Osama bin Laden, 1957-2011

I’ve been surfing around this morning looking at reactions to the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death. The executive summary: Hooray! followed by But it will make no difference in the 2012 elections. The campaign next year will focus on domestic issues, not terrorism.

See Nate Silver’s analysis of the political implications of the death of bin Laden, with which I largely agree. President Obama should get a boost in popularity that will disappear before election day 2012.

On the other hand, rightfully or not, the death of bin Laden ought to bolster public perception of President Obama as a serious commander in chief and someone who is “tough” on national security. This will be reinforced in a few weeks when we observe the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

It strikes me that none of the likely Republican nominees has much in the way of real or imagined national security credentials. I don’t think any of them served in the military or is associated in the public mind with any past national security crisis. And one of them is named “Tim.”

This event serves as a reminder to the public that the job of president is serious and requires more than just an ability to insult Democrats.

And while Sarah Palin and others can stand on the sidelines and belittle Obama’s foreign policies (which I do not necessarily endorse myself) all they like, as Nate says the death of bin Laden “neuters” the issue. Their whines and tweets and chest thumpings seem all the more pathetic now.

How will the Right respond? I predict they will belittle Obama for taking credit for the death of bin Laden in his speech last night. It was U.S. forces that did the job, they will say, not President Obama. They will probably try to give credit to George W. Bush somehow, with a nod to President Reagan. See also Steve M. I think most voters will perceive this posturing as sour grapes, though.

This is not to say that future events couldn’t change the current political dynamic, and drastically. It also is not to say that killing bin Laden changes anything in the real world at this point. He’s been more of a symbolic figure than a real leader for several years.

Update: Great photographs of the celebration in lower Manhattan.

Update: Fox News congratulates George W. Bush on death of bin Laden.

Update: Little Lulu slams President Obama for receiving credit for death of bin Laden.

Update: Recalling some 2008 campaign talking points.

28 thoughts on “Osama bin Laden, 1957-2011

  1. Let me be the first to say it. It took a Democratic commander to do it.

  2. Predictably, righties are not taking this well.

    And when there are reprisals, as there will be, just wait for them to blame Obama for them.
    Also, too, they’ll find some way of linking OBL’s death to Little Boots and his policies, since obviously Obama is not competent enough to have directed this mission.

    And that’s those who believe OBL is dead.
    We’re about to see the start of another conservative cottage industry – OBL isn’t dead, Obama just faked it to improve this poll numbers.
    Corsi will have a book about this out by Christmas. “Swift Helicopters for Truth.”
    Trump, if he ever recovers from the brilliant job that Myers and Obama did on him, will of course demand to see Osama’s long-form death certificate.

    Final thoughts:
    Obama gave that Trump/FOX put-down routine all the while knowing that this mission was under way, and that failure would NOT be looked upon kindly – as goatherd mentioned about Carter in the previous comment.
    And that it happened on the 8th anniversary of Little Boots, with his stuffed codpiece, declaring “Mission Accomplished.”
    Perhaps the President should send a ltter of apology to Conservatives:

    Dear Righties,
    I’m sorry it took so long for me to show you the long-form birth certificate you insisted on seeing. I was trying to kill Osama bin Laden.
    I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive.

    My Sincere Apologies,
    President of the USA,
    Barack Hussein Obama

  3. I believe Obama wanted Osama dead first with capture only as a last resort. I’m guessing he may wanted this only because a live capture would only resort to military tribunal/public trial arguments. (I heard Osama was shot in head–a likelihood it was a sniper, if true) I know how this opinion looks, but I sometimes wonder if some decisions are made with an understanding of how things can play out. Personally, I think there’s more relief to the victims with a dead bin Laden rather than going a capture route, but I’ve yet to read a consensus on that thought.

    On another note, I agree the GOP will downplay Obama’s part in it and there will be those who will doubt bin Laden’s death…where’s his body? That’s not really his body in the photo. How can we trust the DNA results from this administration? And of course there’s sure to be this one: Obama has really endangered America now!

    • I believe Obama wanted Osama dead first with capture only as a last resort. I’m guessing he may wanted this only because a live capture would only resort to military tribunal/public trial arguments.

      Very likely. This was the best “solution” for the President, politically. And yeah, I can’t wait for the conspiracy theories to be spun out of this.

  4. Since the FBI updated its 10 most wanted list with OBL being deceased, still why does the FBI only list him as murdering US nationals outside the U.S.? So then, why does the MSM show the twin towers next to the picture of OBL? Why did the troops dispose of the body at sea? This is screwy.

