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Working towards the best possible outcome?

I was naturally delighted to hear the news that Osama Bin Laden came to a sticky end at the hands of US SpecOps and the importance of that far outweighed my wish that someone other than the dismal Barack Obama was in the White House to take the credit.

But the extraordinarily inept manner in which the post-hit PR has been handled is just adding to the joy of the moment for me… the weird and unseemly hasty ‘burial at sea’, almost as if they are actively trying to incite the legions of conspiracy theories out there, followed by contradictory accounts of what happened and what the mission’s brief actually was…

…he was killed because he resisted arrest… no, he was killed because that was the mission objective… he was armed… no he wasn’t… he used his wife as a human shield… no he didn’t… well yes but it wasn’t his wife… or not… this son was killed… no, some other son was killed… and so on and so on…

We could be looking at the best possible outcome here: Osama dead and Obama and his team snatching PR defeat from the jaws of victory. This just keeps getting better and better!

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33 comments to Working towards the best possible outcome?

  • Valerie

    It’s astonishing considering the WH had a full WEEK to get the facts straight before making a public announcement.

  • Fraser Orr

    Actually, Valarie, I think that is also more misinformation. There was talk that the incident took place a week ago, but in fact it took place Saturday night (our time.)

    The biggest example of what you are talking about Perry is the fact that the core information used to find him came from “enhanced interrogation” techniques in Gitmo.

    I have spent the day enjoying the various representatives trying desperately to spin it to deny or reduce the reality of this. I suggest you all listen to the comments from the administration team, the CIA, the military talking heads, the PR guys in this light. It is very apparent they are trying to find any other explanation than the obvious: a little water up the nose made us all considerably safer.

    Needless to say the lap dog press are desperately trying to help them out of this embarrassing problem. Apparently the reality doesn’t match the theory of “torture never gets useful information.”

    It is just sad that there is no-one to nail them to the wall on this.

  • Dom

    I wonder if we can use the comment thread to discuss exactly this last point: Let’s assume that the core information was indeed obtained through water-boarding; does that, in fact, make torture an acceptable feature of war?

  • Fraser Orr

    Dom, it always reminds me of the legal principle: better ten guilty men go free that one innocent man be punished. This sounds very noble on the face, but one might ask: is it better 100 guilty men go free than one innocent? How about 1000, or 100,000? We can guarantee that no innocent man is punished by the simple expedient of shutting down the criminal justice system.

    Of course lots of innocent men would still die, both at the hands of vengeful vigilantes and at the hands of criminals who were not stopped earlier by the criminal justice system. But, at least the state’s hands would be clean.

    Which is to say the plain fact is that there is going to be injustice in the world, all we can do is to try to minimize it. The men who were “tortured” were undoubtedly very bad people who did very bad things. They were not physically injured, and to say that they were psychologically affected by it is to ignore the fact that they started out as pathological nut jobs to start with.

    It is ironic, is it not, that the left gets their panties in a wad about these evil, evil men, and yet every day a large percentage of men in US prisons are tortured, raped, injured and tormented at the hands of their fellow prisoners, and we rarely hear a peep of complaint. It is estimated by some that 25% of men in US prisons are raped on a regular basis. And it is the weak, petty criminals who are targeted, check kiters, marijuana sellers, recidivist shoplifters. And they do so under the watchful eye of the state, who tacitly accepts that this is just the way things are. In fact, it is regularly used as a lever by the criminal justice system to scare people into confessions.

    If we are to seek the most justice we can, surely we should start where the injustice is greatest, and where we are most responsible. I would suggest that a few really, really bad people suffering some great discomfort doesn’t amount to much compared to the rest of the injustice system perpetrated in our names, especially when the concrete benefit is so readily apparent to anyone without an ideological ax to grind.

    Nonetheless, the idea of granting such power to the state is quite disturbing. Should it be conducted, let it be done in the full light of sunshine, with careful judicial review, and full accountability to all involved. Not hidden away in some deep dark prison where nobody hears the innocent scream.

  • And it gives rise to the most delightful rumors!

    Questions and Observations

    The only downside I see to this is that it makes Hillary look good. Oh, that, and the fact that “The only thing more powerful than a living cult leader is one who disappears off the face of the earth.”

    (per Michael Yon)

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    “Tell us where the loot is, Bugsy, or we’ll waterboard you again.”
    Why not waterboard ordinary criminals? Make the exceptional the routine?
    Because it’s against the law, that’s why.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Fraser Orr may be correct, although I hope that people don’t just go on to assume that torture – to use the exact word – is fine and dandy from now on as a method of interrogation. It does not always work, even if you are a fan of Jack Bauer’s 24 like me.

    I admit that the proper limits on the interrogation of terror suspects is always going to involve some pretty nasty issues, and moral grandstanding does not help anyone.

    Meanwhile, the Pakistan authorities are looking a bit, er, nervous.

  • manuel ii paleologos

    The burial at sea is an odd one. I suppose they wanted to avoid any accusations of mishandling the corpse, although it seems over-sensitive. The perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks were refused Muslim burials by Indian Muslims, so why bother with OBL?

    As for conspiracies, the unbelievers are probably the same people who think 9/11 was a stitch up by the Jewish lizard-men, so who cares what they think? They brought hundreds of pounds of rocks, thousands of photos, hours of film and live TV back from the Moon, and yet I’m routinely dismissed as a credulous lickspittle for believing they went there.

