics to be found the night before as thousands of mostly young Americans gathered in front of the White House to holler and shout “Obama got Osama; USA, USA, USA”.

It started with just a few local students posting pictures of themselves to social media sites and grew into an epic frat party lasting well into the dawn. Capitol police let slide the slabs of beer cans that turned up sometime after 2am.

By dawn it seemed the nation was dealing with a hangover. After the jubilation came solemnity. Too many “what happened” and “what next” questions remained unanswered but some struggled to get past the actions closer to home.

“Osama killed thousands of Americans and it’s great that he’s dead, but celebrating is wrong,” a George Washington University law student told me on the streets of DC after ringing her mother to describe the early-morning clean up efforts.

So too it became clear America had spent the last month obsessed over a birth certificate while Obama held five national security meetings and agonised over whether the circumstantial evidence about the Abbottabad compound’s occupant was reliable.

The tick-tock of the situation room shows Obama was no gun-slinging cowboy president. Given odds that were by no means certain, he asked his team for their opinions, rejected the air strike first proposed by military officials, and eventually made a choice that half of America didn’t think him capable of.

White House chief counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan was reluctant to justify the tactics used in the raid when he held court in place of today’s daily briefing.

There was a plan to take bin Laden alive if he surrendered willingly, Brennan confirmed, but didn’t elaborate on how many seconds that plan was given before the target was killed. He also confirmed bin Laden’s youngest wife was the female caught between the SEALs and their target, and ultimately killed. Brennan would not confirm his own hints that bin Laden had deliberately used her as a human shield.

The troubling question of how Pakistan was unaware of bin Laden’s location so near its capital was left hanging like a WMD inspection over Iraq.

“No country has captured as many terrorists as Pakistan,” Brennan told the briefing, as if the definition of terrorist was unquestioned. But then he turned the screws with the claim that the US ensured the operation was “respectful” of Pakistan sovereignty, although they told them nothing and had no permission to be there. How the operation could be construed as in keeping with international law is not clear.

It was former vice-president Dick Cheney who first linked the now-proven intelligence to the controversial water-boarding interrogations in a rapid audio-only interview on Fox News: “I assume enhanced interrogation techniques we put in place lead to some information that lead to his capture, but I’m not sure. It’s important to keep in place those policies.”

That torture link was validated, if not exactly confirmed, by administration officials who linked the info to Guantanamo and the WikiLeaks Twitter account, which identified the courier and location in the recently released Guantanamo files.

In a perplexingly rare moment, given the sudden patriotism, all the US networks allowed civil libertarians a crack at the government, asking: “If Bin Laden is dead, can we have our rights back?”

A resounding “no” was heard from both current and previous administration officials to the likelihood of any freedoms being returned. Homeland security officials echoing Obama in saying vigilance must be maintained, and Osama bin Laden was just a single head of the Al Qaeda hydra.

Hillary Clinton could hardly contradict her administration colleagues, as she stood, world weary, next to Rudd and gave one last call for international unity against violence. Presumably she means the violence not originating with American weapons and American policy.

Rudd too, held the line, confirming “without reservation” that the death of bin Laden would have no impact on the timetable, scope or commitment of Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan.

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102 thoughts on “America wrestles its conscience post-bin Laden

  1. glengyron

    Regarding whether Osama bin Laden was armed CNN says this:

    A senior administration official said later that the woman who died was not bin Laden’s wife and may not have been used as a human shield, as originally reported. Nor did bin Laden have a gun, as earlier reports had indicated, the senior official said.

    Bold added for emphasis.

    Personally it sounds like a reasonable shot to me, given there was a clear an present danger of bombs / booby traps.

    To survive Osama would have needed to unconditionally surrender. He didn’t do that. They shot him. I don’t see the moral quandary.

  2. Fran Barlow

    One can speculate that if it is possible to surround and thus isolate a compound, then it must surely be possible to attack the water supply with some narcotic agent — causing drowsiness in those dependent on the water. Perhaps one might have attacked the compound with tear gas, putting the defenders at a serious disadvantage. If one were really keen to take them alive, this must surely have been possible. Even if it hadn’t worked, the areas was cordoned off, and Plan A would still have been an option.

