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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.


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. Stiofan

    Why do you refer to “the extra-judicial killing of an unarmed man”, when the reports indicate that he was armed? Do you have information to the contrary?

    Cue ranting response from Marilyn & Co: “Americans always lie … 9/11 was a Bush family conspiracy… My tinfoil hat hurts …”

  2. SBH

    Thanks Harley, a more balanced report than most others. One small thing. Can we dispense with the portmanteau ‘extra-judicial’ and revert to the simpler and less obtuse ‘illegal’.

    It is stunning how many people fail to realise that Bin Laden’s death is a defeat for all our rights and freedoms.

    It’s also simply amazing the childishness evident in the celebration of the death of this bogey many as if that will solve our problems.

  3. Peter Feeney

    I can’t help but wonder what the reaction would be if Indonesian commandos invaded Australia and shot down one of their terrorists in an outer suburb of Sydney or Melbourne. Would Kevin and Hillary applaud this as justice or is it only justice if we do it?

  4. Stiofan

    I see that CNN is reporting that he didn’t have a gun, possibly based on more detailed debriefs of the SEALs.

  5. bluegreen

    [I see that CNN is reporting that he didn’t have a gun, possibly based on more detailed debriefs of the SEALs.]

    Yep, poor helpless unarmed innocent man.

  6. 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.

  7. zut alors

    If Bin L@den had been taken alive he would’ve been more problematic than when dead. Imagine the consequences if he’d been spirited off to Gitmo.

    However, I am sobered by the jubilant reaction in the USA – for a country which wears its Christianity like a boastful beauty queen’s sash, how can they celebrate murder? From what I recall there used to be a Commandment regarding that…and it didn’t mention exceptions, evil or otherwise.

  8. Johnfromplanetearth

    Unarmed? Then who in the wide world of economic terrorism was shooting back at the Seals for 40 minutes…Mrs Bin Laden? They had to shoot him, he could never be tried! My question is to the Pakistani Government as to how a 3 storey compound built as recently as 2005 with high walls and barbed wire not more than a stone’s throw from a miltary base, can safely house the most wanted man in the world?
    No wonder Obama didn’t let them in on the raid, next stop Pakistan itself!

  9. SBH

    Bluegreen, it would be worth while to adopt a more critical approach. As to Bin Ladens guilt or innocence there is a golden thread in english law. It is the concept that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Bin Laden was never tried. Assertions were made about what he did and how guilty he was but he was never tried and therefore was, according to the system of justice you, I and all Americans live under, innocent.

    I don’t know if he why ‘helpless and harmless’ or armed and dangerous but it troubles me that first reports said he resited and was shot, indicating his resistance was feirce and deadly yet now his resistance seems somewhat less effective and the only weapon was his wife. If he was unarmed, wouldn’t justice, which we all seem to hold so dear, be better served by his capture (albeit ‘extra-judicial) and trial?

    How ever evil Bin Laden was, it should worry everyone that the US feels no need to comply with its own laws and utterly disregards the laws and sovreignty of any nation it can push around. These are hardly the actions of the bulwark of democracy and freedom.

  10. SBH

    resisted not resited

  11. Richard Brinkman

    “Judge not, lest ye be judged” (Matthew 7.1) Or so allegedly Christian nations may well say.


  12. zut alors


    Well said. I, too, was struck by the inconsistencies you mentioned about the final cornering of Bin L@den. We’ll never know, the US Administration will manage their version of the truth.

  13. Daniel Twentyman

    SBH you do know it is war right? There are no rules in war and it is romantic to think otherwise. It is aggressive, horrific, traumatic, repugnant and callous. for gods sake get your head out of the clouds and get some perspective.

  14. Sir Lunchalot

    The US would have never taken him alive.

    The terrorists would have taken hostages in ransom demands right up to his execution.

  15. rossco

    Daneil Twentyman, when was the war declared and who is it between?

  16. klewso

    What’s a “terrorist”?

  17. klewso

    One man could have had such an impact on another country, that powerful – his death is such a victory.

