Dead, they say.
But it looks like it will be a long time before we have pictures to prove it. The newspapers are now saying that Obama has decided not to release the photos taken of the body. I think that may be a mistake for now the weavers of fancy fictions will be free to deny the death and keep the boogie man image going into the foreseeable future. The conspiracy theory concocters of all stripes will be free to let their imaginations roam. Inevitably, we will hear that bin Laden isn’t dead after all.
Whose feelings are being spared? Westerners? Muslims? Could the photos really be so gruesome as all that? Very possibly a photo could inflame the feelings of Muslim mobs egged on by imams with their own axes to grind, but how much more danger do they really pose to westerners?
No photo = no proof of death. it’s always possible that the DNA samples that supposedly “match” will turn out after all to be the same as any in the Bin Laden extended family. So who died, if anyone? And why did they shoot and not capture? What was the point in Obama doing Bush’s revenge for him? After 10 years Bin Laden was pretty much a nobody to everyone, except those in the US who lost family members in the Towers. No matter how gruesome there will eventually be a photo anyway, because one will undoubtedly be leaked by someone with a bent for mischief or a belief in baring the truth.
Publishing the photo could hardly have the same effect as Reverend Jones’ burning of the Koran, though it might well cause a few attacks both here and overseas. But we’ve been having these every now and then anyway, so what’s the difference? We are much too paranoid about the power of the terrorists, who have long since lost most of their ability to do us real harm.
Anyway, today it’s no photo. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? And there is always, for those of us who believe in the rule of law, the question of targeted Assassination. The more we hear and read, the more that question haunts. Why were there 25 US guys in that compound who did not, apparently, even attempt to capture Bin Laden? Were they ordered to shoot first and ask questions later? If bin Laden’s wife could be shot in the leg, couldn’t he have been similarly disabled? Did Obama give a shoot to kill order? Even though Jon Yoo is a fool to suggest that Bin Laden should have been delivered to the tender mercies of Guantanamo where, presumably, a Republican President might have ordered him tortured, there is something deeply disturbing about the realization that our government is now publicly in the business of targeted assassinations. Just because the Israelis do it doesn’t make it right or justified, and it harks back to the behavior of monarchs of the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe. Didn’t we fight a war of independence against that very type of behavior?
I guess the real question is if we will ever know what actually happened in that compound in Abbottabad. Much is being covered up with all the conflicting stories the Administration is spinning. Will we go after al-Zawahiri the same way? Will he too have his face shot off? The more we allow our state bloody violence to be hidden from us, the more reasons there will be to find justifications for the most hideous crimes committed by our government in other countries.
Am I sorry Bin Laden is dead? Hardly. I’m not sure, though, that his death will make a great deal of difference to the jihadi movement’s scattered cells of plotters. Others have shown an equal interest in doing damage to westerners. Those who have tried and failed could well succeed.