    • Chris — don’t start with the truther stuff. I don’t allow it here. The sea burial is/was to prevent OBL’s grave from becoming some kind of shrine. They couldn’t just keep him in the freezer or be in violation of Muslim law, which might have inflamed opinion in the Middle East. Of course, it’s possible he is in a freezer and the feds just claim he was dumped in the ocean.

  5. It’s becoming painfully clearer and clearer that America was governed for 8 years by the 3 stooges – Georgie, Dickie and Donny. Perhaps historians will refer to the time as the Age of Absurdities when America fell victim to a kind of public neurosis, a belief that the last 8 years under the governance of the Stooges were perfectly normal – think normal, conformity, sanity.

    (In keeping with Republican tradition, the 4th stooge, as yet in the wings will declare that his ‘people’ have not seen the body, therefore the assassination never happened.)

  6. He’s been more of a symbolic figure than a real leader for several years.

    True, but it still sends the signal that if you attack the U.S. we will get you. Even Dick Cheney was able to be enough of an American this morning to say that, which is more than I can say for Pawlenty, Bachmann, Boehner et al. (Particularly Pawlenty, who really had to sit and think before coming up with the first sentence (paraphrasing here) “Ten years ago President Bush said we’d get bin Laden and we did.”

    • (Particularly Pawlenty, who really had to sit and think before coming up with the first sentence (paraphrasing here) “Ten years ago President Bush said we’d get bin Laden and we did.”

      Way to go, Tim.

  7. Dear Tim,
    Let’s get some things straight.
    Sorry, but ten years ago President Bush DIDN’T give a shit about bin Laden.

    Even 9 years and 9 months ago, President Bush still didn’t give a shit about bin Laden.

    9 years and 8 months ago, President Bush finally DID give a shit about bin Laden, since he was the architect of 9/11, which gave Little Boots a much needed boost in his poll numbers.

    And then, 9 years and two months ago, President Bush AGAIN DIDN’T give a shit about bin Laden when he said, “So I don’t know where he is. You know, I just don’t spend that much time on him,…”
    Apparently because OBL had served his purpose for Bush, and let him go on a dry-drunk hog ass wild rampage on enemies real and perceived.

    So Tim, it would appear that President Bush only care about OBL from 9/112000 until 3/2001. Then, for all Bush cared, OBL could have been helping him clear shrub at this Crawford Ranch, or in Cheney’s man-sized safe, as long as he kept a low profile.

    Oh, and I just found out that to add to Obama’s insult to Trumps ego on Saturday night, he further injured him by interrupting Trumps show, “The Apprentice,” last night to announce that OBL had been killed.
    How’s that, Donald? LOL!!!

  8. I’m sorry, it was his miserable follow-up reality show, “Celebrity Apprentice.” My apologies to Mr. Rump. Eh, er, uh, Trump. Sorry…

  9. Why did the troops dispose of the body at sea? This is screwy. They probably buried Bin Laden at sea to prevent his followers from having a tomb to memorialize him. I am not surprised the righties are belittling Obama for not having found & killed Bin Laden sooner, but then everything to them is political fodder for their own self-advancement. Bush could have made more effective efforts to find Bin Laden any time after September 11, 2001, and in fact at one point U.S. forces had Bin Laden cornered, but failed to take the initiative, and Bin Laden got away. Gary Berntsen told the story in his book “Jawbreaker.”

    Maha-I think you are correct in assessing this will be forgotten by the 2012 election. Bin Laden’s death is important, but it will not necessarily put paid to Al Qaeda. I am reminded of Cadmus and the dragon’s teeth from Greek mythology.

  10. I agree completely about this demonstrating the seriousness of the president’s job. To think he was involved in the planning while Donald Trump ran around questioning if he’s a real American really puts things in perspective.
    I think this also goes to show how important Osama was to republicans as a Boogey Man figure. “You have to vote for us, because we’re the only ones who can handle Bin Laden”. What a joke!
    How anyone can still praise Bush is beyond me. This is another example of what a failure he was and to try make this his victory only shows Repubs are very special people, indeed.

  11. Poor little Lulu…Nobody understands her! It was our torturing of Al-Qaida suspects that led to the name of the courier who knew where Osama Bin Laden was. So that proves that torture works, and Bush was the one who authorized torture. So now we should change our national motto.. In Torture We Trust. And credit Bush and Cheney for getting Bin Laden.

  12. At the risk of sounding paranoid, I won’t take at face value accounts of how we located OBL. Suppose bin Laden was outed by someone in the Pakistan government or military. A plausible story had to be presented to protect the informer.

    There’s a reason my suspicous nature is on alert. The President ordered troops into Pakistan in an operation which we did NOT inform Pakistan about in advance. So the POTUS had a high level of confidence that OBL was there – or he would not have risked the political fallout from Pakistan.