    One suspects that the US had every reason to deny him an opportunity to say where the bodies were metaphorically as well as literally buried. That would have been embarrassing and not nearly as existentially satisfying for the hometown jingoes.

    It’s doubtful that the US will furnish the information required to evaluate the matter with confidence. Perhaps they had no good alternative, but one strongly suspects that whether they did or not was moot.

    While I’m glad OBL is no longer at large, I don’t see his death as a good thing. Certainly if dead or at large are the only options,then his death would be preferable but I’d prefer that he’d been captured and taken to a neutral and secure venue for trial. He was not just a criminal but someone with knowledge of a substantial criminal network.

    Most importantly, a trial would have given some of his victims — prominently Muslims — a chance to confront him before the world and deprive him of at least some of his standing. His death will ensure that useful information about his confederates will remain hidden and he will acquire a martyr status that he ill-deserves.

    It’s not clear yet whether his death was unavoidable — a mere matter of exigency — but it never occurred to me that if he was truly at large and US forces came across him that they would let him live. His information on the period of the US-led resistance to the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the origins of Al Qaeda and the role of the ISI would have been most interesting.

  3. MLF

    I liked the message that came out of the Vatican today: it said that while it might be good that someone who does great evil is no longer with us, we should never rejoice in the violent death of any person, no matter how evil they are.

    Jim, amen to that.

    As predicted in the first 5 seconds after hearing the news, the Crikey True Believers are out in force.

    As stated yesterday, the reason for the US excessive celebration (and also as predicted, the early and sombre hangover) was not so much that a man had been killed but that there was a sense of justice served, not only for 911 but also for Yemen, WTC1, Bali, 7/7 etc. If you haven’t experienced it you don’t know and it is not appropriate for you to judge others for their instinctual – albeit distasteful – reaction.

    I’ll get in early and say no, it does not make the Iraq war right. Repeat, Iraq = illegal. Bush = bad etc. Phew.

    For all you FP2100 True Believers, I do hope the US returns to its state of isolationism. With 100% of my heart I hope they say bugger you lot, we’re keeping ourselves to ourselves. Remove all the troops, warring and peacekeeping, and send em back to the Alamo, that’s what i say. And then just hope and wait and pray with our fingers crossed that everyone does magically become happy and loving and tolerant to each other. Surely the only thing standing in the way of a peaceful and loving world is America, right? Right.

    p.s. Michael Crook, there are laws against what you are implying. I’m just saying…

  4. almightynassar

    Far out, all this extreme left-wing bullshit…. we, as a society, believe in innocence-until-proven-guilty. We as a society believe that murder of another law-abiding civilian is wrong. We as a society believe in free-speech and democracy and the equality of every person.

    Osama Bin Laden and other terrorists do not believe in our society. They scoff at our laws and values. And they actively try to deny us what we believe are our rights through acts of terrorism. I say what we **BELIEVE** are our rights because without the protection that society offers us at large they are just that; beliefs.

    In the REAL world there are no universal metaphysical law of ‘innocence-before-proven-guilty”. Just because we in the West believe in it does not mean everyone else in the world will. In the REAL world there is no cosmic enforcer of right and wrong; without social constructs of justice any man can have what he is strong enough to take. And this is what the terrorist believe; that they are strong enough to enforce their will, their way on the people through whatever means possible.

    Yes, the invasion into Iraq was done for the wrong reasons. The invasion into Afghanistan had the unnecessary use of weapons with large AOE to kill a small number enemy units (with civilian casualties). Information gathered through torture should always be considered unreliable and wrong. A lot of bad things were done and we should feel guilty for them. But I will never be told by an armchair, left-wing analyst that I should feel any sympathy or guilt for the treatment given to someone who went to war to deny me or anyone else their freedom.

    tl;dr… that the terrorists do not subscribe to our sense of justice (and would not administer our justice to us if we were subject to their power) and set about to deny us this justice. Hence, the terrorists should not expect that our justice should apply to them (which we did anyway when we gave Osama a chance to surrender, so I am still perplexed what the left-wingers are whinging about).

