Saturday, April 7, 2007

We Are Haunted by the Spectre of a Dead Osama

Under George Bush, we have had to suffer great insult as well as great injury.

The injury occurred on September 11th 2001 when the world's greatest geopolitical power on record lost 3,030 innocent lives to the most brazen and cold-blooded mass murder in American history. So, what could possibly amount to an insult substantial enough to rival that? It's obvious:

The insult is the distinct possibility that Osama bin Laden might die - or has already died - a natural death, like 95% of the rest of the world population. In other words, after poking America in the eye on 11-September 2001, he neither dies of wounds suffered as a result of our just (but abreviated) retaliation against Afghanistan, nor as a prisoner-of-war captive in our custody. Instead of being squashed as a hapless poster boy of terrorism, he gets to die a celebrity's death, in bed, as the world's world's most successful and unpunished jihadist?

World political leaders have been wary of being identified with any premature obituaries of bin Laden. Speculation over his possible death has circulated ever since American forces lost contact with him in November of 2001; and ever since Bush outsourced the pursuit of this butcher to free-lance Afghan warlords and muhadjeen so he could consummate his daddy's uncompleted termination of Saddam. Remember how Bush pulled our crack US Special Forces ground forces from Afghanistan just before the Battle of Tora Bora? Not only that, as Richard Clarke has written, Bush also did not commit the additional thousands of troops necessary to complete and stabilize the liberation of Afghanistan:
I can’t prove this, but I believe they didn’t want to put in a lot of regular infantry because they wanted to hold it in reserve. And the issue is the infantry. A rational military planner who was told to stabilize Afghanistan after the Taliban was gone, and who was not told that we might soon be doing Iraq, would probably have put in three times the number of infantry, plus all the logistics support ‘tail.’ He would have put in more civil-affairs units, too. Based on everything I heard at the time, I believe I can make a good guess that the plan for Afghanistan was affected by a predisposition to go into Iraq. The result of that is that they didn’t have enough people left over to go in and stabilize the country, nor enough people to make sure these guys didn’t get out.
Since then, America has been haunted by the uncertainty as to Osama's life, death or location. George Bush, of course, is clueless and oblivious of the shadowy angst that afflicts Americans.

Bin Laden last appeared on video in 2004. There have been poor-quality audio tapes purporting to be of his voice surfacing since then. But last year on the fifth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, not much issued forth from bin Laden or his putative 'spokesmen'.

More recently, the French newspaper L'Est Republicain's in an exclusive report on 23 Sept 06 reported leaks from within the Direction Generale des Services Exterieurs (DGSE) pertaining to the death of Osama bin Laden. This may have been the result of a calculated leak from within the French equivalent of Britain's MI6 which has the responsibility for intelligence gathering abroad.

The newspaper says the information about bin Laden, received by the DGSE on September 19 and graded confidentiel defence, was passed to President Jacques Chirac and PM Dominique de Villepin on September 21.

The contents of L'Est Republicain's report suggests that the newspaper had direct access to this DGSE material: quoting from what appears to be an internal memorandum, it states that a "usually most reliable source" had learned the pertinent information from Saudi Arabian secret services.

Other sources revealed a report suggesting that bin Laden had traveled to Pakistan about a month earlier to seek immediate medical treatment for a severe bout of typhoid which had partially paralyzed his lower body.

The authorities subsequently received information that he had died on September 4: Saudi security agencies were urgently seeking more information, focusing on where bin Laden may have been buried.

Cui bono?

At this point, we have to ask
  • Who would benefit from a factual proof of Osama bin Laden's natural demise?
  • Who benefits from suppressing the fact of Osama bin Laden's passing?
Al Qaeda would certainly not benefit from a factual announcement of the Emir's death. He is worth more to their jihadists as an immortal legend than as a martyr. Should a cadaver be produced and DNA-certified as bin Laden's, al Qaeda loses its putative status as a centralized base operations. Of course that doesn't prevent its brand from being franchised by hundreds of local jihadists all over the world. Were it not for the hornet's nest that Bush has stirred up with his illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, these zealous anarchists would amount to little more than frenzied and faddist nihilists similar to last century's Red Brigades.

And George Bush certainly would not gain from a certification of Osama's death. (Unless it could be established that he died of wounds inflicted by American or NATO forces.) Without a lurking Osama to kick around, Bush has no tangible enemy, nor any tangible casus belli, in Iraq or even Afghanistan. His nebulously conceived global war on terror will have lost what little focus it had.

