Some Alternative Takes on the Killing of Osama bin Laden

First of all, I think Joseph Cannon has it right. There is no way Obama sent just two helicopters into Pakistan to kill Public Enemy No. 1. The Pakistanis knew what was happening and cooperated–either willingly or unwillingly. Either the Pakistan government, military, and intelligence services wanted plausible deniability or the U.S. pressured them into going along with the assassination. I don’t believe for one minute that Obama wanted to take bin Laden alive. Here’s Cannon’s take:

Allow me to suggest one possible scenario. Let us suppose the Bin Laden daughter Safia was correct when she said that her father was captured and then executed. (Frankly, I think that’s a fairly good bet.) Both the body and the post-mortum photos would provide evidence of the execution. A close-range shot leaves powder burns and other evidence.

This hypothesis would also explain the changing stories about whether Obama and Clinton watched the operation on video in real time. (I feel certain that they did.) I suspect that they realized belatedly that they would need plausible deniability if the truth of the execution ever came out: “I am shocked, shocked to learn about this. At the time, I had no idea…”

After reading Cannon’s piece, I think it makes sense that Obama and the rest of his team did see the kill shots, but they’ll never admit it. I also think Cannon makes a lot of sense when he brings in the question of Al Qaeda and the drug trade.

The connection between the ISI and Al Qaeda primarily involved drugs. That’s the factor which everyone keeps forgetting about. Yet it is key.

It should also not be forgotten that the ISI has strong links to the CIA. America was perhaps the primary market for Afghanistan’s poppy product, and thus it was necessary for the Bin Laden network to maintain ties with powerful people in this country.

I haven’t yet formulated a proper theory about all of this. But it seems to me that the answer to the mysteries surrounding the life and death of Osama Bin Laden may revolve around the drug connection.

Via Truthdig, former CIA agent Robert Baer basically agrees with Joseph Cannon. In this radio interview, Baer says that the Pakistan government must have known where bin Laden was and it is highly unlikely that they weren’t involved in the operation. He says the chances of a foreigner living in a heavily secured compound in that area filled with military and security people is zero. Baer also says if the U.S. had done this, there would have been a much sharper reaction from Pakistan–they would have closed the U.S. embassy and thrown all Americans out of the country. According to Baer, those Black Hawk helicopters are extremely slow and they would have been seen for hours flying in from Afghanistan, and if Obama had sent two helicopters in alone, he would be extremely daring, but utterly foolish. No president has ever forgotten what happened to Jimmy Carter after his failed attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran.

There’s a lot more, you can listen to the interview if you’re interested. But the bottom line, as far as I’m concerned, is that our government thinks we’re stupid. They think we’ll believe whatever outrageous propaganda they feed us.

Next up, Noam Chomsky’s reactions. Like me, Chomsky thinks bin Laden should have been brought back here and put on trial.

It’s increasingly clear that the operation was a planned assassination, multiply violating elementary norms of international law. There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably could have been done by 80 commandos facing virtually no opposition—except, they claim, from his wife, who lunged towards them. In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial. I stress “suspects.” In April 2002, the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, informed the press that after the most intensive investigation in history, the FBI could say no more than that it “believed” that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan, though implemented in the UAE and Germany. What they only believed in April 2002, they obviously didn’t know 8 months earlier, when Washington dismissed tentative offers by the Taliban (how serious, we do not know, because they were instantly dismissed) to extradite bin Laden if they were presented with evidence—which, as we soon learned, Washington didn’t have. Thus Obama was simply lying when he said, in his White House statement, that “we quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda.”

That’s why I love Chomsky. He comes right out and says exactly what he really thinks. Here’s a little more:

We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic. Uncontroversially, his crimes vastly exceed bin Laden’s, and he is not a “suspect” but uncontroversially the “decider” who gave the orders to commit the “supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” (quoting the Nuremberg Tribunal) for which Nazi criminals were hanged: the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country, the bitter sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region.

I know you’ll want to read the whole thing–it’s not very long, but it’s powerful.

Tom Englehardt, of the American Empire Project and argues that Osama bin Laden achieved his goals–he wanted to destroy the U.S. economy and generally have an impact on American society and culture.

Unfortunately, in every way that matters for Americans, it’s an illusion that Osama bin Laden is dead. In every way that matters, he will fight on, barring a major Obama administration policy shift in Afghanistan, and it’s we who will ensure that he remains on the battlefield that George W. Bush’s administration once so grandiosely labeled the Global War on Terror.


Consider it an insult to irony, but the world bin Laden really changed forever wasn’t in the Greater Middle East. It was here. Cheer his death, bury him at sea, don’t release any photos, and he’ll still carry on as a ghost as long as Washington continues to fight its deadly, disastrous wars in his old neighborhood.

