Written by: Richard SilversteinMay 4, 2011
The killing of Osama bin Laden is beginning to look like little more than a standard IDF targeted killing. Initially, the Obama administration clearly stated that bin Laden was armed and resisted. Now, the account has been radically revised. He wasn’t armed, but ‘resisted’ in some unspecified way. There is only one way to satisfy speculation in this matter. They have to release documentary footage of the moment of his killing to allow people to judge for themselves what happened. Not the pictures of his dead body, which they weighting the release of now. Given the radical discrepancies, it’s no longer a situation in which we can take the government’s word for what happened.
If Bin Laden resisted violently I would have no problem with his killing. If he resisted passively, there surely are ways to disable someone without killing them as they did his wife, who they shot in the leg but did not kill.
In the situation of Israeli targeted killings and anti-terror operations, the victims are often killed either in bed or unarmed. While there is always a claim that violent resistance was offered, the evidence often does not support this. That is why the Bin Laden operation is beginning to sound suspiciously like an IDF one.
I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that this was simply an execution, not an apprehension. And that it was always intended to be an execution, contrary to what the government told us when they said they were prepared to capture him if he didn’t resist violently.
The fact too that Bin Laden’s body was buried almost immediately at sea seems deeply strange to me. Why do you so fear someone’s dead body that you make it disappear? Not to mention that disposing of his earthly remains in such a way would be a deep offense even to those many Muslims who despise Bin Laden. This is more or less what the Russians did to Hitler’s remains. They wanted to leave no trace of him for his supporters to worship. As a result, the way they disappeared his body will become a bone of contention for years and decades to come.
I didn’t fear Bin Laden alive and I don’t fear him dead. We are better and stronger than anything he represented. But when we execute our enemies and disappear their remains we aren’t behaving much better than they do.
On a completely different subject, I’ve wondered why those who built this compound for Bin Laden didn’t build a panic room that couldn’t be penetrated by the type of force which invaded it and ended up killing him. If he had retreated to such a sealed bunker he could’ve waited out the onslaught and the arrival of Pakistani forces, who might’ve ended it and forced the U.S. forces to retreat. Did Al Qaeda not think that such an assault was possible? If so, they were guilty of hubris. I’m not suggesting this because I particularly wanted to protect Bin Laden or see him saved. If the Pakistanis had captured him his fate might not have been much different. But I’m just curious about the thinking of those who protected Bin Laden and why something that occurred to me didn’t occur to them.
About the author:
Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.