I submit it is this possibility that bin Laden has permanently evaded retributive American justice is what eats away at our confused mission in Afghanistan. (Despite what our Dear Leader promised, it turned out that Osama could both run and hide.) You can say that's another story, but you have to wonder if it doesn't also eat away at our American psyche? Why else are Americans so uncomfortable and amnestic about Bush's 'mission' in Afghanistan? Our dead, wounded and scarred from 9-11 remain, unavenged.

What is the mission in Afghanistan?
  • Pursuing and capturing of Osama bin Laden?
  • Defeating of al Qaeda?
  • Defeating of the Taliban?
  • Suppressing of Heroin Crops
  • Feeding NATO's appetite for (finally!) a combat raison d'etre?
  • Promulgating democracy?
  • Providing cover for our un-provoked, unnecessary, illegal, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UUILUIUOI)?
Take your pick. But I say, if the mission is not getting Osama bin Laden, "dead or alive", it's not my mission.


  1. Hi Vig, Haven't deserted you. been sick and barely keeping up my own place.

    Afghanistan never was about Osama. It was about running a pipelibe from the Caspian Sea to Karachi to benefit the Bush family investnments.

    Happy Easter!

  2. There were quite a few, let's see, ignoring the file that told of Osama striking in the US and then going on vacation - AGAIN, or is it 600,000+ Iraqi lives? Maybe the 2,500 US lives in Iraq alone, then add another 3,000 severely injured (NOT including the mentally ill GI's), or, could it be, even worse than all that, the death of one. One great nation and it's liberties? The Death of one nation and it's good standing in the world?

    Nice blog! Might I blogroll you?

  3. I'm real uncomfortable about writing this but I have always had a nagging doubt about how much of a surprise 9/11 actually was to Bush and his posse. Because to a certain extent our action in Afghanistan did at one time seem purely honorable. The first piece of doubt curiously enough was sown very early one morning as I was driving to a weekend National Guard drill in the summer of 2001. Nothing any good was on the radio and I flipped over to the local talk radio station. Instead of the wacky world of UFO's, MIB's, Bigfoot, and other assorted strangeness I was expecting they had a replay of Limbaugh and it had him waxing on about how he knew that Bush was at the doorstep of greatness and that time would show him to be a great president. At the time Bushy was sinking fast in the polls with no coherent policy about much of anything. Didn't think much of it at the time but as other events have unfolded over the following years my mind does drift back to the odd certainty Limbaugh expressed about the coming greatness for Bush. So the pipeline, giga-bucks for Halliburton, and the trashing of liberty in the post 9/11 panic does raise some awkward questions.

  4. I must add that Limbaugh's remarks I heard that morning more than likely were just coincidental to the attacks on 9/11. I mean who would be stupid enough to tell that drug addicted blowhard about how the fix was in to get the country into war?

  5. Beach, what I am about to say is said with complete appreciation of your initial disclaimer about your own discomfort.

    But Beach, you are one of the most level-headed, non-edgy people I have met blogging.

    For you to say what you said in the first of the two paras above, sort of proves my point: the incongruity of Bush breaking away from hot pursuit of bin Laden coupled with what we know now about his initial 2000 intent to achieve climax (!) with Saddam has pushed level-headed people like yourself to wonder about how 9-11 happened. For some one like George W Bush who has so wrapped himself in flag-draped patriotism to have done so, really staggers our imagination.

    Could FDR and Winston Churchill broken off their allied retaliation against the fascist axis in World War II to attack Joe Stalin in 1942?

    No, we cannot imagine that they could have done that. How could we have imagined GWB to have done what he has done: mislead America to attack a disciple of Joe Stalin in 2003?

    Although I don't share your ambivalence about Bush's surprise or lack of surprise on 9-11-01, I certainly understand that you are coming from a fact-based set of historical data.

    What haunts me is not the events of 9-11; what haunts me is the ambivalence of George W. Bush about the fate of Osama bin Laden. I think about that all the time. Every damned day.

  6. There hardly is a question about the pleasure and even perhaps the feeling of justice being served if Ossama would be finally captured but hopefully not quartered. However, the longer it takes to this blessed judgment day to occurre, if it ever will, the less it it will have the real meaning or satisfaction to anybody. Justice delayed, justice denied.

