Since September 11, 2001, Bin Laden had been mostly an absence. His few video or audio tapes were highly suspect, and speculations about his death had often surfaced. On July 11, 2002, Amir Taheri wrote in the New York Times, “Osama bin Laden is dead. The news first came from sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan almost six months ago: the fugitive died in December and was buried in the mountains of southeast Afghanistan[…]With an ego the size of Mount Everest, Osama bin Laden would not have, could not have, remained silent for so long if he were still alive. He always liked to take credit even for things he had nothing to do with. Would he remain silent for nine months and not trumpet his own survival?”
But save for one doubtful video, Bin Laden never took credit for 9/11. In fact, he repeatedly denied any responsibility for those mass murders. On September 28, 2001, he was interviewed by the Karachi Ummat, an Urdu language newspaper. The US Foreign Broadcast Information Service, a component of the CIA, translated:
[…]I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. Neither I had any knowledge of these attacks nor I consider the killing of innocent women, children, and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children, and other people. Such a practice is forbidden ever in the course of a battle. It is the United States, which is perpetrating every maltreatment on women, children, and common people of other faiths, particularly the followers of Islam. All that is going on in Palestine for the last 11 months is sufficient to call the wrath of God upon the United States and Israel. There is also a warning for those Muslim countries, which witnessed all these as a silent spectator. What had earlier been done to the innocent people of Iraq, Chechnya, and Bosnia? Only one conclusion could be derived from the indifference of the United States and the West to these acts of terror and the patronage of the tyrants by these powers that America is an anti-Islamic power and it is patronizing the anti-Islamic forces. Its friendship with the Muslim countries is just a show, rather deceit. By enticing or intimidating these countries, the United States is forcing them to play a role of its choice. Put a glance all around and you will see that the slaves of the United States are either rulers or enemies [of Muslims]. The US has no friends, nor it wants to keep one because the prerequisite of friendship is to come to the level of the friend or consider him at par with you. America does not want to see anyone equal to it. It expects slavery from others. Therefore, other countries are either its slaves or subordinates[…]Whoever committed the act of 11 September are not the friends of the American people. I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, the common American people have been killed[…]The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; the people who are a part of the US system, but are dissenting against it. Or those who are working for some other system; persons who want to make the present century as a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity so that their own civilization, nation, country, or ideology could survive[…]Then there are intelligence agencies in the US, which require billions of dollars worth of funds from the Congress and the government every year. This [funding issue] was not a big problem till the existence of the former Soviet Union but after that the budget of these agencies has been in danger. They needed an enemy. So, they first started propaganda against Usama and Taliban and then this incident happened. You see, the Bush administration approved a budget of $40 billion. Where will this huge amount go? It will be provided to the same agencies, which need huge funds and want to exert their importance. Now they will spend the money for their expansion and for increasing their importance. I will give you an example. Drug smugglers from all over the world are in contact with the US secret agencies. These agencies do not want to eradicate narcotics cultivation and trafficking because their importance will be diminished. The people in the US Drug Enforcement Department are encouraging drug trade so that they could show performance and get millions of dollars worth of budget. General Noriega was made a drug baron by the CIA and, in need, he was made a scapegoat. In the same way, whether it is President Bush or any other US President, they cannot bring Israel to justice for its human rights abuses or to hold it accountable for such crimes. What is this? Is it not that there exists a government within the government in the United Sates? That secret government must be asked as to who made the attacks[…]
Judge for yourself. Does this sound like the raving of some mad man with an ego the size of Mount Everest? He sounds quite composed, actually, and far more lucid, perceptive and concise than all American politicians and most intellectuals. In any case, this interview was the last substantial utterance from Bin Laden. After this, he more or less disappeared.
Though neither seen nor heard, he was often evoked to justify the crimes America was committing against others, and even her own citizens. Bin Laden vindicated whatever our leaders chose to do. But ten years is a long time to throw this shadow against our walls. This bearded man had become a bit of a joke, frankly. On a cartoon show, the folks of South Park, Colorado even asked Bin Laden to help them kill an invading horde from New Jersey.