Let’s face it. We no long live in anything resembling freedom. The Constitution is on life support. Our economy is wrecked, and we may never get back to where we were. We’re living in the last days of a dying empire. And the American empire wasn’t much to write home about anyway–certainly it can’t compare to the one Rome built.

Economist Mark Weisbrot, writing in the Guardian expands on bin Laden’s goals and his vision of what he wanted to happen to the U.S.

Bin Laden, who – like Saddam Hussein and other infamous mass murderers – was supported by the United Stated government for years before he turned against it, changed the world with the most destructive terrorist act ever committed on US soil. But the reasons that he was able to do that have as much to do with US foreign policy at that particular juncture as with his own strategy and goals.

Bin Laden’s goal was not, as some think, simply to bring down the US empire. That is a goal shared by most of the world, who – fortunately for us – would not use terrorist violence to further this outcome. His specific goal was to transform the struggle between the United States and popular aspirations in the Muslim world into a war against Islam, or at least create the impression for many millions of people that this was the case. As we look around the world 10 years after the attack, we can see that he had considerable success in this goal. The United States is occupying Afghanistan and Iraq, bombing Pakistan and Libya, and threatening Iran – all Muslim countries. To a huge part of the Muslim world, it looks like the United States is carrying out a modern-day crusade against them, despite President Obama’s assertions to contrary Sunday night.

George W. Bush happily obliged by inventing the “War on Terror.” And his successor, Barack Obama is now willingly carrying the torch. We should pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, since the bogey man is dead. But that won’t happen.

Weisbrot says that the WOT made al Qaeda stronger and bin Laden probably knew that would happen:

Could bin Laden have known that the US response to 9/11 would have made his movement even stronger, even if he lost his base in Afghanistan? I would say it is likely. While it was not predictable that President Bush would necessarily invade Iraq – although it was a strong possibility – it was foreseeable that the US government would seize on 9/11 to create a new overarching theme for its interventions throughout the world.

The administration and the media are already searching for a new bogey man, and working hard to gin up as much outrage as possible among gullible Americans. The latest effort is the release of bin Laden’s home movies. But we only get video–no sound. Why doesn’t our government allow us to hear what’s going on in videos? Are they afraid bin Laden’s words will influence us? And why do they keep calling bin Laden’s home a “lair?” Is that supposed to make us see him and his family as animals?

Finally, what are we to make of the video below–Osama bin Laden watching himself on television? Are we supposed see him as narcissistic and self-involved? Are we expected to compare this aging man watching himself on TV with our glorious hero President who would supposedly never do such a thing?

How very appropriate that the video begins with a Coors Beer ad. It fits right in with the sports motif that is building around the killing of the bogey man: USA! USA! and all that….

22 Comments on “Some Alternative Takes on the Killing of Osama bin Laden”

    • dakinikat says:

      After watching TV today, I’m convinced the media and every one else thinks we’re all stupid. All the channels and news sources were using the same memes which means they had to be fed that at the DOD presser. And, these decisions about what we can see but not hear about OBL are getting old. It’s like they want to spoon feed us just what they want to spoon feed us about him and the situation and the killing.

      They didn’t to deal with the messiness of a trial or anything. I have no doubt there was a kill order given during the raid. I don’t understand why they just don’t come out and say things.

  1. Ok, do you really think after all of the troubles this administration faced with the trial of KSM that they could have ever brought Bin Laden to the US? Which State would have him? Who would pay for the security? What would the reaction of Republicans have been if he wasn’t killed (quite obvious from reading Geller etc, “he’s one of them”).

    The US took a lesson from the Israeli Mossad and the British SiS and dealt with the problem. That to me seems perfectly reasonable and no it does not make Obama equal to Bush or bin Laden, nor does it ever justify America using torture.

    • dakinikat says:

      Are you trying to create an equivalency between the expedient thing to do and the moral thing to do?

      • okasha says:

        No, he’s just clinging like a remora to Obama’s ass, as usual.

        This is the pathological liar who tried to identify an apparently disturbed woman who got to close to AF One as Cinie and spends his spare time obsessing about PUMAs.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Yeah, I just let him through because it’s a very slow day and I thought we needed a little entertainment.

    • Seriously says:

      Hey, you’re right. If Obama doesn’t do everything the Republicans want, they’ll say really mean things about him. Therefore, he has no choice but to disdain any sort of principle or leadership, always, always, always use their script and continue to make a mockery of everything we allegedly stand for. Which certainly puts the life-or-death-struggle you all were determined to create around the 2008 election into perspective.

      • bostonboomer says:


      • I do not support extra-judicial murder and will never support it, however this is a war; even if it is a war against a stupid concept. The War on Terror indeed.