    So I’m fairly confident we don’t know everything – but I can see some plausable reasons why we shouldn’t know everything and creative storytelling by the White House is in order.

  13. I like the part about OBL cowering behind one of his wives, using her as a human shield.

  14. Well, the truth is that Obama and Osama are the SAME person! There is lots of proof, all you’ve just got to look for it on the Internet. Some examples:

    1) Note the resemblance of the names, “Obama” and “Osama.” Coincidence?

    2) Both are admitted America-hating Muslims, just like their mentors Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers.

    3) Both were born in Kenya.

    4) Obama failed to register with the Selective Service, because at that time he was serving in the Islamic Army in Somalia. You can even catch of glimpse of him in the movie “Black Hawk Down.”

    5) Obama lived in Indonesia under the alias Barry Soetoro. He and his fellow classmates at the madrassah planned and organized the Bali bombing at that time.

    6) The deadly tsunami that occurred the day after Christmas in 2005 was the result of an atomic bomb test, also planned and executed by Obama’s Indonesian madrassah. No coincidence that they did it on Christmas, the sacred day for Christians.

    7) The swine flu epidemic, a well executed example of germ warfare.

    8) Obama is canceling the space shuttle program, one of America’s greatest weapons.

    I’m sure that more evidence will come out as Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and conservative bloggers continue their investigation of Obama/Osama. But don’t expect the liberal media to report any of this.

  15. Just wanted to add that the previous swine flu epidemic was in 1974 when Jimmy Carter (a Demoncrat) was president. Special thanks to Michelle Bachman for unearthing this important fact!

    I probably don’t need to point out that the terrorist organization ACORN (a branch of Al Qaeda) was based in Chicago, home to Bill Ayers and Obama/Osama.

    And as for those Wisconsin union thugs threatening the life of the Republican governor, it’s no secret that Wisconsin is close to Dearborn, Michigan, which is America’s Muslim capital.

    OK, the proof is overwhelming, but I’m done. Time to go to work.

  16. I have no new found joy over the death of OBL, no desire to party or cheer “team America”. I guess I’ve grown weary of the stories, some rediculous fabrications, some true that surrounded OBL and Al-Qaida.
    My hope is that we have reached a turning point, a cosmic train station where we can change direction as a nation. Can we transform from a rampaging elephant to a serious, productive, and prosperous country once again?
    I hope so.
    There will always be “enemies”, and various regimes will play on that theme to accomplish their goals.
    OBL and Al-Qaida were a Frankinstein’s monster, created (in part) by the U.S. during the cold war, in an attempt to lure the Soviet army into the badlands of Afghanistan in order to destroy the Soviet spirit and economy. It worked.
    The same monster took a dreadful toll on us.An all too familiar story of arming and supporting a psychopath who eventually turns on his host, and a host who abandons the psychopath whan his usefullness expires.
    We will never succeed until we dispose of the crazy imperial globocop mentality/ industry that has taken over.
    To waste so many lives and treasure to find and kill an impotent lame guy with bad kidneys hiding in the mountains of Central Asia, popping out of the shadows from time to time like a satanic Jack -in- the -box to terrorize the gullible and small children.
    The tired old mad dog has been put down.
    Time to move on.

  17. erinyes,
    Well said!
    I hate the death penalty. I’m from the John Donne school of thought: “…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

    And, while I can make an exception for the bell tolling in the case of bin Laden, I want to stop there.
    I’d like to us to get out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Europe, too. And pretty much everywhere except Korea, where we have a mad man who’s starving an entire country by funneling every resource towards his military.

    And I hope, if nothing else, that finally getting bin Laden proves to be some sort of a, I don’t know, ‘reminder?’, to people that a government when properly run, can render justice – even if it’s military justice, which we’ve seen before all too often and too well.
    I’d like to see a shift towards social and economic justice. But I’m not going to hold my breath.

  18. erinyes – seconded. You managed to capture my thoughts pretty perfectly. Thank you.

  19. “I have no new found joy over the death of OBL, no desire to party or cheer “team America””

    I agree it seems childish to wave flags and shout USA USA. The celebrations remided me of the celebrations in some Arab cities after 9-11. I would rather he was captured and made to stand trial.

  20. erinyes wrote: Can we transform from a rampaging elephant to a serious, productive, and prosperous country once again?

    Chris Hedges, who was in NYC during 9/11, and who was Middle East bureau chief for the NYT, was at a fundraiser when he heard the news of OBL’s death. His remarks here:

    …We responded exactly as these terrorist organizations wanted us to respond. They wanted us to speak the language of violence. What were the explosions that hit the World Trade Center, huge explosions and death above a city skyline? It was straight out of Hollywood. When Robert McNamara in 1965 began the massive bombing campaign of North Vietnam, he did it because he said he wanted to “send a message” to the North Vietnamese—a message that left hundreds of thousands of civilians dead.