    While this hunt for the perpatrator has been botched and almost forgotten by this admin., Ossama's little rag tag jihadist group, which in all practical purposes was nothing special but just another one of many, has become a rallying point, a recruiting tool, and a symbol how the mightiest country in the world can be made shake in fear and brought to near panic. Bush's total lack of meaningful, coordinated, sensible and smart actions to combat him, Ossama and his minor group of Islamist crazies have reached the influence and the prestige that they could have never dreamed about. This tough talking cowboy, the one with the balls and the answers to make America safe, didn't just fail spectacularly but also strengtened every concievable hand that wanted to choke America's wind pipe.

    Thus, I am afraid that Ossama's death at this stage would have less than a devastating blow to those who harbour ill will against you. You can't kill an idea, and you can't kill Ossama. Ossama has been made into a legend and an icon for millions after the Bush's disastorously inept war on terror. If he would have been dealt with as adverticed and if he would have been eliminated ages ago...but he is, like just about everything else always done out of sync with the reality.

  7. Pekka, you are equally level-headed. Do you not understand how the uncertainty of Osama's life or death keeps the brand of al Qaeda's nihilism alive?

    It's my case that until and unless Osama is killed by his enemies, he wins. That is what haunts American foreign policy in our generation: if he has died of natural causes, he has already won.

  8. Vigil said: "Do you not understand how the uncertainty of Osama's life or death keeps the brand of al Qaeda's nihilism alive"?

    I do understand, my friend, I do! What I am trying to tell is, that the time between the crime commited and a punishment meted is too long already to be an effective preventative measure. Since capturing Ossama might be in the distant future or maybe never, taking a revenge is all that's left. To work as a warning and discouragement to those who might be entertaining similar ideas, too much time has passed and this imbecile, Ossama, will live for ever in the minds of the like minded people everywhere.

    Vigil, you need closure which cannot be achieved by anything less than killing Ossama. Fine and dandy if that's what you want but do not confuse this to do anything else than satisfy your primal instincts. Ossama and his nasty supporters have won the propaganda war (in the Muslim world) and what possibly will happen to him now on is not too much of a consequential matter. This, by the way, is not what I wish but just how it is.

  9. That is too bloodless, Pekka, and too Western-like in thinking. Too practical. In the Middle East, blood-debts count for more; debts of this sort which go unpaid are noticed and given much import. The universe is out of balance until Osama is "martyred".

    Al Qaeda has to be taken down a peg or more. If OBL is never found or dies a natural death, he's forever with us and forever laughing at us.

    Just like Bush, if the latter escapes impeachment: perpetual laughter from someone who beat the system.

  10. All they ever found of Jesus, was his shrouds, and he founded a great religion. (What I would call a grate confusion.) But they had Che Guevara's bullet-riddled ass, didn't they? So all 'The Argentinian' amounted to was a romantic figure who rode a motor cycle in his youth.

  11. Pathetic....

    Unafraid to name names about who failed to do what in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001.

    Read, the history of what happened from 1980 onwards from the Chief Foreign Correspondent of WaPo or from 60 Minutes

    As long as Osama is on the run we will have the initiative. As long as Zawalhiri is afraid to answer the phone, we have the initiative.

    As for the WTC...I'll stick with MIT, you people speculating about Caspian pipelines and Bush not being surprised are scaring me you might vote.

    What is the difference between this kind of wild speculation based on feeling and the arabs obsession that the jews control their lives, SOMEHOW?

    What facts, iron hard facts do you base you opinions on?

    Happy and safe easter.

    Was that as good as espresso for you all?

  12. The sci-fi author David Brin on his blog also recently made the point that just about everything the Bushies have done benefited those we are suppose to be fighting against. Brin is one of the few people in public life who I trust completely and to have him ask similar questions does push this out of the conspiracy realm a great deal, at least to me.
    Last night I did fail to point out that seeing the lack of reaction in the Ferret's face sitting in that classroom as he was told we were under attack is another moment that is strange beyond all reason. I remember some speculating on TV that the Twin Towers and Pentagon attacks could have been the first in a wide ranging series of attacks on both hard and soft targets all across the country. To have the POTUS continuing to sit in a public class room that surely had been scheduled and known about for months offered a big target no matter how many Secret Service types might have been around.

  13. Pekka! Fancy meeting you here.

    Sorry, but I have to, for what it's worth, put my two cents in.