  5. Iskandar

    What further proof is needed that the US of A has reached the pits of depravity and moral decay than this latest act of military violence and its immediate aftermath? The footage has now been seen around the world of so-called American youth howling like a pack of baboons on heat whilst celebrating murder by belching, leering and sucking on tubes of Bud. Yes, murder; what else can you call the act of breaking in on a man asleep with his wife and shooting them both dead in a spray of high-power machine gun fire?

    And then the spectacle of the most discredited collection of recent political scoundrels, Bush, Cheney, Blair, and a certain unctuous, slimey rodent formerly PM of this country, gloating over this latest bloodfest as if they weren’t soaked in blood to their nostrils already. Add to this the current PM and foreign minister, once members of a party of progress, now collaborating, and confirming that it has become just Another Liberal Party. And further add to this the hysterical sensationalistic shrieking of the media, then sadly, western culture as a whole has fallen into disgrace.

    Now, Bin Laden, if it was indeed he, no doubt lived in expectation of such an ending. He was no angel, but had an agenda that was easy to understand. He was first and foremost an Arab nationalist who was enraged by the presence of foreign armies on the soil of his homelands, particularly when it is no secret that those armies are there only to support the exploitation of the oil reserves of those homelands. He sacrificed his personal wealth and ultimately his life in support of actions to drive those armies out. Does this make him a terrorist? To his opponents of course, yes. But as they say, one mans terrorist is another mans freedom-fighter, as was Bin Laden so regarded as long as his targets were the Soviet invaders in Afghanistan. When the Anglo-Americans became the invaders, he in turn targeted them, and in this context 9/11 and other attacks against the west are just reflections of the west’s militarism in the Middle East.

    Sadly, I no longer believe that our political and cultural leadership possesses any wisdom, or has any intention of breaking the cycle of violence. Militarism and celebration of blood, death and destruction is so entrenched as holy, that I fear a bloodfest, in the second decade of the 21st century as in the 2nd decade of the 20th, is about to begin. I hope I am wrong.

  6. Elan

    47 email notifications! This joint is really jumpin’ !!

    We are equals here and everywhere in my view. We all have our stories; our beliefs; what motivates us. It just seems to me that I should (again? I’m unsure?), put up a disclaimer:

    I am Anglo-Pakistani. My Papagi was Afghan. My mothers culture Pashtun.

    I have been asked so many times if I would like to go back to Pakistani. The answer is always the same. No. The Pakistan of today is not the society in which I spent a large part of my childhood.

    Neither would I ever return to Afghanistan. It has been destroyed by invaders for a long time now. (And before you start smoking up the keyboard,-I am of the sad resigned belief that Afghanistan must be left for its Warlords to fight it out for themselves—as they have done for an even longer time).

    I won’t debate my personal situation. It isn’t the focus here. But I raise it, because some may think that it influences my position/comments.

    It does not. I have contempt for the human race as a whole!! I mean that. I am thoroughly sickened by the concept that some are ‘allies/liberators/protectors’ aka: the USA. Others are ‘terrorists/invaders/….just yer’ general all round evil nasty guy’ aka: UBL….and of course what we were educated to believe: that the former USSR was a nasty pasty, and the USA…….

    Walter Raleigh wrote:

    I Wish I Loved The Human Race
    I wish I loved the human race,
    I wish I loved its silly face;
    I wish I liked the way it walks;
    I wish I liked the way it talks;
    And when I’m introduced to one,
    I wish I thought “What Jolly Fun!”

    Onya Walt!!!!

    I started to question the ‘official’ line over 50 years ago. It astonishes me that those with even a modicum of intelligence do not also do so. It astounds me that there are those on this topic, and others on this subject, who continuously push the hero/villain scenario. Who get totally worked up because they simply cannot countenance that the US Administration is NOT a global hero. It is beyond comprehension that there are still those who simply refuse to see that the USAdm (condemning a whole people is profoundly wrong), is responsible for its own tarnished image globally. They even refuse to see that its image is tarnished!!

    They attack the ‘Left’, they make increasingly outlandish statements about anyone who dares to question the behaviour of the USAdm.

    This is the zealotry that they are so against in others. Yet they have no problem espousing their view in this manner-because it is the Right of the Might.

    Now that those ghouls in the White House so clinically watched this murder-yes MURDER (our ‘heroes’ are as capable of it as our ‘enemies’), they should have no further objection to the release of Collateral Damage or any other footage….

