Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sorry, But I Don’t Believe This

by: Gonzalo Lira

When the Bolivian Army killed Che Guevara in October 1967, they displayed his body as proof that he was indeed dead. The Bolivians in fact staged the body so that ordinary people—and the world’s journalists—could get a good view of the corpse, up close and personal.

Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s body on display,
October 1967.

The attached photograph, grisly though it may be, is one of hundreds taken of Che’s body. It—along with the pictures and testimony of hundreds of journalists and ordinary people who saw his corpse—puts to rest any notion that Guevara somehow survived—which of course was the whole point: The Bolivian Army wanted there to be no doubts that El Che was really dead.

My readers know I don’t truck in conspiracy theories. I believe Elvis is dead, I believe Paul never died, I believe 9/11 was a terrorist incident, and I believe Neil Armstrong did in fact land on the moon.

But I don’t believe Osama Bin Laden was killed over the weekend.

The story goes this morning that Bin Laden was tracked down to a multi-storey compound in the middle of the Pakistani hinterlands, where he was shot twice in the head by American Special Forces. These soldiers then took his body, and buried it at sea.

That’s the story. But I don’t buy it.

Just to be clear, I do not believe Bin Laden is still alive. I believe what a lot of intelligence analysts have been privately saying for a long time now: That Bin Laden died of kidney failure in December 2001, and that he was buried by his followers in an unmarked grave in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

After all, it was a known fact that Bin Laden had severe kidney problems. People who spoke with him in 2000 and 2001 said how sick he looked, and described symptoms that matched kidney failure. From these accounts, the international intelligence community was pretty much in agreement that he had some sort of severe kidney problems. Without dialysis or a kidney transplant—neither which would have been available to him in the aftermath of 9/11—he wouldn’t have much chance of long term survival.

From 2002 onward, there hasn’t been a single undisputed Bin Laden sighting—even though he was supposed to be the most hunted man on earth. Furthermore, in Bin Laden’s videotaped rants that were periodically released, he never referred to current events. The only times he did refer to current events was on some of the 30 audio tapes he allegedly released over the last ten years—“allegedly” because many of these audio tapes are in dispute, as to whether they actually were made by Bin Laden or not.

Moreover—and most tellingly—the American military’s efforts to capture Bin Laden “dead or alive” in W.’s ridiculous phrase dropped to almost nothing after 2003. Many people from both the Left and the Right wondered at this dismissal of Bin Laden as a viable threat by the defense and intelligence communities—his dismissal even as someone to worry about, or even take seriously.

Bizarre: That the mastermind of the most egregious terrorist attack in U.S. history—the worst mass killing of American citizens on U.S. soil since the Civil War, as I understand it—was treated so la-di-da by the American defense and intelligence communities.

Yet after 2003, for the next eight years, the American military offered up a mere token effort to find him “dead or alive”. An attitude that makes absolutely no sense at all—

—unless you already know that the man is dead, and that his body will likely never be found.

This was my impression: The American defense and intelligence agencies knew he was dead, and knew they would never likely find his body. In fact a couple of intelligence types I know privately confirmed this line of thinking.

But then this morning, I wake up to hear about Osama Bin Laden’s death.

He was killed not in some cave, as he was famous for inhabiting, but rather in a multi-storey compound in the Pakistani countryside—a compound that stuck out like a sore thumb—a compound not one kilometer away from a Pakistani military base.

Some U.S. Special Forces stormed the compound, and shot Osama Bin Laden dead.

This man was the most feared and terrible terrorist in U.S. history—and rather than make every effort to capture him alive, and thereby bring him to justice for the whole world to see, Bin Laden was shot in the head. Twice—as if for good measure.

Then, supposedly following Islamic tradition that the dead must be buried within 24 hours, Osama Bin Laden was given a hurry-up burial at sea—which explicitly goes against Islamic tradition.

Other Muslims killed by the Americans and their allies were not buried immediately. For instance, the sons of Saddam Hussein. Their corpses were held for a while, in order to confirm that they were indeed the intended targets.

But Osama Bin Laden? Killed and buried at sea in record time—even though there hadn’t been a confirmed sighting of him in something like eleven years.