  • I think it’s entirely possible that they DO deliberately seed conspiracy theories in this way, just to keep everyone guessing. That way, when people start talking about something that did really happen (like secret CIA mind-control experiments) they can be as easily dismissed as those who believe George Walker Bush to be a lizard.

  • That way, when people start talking about something that did really happen (like secret CIA mind-control experiments) they can be as easily dismissed as those who believe George Walker Bush to be a lizard.

    However, George Walker Bush IS a lizard.

  • However, George Walker Bush IS a lizard.

    Of course, everyone knows that! And so is The Queen apparently, as poor Kate will soon discover, hahaha.

    But more seriously, it really does seem like team Obama is intentionally fanning the flames of the loony toons conspiracy fetishists and in the process making themselves look ridiculous.

  • Icke was a well-known BBC television sports presenter and spokesman for the Green Party Heh.

  • it really does seem like team Obama is intentionally fanning the flames of the loony toons conspiracy fetishists

    What would you say the intention is?

  • jdm

    The only downside I see to this is that it makes Hillary look good

    I don’t think that’s possible anymore, although she was cute when she was younger.

    No, you’re right, I’m sorry, I don’t have anything useful to say… although I would mention that if a discussion does actually break out on the rationale of torture, I think it behooves the parties involved to provide a common definition of what torture is and isn’t.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    And it gives rise to the most delightful rumors!

    Questions and Observations

    The only downside I see to this is that it makes Hillary look good. Oh, that, and the fact that “The only thing more powerful than a living cult leader is one who disappears off the face of the earth.”

    (per Michael Yon)

    Posted by Peter A. Taylor at May 4, 2011 02:25 AM

    That report is very convincing: It comports pretty well with what many of us who fail to appreciate Obama think of the man. It may even be true. In that photo, the golf shirt, the expression on his face, the way he’s not central make him look very much the odd man out….

  • Dom

    Somewhat off-topic, but somewhat related. I found this post very wrong-headed:

    http://martinkelly.blogspot.com/2011/05/short-thought-on-death-of-osama-bin.html

  • Laird

    The article linked by Peter A. Taylor refers to this one.

    Personally, I think it has the ring of truth. Obama is an empty suit; I doubt that he has the balls to order a strike such as this one.

  • Alasdair

    I have to ask …

    “the extraordinarily inept manner “ ? From what we have seen, so far, for the current US administration, this is a very ordinarily inept manner in which it is being handled …

    For this US administration, what is “extraordinarily inept “ about it ?

  • Tedd

    Several years ago, someone on the Crooked Timber blog posted an interesting comment to the effect that torture (let’s not quibble about the definition, for the moment) should remain illegal so that it would only be used in a situation where the torturer deemed it worth the risk of personal legal sanction. I thought that was a rather nice marriage of principle and pragmatism. (It puts a heavy burden on anyone in a position to make the choice, but that seems wise, to me.)

    Manuel:

    Lickspittle — very nice word, that.

  • I rather liked the traditional Chicago approach: Whack the guy, fit him with concrete overshoes, and deposit him in the nearest deep body of water.

    Tradition, y’know.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    I find it suspicious that just as we were about to discover that Obama’s Birth Certificate is a CIA forgery, we get distracted by Bin Laden’s death and all these conspiracy theories! And no-one has gotten back to me on my idea that Michael Jackson’s death was sure convenient for the Iranian government! One day, we’re seeing demonstrations in Iran, the next, people are talking about how only in America could a poor black man become a rich white woman! Co-incidence? I think not!

  • Convenience provides a motive for just killing OBL rather than capturing and questioning him. The US avoids the expense and public relations problems of having OBL as a prisoner, and questioning might be ineffective without waterboarding being available. But, aren’t people curious about what OBL knew? Why wasn’t capturing him alive a high priority, being that our soldiers were there anyway?

    The conflicting stories by the US could be seen as trying to justify killing OBL, not because killing him was wrong, but because questioning him might have been better but had to be avoided.

    Michael Ledeen presents some interesting possibilities. OBL might have provided information on a network of support for al-Qaeda by Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Maybe.

    Maybe, why bin laden had to be kiled

  • Jerry Pournelle has some interesting thoughts about the Pakistani government’s involvement in this, and the contortions all parties are going through apparently in order to maintain some shred of plausible deniability.

  • “Bury me at sea, and I shall become more powerful than you can ever imagine…”

  • “torture an acceptable feature of war?”

    What, like whether aspirating oxygen is an acceptable feature of being a mammal?

    My choice of how to handle it:

    A note on the press bulletin board, “Osama Bin Laden is no longer at large. That is all that will be said about it.”

  • Dom

    “Convenience provides a motive for just killing OBL rather than capturing and questioning him.”

    I’m always curious about this meme, which is popping up a lot lately. Exactly what questions would you ask a man who made several movies about his methods and motives and posted them on youtube?

  • New drink, “The bin Laden”: two shots and a splash of water.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Alisa, glorious.

  • Dave Walker

    So it looks like the photos and video of all this will be yet another lump of very juicy data for Julian Assange to try to get his hands on…

  • JP: it’s probably only a matter of time before it reaches your inbox as well:-)

  • Dale Amon

    Personally, if I were going to use something like this in an SF plot, I’d have him still alive with a doppleganger dropped in the ocean whilst the real one was hussled off planet and forced to live through 3000 individual deaths, one per day, via direct brain stimulation of such accuracy that he could see the wall of flaming jet fuel coming at him and burning the skin and flesh off his body as he was spun into oblivion.

    Over, and over, and over, and over, and over….

  • Laird

    The cartoons have begun.