  18. SBH

    What war, Daniel? the US isn’t at war with Pakistan. And who says there are no rules in war? By that logic we can use torture as the mood takes us, gas, atomic bombs, murder jews, rape at will, target civilians, hospital ships, nurses because we are at war? I don’t know many of your fellow citizens would agree with you.

    No, even in war law applies, that’s why we try people for war crimes.

  19. JonoMatt

    SBH, following a judicial line, seeking his extradition and complying with international law in regards to Pakistan would have meant his certain escape.

    And if you don’t want to be summarily killed by US special forces then it might be a good idea not to distriubute videos claiming responsibility for the worst act of terrorism on US soil, and urging your followers to commit further atrocities.

    Good riddance.

  20. SBH

    Thanks Jonomatt for that guidance, I’ll have to rely on your advice as I lack clairvoyance

  21. SBH

    ah well I await the moderator’s discretion

  22. Jim Reiher

    his youngest wife? How many did he have? (Not that that is all that important in the midst of other more pressing points.)

    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.

    That sounds more like a Christian message than that being sent to the world by the bulk of USA Christians revelling in the streets over the news of Osama’s murder!

    Revenge and delight in violence is a pretty base emotion in the end. Not the way of the ones we admire the most: Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Mandela, Mother Theresa, Francis of Assisi, the Dali Lama….

  23. 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.

  24. Richard Wilson

    Hey are Kevin Rudd and Hillary Clinton brother and sister?
    And isn’t this the ninth time Bin Laden has been killed now? I’ve lost count.

  25. Oscar Jones

    It’s just a bigger mystery than ever.

    Is it really credible that Osama with a $25M price on his head could have lived for so long in a reasonably civilised city without -as we keep hearing that the Pakistanis must ha known-someone not dobbing him in for the prize ?

    And is that what really happened rather than this very dubious link to Gitmo as if to justify Gitmo-as that creepy Cheney is now trying to do.

    And after 9’11-imagine if the entire US and allied forces were simply set to rooting out Osama rather than destroying 2 countries.

    How amazing that the Democrats have pulled off the almighty PR coup against their rival republicans-sucked them into a birth certificate charade and then dropped this on us.

    Madison Avenue at it’s best.

  26. GlenTurner1

    There was a 30 minute gunfight in Bin Laden’s house. At any time during that Bin Laden could have ordered his troops to surrender. Focussing on the last 3 seconds of that 30 minutes seems to me to be missing the wood for the trees.

  27. Sir Lunchalot

    The US wanted him alive and or intact. No evidence of RPG’s, frag or stun grenades in the bedroom.

  28. arty

    I am sure that there is no truth in the rumour that the BBC demanded the SEALS delay the attack for one week.

    I am not aware the the victim or his followers had signed the Geneva Convention.

    It was always clear that the USA had no plan to put Osama bin Laden on trial.

    I agree with Sir Lunchalot that the consequences of putting him on trial would have been dire.

    Maybe a clean shot was the kinder choice.

  29. Elan

    “America wrestles its conscience post bin Laden”

    You reckon?

  30. morallyambiguous

    a worthwhile question absolutely, although it’s quite difficult to ascertain morality without further insight into the exact unfolding of events. i think it’s fair to say that the USA put a rather weighty emphasis on the wellbeing of its soldiers, perhaps at bin Laden’s detriment as far as being captured rather than killed. that said, it is interesting to consider whether a person can be evil enough to transcend traditional rules (Hitler? bin Laden?). i’ll leave that to others more philosophically versed than myself. similarly with regards to the validity of celebrating in the death of such an individual. suffice it to say, i was quite happy to see an end of the evil actions perpetrated by this rather evil person against the US, and hopeful that this alongside the revolutions in the middle east will signal a shift in the culture and more peace down the line.

    that’s all folks.

  31. michael crook

    Still not getting to the main question guys. Osama presumably planned and carried out the execution of 3000 innocent civilians. In response the US invaded a country that had nothing to do with the aforementioned act, such invasion resulting in the deaths of 1 million civilians, mainly by that same US and its allies. Who exactly are the terrorists here? Further, why did Osama do what he did? A lot of people have very very good reason to hate the US.