Pictures of Bin Laden’s corpse? None. Nor have there been any pictures of this “burial at sea”. There’ve been plenty of video of where Bin Laden was killed—but none (so far) of the actual corpse.

In fact aside from the word of the American defense and intelligence establishment, there hasn’t been a shred of evidence that they did in fact kill him.

All we have is the official word of the American defense and intelligence establishments.

Mm-hmm. Because they’ve always been so trustworthy.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a very interesting book called Blink. In it, he explained how experts often get a first-look reaction to something, a knee-jerk reaction that often as not turns out to be true. He gives as an example an art expert who took one look at a celebrated painting that was about to be sold—and declared it a hoax on the spot. The seller, buyer and art gallery handling the sale all said that the expert was wrong, that the painting was the real deal—until sophisticated authentication techniques revealed that in fact it was a forgery.

The second I heard about Osama Bin Laden’s death, my reaction was that it was bullshit.

The whole story smells: Where he was supposedly located; how he was shot twice in the head, rather than captured; how he was buried at sea; how there’s (so far) no picture of his corpse.

The American military might claim that they held on to bits of DNA samples of the corpse they say is Osama Bin Laden’s. They might claim that this is proof positive that he is dead. But as far as I’m concerned—and I’m a non-conspiracy, fairly skeptical sort—I’ll never believe them. A lab report is not the same as an actual corpse.

To insist: I do not for a second doubt that he is indeed dead. I just don’t believe that he was killed this past weekend. I believe that he died quite some time ago—years ago, in fact.

In my mind, whoever was killed this weekend was not Osama Bin Laden.

I am way outside the mainstream on this. The mainstream consensus this morning is that this was a “great victory”. President Obama gave what amounted to a “Mission Accomplished” speech. People were celebrating outside the White House and on Times Square as if it were V-E Day. (As an aside, I do have to point out how ugly it is to celebrate the killing of another human being. Because that is what we saw in New York and Washington: People cheering in the streets, celebrating a murder. It’s not only ugly, indeed, it is repulsive.)

But I don’t really see how this assassination is a “victory”. President Obama claims “Justice has been done”—but that’s simply not true.

Justice would have been served if he had been captured, flown to New York, and tried in a (civilian) court for the events of 9/11.

Extra-judicial assassination is not “justice”—it’s merely revenge, something that Christianity, the dominant morality of the United States, specifically rejects. Don’t believe me? Read Matthew 5:38, or more apropos, Luke 6:27.

Someone might argue that, if what I think is true—that Bin Laden died years ago, and this is some big old hoax—then what would be the point of this hoax?

I have no idea. One can only speculate—and any such speculation will be pointless and endless, not to mention endlessly boring.

Perhaps—what with all this talk of “victory”—it might be that this was staged in order to give an excuse for rapid withdrawal not only from Afghanistan, but from Iraq as well. Perhaps this charade is an excuse to declare “victory” and thereby end the endless Global War On Terror. After all, as I’ve been writing on this blog ad nauseam, the United States is going literally bankrupt—and a lot of the reason is because of its unsustainable military spending. Bin Laden’s “death” might give the perfect excuse for a sudden, rapid draw-down, in particular as the United States’ fiscal budget is about to tip over into insolvency.

But this is idle speculation on my part—buttressed by nothing but air.

The sad thing is, we’ll probably never know the truth—which is a pity. Had Bin Laden been shown to the world’s press—just like the Bolivian Army did with Che Guevara—there would be no doubts. Because when the Bolivian Army showed off Che Guevara‘s corpse, there were international cries of outrage at the “brutality” of parading his corpse around for all to see.

But not even that perennial fantasist Fidel Castro could deny the truth that El Che was indeed dead.

With Osama Bin Laden? We’ll never be really sure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So a young man from my hometown of Weaverville, NC was sent to Afghanistan to look for somebody they knew was already dead?!...he came back in a bodybag and is buried a half mile from where I type this. Is that a crime? Will anyone be held accountable? Bush,Rumsfeld, Cheney, Joint Chiefs....they knew and sent him anyway. WTF??