On May 2, 2011, our government decided, finally, to kill off the Bin Laden apparition. Since the United States had supposedly been after him since 1998, you would think they’d hang on to their man a bit longer after they got him, if they got him, but within hours of finding her public enemy number one, America got rid of Bin Laden!
Hey, if you can’t show me something, maybe you don’t have it, especially since you are a chronic liar and in the cloak and dagger business. For most English-language trials since the disappearance of William Harrison in 1660, there has been the principle of no corpse, no murder, but here you actually have an open admission of murder, widely broadcast, but no corpse, which is tantamount to destruction of evidence, whatever it was.
So the CIA is basically saying to us, The dog ate my cadaver. Frankly, this farce was so crudely put together, the explanation so ridiculous, that our overlords must think most of us are morons, brainwashed as we are by cradle-to-grave propaganda delivered via print or pixels. I hate to think they might be right.
In a much-mocked photograph, Bush is shown in an Army jacket, his hands holding a tray with a picture-perfect turkey, garlanded by grapes. He is surrounded by American troops, most of whom are not looking at him. This is meant to convey that the photo was spontaneous, casual, and not posed. It is authentic.
In another photograph, this one declared an instant classic, iconic and paradigm shifting by our mainstream media, Obama is shown in the Situation Room of the White House, surrounded by his top security advisors. They are watching something. Of the thirteen faces, none is looking at the camera. Again, this is to convey that the photo was natural and spontaneous. Obama is shown in a casual jacket, Biden in shirt sleeves, details that indicate they are at work, and not posing for a propaganda photo, god forbid. This image is so authentic, in fact, that it borders on the illicit. This was a secret session, after all. That’s why all of the laptop monitors have been blackened out, and the photo in front of Hillary Clinton has been blurred. We should be thankful, then, for this courtesy peep at a scene we shouldn’t even have access to. The spontaneity is also reinforced by an unfamiliar face at the back, peeking in. She is younger and shorter than the rest, truly a little person among heavyweights, nearly all of whom are men, by the way, yet only the most cynical would conclude that this small woman was added to double the female representation in the room. A really tall and large woman would not do. Like that worm in the British royal wedding photo, this tiny woman provides just enough intrigue without distracting.
As we all know, Bush served up a plastic turkey, so the turkey propaganda photo was itself a turkey, but a much bigger turkey is the Situation Room image. Releasing it, the White House explained that Obama and company were watching the raid and execution of Bin Laden in real time, with the snuff film made possible by a camera mounted on the helmet of a Navy Seal. Now, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that any head during a firefight is not likely to be stationary, not long enough, in any case, to broadcast steadily and clearly to the folks back home, not unless it wants to be a dead head, that is.
“Hey, Seal with the camera, run up that stairs and fix your gaze on Geronimo, will you? Remember to stand still and don’t duck, so our Commander in Chief will have a vivid stream of images, OK?”
Soon after, the White House explained that there was no live feed of the crucial moment, after all, that the camera actually didn’t work for 25 of the 38-minute raid, so there was absolutely no video footage of Bin Laden, but why this sudden reversal? Can’t these people work out their lies before they broadcast them to us?
The White House had to backtrack because it had painted itself into a corner. It had already refused to produce photos of a dead Bin Laden. He had been shot above the eye, it said, shattering his skull, so such a gory image would inflame Muslim sentiments. “We don’t want to spike the football,” Obama explained. But if we can’t see a dead Bin Laden, how about a photo of him alive? If a helmet mounted camera could deliver a live feed to the Situation Room, surely it can produce at least one image of Bin Laden with his head still intact, and in that house? But this, too, was out of the question, incredibly enough.
With webcams, surveillance cameras, Google street view and the ubiquitous camera phones, it seems that the entire world is always photographed, or ready to be photographed these days, that anyone at any moment can be captured by that voracious shutter, then uploaded onto a screen. There are cameras hidden inside pens, books, boom boxes, clocks, air purifiers and smoke detectors. You can probably google any name, a grade school chum, your first lover, long lost cat, dead grandma, bless her soul, and find photos of them online, uploaded by the Pentagon, or maybe God himself.