  32. JonoMatt

    SBH, considering he was living with impunity in the midst of a swanky suburb full of retired generals and intelligence operatives, predicting his going to ground and disappearing in the event of a formal legal request for his extradition to the Pakistan government hardly requires the need for a clairvoyant does it?

  33. CliffG

    No one in their right mind would have it any other way. This man was pure evil. Just go back and have a look at the movie shots of the collapse of the Twin Towers. His death was pure justice. “There is a time to hate”. This was one of them.

  34. nicolino

    I am waiting for Osama to resurface elsewhere and taunt the Americans.
    Seems they were in a great rush to get him to sea and out of sight by burying him (in water).

  35. shepherdmarilyn

    But after being water boarded 183 times it was decided that KSM was the mastermind and Bin Laden just a humble nobody.

    Has that been forgotten.

  36. Paul

    Does this mean we can kill the person who ordered the death of tens of 1000s of people in Falluja? oh that was Bush. Well can we shoot the person who ordered 100s of thousands of deaths in SE Asia in a country that was non aligned? Oh that was Kissinger. What about the person who ordered the fire-bombing of Dresden, well he is already dead. What about the hundreds who died from an unwarranted cruise missile attack in Kenya? Well that was Clinton. What about the person who approved spent uranium armaments to be used in Iraq, slaughtering soldiers who were retreating or trying to surrender? That was Bush senior. How about the UK US governments saying officially that the deaths of 100,000 plus children was a small price to pay in controlling Saddam Hussein? And the list goes on.
    “We killed them because they were fighting us just because we invaded them”. And in Libya we are doing it all over again.
    But then there are Bahrain and Yemen, well they are OK because they do our torturing for us now that Egypt and Libya doesn’t.
    The hypocrisy of war mongers is staggering. Interesting when an argument is presented that we should obey the law that the cry is “only the laws I like and if I don’t like them I will ignore them”.
    What a merry society they want.

  37. klewso

    To be fair, a lot of this “rightness” does seem to revolve around “who is killing who”, doesn’t it – and a little bit of “why”?

  38. 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…

  39. MLF

    Oh and its also a bit off, seeing as we’ve only just had ANZAC day, that some of you deem to pontificate about what occurs in war. If you want to tell me that every single person killed by an Australian soldier during WWI & II was armed, I will tell you to go and check your history books.

    By all means our soldiers should be held accountable for poor conduct, but unless you are willing to strap on a faulty machine gun and head out into a zone where people are trying to blow you up day in and day out, may I suggest you show some respect and stop talking out of your arse.

  40. 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).

  41. no_party_preferred

    The last thing the commander said to the seals before they departed on the mission… “By the way boys, he was killed in the course of the arrest, ok”

  42. michael crook

    mmmm, AlmightyNassar, as a strong proponent of extreme left wing bullshit, I suggest from my armchair that you do as I did and go and visit a few US ghettoes, look at the way their own people live and then give me your spiel about “our laws and our values” and “justice”.

  43. Barry 09

    Didn’t the Bin Laden Family lend the Bush Family money years ago to finance their 1st Oil well ???

  44. almightynassar

    @Michael Crook, I do agree that what we have is not perfect (and probably never will be) and that as individuals we should strive to better our society. We should all have healthy skepticism of our government. We should stand up for our rights when the government pretends that it is bigger than society and denies them to us. We are provided an environment where we are not executed for voicing dissenting opinion, and we should utilize that right. We need institutions like Wiki Leaks to keep the bastards honest.

    Yes, we can find the disadvantaged everywhere. Some people are unfairly treated even in our own countries, denied justice by our own legal systems. The difference with the West is that our institutions are beholden to the people. We can vote the bastards out and put in people who are willing to change the system for the better.

    Al-Qaeda were against this and want to implement sharia law, but instead of civil discourse they chose to fly planes into skyscrapers. I don’t mind you having a different idea of society, what I do mind is when you are trying to force me to your viewpoint through fear and repression. Let’s talk it out, not try to blow me up. And when you declare war and are given a chance to surrender, don’t expect me to feel guilty when your body is shot up when you refuse….

