Monday, May 02, 2011

Further thoughts on Osama Bin Laden's death

Six inside witnesses. As expected, many bloggers are wondering about "wag the dog" scenarios. (Classical music buffs may prefer to call it a "Lieutenant Kijé" scenario.) The primary evidence against all "fake raid" theories is the report that six of Bin Laden's sons were nabbed alive. If this whole thing were a hoax, then official accounts probably would not have included that detail.

Eventually, someone is going to interview one or more of those six.

Who was that woman? Here's another detail which tells me that the raid really did occur as described: One of the bodies was that of a woman (perhaps Osama's wife) being used as a human shield. When you think about it, her death does not exactly redound to the credit of the SEAL team.

We've entered a grim world indeed when the old "Back off coppers, or the dame gets it" ploy results only in a hail of gunfire.

On the other hand... We have a fake photograph alleged to be that of Osama Bin Laden. Who engineered this con, and why? Was the photo prepared before the raid, or after?

The photo was published by a number of news agencies shortly after the raid. This fact tells me that the job was not a simple matter of hijinx perpetrated by a snickering civilian Photoshopper. The parties responsible for this hoax appear to have had serious journalism connections.

I consider the fake photo worthy of investigation. Don't let this mystery slide by.

When did the raid take place? Officially, Osama Bin Laden died on May 2. At least, that's what Wikipedia says. An on-site Twitter user confirms this time period. But there are rumors that he was killed earlier, perhaps on Friday.

The announcement was withheld in order to pose no conflict with coverage of the royal wedding -- at least, so runs one version of the rumor. Another version holds that Obama wanted to announce the deaths of Ghaddafy and Osama Bin Laden on the same day, but the former refused to co-operate.

Lest we forget... Anyone else out there recall this elaborate graphic depicting Osama Bin Laden's "Dr. No" hideaway? That hoax should remind us that the government does use the media to lie to us.

Some Pakistanis beg to differ. According to the International Business Times, two Pakistani television stations insist that Osama Bin Laden is still alive. The apparent source for this claim is a Taliban-affiliated group in Pakistan.

Bodies. If Osama had to be buried at sea because no country would take the corpse, then what happened to the bodies of his son and the woman presumed to be his wife?

What did Pakistan know? Steve Coll of the New Yorker has written an excellent piece addressing this topic.
Abbottabad is essentially a military-cantonment city in Pakistan, in the hills to the north of the capital of Islamabad, in an area where much of the land is controlled or owned by the Pakistani Army and retired Army officers.
It stretches credulity to think that a mansion of that scale could have been built and occupied by bin Laden for six years without its coming to the attention of anyone in the Pakistani Army.

The initial circumstantial evidence suggests that the opposite is more likely—that bin Laden was effectively being housed under Pakistani state control. Pakistan will deny this, it seems safe to predict, and perhaps no convincing evidence will ever surface to prove the case. If I were a prosecutor at the United States Department of Justice, however, I would be tempted to call a grand jury. Who owned the land on which the house was constructed? How was the land acquired, and from whom? Who designed the house, which seems to have been purpose-built to secure bin Laden? Who was the general contractor? Who installed the security systems? Who worked there? Are there witnesses who will now testify as to who visited the house, how often, and for what purpose?
The standard counter-conspiracy article: Read it here. Parts of this piece by Damian Thompson are boilerplate, but some of it demonstrates actual original thought, which surprises me. Like this:
No body. No photograph or DNA evidence – at least, not yet. [Update: The White House now says there was a DNA match between the body and tissue taken from bin Laden's dead sister's brain.] Conspiracy theorists are an ingenious bunch, but at the moment the White House is making this ridiculously easy for them.
Moreover, why did it allow bin Laden’s body to be dropped into the sea? Is the US really so sensitive to Islamic burial practices that it is prepared to hand conspiracy theorists such a gift?
Thank you for that, Damian. We'll probably never catch an American journalist making that (rather obvious) observation.

This article notes that conspiracy theories are even more prevalent in the Middle East than in the United States. I have no doubt that, even in Islamic countries, a lot of people are asking why there was no autopsy.

I do have a bone to pick with Thompson...
We’ve also seen young, Left-wing disciples of Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore happily draw on 9/11 “truther” theories constructed in the American fascist underground.
In a very technical sense, this statement is true. The author is correct to note that the "controlled demolition" nonsense first picked up steam on the right -- that is, on the fascist ultra-right, which has always been opposed to the Bush family and to the (pro-Israel) neocons. (In previous posts, we've looked at the origins of the "controlled demolition" meme.)

