May 1, 2011
This evening I arrived home from a regular temple program around 7:30 in the evening to hear rumors that something ‘big’ was about to happen. The president was going to address the nation and the speculation was it had to do with Osama bin Laden. And indeed, at 8:30 PM President Obama gave a short statement stating that he had signed a strike order earlier in the day for special forces to go into Pakistan and get Osama bin Laden. The operation had been successful, Osama bin Laden had been killed. He had been living in an upscale residence not far from Islamabad in a highly populated area. No Afghanistan, no mountain, and no cave, as we had been told.
So this becomes another of those defining moments in history when I will remember exactly where I heard this news. I’d almost forgotten we were still searching for him; It’s been ten years. Apparently he was shot in the head and died on the spot and his body had been transported away. No doubt they wanted him more dead than alive to avoid the messy business of a trial. I’m sure they also wanted his body gone so there could be no local grave site to reduce the potential for martyrdom. Later, as I drove home to the desert this night I listened as news of the killing spread across the world and I heard how prime ministers, presidents, and kings were making statements congratulating the US for its skillful execution of justice.
Spontaneous celebrations were irrupting up all over the country. I especially listened to the celebrations at ground zero in Manhattan where the 9/11 attack took place and in front of the White House. As I drove I could hear horns and cheering in the streets. I received texts from different parts of the world acknowledging the news and sending congratulations. By the time I went to bed I heard that the body had already been put to sea. Wow! They really wanted to get rid of his body quickly.
This closes an important chapter on the 9/11 attack, but I am sure there will be repercussions for years to come. Without a doubt a great asura has been put to rest, but this is not the end of the matter. Reaction in the Islamic world seems mixed. This is also a triumph for Obama whom I am sure will be able to leverage this to his advantage many years. Just think, our first black president with Muslim roots was able to cut off the head of the snake. This is definitely a significant day in both America and the world.
The day after…
As expected the media talk throughout the day has been exclusively focused on the killing of Osama bin Laden, the special service military unit that did it, how they did it, what led up to the event, what the Pakistanis knew, and so forth. I was particularly interested to learn that we never told the Pakistanis that the operation had taken place until after the deed had been completed and we had actually left the country. Perhaps we did this because we did not trust the Pakistanis, thinking that if they knew, someone would tip Bin Laden off. Good thinking if you ask me. Or perhaps someone in the Pakistani government decided they did not want to know. We, of course, had to invade Pakistan in order to execute the operation. How could the Pakistanis not know that Bin Laden was living under their noses? So the possibility that someone in the Pakistani government gave an unofficial nod to such an undertaking is a distinct possibility. Having Bin Laden in their backyard is obviously a huge problem for Pakistan. It was also interesting to learn that Obama and his security team was able watch the operation live, as it was occurring. There is a photo of them watching. Hillary Clinton’s facial expression is especially telling as she watched the drama unfolding. They were watching a state sponsored assassination as it was happening!
Five days after…
The news has subsided somewhat, but yesterday Obama announced that he would not release photos of the body, saying that the release of such gruesome images would only inflame and offend Muslim sentiments and thereby further endanger our military and American citizens. He is right. There is apparently DNA evidence to confirm Bin Laden’s death. No photo is going to offer any more proof.
There is also a raging debate within the country and around the world questioning the legality of killing Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden was apparently unarmed at the time and his host country was never informed of the operation. The US defends it’s action saying it was a military operation and bin Laden was a legitimate military target under international law. Regardless, I think Obama made the right decision. Anything less would have prevented or endangered the operation. Obama took decisive action and I am glad he did it. An asura is dead.
Conspiracy theory is a huge business in the country. Obama is being accused of staging the death of Bin Laden for political purposes. They are also asking why the body was put so quickly into the sea. Where’s the evidence for his death? They think the whole thing is just one more government conspiracy. Even some people who agree to the principle that he should be dead are questioning whether the whole affair even occurred. My neighbor is one person that I know who is a “conspirist.” He is also a “birther” and a “chemtrailer”. As a birther he doubts the American citizenship of Obama and he thinks the government is part of a secret world order to slowly poison humanity by pumping chemicals into jet trails as planes fly across the country. There are a lot of people like this, mostly on the Christian right. They also believe 9/11 was staged by the US government and Americans never went to the moon. There is no end to this nonsense. Bin Laden is dead. He was behind the destruction of the world trade towers and Obama was born in America. I just wish this country would spend its money to return to the moon instead of spending its energy embroiled “defending” the free world.