Dead or Alive Redux

Just a little mini-post today while I’m working on the next post for National Short Story Month.

I’m still reflecting on the death of Osama bin Laden. Really, I have no choice. Almost two weeks into the aftermath, it is still often the lead topic on a news cast.

After an initial, albeit reluctant, show of support for the President’s authorization of the mission and its parameters, the extreme right and extreme left have twisted themselves around on this until they somewhat agree. The right is in high dudgeon because they feel W didn’t get enough credit. Excuse me, but how can a person who has been out of office for more than two years get any credit for instructing the CIA to recommence its search for bin Laden and then authorizing a mission that requires the go-ahead from a sitting President? Oh, it was the enhanced interrogation techniques which W, who’d never fought in a war and who perhaps had the barest minimum of SERE training in his air guard days, insisted we use? Wrong again. As interrogation professionals (if there is such a term, and if there is, god help us) iterated then and now, putting someone in extreme pain or in fear of his or her life only gains you “white noise,” bogus intelligence given only to make the threat go away. Khalid Sheik Mohammed, whom the right asserted, incorrectly, was the source of the tip that let us to the compound in Abbotabad, was waterboarded 183 times and never gave up the courier’s name. It was another detainee in a CIA rendition center who gave it up after his interrogator “made friends” with him. My eroded respect for Sen. John McCain (R.-AZ) is somewhat rebuilt after his recent Post op-ed and his Senate speech setting the record straight about the use of torture and also for the fact he calls it what it is–torture, not the harmless-sounding euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

And, excuse me, we near-drowned someone 183 times in a three-month period, just about twice a day. Let’s not forget that. Khalid Sheik Mohammed is a despicable person, yes. He videotaped himself beheading reporter Daniel Pearl, but we should not have lowered ourselves to his level.

On the left, we have Michael Moore, whom I adore, and Rosie O’Donnell, whom I can’t abide because she doesn’t bother to get her facts straight, questioning the legally of hunting and killing bin Laden. “Double-tapped an old man in his pajamas” is about how Moore referred to it. First of all, bin Laden was a few years younger than I, and I’m not old. He was in his mid-50’s, not old and apparently not as infirm as we were led to believe. He was of an age where he still could have mounted resistance with any of the weaponry found nearby. Yes, he was in his nightgown-like sleeping attire, but when a Seal says, “Don’t move,” and you do, you accept the consequences. As I said in an earlier post, bin Laden would have shown that Seal no mercy had the roles been reversed, and the Seal’s death would not have been quick as bin Laden’s was. Again, as I said before, it would have been preferable to take bin Laden into custody and provide him the unique kind of American justice which has no equal in the world, and I’m not talking about a midnight raid with high-tech stealth and silenced guns. Though a trial would have offered its own problems, it was a desirable outcome, but we train our Special Forces quite well to make on-the-spot decisions and changes in tactics. Because I’ve never been trained that way and my research only gives me a theoretical perspective, I’m going to give the Special Forces the benefit of the doubt and accept they made the right call under the circumstances. And the President did, too.

I wish this incident would pass into history, already. It’s over and done with. We can’t, nor should we, change anything; however, as altruistic human beings we need to accept that bin Laden’s family can mourn the loss of their brother, uncle, father, husband, a death he brought to his own door, unlike the thousands of deaths he ordered then sat back and relished.