  45. MLF

    Dang Barry! You’re right!! That must mean that this:

    2975 – those killed on 9/11

    17 & 39 – those killed and injured by the USS Cole bombing in 2000

    219 – those killed in the US embassy bombing, Kenya in 1998

    12 – those killed in Dar es Salaam 12 minutes later

    1 – journalist, Daniel Pearl, beheaded in 2002

    6 – those killed in WTC1 in 1993

    61 – those killed at the British Consulate in Instanbul, 2003

    19 – those servicemen killed in Saudi in 1996

    202 – those killed in Bali in 2002

    11 – those killed in Mombassa in 2002

    1 – engineer, Paul Johnson, beheaded in 2004

    155 – those killed by a double-suicide bomb in Baghdad in 2009

    2000 – the capacity of London club, Ministry of Sound, which was targeted for bombing attacks in 2004

    3521 – days since at least 200 people jumped from the 110th floor of the WTC, away from a firestorm and to their deaths.

    didn’t happen! Genius!!

  46. 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.

  47. MLF

    Waaaaiiiit a minute. So, OBL was justified in waging war against the US and killing innocent civilians – but the US were not justified in killing him? Am I reading you correctly?

    Can I suggest also that next time you do your pro-OBL/AQ speech you don’t forget to mention the stated desire to create a single Islamic state ruled by Sharia Law? The same Sharia Law that dictates stoning, flogging, hanging, and the cutting off of hands and feet.

  48. Barry 09

    MLF ?? A bit full of your self. Just saying.

  49. Barry 09

    With over 30 Super bases in afghanastani , it don’t look like they are leaving without the oil and gas and minerals . The USA need to get out before they send themselves broke, or more broke than they are now , bumping the 13 – 14 – 15 Trillion dollar ceiling . Soon the Mexicans will be the Wall builders. All thanks to Bush and Co. Will Tony turn the boats around from good old usa ?

  50. freecountry

    Justified? Surely. “Justice”? It’s a strange choice of word by Mr Rudd. Soldiers are not court-appointed executioners; they are bodyguards for their country, with all the sudden pragmatic violence and hazard for themselves that that implies. A bullet through the head is simply the logical outcome for an architect of chaos like Osama. Nothing less than he expected; he made his choices long ago. A bit of an anticlimax perhaps, no trial after all these years. There is nothing either “just” or unjust about it.

  51. freecountry

    The moral question that concerns me more is: was this intelligence worth torturing for, and is this counterterrorism triumph being used to justify further torture?

    See Matthew Alexander’s 2008 bestseller, “How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq”. Alexander is the pseudonym of a different type of interrogator who went to Iraq and proved in practice that subtlety and intimacy can work where torture and brutality fail. Torture may have contributed to the latest result, but whether it was necessary to it still an open question.

  52. MLF

    Is intelligence worth torturing for? For mine, no.

    But back up a sec – who is saying OBL was found via torture intelligence? Please tell me it aint Wikileaks.

    If it was Wikileaks and they held onto information that could have led to the capture of a man indicted on charges for the death of hundreds of US citizens, not to mention 9/11, what on earth does it say about them?

  53. Sancho

    Everything that was done to New Yorkers in 2001 has been done a thousand times over to Afghanis and Iraqis during the cold war, then again after 9/11, in retaliation.

    Why do so many people struggle with the notion that all of these acts are wrong, and none justifies another?

  54. Richard Wilson

    Will the real Osama please stand up! Ooops!

  55. banistersmind

    I am interested to know whether Kevin Rudd was told by Hilary Clinton about the kill before American officials informed Australian officials – who then pulled Julia Gillard out of a meeting to tell her. The question was posed last evening on the 7PM Project. If Rudd was told before Gillard – she would be mightily pissed off yes?

  56. Roquefort Muckraker


    Visited those ghettos, and they’ve got nothing on the rural dung heaps that indigenous Australians live in.