    What sickens me most of all is not that these ghouls watched this killing,-but that the first picture they released to The World was the picture of them sitting watching the killing!

    The release of that picture demonstrates the most spectacular arrogance. The arrogance of power and control.

    Again: I am hugely cynical and hold no one as good-as opposed to bad. I am not influenced by my mothers culture, neither my fathers British military….in which I also served.

    Patriotism/Nationalism is dangerous. I have no time for it. I have no interest in flags. I care only that human rights abuse/genocide must be prevented. That is the role of a Defence Force. It must be achieved with as little loss of innocent life as possible. (NOT as ‘collateral damage’…dismissed as “nice”).

    Finally, I reiterate: the USAdm should have no further objection to the release of footage of their ‘engagements’, because they will release footage of this assassination, they have something to prove..

    I look forward to discussing this with the usual people. Indirect referral to what I have written will not stop me from referring directly back to you…..

  7. Elan

    As I said RW, I’m a cynic. I took out paid membership of Crikey this week (with some techno glitches that had me in utter meltdown because they came at the same time as two other major problems!).

    I have steadfastly refused to ‘pay to view’. I did so here because in Australia there is little Press that leans to the so-called Left. The US has quite a few influential commentators (Stewart/Colbert) to provide a balance. Oz has little to none. It thus became a worthwhile investment. Any independent media does not have the resource of its mainstream counterparts, so that was another factor.

    Undoubtedly another thing influenced my decision; (within the legal perimeters) Crikey puts up with me!! If one is strong/opinionated,-as I am, then many sites/forums, no matter how much they espouse a ‘fair balanced’ forum;-are nothing of the kind!! I belong/ed to an international group of women who referred to themselves as the ‘Banshee’s’ . Geddit?

    We stood proudly on our bannings!! IF a site is truly balanced, then you will find that banning posters for the most spurious of reasons…does not occur. I don’t know if anyone has bitten the bandust here,-but I’ll bet it is negligible. It is so because this place is not vulnerable about its focus.

    I LOATHE to get moderated, so this ain’t no appel 4 da teecher! I’m saying that the definition of a troll might be: someone with whom we disagree strongly??

    Those on the more Conservative/conservative side of politics/philosophy are an integral part of any discussion/debate/argument, as vicky verky.

    I’m saying don’t go kiddo. This is par for the course on a forum that MUST allow all views.

  8. Citizen 211

    You are correct Elan, (as opposed to Right), we need to keep these ‘rightys’ under control. I am sure given your stated background that you have a much better understanding of what is going on than probably most of us put together.

    I also agree that a world devoid of any type of violence would be a great place to live. I am sure we would be hard pressed to find anyone that I think would disagree with that view.

    However, we are all human and that condition alone means that there is no doubt 6.8 Billion different views and realities out there all probably wanting something resembling a similar nirvana but with a differnt idea on how to get it.

    Out of that 6.8b they are mostly made up of good people; many un-sung heroes; a few great leaders and visionaries and no doubt a bunch of individuals with nothing but ‘evil intent’. And no doubt even some of those to be considered to have ‘evil intent’ probably truly believe that they are on the side of rightousness.

    Our dilema is how to tell these people apart? It would be great if there was some type of ‘stamp’ on their forehead that flashed red when they were moving to the ‘dark side’ and green when they had ‘caring thoughts’.

    I suppose in the absence of this flashing stamp, we have to form views and opinions based on what we are each presented and what we can find out for ourselves as even our most trusted leaders are among the ill informed.

    The only hope we have is to connect at this level and exchange ideas and views, as long as our differing views are considered and respected by each other. I for one have no faith in the official line and hope the ascendancy of free thinking individuals continues un-abated.

  9. Iskandar

    Thank you Michael Crook for setting Citizen 211 straight on a few historical realities vis a vis Afghanistan. To Citizen 211 I say that your view of the historical timeline is far too narrow, which as far as the Middle East is concerned, can be extended as far back as the Anglo invasion of Turkey at Gallipoli in 1915, or maybe even to the foundation of the British Raj. I recommend a wonderful book by John Keay called “Sowing the Wind” for a scholarly but readable synthesis of the recent history of that unhappy region. It was largely written before 9/11, and when published in 2003, had an epilogue added that included the line (in reference to the attacks): “But from this massacre of innocents no lesson of redress was drawn, only a licence for aggression”. The aggression of course, goes on and on and on.

