My Questions on Usama bin Laden
I understand it is early in the reporting of the death of Usama bin Laden, yet already I am finding there are questions we must face. I strongly wish to believe everything is on the up-and-up and bin Laden has finally met with justice for the terrible acts he has performed on people of many nations. But it is important to me as a man who chooses to be American, that what brought his ultimate demise was justice and not revenge.
It can be a fine line between justice and vengeance and for this reason many people either cannot or will not see the line exists. On the one hand, I cannot help but think the American government would have placed a high value on capturing bin Laden alive. And certainly the members of Navy SEAL Team 6 are not common thugs who would shoot first and ask questions later unless there was no other option. Indeed, the fact that President Obama would use this elite squad suggests that there was hope Usama bin Laden could be taken alive. Maybe no one expected it, but surely they at least planned to try.
Therefore, I was a little surprised to find that within two days of the death of this evil man, questions regarding the operation taking him out were raised. It is bothersome that the initial report stated Usama bin Laden died actively participating in a firefight, shielding himself with a woman. While this fits the image many Americans as well as many other world citizens may have of bin Laden, it turns out this was completely untrue. Bin Laden did not hide behind a woman as reported. And perhaps more disturbingly, Usama bin Laden was unarmed.
The question of bin Laden being unarmed is even trickier when you consider this raid lasted 40 minutes with the terrorist reportedly being killed in the last few minutes. Knowing bin Laden's character, do we not find it odd that he was unarmed? Certainly he would not have built a million dollar compound without ready access to arms. And certainly he had measures in place so that he knew he was under attack. In the big picture, it does not make sense that he was not armed. There have been some reports that weapons were nearby and he was attempting to reach those arms but it seems we cannot yet say anything for certain.
This line of thought actually gave me an idea, however. Perhaps, knowing that the end was inevitable and preferring death to capture, bin Laden intentionally made a "threatening move" knowing the Navy SEALs would be authorized to use deadly force. Maybe he actually hoped to be gunned down while unarmed in his attempt at greater martyrdom. While this seems a bit farfetched, the idea that the United States was trying to cover up killing bin Laden when he had no weapon has two problems as I see it.
First, they could have simply stayed with the original story. One of the objectives of covert operations is secrecy. Who was there to question the validity of it? The second problem is they likely have everything documented on film. With modern technology, it is hard to imagine the SEAL team not filming their actions. If this is the case, though the the public may never see them, certainly these video documentations will be shared with other heads of state
It seems clear that ultimately the United States government would be unable to hide the fact that bin Laden was unarmed and that he had used no human shield. It seems equally as unlikely that they would ever expect to be able to hide these facts. So one can only conclude that there was no intention to cover up the Navy SEALs' actions and that the story that will be presented to the world will ultimately be an accurate accounting of what happened in bin Laden's compound. But does that mean there was never an intention to mislead?
I cannot help but consider the possibility that the erroneous information was released because in this Internet-fueled age, first impressions can sometimes count more than ultimate truth. You can be certain that many now will always believe bin Laden died with a weapon while hiding behind a woman. It fits so easily with what we have been told about him that many never questioned for a moment that it was true. Though we now know that initial information was incorrect, how many will never understand that?
I choose to believe that the misinformation originally given to the press and the citizens of the world was simply a matter of trying to get info out quickly and facts got jumbled in the process. But I can certainly understand if someone does not believe this to be the case. All we can really do at this point is strive to be sure the truth is known so that our victory over this monster is not soiled by misconceptions or half-truths.
If the questions regarding bin Laden's death were the end of it, perhaps there would be very little story in the overall scheme of things. But to make matters worse, the United States decided to bury Usama bin Laden at sea rather than hold onto his body or find a burial site on land. Initial reports stated this was done to adhere to Muslim custom that required the body be buried within one day couple with the fact that no nation was willing to accept his body. however, there was almost certainly more to the decision than this.
While it may be true that no nation would be willing to accept Usama bin Laden's body for burial, I have to wonder how hard did the United States try to find someone willing. Certainly it must be considered that any burial site would become a point of interest to those who supported (and for that matter will likely continue to support) him. More than that, it could become a rallying point for terrorists intent on doing harm to America and those who stand with her. There is obvious value in avoiding this situation.
But whatever the reason for burial at sea, some will see it as a suspicious move on the part of the United States and use it to questions everything from the facts surrounding bin Laden's death to whether or not he is even actually dead. It would be nice if this sort of conflict could be avoided so that we can move forward to a hopefully more peaceful world without bin Laden. There will surely be those who will replace him, but perhaps their fanatical grip on their followers will not be as strong as bin Laden's was.
In the end, the results that his death brings regarding world peace are more important than answers to all the questions surrounding the death of Usama bin Laden. Will this make the world a safer place? Or will this only be more fuel for the hatred some feel for America? It is good to be optimistic, but reality cannot be ignored, and the very fact that bin laden was found hiding "in plain sight" only 100 miles from Pakistan's capital has to be cause for concern.
Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani has said that there was clearly a support network for bin Laden in Pakistan and his government will work to uncover that network and dismantle it. He has also expressed concern as to whether there were individuals in the government helping Usama bin Laden or if it were strictly civilians. Before America is shocked, let me tell you about reality. Of course bin Laden had some sympathizers in the Pakistani government and they certainly assisted him to some extent. This should be no surprise to anyone.
But does this mean we cannot trust Pakistan? No, this only means that we need to help and encourage them in their pursuit of those individuals. Pakistan is a nation that is teetering between a future where freedom and democracy are truly respected and a past where religious doctrine was the rule of the day. Those in the government seeking to move the nation forward have a difficult task at hand. We can either help them move forward or give them a shove toward the past, but the best interest of the U.S. would be served by moving this nuclear power forward as quickly as possible.
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