  57. Harley Dennett

    Today’s White House briefing corrected some information used in this report from the previous briefing. Osama bin Laden’s youngest wife, at the center of the unproven ‘human shield’ rumours, was shot but not killed. Another woman on the first floor died in the attack. Brennan was the source of the original misinformation, and it’s not clear if he was aware.

    Banistersmind, the White House has said Pakistan was the only country to be officially informed of the operation prior to Obama’s public address. Importantly, the means none of the US’s intelligence sharing allies (Aust, Canada, New Zealand, UK) were informed of the operation even after the target had been acquired.

  58. Jean

    Bin Laden undetected for five years? Pakistan may have its problems, but you have to give it credit for really effective privacy laws.

  59. Sir Lunchalot

    It you look at the building on Google Earth, the building is complete when the photo was taken in 2005. Just today Google has updated the image to 2010!!

    Heard on news today that some kid hit a ball over the fence, and were not allowed to get it back, instead where handed money!!!

  60. bsg

    Obama vetoed bombing the compound (the initial plan presented apparently), he wanted proof that they had gotten him.

    The idea that this was anything other than an deliberate assassination is ludicrous.

    Was it justified? Maybe. Was it legal? Probably not. Did it violate Pakistani sovereignty? Certainly. If the situation was reversed and Russia sent Special Forces into Washington to assassinate someone would the US go crazy? Yep. Is this event likely to soften US foreign policy that places no value on the lives of people in third world countries? Nope 🙁

  61. MLF

    BSG that’s an interesting point you put forward (about if Russia did same). Not necessary disagreeing with you I have a few observations.

    Russia, at this time in world history, is not an enemy of the US. If Russia’s most wanted man was hiding out in the US, the US would certainly know about it and they would either hand him over or turn him – in which case they would be rightly justified to be peeved if Russia came in and bumped off a US citizen.

    OBL was not a citizen of Pakistan, and although the US certainly breeched borders, that they breeched sovereignty is far from clear. We do not know what deals, arrangements, pacts etc the US has with nations in regards to situations like this. Assuming no arrangements like these were in place, the US would very likely be peeved if someone came onto their soil in such a manner. Whatever country it was that did that would have to face the consequences of such action – just like the US now will have to face the consequences of its actions, should any be forthcoming.

    As for US foreign policy placing no value on the lives of people in 3rd world countries – sadly, it is not the task of USFP to do so. Its sole purpose is to protect its interests and it is the same for every country in the world.

  62. Citizen 211

    Those carrying the ‘Justice for Osama ‘ mantle have obviously never been in a situation where you either act or die. Spare a thought for the highly trained individuals that were given the task of conducting the raid. They are sons, daughters, fathers and brothers who put themselves in harms way in the belief that the world will be a safer place.
    Let’s not all become part of the retrospective over-opinionated fraternity that will attempt to turn this into a witch hunt. The final outcome was most likely no different to the outcome of a seige in a local suburb where Police would have had to deal with what was immediately in front of them.
    Of course a trial would have been a good outcome, but don’t try to re-write the facts by calling it an assination mission.

  63. 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…..

  64. Sir Lunchalot

    I am surprised the US has released they took computers, CDs, DVD’s etc. This could activate cells quicker. They should have said they killed him took his body and left.

    They would have given them time to go through the material.

  65. Richard Wilson

    100% support what you are saying Elan but I am outta here for good. Crikey has been overrun with trolls sadly.

  66. 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.

  67. Citizen 211

    “When the Anglo-Americans became the invaders, he in turn targeted them, and in this context 9/11” Maybe I have mis-read the time line here my friend, but the 9/11 action appears to me to have been what initiated the invasion of Afghanistan? Unless I have missed something, the only occupying and repressive regime in place before 9/11 was the Taliban. The foreign forces struck in October of 2001 after the Afghanistan Government refused a request to hand over all resident al-Qaeda members and close all resident terrorist training camps.
    The Last Soviet Troops left the country in 1989. There was a ‘Civil War’ in the country from 1996 to 2001.
    Not sure OBL can be portrayed as anything more than someone who has brought great pain and suffering to those that you say he was trying to fight for? Maybe he should have been standing up against the Taliban instead of bringing down this great madness on his ‘free peoples’?