    That said, I should like to share a personal experience of the period around 9/11. Some two months earlier I was pottering about with the TV going when my attention was drawn to an interview with Richard Armitage, the neocon American Assistant Secretary of State who was on a diplomatic visit to Australia. Though tuning in late I remember him saying something like “If Australia expects America’s sons and daughters to die in defence of Australia, then Australia should be prepared for its sons and daughters to die in defence of America”. When asked under what circumstances, he replied “See the movie”, referring to that brain-dead Disney film about Pearl Harbor, which was screening at the time. Obviously the “circumstance” was an attack upon the USA. I felt a chill down my spine for he was obviously mustering the troops for a planned war, an impression I shared with friends at the time. I should like to know if anyone else remembers that interview.

    At the same time there was a campaign against the Taliban regime circulating through the internet in the form of a petition decrying the fate of women in Afghanistan, inviting signature and forwarding. I recognised it as propaganda and deleted it, but two months later, watching the twin towers burning on TV, I mused that the US would reply with a military orgasm somewhere, and wondered if it would be Afghanistan. And of course, so it was. Sounds like a conspiracy theory I know, but that’s how I remember it. The Unocal pipeline is a whole other story.

    The second part of Citizen 211’s reply is all over the place and not worthy of answer, so I will repeat my previous assertion, that, like it or not, OBL was first and foremost an Arab nationalist fighter whose chief objective was to drive foreign occupying armies from his homelands. This is NOT a statement of approval, but of objective fact buried beneath the mountains of spin about terrorism.

  10. MLF

    Sheesh, a couple of response points, if I may.

    Neither yourself or Michael ‘creature of the left’ Crook have set Citizen 211 straight about anything. You have in fact chosen to pick up on only certain parts of his/her post and tried to discredit them. I would no doubt think that C211 was aware of US presence/existence/involvement in Afgh prior to 2001, but that was not the point he/she was making.

    I do not know the interview but I do know the story, and I believe that yes, it is common knowledge that the Bush camp were planning a war well before he got into office. To my mind the focus was Iraq, but I would not rule out Afgh as well.

    Nevertheless, as C211 says, 9/11 was the trigger for going into Afgh – that cannot be denied. If it is your suggestion that 9/11 was a set-up, staged and executed by the Bush Administration (or at least with their complicit knowledge) you will find many people who agree with you. At the very least we know that they knew that there was a real and credible threat, a threat involving planes, and we know that at the very least they did absolutely nothing about it. We know there was an immense cover-up afterward. We know we will never know the real truth.

    That said. It does not change the fact that 3000 innocent people died that daym – and in the most appalling circumstances. Just as the fact that Saddam was killing his citizens does not change the fact that many more innocent civilians have died as a result of an illegal war. Just as the fact that even if we went into Afgh in a staged war – it does not change the fact that the Taliban are cruel and evil warlords. One is neither a reason nor an excuse for the other. They are all abominable in their own right.

    If your opinion is that OBL was a nationalist fighter, so be it. The IRA are nationalist fighters too – and terrorists into the bargain. Terrorism isn’t spin. It isn’t a figment of some administration’s imagination. Terrorism kills innocent people. OBL has killed – or at least claimed responsibility for the killing – of innocent people. Nationalist fighter or not, its evil. And you insult those who have been victims of it.

    Lastly, “the Anglo invasion of Turkey at Gallipoli in 1915”. I don’t even know what to say to that. But on behalf of all the young men – teenagers – who were sent there, untrained, unaware, told it was their duty to protect their country – and subsequently shot to smithereens: I say you should feel great shame.

  11. Elan

    Awwwww sweet!

    (Still, C211 your post of 3.45pm today shows that there is agreement to be had if we choose to see it!)

    ……….ye God? (OK. fine),..ye God I’m amazed at the naive gullibility of those who see ‘the good guy wears white; the bad guy wears black’ . These keyboard warriors who see themselves as protectors of the faith; who so clearly define ‘the terrorist’ as dusky skinned and underhand-and weeell just plain pug ugly evil…….

