May 05, 2011

The faint aroma of performing SEALs

An amusing game one can play at home is the amateur forensic reconstruction of public events based on the information (reluctantly) provided to us by the powers that be. I had a pretty good time playing this game during the O.J. Simpson murder trial; for example, in response to the claim of the defense that O.J. was framed, and that the bloody glove found in the alley (which didn't fit so you must acquit) was planted there by the L.A.P.D., I wondered how, given the exigencies of the timing (the police who had just left the murder scene were the ones who found the glove, including Mark Fuhrman) the police could have managed to place not just Nicole Simpson's, but O.J. Simpson's blood inside the glove. O.J. was in Chicago at the time the glove was found. So where did they get the blood? There were attempted answers to this conundrum, but none was particularly convincing.

Thus taking us to the case du jour, the hit on Osama bin Laden. To begin with, and to restate the obvious, it is part of the Obama Doctrine that suspected terrorists, including American citizens, can be gunned down on sight, anywhere in the world, no questions asked. This is the ultimate "indefinite detention" idea at work, because once you're dead, you're pretty much detained forever. America in its post-modern phase has moved way beyond hidebound, antiquated ideas of due process. If we think you're guilty, you're guilty and we can kill you. Okay? I often think that Mr. Obama's Constitutional Law classes at the University of Chicago must have been a little unorthodox, but it doesn't really matter because except for the usual gang of malcontents in Congress (Ron Paul, Bernie Sanders), no one ever questions Obama's use of the Divine Right of Kings. You may believe that the American Revolution was about overthrowing just such tyranny. Silly you!

Still, it appears to make certain higher-ups a little nervous, this business of shooting unarmed Evil Masterminds in cold blood. Don't know why it should; it's what we do now. Nevertheless, as a result of these misgivings, and probably from watching lots of old Westerns where the Good Guy always insisted that the Bad Guy "go for his gun," a story has taken root concerning Operation Geronimo which holds that Osama bin Laden was "reaching for his AK-47" at the moment he was shot. We'll never really know. It seems I was mistaken about the idea that the Situation Room could follow the events in real time through helmet-mounted cameras (although I'm not sure about that; that's what the news shows originally said shortly after the story broke). But a couple of SEALs are the only ones who really know what happened, and maybe the wounded bin Laden wife, who is now being interrogated by our pals the Pakis.

But here's why I'm virtually certain that bin Laden was not lunging for his AK-47 at the moment he was shot. It's a matter of simple deduction, although I haven't seen anyone talk about it.

Bin Laden was on the lam, a fugitive from justice. He knew as well as anyone that once he was discovered, he would be immediately shot. Whatever else is said about him, no one ever thought he was stupid or uninformed. The main evidence against him, if you read the 9-11 Commission Report (not that anyone ever has, least of all any reporter transcribing narratives from the White House), are statements made by the Gurgling Confessor, Khallid Sheikh Mohammed, who sang (or gargled) like Tweety Bird on meth while he was being routinely tortured in Guantanamo a few years back. To put Osama bin Laden on trial, therefore, even in the concentration camp in Cuba, would have entailed all sorts of difficulties with this evidence, even given the benighted state of American justice at this point. To wit, troublemaking lawyers would have attacked the admissibility of statements against bin Laden made by KSM while he had a wet towel down his throat. Even though everyone already knows that bin Laden was guilty (because we just do, that's why we could shoot him), this could have been pretty embarrassing. What if the U.S. had lost the case against bin Laden? Hey, anything's possible. O.J. walked. Then Obama would have been in the position of ordering bin Laden detained for life anyway, despite the acquittal.

It's obvious when you think about it, and I'm sure bin Laden had figured it out. Thus, when bin Laden heard two helicopters land inside his compound, including one that crash-landed, in the middle of the night; heard a furious gun battle downstairs in which at least three of his associates were killed with automatic weapons fire; where at least twenty minutes had elapsed since the crash of one helicopter and the landing of the other, during which the gun battle described occurred; does it seem at all logical to you, if Osama bin Laden was going to defend himself with an automatic weapon, that he would have waited until two Navy SEALs had entered his sleeping chamber before "going for his gun?"

Maybe he's a really, really heavy sleeper, I suppose. Kidney disease can take it out of you. But what about the woman in the room. Another narcoleptic? It all seems very doubtful. The most logical explanation, the one that is left, as Sherlock Holmes would say, no matter how unlikely it may appear (because the other possibilities have been eliminated) is simple: bin Laden decided to die that night without resistance.

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