    These groups learned to speak the language we taught them. And our response was to speak in kind. The language of violence, the language of occupation—the occupation of the Middle East, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—has been the best recruiting tool al-Qaida has been handed. If it is correct that Osama bin Laden is dead, then it will spiral upwards with acts of suicidal vengeance. And I expect most probably on American soil. The tragedy of the Middle East is one where we proved incapable of communicating in any other language than the brute and brutal force of empire.

    And empire finally, as Thucydides understood, is a disease. As Thucydides wrote, the tyranny that the Athenian empire imposed on others it finally imposed on itself. The disease of empire, according to Thucydides, would finally kill Athenian democracy. And the disease of empire, the disease of nationalism … these of course are mirrored in the anarchic violence of these groups, but one that locks us in a kind of frightening death spiral. So while I certainly fear al-Qaida, I know it’s intentions. I know how it works. I spent months of my life reconstructing every step Mohamed Atta took. While I don’t in any way minimize their danger, I despair. I despair that we as a country, as Nietzsche understood, have become a monster that we are attempting to fight.

  21. After scanning the comments a bit of black humor has emerged. Many of us, in the wake of the constant stream of ridiculous right wing talking points/conspiracy theories were trying to be a bit satirical in conjuring purportedly outlandish right wing responses. What began in jest quickly became reality, as evidenced by Right Blogistan. Maybe, on my part and for others, it was a kind of denial, with some inner voice saying, “They’re crazy, but not THIS crazy.” It didn’t take very long before it became obvious that the well of crazy is bottomless.

    It’s hard to say when we slipped into Bizarro World or if we entered one small step at a time. Looking back, it may all seem to be the elements of a plan, but, that is probably an illusion. If you want a mythic image, it is the “Bridge of Swords” in Arthurian legend. Crossing over there are myriad ways to fail, looking back, the path seems simple and unique. It seems the result of destiny, at least of some sort of plan. As usual, Chris Hedges has an insightful and somewhat depressing summation.


    But, I do think some elements of our predicament were part of a plan. The insanity we’re witnessing is a result of a transformation and subsequent failure of the news media. Maybe failure is the wrong word because the transformation involved a change of purpose, leaving a vacuum in place of the institution that formerly provided useful information and allowed for informed debate. But, once the Fairness Doctrine was done away with, it opened a route for people like Rupert Murdoch to offer “services” to a political faction in exchange for legislation that would increase his influence and allow him to grow unencumbered. The result is a virtual Ministry of Information that is at once laughably absurd and hideously powerful. (That seems like a bad combination.)

    It forms a kind of positive feedback loop, each becoming more powerful as they exchange economic and political power. In time, there is no controlling them, they have formed a kind of singularity. Ouroboros is eating his tail. Capitalism is eating democracy.

    Wow, maybe I ought to ask my doctor about some medication. I’m getting a little on the gloomy side.

  22. Well written piece about how Osama ‘won.’


    Oh, and can we stop thanking Little Boots, Darth Cheney, Donald Dumbsfeld, Yahoo Yoo, and Spice Condi for the death of Osama because of their decision to torture?
    These simpering cowards basically let this one man dictate foreign and domestic policies, with a resulting stain that will NEVER come out.

    So, I’d like to take a moment to give a F*CK YOU! to the SCOTUS, Ralph Nader, and the senior imbeciles in FL who either couldn’t read or left a chad hanging!
    F*CK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Not only would we still be a nation of laws if Gore were rightfully President, think about how much better off and cleaner this country and the world would have been.

  23. cundgulag, I’m old enough to remember when, to an American, stuff like ‘the end justifies the means’ was the rationale of despots and dictators. And when the suspension of habeaus corpus was unthinkable. And when warrantless searches were in direct contradiction to the Constitution.

    And now, no thanks to Bush and his fellow thugs, we have evolved into a nation practicing what we not-that-long-ago deplored. And the irony is that we have done it to ourselves. Nobody else has imposed these practices on us. The question remains, will we ever return to those principles of governance that made us the great nation that we once were. I think it’s a toss-up.

  24. Felicity,
    I’m not as optimistic as you are.
    Once that genii is out of the bottle, it takes a lot to put it back in. And the cowardly among us want that genii to stay out, and too many Democrats are a part of that group.

  25. I have to marvel at the improvement in the competence of the
    CIA and our other intelligence agencies since Barack Obama became president.

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