    …….as opposed to those who invade én massé with uniforms/powerful weapons/and a neat line in general comment when they kill or maim.

    RICHARD W: what a very insightful post! You are spot on! But one is required to ‘play the ball, not the man…isn’t one? One is required to do that, one is….

    So general comment only. I will take an opposing view any day. It is clean and clear; I can deal with it; it can deal with me.

    What I cannot stand is the hypocrite. The tacky little sleazebag who not only turns up just to take on all matters USAdm Protect, but make pathetic denials of what they so transparently stand for! To throw in the occasional tiny suggestion that the USAdm ‘has not been nice about some things’, in a spurious attempt to ameliorate what is so glaringly obvious.

    Without doubt there are those who are charged with hitting discussion sites globally to do some good ol’ fashioned supportist propaganda (I got that from an unimpeachable source, and you of course are already aware of it).

    Does Crikey say: ‘we don’t agree with your view, we’ll bar you from the site’ ? Their credibility would be irreparably damaged. Besides, do we really want some kind of a mutual admiration society? What a bland place this would be if we had that!

    I am truly not intending to condescend. I just feel that if there are trolls here;-and there are certainly conservatives, all well and good IF they are detectable. And they are!

    I’ll take them any day over those who so blatantly turn up only to show support for all things American Administration,-and then attempt to deny that they are doing that.

  12. Elan

    MC- I know the region as I have said, and I have also dropped on occasion that I come from a British Military background. Three generations inclusive.

    On matters military I have repeatedly pushed the line of discipline,-and I am comfortable with attributing problems there squarely at the feet of senior officers.

    What I have argued for many years now is that Defence Forces have been turned into Attack Forces for political expediency. The human animal, try as he/she might; has a conscience. I’m not referring of course to the ‘concies’ of yesteryear,-I’m referring to the so-called ‘traitors’ of today. Brave military souls who have spoken publicly about acts that have tormented them. This is a phenomenon that started-very publicly at least; during/after the Vietnam war.

    It’s worth raising it here, because the assumption that those who are critical of the USAdm-andthose who rushed/rush so willingly to do their bidding,- have no knowledge…..whereas of course those who so ‘loyally’ support the ASAdm….they KNOW!!

    All rubbish of course, but predictable. They are as entitled to their view, as are me and thee!

    Accusations of r..acism are another allegation. Being ‘anti-American’ would seen to validate that. Well I tell yer’; I know r..acism; I know it very well,-I grew up with it, my darker family brethren were targeted.
    I will not do it. Experience it-that will stop you from doing it to others. THAT is why I have repeatedly made the point that I am referring to the USAdm – (Bush/Osama is irrelevant to me; except that one of them is a massive disappointment) – as I repeatedly refer to them. I am also referring to those who so blindly support them, specifically those who don’t have the courage to declare their allegiance.

    This whole topic (the whole thing, not just this one), is based on two principles:
    One is that a ‘terrorist’ is an individual or a ‘cell’ that enters a country illegally and commits an atrocity.
    The second is that a Western country has the God given right to define that the above is the terrorist.
    ALL discussions are based on this.

    WHY? Why FGS? Well simply because it allows ‘us’ to be right (and righteous), and ‘them’ to be wrong (and evil).

    Is it heresy to wonder why a very wealthy human-being chose to live a life in hiding; a hunted man? Why? He could have lived in luxury all his life. He chose the life he lived. He paid the price. (And now I will be accused of defending UBL). THINK dammit!! Why?

    Take a look at what defines a terrorist. Interesting eh? Don’t want to look at it too closely? I thought not. If ‘they’ are on our side, they are ‘partisans’; they are ‘the underground’. If they do not? They are ‘terrorists’.

    And if we are a Western ‘democracy’ ? How DARE you call us ‘terrorists’ !!

    A Few Good Men eh? How about ‘you can’t handle the truth’.

    I have a love/hate with computers. But by God! what an asset they have been in bringing the truth (and not just the official version of it) to the world. Praise bloody be to the Assange team; to their ilk, and to all of those ‘traitors’ who have had the guts to show that it ain’t necessarily so………..

  13. MLF

    AR, unsurprisingly, its only a little bit more complicated than you suggest in your 6 lines of text.