        Two main points arise from this, an American SEAL has found Bin Laden and that SEAL has a gun. It would be very hard for that Soldier not to kill Bin Laden. For the lives lost in New York, in Washington, on Flight 93 and in the war in Afghanistan.

        As we are at war and it was perfectly legal to drop $1million hell-fire missiles and bombs and the Tora Bora mountains in the effort to capture or kill Bin Laden, it seems perfectly reasonable to pop two 60cent bullets into his head.

        The other issue is the Security issue. Think of the terrorist outrages there would have been as part of a demand to free him. He’s been denied that and he has been denied his Martyrs grave. All that remains is a video of a sad old man watching himself on an old portable tv.

        As for interest in PUMAs, even PUMAs aren’t interested in PUMAs. There are better things to do – like standing up for the rights of women, the poor and the middle class who are all being attacked by the right under the guise of “austerity”. (At least Republicans do not even pretend to care about the austerity claim). So given how 2010 went, 2008 was indeed a life or death struggle and 2012 will be as well.

      • Seriously says:

        Thank you Baghdad Bob. It’s always a worthwhile moral education from the moment you draw a moral line in the sand to the moment you cross it 30 seconds later, with bs justifications the entire way. From the lone gunman theory to security, toujours, security, to “better things to do,” it’s all there!

      • bostonboomer says:

        Oh good grief! Standing up for the rights of women. It is to laugh. We know your history buddy.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    ABC News: Bin Laden wanted to convert minorities and get them involved in terror plots–wanted to increase class/race warfare

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Pakistan media outed CIA station chief today.

    In a sign of how bad ties are between the two countries, Pakistani media on Saturday once again publicly named the CIA station chief in Islamabad, a breach of both protocol and trust, that is bound to enrage Washington.

    A Pakistani TV channel and a newspaper considered mouthpieces of the country’s military said the ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha had met CIA station chief Mark Carlton to protest US incursion into Abbottabad to kill al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden. CIA station chiefs remain anonymous and unnamed in public although the host government is told.

    Earlier, the Obama administration had asked Pakistan to disclose names of its top intelligence operatives to determine whether they had contact with Osama or his agents.

    The latest breach indicates that a section of the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment is determined to run the CIA out of the country fearing that the ISI’s links with terror groups and its sheltering of terrorist leaders will be exposed.

  4. Sophie says:

    Let’s face it. We no long live in anything resembling freedom. The Constitution is on life support. Our economy is wrecked… We’re living in the last days of a dying empire.

    Osama had plenty of accomplices in the west. This was exactly the kind of opportunity the Milton Friedman disciples were waiting to exploit.

    Talk about a group of people that have been consistently wrong over decades yet hold the rest of us hostage while they keep destroying the civilized world. The tragedy is that the Milton Friedman disciples aren’t also sleeping with the fishes.

  5. CNN’s replaying the old Christiane Amanpour special on OBL for the gazillionth time.

    • dakinikat says:

      They must’ve had their budgets cut when they were bought out. They really don’t have any good documentaries on foreign affairs any more. It’s all silly stuff that’s people magazinelike.

  6. Minkoff Minx says:

    Okay, I was planning on posting this for Sunday…but it seems fitting now.

    Osama Bin Laden Home Videos – Family Guy – Bloopers | Mediaite

    today’s release of several new Bin Laden tapes by the Pentagon– particularly one deemed a “blooper reel” of Bin Laden flubbing his lines was a bit of a catharsis for the exhausted “War on Terror” news cycle. But for one group of comedians, the footage of a white-robed Bin Laden missing acting cues must look eerily familiar– take a look at Family Guy’s Osama Blooper Reel from 2006?
    Family Guy’s Bin Laden wore the same thing, stood before the same background, and mistakenly called the holiday Ramadan “Radaman,” and chortled his way through the entire video, bringing in props and chumming around with the camera. Clearly no one quite had the pulse on Bin Laden at the time better than Seth MacFarlane. Or perhaps Bin Laden began recording and saving his blooper reels after he saw how appealing his animated self was to an American audience when wearing oversized sunglasses.

    Below are both the real Bin Laden videos (via CNN) and the prophetic Family Guy episode. Life imitating art or art predicting life? You decide:

    The videos are at the link…

  7. Seriously says:

    Brilliant post, btw.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    I knew this was coming. Pakistan has leaked the Osama death photos.

  9. madamab says:

    Hmmmm…I have one more take to consider. Is it possible that what Pakistani news said is true – that OBL was shot in the back by his bodyguard so as to ensure he would not be captured by us?

    If he was shot in the back. It would make sense for the US to dispose of the body to avoid the implication that we didn’t actually “get” him. If the bodyguard did this after OBL was captured, the daughter’s “captured and killed” story would also make sense.