    I can see where BB is comming from. Do I believe bush orchestrated 9/11? Nope. But, I do believe he knew. Look, the file sat on his desk. He ignored every single warning sign and went on vacation. How does the president of a country ignore a file entitled "Osama said to strike inside the U.S..."?
    I have a friend, a very calm and rational person, who called me on 9/11 screaming, "How could he have let this happen?!"
    Add the unwillingness to be put under oath when finally going in front of the 9/11 commission.
    So, I understand the doubts and curiousity. Not to mention the bonus it gave him...

    "Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."
    -- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

    Proof positive, he paid attention in history class - ONCE.

  14. As I have, if you follow Epaminondas's link back to his website, Villagers with Torches, with just a peek you will find him to be an invertebrate champion of (1) the anti-islamofascism meme, (2) Israel as America's indispensable ally in the Middle East, and (3) the U.S.'s inalienable right to our oil under whosever's sand we can find it.

    Therefore, it's not altogether surprising to hear him express his conviction that Bush still has "Osama is on the run" and "we have the initiative."

  15. Andrew J. Bacevich, in today L. A. Times:

    . . . . The truth is that next to nothing can be done to salvage Iraq. It no longer lies within the capacity of the United States to determine the outcome of events there. Iraqis will decide their own fate. We are spectators, witnesses, bystanders caught in a conflagration that we ourselves, in an act of monumental folly, touched off.

    . . . .Baghdad has become a cul-de-sac.

    . . . . Bush will not relent. Iraq consumes his presidency because the president wills that it should. He has become Captain Ahab: His identification with his war is absolute.

    . . . . Today the global war is global in name only. In reality, it has become a war for Mesopotamia.

    . . . . Ritualistic allusions to freedom as the antidote to terrorism still occasionally crop up in presidential speeches, but rhetoric no longer translates into action. An administration that once touted its expansive and principled approach to preventing another 9/11 has abandoned principle. Now there is only Iraq and the effort to ensure that today's news out of Baghdad isn't any worse than yesterday's . . .

  16. Actually they never found Jesus' shrouds. They found a fraud perpetrated, rather expertly, on a Christian society starving for affirmation of their core beliefs.

    They never found OBL because he was able to escape to the border mountains and was/is protected by the Pakistani tribes hostile to the government. It is not impossible to think that the Dub and his gang of Neophytes may have been able to negotiate him out of his "lair" but "negotiation" is not in their vocabulary.

    As to 9/11 being part of some vast conspiracy on the part of the government I liken that to the "man didn't really land on the moon, the whole thing was filmed at Universal Studios' line of crap.

    I also don't believe that Dubyah, dumb as he is, invaded Afghanistan or Iraq for the oil. He invaded both countries because God ordered him to eradicate evil whenever he could and wherever he found it.

    That being said I suspect we are in some deep shit and will remain so until Dubyah is finally dumped.

  17. Dubya is not a real player.
    The system would probably have done the same thing under Gore. Maybe worse who knows.
    The war is a boon to the economy.
    That is the purpose of it, and the war was concocted by special interests of corporations and belief systems.
    Our current system does not get better. Its aim is to kill all, and any to make 'money'.
    Hello Suckers.

  18. Great post.


    Bush sat in that classroom om 9/11 and thought - what the fuck does this do to my plan to get that oil my Daddy was too chickenshit to go after?

    They care about nothing else.

    Bin Laden will be a major symbol for the next fifty year, no matter what happens to him.

    If Bush goes after a dead bin Laden now, Bush will end up looking like a complete fool. If he doesn't, he still looks like a complete fool. It's a no win situation.

  19. Like beach bum said, just about everything the Bushies have done benefited those we are suppose to be fighting against. Molly Ivins tried to warn us and we didn't listen. (Osama is Back, and No One Gives a Damn?.) 11/19/02: "Osama bin Laden is back, and suddenly no one gives a damn? What is this??!! The White House spokesman announced, "'This is about more than one man.' The president now says it 'really doesn't matter much' if bin Laden is dead or alive. This is the same president who promised to bring him back 'dead or alive,' isn't it?"

    For Molly's visionary awareness of what the Bush Administration would be like, check out Shrub : The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush, Bushwacked, and The Deluxe Election Edition Bushisms: The First Term, in His Own Special Words.

    She knew before most of us. May you rest in peace, wonderful Molly.

  20. Let the church say, "Amen". (I trust that it did.)