It is also true that these fascist musings were later picked up by some very naive (and very annoying) lefties, some of whom may also be fans of Chomsky and Moore. However, the wording of this passage might lead some to believe that Chomsky and Moore themselves believe in "CD" theories. That simply is not the case.

Many of the "truthers" are young people whose political views are rather vague, inchoate and contradictory. The same ninnies used to praise Ron Paul on the Democratic Underground boards.

Right now, CD-ism is primarily a right-wing phenomenon. (Example: Alex Jones, David Icke and Jim Marrs.) Correct me if I'm wrong, but to the best of my knowledge, no-one on the American left holding any position of responsibility has endorsed that silliness.
"Human shield" - exactly what you'd expect the attackers to say.

And never mind that the attackers' helicopters came under heavy fire from the attacked base, and one of them was lost. It wasn't brought down by enemy fire, oh no. It just developed a "technical" fault and the attackers themselves destroyed it.

What does al-Qaeda say?

I'm waiting for what commercial brands are going to get mentioned in the western propaganda. You know, like with Johnny Walker whisky when Ilich Ramirez Sanchez ("Carlos") was captured, and Mars bars when they seized Sassam Hussein.

Even when they paint Bin Laden as the wickedest man in the world using colours that weren't even thrown at Aleister Crowley, they'll also want to convey the message that Bin Laden couldn't really be consistent, and that his men were always necking Coca-Cola, downloading US porn, and gambling, just as if they were on one of Jack Abramoff's casino yachts or something.

And they'll mention the exact brands.

Wait and see.

I give it 24 hours, to use the phrase used by Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times.

"The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image." (Marx)

Or so it fucking hopes!

The other question is: have they claimed that all members of the attacking unit were US personnel? Because usually you'd expect the US special forces to fuck an operation like this up.

Lastly, another prediction - they're bound to "release" photographs of Bin Laden's body - ostensibly in response to speculation that they didn't really kill him, but really in order to convey the message "we kill our enemies and mutilate their bodies so they don't look Hollywood-like at all! So choose your fucking side, punks!"

Just like they did with Saddam Hussein's sons.
Necking Coca-Cola?

Osama doesn't make out with Coca Cola bottles... but you should have seen what he liked to call his O. Henry moment" No one should love chocolate bars that much.
Over here in Britain, to neck drink, or get it down your neck, means to drink it eagerly or in large quantities. Oh and it must be from a container such as a glass, mug, or bottle. Slurping it up from a pond or saucer isn't necking :)

BTW for all the anti-Pakistani propaganda, I can't see how Osama Bin Laden could possibly have lived there for so long, in a "custom-built compound" in what's basically an army town, without US knowledge. Even if it were more of a prison than a home, who'd run it without the US knowing?

Betcha this "courier" doesn't surface alive.

From CBS:

"The courier did not make it easy to locate the compound, however, since every time he approached the compound, he turned off his phone. He did this more than 90 minutes out and removed the battery, so he went totally dark."

Oh dear, the cat's out of the bag - mobile phones ("cell phones" in the US?) are tracked even when turned off. (As if we didn't know!)
The answers to the question "which US brands did Obama favour" are so far, Pepsi and Coke.

But I have spotted a Nestle, which is a Swiss brand.

Well according to robert young pelton in one of my favorite travel books: the world's most dangerous places, "binny" wasn't much of a pepsi fan. :-). Joe, you should read the afghan section of the 4th edition, eery. Apologies for non-caps, damn phones and lazy fingers.
Thanks Harry. Where's the Coke and Pepsi info from?

When they publish photos of the alleged burial, along with supposed significands of Islam they'll probably also put a few brand names in the picture.

I'm thinking of the propaganda photos when they captured Saddam Hussein's residence:

* fantasy art (he was just a fantasist, right?)

and when they captured the man himself

* down a hole reliant on US TV-commercial-break snack food (you can run, but you can't hide!),

* followed by having loyal US public servants - soldiers and medics - shine a torch in his mouth (the good guys bring illumination)

Crude is best. Tell Goebbels about it! But the OBL story is much bigger - this will be a classic in the history of news photo-propaganda.
I read an online newspaper report - but I think I took it from a bloomberg terminal. Im sure if you google search "Pepsi" "coke" and "osama" you will find it.


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