The public has also come to expect a photo, as evidence or trophy, after any political assassination or execution. Just think of the strung up Mussolini, bloody Ngo Dinh Diem inside an armored car, a shirtless Che Guevara or the bandaged head of Leon Trotsky.
We are drowning in photographs, most of which we can do without, yet the one image that everyone wants to see this week, of a Bin Laden dead or alive during the raid, is not available. Instead, we are treated to a wealth of irrelevant information. We are told that there was “a hero dog” involved; that Obama and company had turkey pita wraps, cold shrimp, potato chips and soda, bought from Costco, the cheapo outlet—how nice, this common man touch—in the Situation Room; that Obama has met to congratulate his commandos, all highly intelligent and responsible family men between the ages of 30 and 40. Whatever.
The Bin Laden photos would not matter if there was a corpse, but that too, has gone missing, so without a cadaver or even the flimsy evidence of a photoshopped photograph, what is there to this sensational murder, really? Nothing but words from the CIA and the White House. Though they lied to us about Jessica Lynch’s “rescue” and Pat Tillman’s murder, we are to believe them this time because they have suddenly decided to speak the truth. Honestly.
Though the important questions are not being asked, the official lessons are being pounded into our heads. According to governmental bobbleheads and embedded media pundits, this virtual assassination is a vindication of America and her (evil) ways. The end justifies the means, you see, so waterboarding, extra-rendition and all the rest have been and are necessary.
Ari Fleischer, former Bush mouthpiece, attributed Bin Laden’s supposed assassination to “a strong foundation of anti-terrorist efforts including the predator strikes in northern Pakistan, indefinite detention, Guantanamo where we had interrogation techniques that led to the courier[…]all that is what Barack Obama continued that George Bush started. This is a day for all of us to just be proud of what our country has accomplished.”
Obama also dished up some righteousness, “Tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.”
An additional lesson was provided by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. With Bin Laden gone, he said to CNN, it was time to eradicate Bin Ladenism, which he defined as using violence to affect political changes. An apologist for the ultra violent state of Israel and America’s invasion of Iraq, Friedman did not seem to care that it is the US that leads the world in violence for political and economic ends. Even before 9/11, the Taliban made repeated overtures to hand Bin Laden over to the US, but America would have none of it. Our intention, then as now, was to bomb, bomb and bomb!
Like a great clean up batter, dead man Bin Laden brought everyone safely home. Bush could round the bases at last, could find closure and high five Obama at home plate. We’re all on the same team, see? Even Colin Powell could be defrosted long enough to gush over our Navy Seals.
Assigned to this phony assignment, our Navy Seals nevertheless messed up and left a huge, mangled chunk of a helicopter on a brick wall. How many Navy Seals died in that crash? From a botched mission that didn’t involve Bin Laden at all, the US has fashioned a chest-thumping fairy tale to celebrate its supposed greatness. Further, if Bin Laden was such a feared leader of a terrorist organization, why was he shot on sight? For intelligence purpose alone, wouldn’t it be imperative to catch the old man alive? Long suffering from kidney failure, Bin Laden couldn’t have survived until 2011 anyway, but to point this out is to incur the blood curling wrath of not just flag-waving, rah-rah Americans, but even progressive commentators, such is the level of brainwashing in this country.
On August 6, 2011, 22 Navy Seals from the Bin Laden hit team were killed when they were shot out of the sky, supposedly by the Taliban. All 38 people onboard that Chinook died, 30 of them Americans. Not before or since had the Taliban killed so many Americans with one shot, and there’s also the question of why so many “heroes” from the Bin Laden fuss were so conveniently packed so as to be silenced like that? Liars and criminals, our grinnning leaders kill their own soldiers then pin medals on the cadavers.
To prove his US birth, Obama showed us an electronic file then, jokingly, a cartoon excerpt, but to prove Bin Laden’s death, Obama’s handlers have given us nothing but a cartoon narrative suitable only for dimwitted children. The bloody crooks hustling us must be incredulous, if not laughing uproariously, at what they can get away with in this nation of suckers.
Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, Postcards from the End of America.