The Ghost of Osama bin Laden
Posted 20 May 2012 - 08:18 AM
The Ghost of Osama bin Laden
By Ralph Nader
(The imagined conversation between the Ghost of Osama bin Laden and President Barack Obama)
The Ghost of Osama bin Laden swirled into the Oval Office where Barack Obama was spending the evening going over a pile of requested sign-offs for drone missions.
Osama’s Ghost: “Mind if we have a conversation one year after you dispatched my body to the ocean sharks?”
With curiosity reigning supreme, President Obama replied, “Ok, so long as you remain hovering and do not alight to defile this solemn room.”
Osama’s Ghost: “Thank you. After your SEALs bravely shot, rather than captured, me while I was defenseless in my bedroom, you told your nation that ‘for the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country.’”
“Correct, the form of your presence now attests to that fact,” the President curtly declared.
Osama’s Ghost: “You completely misunderstood. You see my work was completed by the evening of September 11, 2001. After that, the terror that I wanted to implant in American hearts was continued and intensified by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and you far, far beyond what our little, exaggerated al-Qaeda could ever dream of doing.”
“How so? Make it short!” Obama demanded.
Osama’s Ghost: “Okay, you want it short? You and your predecessors are ones who, for over a decade, starved your domestic needs in favor of huge military adventures in Asia and Africa, took away the freedoms of your people and replaced them with fear and anxiety over the wildly overblown but very profitable war on terror. You destroyed the esteem of the world’s people by reacting to 9/11 with aggressive attacks, torture, indefinite imprisonment without charges, secret laws, secret evidence, secret prisons and routine violations of national borders. You backed tyrants in these countries who slay and loot their own people with U.S. weapons, predatory corporations and political cover. You spy everywhere on the American people and watch your own soldiers commit suicide in record numbers. Do you know why these American soldiers are killing themselves, Mr. President?”
“You tell me, Dr. Freud,” said President Obama.
Osama’s Ghost: “Because when you send them to Iraq and Afghanistan for wars not of defense but of aggression, and they end up killing so many innocent women, children and men, their consciences are traumatized. Your generals like to say their brains are physically traumatized. By what? Your adversaries have no artillery, bombers and missiles to do that job. It is the trauma of their conscience when they see the burned, broken and dismembered bodies of little children and their mothers and fathers in their homes, mosques, or markets. People were blown up while just gathering together to collect wood or participate in wedding processions. In addition, they see the daily suffering of millions who are maimed and homeless.”
“You should talk, after the massacre of my people on 9/11,” exclaimed President Obama.
Osama’s Ghost: “But at least the attackers went ‘down with the ship’, as you Americans say, and this attack was designed to make you suffer like you have made us suffer a millionfold over the decades. As a scholar and a son of Africa, you should understand what life is like under American-supported tyrants. Imagine American military bases – even in our holy lands – and the brutal suppression of any resistance to overturn these puppet dictators and expel their infidel masters from the West. If you were not in our backyard, including the Palestinian nakba,or catastrophe, which the U.S. made happen, our martyrs would never have gone to New York and Washington on 9/11.”
“Do not lump me in the same room with Bush and Cheney,” said an irritated Obama. “They lied this great nation into the invasion of Iraq and played right into your hands, as Bush’s own anti-terrorism advisor, Richard Clarke wrote. I opposed this war but vowed to clear al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan by shifting our soldiers from Iraq. You know what happened to you all after that, don’t you, Ghost?”
Osama’s Ghost: “Yes, Mr. President. Al-Qaeda is not much in Afghanistan, having decided to migrate its activities to Pakistan and encourage our brothers in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa. They are moving into Syria from al-Qaeda in Iraq where it first surfaced thanks to your invasion. The word used by the CIA is ‘blowback.’ But no one is furthering our basic mission of weakening the U.S. more than the rulers of the country are themselves. Look at your rich-poor economy; Wall Street’s destructive greed; crumbling schools, roads, transit, clinics, drinking water facilities; and starved public budgets for the most basic necessities of your people – food for the hungry, healing for the sick, shelter for the homeless.”
Osama’s Ghost: “Even your people overwhelmingly say that America is going in the wrong direction and they want out of Afghanistan. What is a democracy for anyway, Mr. President? Again, you’re doing al-Qaeda’s job – weakening your country to bankruptcy until it can no longer continue ‘messing in our business’ as the Presidential candidate, Ron Paul, says daily. You see, at my compound in Abbottabad, reading occupied me. There was nothing left to do because you Americans cannot resist doing it to yourselves year after year. Given my lack of precautions, I didn’t care if I was executed because my mission was fulfilled. Near the end, grieving over Muslims killing Muslims, I became a fatalistic mystic.”
“Are you finished, Ghost? I have to decide on some high value targets in three countries. The hunt will never cease,” said President Obama.
Osama’s Ghost: “But, Mr. President, you had the highest value target of all and you eliminated the chance to interrogate me. Think what I could have told you about the past 30 years for your intelligence services.”
“Tell me what, in a phrase. Your time is up!” declared President Obama.
Osama’s Ghost: “Well…thank you, thank you for all that you, Mr. Bush, and Mr. Cheney have done, Mr. President.”
Whereupon the Ghost evaporated into the ether and the president started signing.
Posted 20 May 2012 - 05:31 PM
And to be fair, Obama spoke out against the war when he was just a Senator.
The war was already taking place when he stepped into office. At that point he had no choice but the finish what had already been started, and being he's a Democrat, he put his own feelings aside and carried out the will of the people -- and believe it or not there are a lot of people that would have been offended if he just pulled out, or "cut and run" like we did in Viet Nam.