  68. michael crook

    Richard, please dont go, I enjoy your posts, and, after all there is not anywhere to go to.
    Alexa has placed Crikey at the top of the Political category for informed opinion, followed by Online Opinion and Green left Weekly. There is nowhere else in Australia that is credible.

    Elan, I am a “creature” of the Left, radicalised by my lifes experiencee in industry. While one could not describe Crikey as left wing, it certainly has the attributes of fairness and informed comment, that we are looking for. That is why we are here.

    Citizern 211, you do not appear to be at all conversant with the recent history of Afghanistan.
    The US have been involved in one form or another since the Socialist Government in Kabul in the early 1970s.As you know the US hates Socialists in any form and have ensured that as soon as a socialist government is created anywhere in the world it is destroyed as quickly as possible to avoid contamination. During the Russian occupation the US funded not only the Northern Alliance but also employed a gentleman called Osama Bin Laden, who used US funds to turn the Madrassas where the Taliban were radicalised into military schools to oust the Russians. In this they succeeded. Strongly suggest that you go and study the history before you come back and join this, or any, debate.

  69. MLF

    Sorry Michael Crook, you are a creature of the left? The left that is all about freedoms, social equity, civil liberties, loving thy neighbor, etc? That left?

    I’m pretty sure a few posts higher you sanction the terrorist acts of OBL and AQ. Or did I misread you?

  70. Citizen 211

    Only too aware of the history and also the fact that anyone with an opinion can contribute to re-writing it. Am also not of the opinion that the USA can ‘do no wrong’, but unlike some , I will always attempt to take a balanced view based on information sought as well as presented.
    And by the way, I will also express my opinions freely whenever I choose to in any forum or take part in any debate I wish… just like you. That is a privilege we are lucky enough to have in this part of the world and one that is not devoid of historical bloodshed.

  71. Elan

    HA! Such succinct and definitive demonstration of the conservative Right!!

    (I wonder if that definition has been taken literally. Being right I mean).

    A neurotic lot,-but I agree, the same right to post as anyone.

    Shame on you MC!! ‘sanctioning’ the terrorist acts of UBL and the US named AQ, and not understanding that the US has every right to do the same thing.

    For shame.

  72. mikeb

    Ye God I’m amazed at all these keyboard warriors safe in their homes decrying the killing of a pathological murderer who would not have thought twice of slitting your infidel throats. How quickly you admonish people brave enough to risk their lives so that you’re allowed to sit safe at home without care that some lunatic with a penchant for heavenly virgins doesn’t blow you up with a smile.
    No the US/Brits/Aussies etc shouldn’t have invaded Iraq. That was a Bush/Blair folly that distracted the free world from OBL and his ilk.
    That they finally sent that snake (apologies to snakes) OBL to hell won’t particularly diminish terrorism from that quarter – however at least it shows that they can’t hide forever.
    OBL was never going to come out of that alive. There was not going to have a show trial or indeterminate imprisonment. His burial place was also never going to become a shrine for delusional followers. That he was guilty of mass murder is indisputable and he freely gloated of his deeds. That he was executed quickly is the best possible outcome – although many would have liked him to get the same treatment as Nicholas Berg.
    Rant over.

  73. 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.

  74. Richard Wilson

    @ ELAN

    A troll is a barking dog of the State or international corporation who, with other trolls in an orchestrated campaign, overwhelms a site with the party line viewpoint. Independent sites these days are regularly attacked by mobs of these people to make it appear that the popular view is not one which goes against the state’s view of things but rabid programmed “go get em” or you’re either with us or with the terrorists “or stuff em there not on the red team etc.”

    There is no left or right, liberals or conservatives, red team or blue team in reality. That is a contrivance of the power elite to keep us from recognising what is truly happening.

    There is only the renters i.e. 99.9% of the people on the planet – against the 6000 who own it, their sycophants and toadies – the politicians, their propaganda arm the mainsteream media and, finally their enforcers.