    There were UN sanctions in place against the Afgh government long before 9/11 because the world knew they were harboring and training terrorists. Even Pakistan, an ally, turned their back against the Afg government in the end for that reason.

    Post 9/11 the UN, the US, the world said – that’s it, enough is enough, hand him over, close the camps, let us inspect them to make sure they are closed or suffer the consequence. The Taliban said – sure we’ll hand him over, but we want evidence first and we want him not to be tried in the US.

    Firstly – the US stance was a demand, not an invitation to negotiation. The US has just been attacked on its own soil (do you think Roosevelt should have sought to negotiate with Japan in 1945? And then Germany?) and as far as the US were concerned the Taliban didn’t get the call the shots (lets not forget they’d had plenty of previous opportunity to do so).

    Secondly, and not insignificantly, there was no proof that they could hand him over because intelligence suggested they didn’t know where he was just as much as the US didn’t. You will also know that once bombing commenced they, or more correctly, their moderate elements, said – ok, we’ll hand him over, we don’t really need the evidence. So you know, they weren’t so stuck on that principled idea after all, (as can be seen no doubt in the frequent handing down of punishment by death for women who have been r–aped, for example). Many view it as a stunt and/or a delaying tactic by a government that knew it was about to be bombed to high-heaven. Not unreasonable in my view, I’d try it too, but not necessarily honorable or pure in intention.

    If you want to say the US should have negotiated with the Taliban pre-bombing, then fine, I’m sure there are a few others dotted around who will agree with you. But the country was attacked on its own soil and was at war. Its big boy stuff that is not served by a few throw-away lines and sarcastic cliches.

    p.s. Which Hague Convention does the US not subscribe to? Which conventions govern the modern rules of war?

  14. MLF

    Elan, for pete’s sake. If you want to take jibes at least have the lady-lumps to do it in an upfront way rather than back-handed way. Its water off a ducks back for me as I know you’re only out for a barney and I know that deep down you know we agree on many things and that you just got your back up out of nowhere one day. So carry on if you must, but really it must be doing you more harm than good to keep on like this.

    If you care to, and I have no problem if you do not, on your definition thing – what do you want to call the 60+ groups that carry out violent acts against non-combatants for political purposes? Call them what you like – doesn’t change what they are or what they do. State terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism is a real thing too as we know. The difference is it is by the state – it doesn’t make it better or less evil, its simply a distinction. It still uses the big “t” word. Call all these acts whatever you like, see if changing the name means the death stops.

    As for moral righteousness, well unless I’m living in a completely alternate universe to you, those who are the ‘victim’ always claim the moral righteousness – across the board. ‘We’ claim it, Hamas claim it, the IRA claim it, ETA claims it, AQ claims it, the US gov claims it. Its not objective nor does it have any real value in the big game – because if you’re involved in the harming or killing of another human being, its pretty difficult to claim the moral high ground.

  15. Venise Alstergren

    CLIFFG: “”This man was pure evil””. Not legally he isn’t. Not until it can be proved he was the man solely responsible for that atrocious attack on America, and the smaller attack on the English underground train system.

    Please note the following: The men accused of master-minding the attack on the English train system were described as evil; as it turned out the principal villain was nowhere near the scene of the crime. Yet people like you were screaming for their blood on the grounds of their evilness. As it turned out they were innocent bystanders. Would you have been executing these men before they had had a chance for the truth to come out?

    Of course, by now the White House is squirming with embarrassment, and changing its story. America’s greatest weakness is their desire to be loved. Because of this they always claim the moral high ground which necessitates being able to come up with the winning edge no matter what new twist the tale takes. In the light of the White House’s efforts yesterday and today I’d venture to suggest the moral high ground is being frantically looked for.

    It is said that in order to judge a man you should see who his friends are, and I seem to remember the USA was happy to be called his friend at one stage of Osama Bin Laden’s career?

    You then go on to say… “”His death was pure justice”” You seem to have confused justice with revenge. Any lawyer will tell you the most you can hope for in a court of law is justice and that revenge is an unnecessary side effect. By denying Bin Laden the right to a trial the USA has gone back on its commitment to democracy in which everyone has the right to a trial-even Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden-it is the law by which we live.

    Think on this before you scream for a man’s blood.

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