Although I didn't agree with the war in Iraq from the very start, I believe Obama handled it as best as he could which meant carrying out the timetable for withdrawal laid out by George W. Bush. This way, nobody should be able to complain... you'd think. They do anyway.
I was born in 73, so I wasn't around for it... but in 72 Nixon made a big deal out of George McGovern being a coward and wanting to "cut and run" from Viet Nam. Most recently, Republicans pulled the same crap with John Kerry in 2004 plastering pictures of him protesting the war in Viet Nam.
(and BTW Nixon claimed to have a surprise plan for Viet Nam... turns out he didn't)
Posted 20 May 2012 - 09:59 PM
What about being "a pain in the ass" and disagreeing with Moore makes him untrustworthy?
unrelated: Moore is a sensationalist assclown with twice as much idealism as logic.
Posted 24 May 2012 - 12:02 PM
President Obama's counter-terrorism chief has "seized the lead" in secretly determining who will die by US drone
In November, 2008, media reports strongly suggested that President Obama intended to name John Brennan as CIA Director. But controversy over Brennan’s recent history — he was a Bush-era CIA official who expressly advocated “enhanced interrogation techniques” and rendition — forced him to “withdraw” from consideration, as he publicly issued a letter citing “strong criticism in some quarters” of his CIA advocacy.
Undeterred by any of that unpleasantness, President Obama instead named Brennan to be his chief counter-Terrorism adviser, a position with arguably more influence that he would have had as CIA chief. Since then, Brennan has been caught peddling serious falsehoods in highly consequential cases, including falsely telling the world that Osama bin Laden “engaged in a firefight” with U.S. forces entering his house and “used his wife as a human shield,” and then outright lying when he claimed about the prior year of drone attacks in Pakistan: “there hasn’t been a single collateral death.” Given his history, it is unsurprising that Brennan has been at the heart of many of the administration’s most radical acts, including claiming the power to target American citizens for assassination-by-CIA without due process and the more general policy of secretly targeting people for death by drone.
Now, Brennan’s power has increased even more: he’s on his way to becoming the sole arbiter of life and death, the unchecked judge, jury and executioner of whomever he wants dead (of course, when Associated Press in this report uses the words “Terrorist” or “al-Qaida operative,” what they actually mean is: a person accused by the U.S. Government, with no due process, of involvement in Terrorism):
White House counterterror chief John Brennan has seized the lead in choosing which terrorists will be targeted for drone attacks or raids, establishing a new procedure for both military and CIA targets.
The effort concentrates power over the use of lethal U.S. force outside war zones within one small team at the White House.
The process, which is about a month old, means Brennan’s staff consults with the State Department and other agencies as to who should go on the target list, making the Pentagon’s role less relevant, according to two current and three former U.S. officials aware of the evolution in how the government goes after terrorists. . . .
Brennan’s effort gives him greater input earlier in the process, before making final recommendation to President Barack Obama. Officials outside the White House expressed concern that drawing more of the decision-making process to Brennan’s office could turn it into a pseudo military headquarters, entrusting the fate of al-Qaida targets to a small number of senior officials. . . .
Some of the officials carrying out the policy are equally leery of “how easy it has become to kill someone,” one said. The U.S. is targeting al-Qaida operatives for reasons such as being heard in an intercepted conversation plotting to attack a U.S. ambassador overseas, the official said. . . .
Human rights and civil liberties groups have argued for the White House to make public the legal process by which names end up on the targeting lists.
“We continue to believe, based on the information available, that the (drone) program itself is not just unlawful but dangerous,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project. “It is dangerous to characterize the entire planet as a battlefield.”
Shrinking the pool of people deciding who goes on the capture/kill list means fewer people to hold accountable, said Mieke Eoyang from Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank.
“As a general principle, if people think someone is checking their work, they are more careful,” Eoyang said. “Small groups can fall victim to group-think.”
Needless to say, all of this takes place in total secrecy, with no legal framework and no oversight of any kind. Indeed, even after they had Brennan publicly defend the CIA drone program, the Obama administration continue to insist in federal court that the program is too secretive even to confirm its existence. It’s just a tiny cadre of National Security State officials who decide, in the dark, whom they want dead, and then — once the President signs off — it is done. This is the Change with which the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate has gifted us: ”some of the officials carrying out the policy are equally leery of ‘how easy it has become to kill someone.’”
Reuters previously described the secret process used to determine which human beings, including American citizens, would be targeted for due-process-free death-by-CIA: they “are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials” with “no public record” nor “any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules” — an actual death panel, though one invented by the White House rather than established by law. And now John Brennan has even more control over the process, and fewer checks, when issuing these death sentence decrees.
Remember in the Bush era when little things like the Patriot Act and warrantless eavesdropping and military commissions were the Radical and Lawless Assaults Trampling on Our Constitution and Our Values? Now, all those things are completely normalized — controversies over those policies are like quaint and obsolete relics of a more innocent era — and we now have things like unelected Death Sentence Czars instead.
* * * * *
Charles Davis has two good posts — one here and one here — on the desperate mental gymnastics invoked by some Obama fanatics to justify (and, when that fails, ignore) all of this.
UPDATE: I was on Al Jazeera yesterday debating the potential de-listing of the MeK as a Terrorist group, and that can be seenhere (because of technical issues, my participation began at 19:40). I was also interviewed yesterday by Anti War Radio about Obama’s detention policies and the recent court case invalidatingthe NDAA’s detention powers, and that can be heard here.