    This might be the final days of the central banking warfare model of world domination i.e. take our worthless paper money or we will invade you. Its been working for hundreds of years and finally got out of control when the gold sdtandard was abandoned internationally in 1971. Then we were all working without a net reliant on man to do the right thing. LOL. Australia is a vassal state as is much of Europe, Canada and NZ. We do what we are told and speak when we are asked to. Under this government it has been elevated to an art form. Any suggestions?

  75. 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.

  76. 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.

  77. Citizen 211

    Thanks for the support. I am often bemused by the fact that the very people who wave the flag as being well informed, free thinking majestic fountains of tolerence and wisdom often demonstrate the very opposite behaviours. Freedom of speech and sharing of ideas is only OK if you agree with them.

  78. 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.

  79. Tom

    Am reminded of the Jack Nicholson Few Good Men speech which from memory includes the notion that ‘we shouldn’t complain about the manner ‘they’ provide the rest of us the blanket under which we live in safety’.
    Well should we? Any fat and warm armchair posters to this wan&fest actually ever done anything other than complain? Didn’t think so.
    As usual, how they did it not very clever, should they have done it, absolutely.

  80. michael crook

    Keep up the good work Elan, I am not sure where the Americaphiles come from, some sort of parallel universe I guess, certainly not the world that I see. Or, perhaps, they actually get their world view from watching Hollywood action movies.

    Strongly suggest that obtaining information from “independent” news sources might result in a slightly changed perspective.

    And, finally, none of these people, including Tom have any idea at all what our lifes experiences have been and what has led us to our viewpoint.

  81. AR

    One important point that nobody corrected C211 on was the claim that the US invaded coz Afghanistan refused to give ObL up. In fact it was widely reported at the time that they offered to do just that as long as he went to the Hague – obviously unacceptable given that the US does NOT subscribe to the Hague convention.
    And why would the US want him tried in open court – that would need all sorts of messy stuff like, y’know, evidence.
    Far better the ole tried’n’failed Right is Might that served them so well in the past…

  82. 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………..

  83. 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?

  84. Elan

    As I said AR. Good point.

  85. Richard Wilson

    Cop this!
    Dr. Steve Pieczenik – real insider, CFR fellow does this massive dump on the phoneys..


  86. 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.

  87. Elan

    Come now MLF, you know better than that! I agreed on some matters with ‘another’ MLF. This one and I have absolutely not one damned thing in common. Not one. Now let’s leave it with the personal thing shall we? We are constrained in such matters as you full well know.

    What’s a back-handed way? This?: AR, unsurprisingly, its only a little bit more complicated than you suggest in your 6 lines of text.

    There is a lot more in this vein….glass houses?

    The moral high ground is not the domain of any of us,-particularly if we don’t practise what we preach! (Ha!! Bugger me! I just noticed your last line! Great minds eh?)

    General comment: (and I have already made it…); I have little time for those who don’t contribute to the forum in general (as you used to do?), but disappear,-and then return and inhabit ANY topic that they feel warrants a defence of the USAdm-at all costs.

    That’s OK. But expect to get disagreed with. And perhaps now you might be more willing to concede the same wholehearted support of the USAdm that people like C211 are not ashamed to admit to??

    You DO live in an alternate Universe MLF. You do.

    Right. Do we now return to playing the mans ball’s??

  88. 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.

  89. Citizen 211

    Not sure where you get your facts from. The US is a member state and has ratified and is a signatory to many of the Hague conventions. Which one in particular are you referring to? Also, I disagree with your reading of the events that led to the coalition forces initiating military action in order to stamp out the growth of international terrorism. I have said previously, I am not an advocate for the US and all its methods but going after elements that carried out the 9/11 action I suggest was the correct thing to do.
    @Michael Crook…”none of these people, including Tom have any idea at all what our lifes experiences have been and what has led us to our viewpoint” is a great statement. You also have no idea about mine or others that disagree with you. (I wouldn’t be arrogant enought to purport myself as talking for everyone with a similar view to me). But this does not make you right, it just means you have formed a differnt view.

  90. michael r james

    @CITIZEN 211 at 12:45 pm

    The USA signed but never ratified the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court in 2002. The other most significant signer but not ratifier is Russia. Then later, the USA, with Israel and Sudan, “unsigned” it. The big fish that never signed it include China and India (and Libya of course).

  91. mikeb

    @Richard Wilson
    Your tinfoil hat is working well. No trick’n you eh?

  92. Citizen 211

    It is amazing that from all my posts you somehow have can see “…the same wholehearted support of the USAdm that people like C211 are not ashamed to admit to??”

    This just adds weight to my view that you are as capable of fabricating material to make your point as you accuse others of doing. Shame on you…I was starting to think you were someone with a slightly balanced view ready to consider different view point with an open mind. Tsk Tsk Tsk…

  93. Elan

    And tsk tsk to you, my silly twisted little poster. You know exactly what I meant! If you don’t, then you confirm my worst fears;…..you aren’t very smart.

    I’m fully aware of the proviso’s you have put into your comments, I was referring to the fact that you are quite open in your views. I admit I should have said: “the same wholehearted views that people like CITIZEN 211 -(who has said that he doesn’t support some of the action of the United States Administration, but as a general principle he is supportive of their actions. That is to say that he supports the United States Administration, but…BUT…he has made it clear that that is not unconditional)………are not ashamed to admit to”.

    I thought you would understand what I was saying. Yep. Right.

    I wish I could fabricate material. Or more correctly, I wish I could materialise fabric. My latest efforts have turned up material that will make my posh party frock look like a marquee.

    I have decided to just punch some holes in a bin bag and put a feather in my hair. Tres’ chic non?

  94. Citizen 211

    Hmmm…not being very smart..my rather undersized brain interprets that as being a partial retraction of your fabrication, (or should I clarify)…”not so well disguised attempt to discredit my views??” . Well done.

    Good luck with the bin bag. Tres’ chic wei!

  95. Elan

    ………………at least you confirm the undersized brain.

    I reckon that’s the reason its lying to you……..

  96. Citizen 211

    The ICC which sits in the HAGUE is an independent body that came into effect in 2002 and was based on the Rome Statute from the late 90’s. Thanks for clearing up what AR was referring to.
    Yes, I agree, the Bush Adm un-signed it much to everyones amazement. I think the Obama Adm may be attempting to take a more ‘in-the-tent’ approach.

  97. drsmithy

    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?

    So I’ll admit I’m not up to speed on how the London bombings investigation turned out. How were they “innocent bystanders” ?

  98. Venise Alstergren

    DRSMITHY: Actually, the main one wasn’t an actual bystander, he was nowhere near the scene, he may have even been visiting his relos in the Carribean-I’m serious. But then comes the racist assumptions people, in this case Scotland Yard, make. He looked as if he was guilty. He was dark and sported a beard and, as it turned out, not even a Muslim. I’m not sure about the other one but I seem to remember he was actually on the train.

    Never the less you haven’t answered my question.”” Would you have been in favour of executing these men before they had had a chance for the truth to come out?””

  99. Venise Alstergren

    “”Venise Alstergren
    Posted Thursday, 5 May 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    DRSMITHY: Actually, the main one wasn’t an actual bystander, he was nowhere near the scene, he may have even been visiting his relos in the Carribean-I’m serious. But then comes the r.a>c/i.st assumption people, in this case Scotland Yard, make. He looked as if he was guilty. He was dark and sported a beard and, as it turned out, not even a Muslim. I’m not sure about the other one but I seem to remember he was actually on the train.

    Never the less you haven’t answered my question.”” Would you have been in favour of executing these men before they had had a chance for the truth to come out?”“

  100. no_party_preferred

    @MIchael Crook

    “Alexa has placed Crikey at the top of the Political category for informed opinion, followed by Online Opinion and Green left Weekly. There is nowhere else in Australia that is credible.”


    I cant find that category.

    Search for “informed political opinion” on alexa yeilded no results

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