This past weekend we had attended a wedding of close family friends in Newport Beach, CA. We got home around 8 pm on Sunday night. Upon unpacking I settled down to grade papers in preparation for Monday night’s class. Upon entering the grades, I checked email. I noticed on Yahoo that the President Obama was supposed to address the country at 10:30 EDT. That was quite late on a Sunday for the President to be addressing the nation. There was no topic given which made it even more curious.
I figured I should watch because I could not figure out what the President might be speaking about. I turned on CNN and Wolf Blitzer did not have any more of a clue except that the speech was supposed to be about national security. He also reported that the address was going to be delayed another 45 minutes or so. That made me wonder even more. Realizing I had forgotten to send a certain email, I went back to my laptop to do just that. As I sat down, the name Osama Bin Laden popped into my head and I conjectured that this might be the topic of the President’s speech.
I logged onto Twitter and saw posting saying Bin Laden was dead. I came back to the TV and Wolf Blitzer was saying the same. Of course, that was the topic of President Obama’s speech. We had learned where Bin Laden was hiding. We orchestrated a surgical strike by Navy Seals. Osama Bin Laden and his small entourage engaged the Seals in a firefight. The Seals won and Bin Laden was killed in the skirmish.
Immediately after the President’s speech there was a huge reaction of jubulation. Young people gathered at the White House and Ground Zero by the hundreds and were cheering, waving flags, and singing the National Anthem. Talking heads on the TV were quite strong in their reaction.
Today, the bizarre conspiracy stories started. He’s not dead. A look alike was killed. The US was fabricating this story for this reason or that. These stories will only grow and not easily be dismissed. The fact that a body was never displayed will no doubt play into these kinds of stories.
As I listened to the morning news on the way to the office, I learned that DNA tests all but confirmed it was Osama Bin Laden. When his died a few years ago in Boston, the federal government took the body and got a sample of her brain to compare Bin Laden’s DNA to hers for just such an eventuality. Then I learned that he had already been buried at sea so there would be no gravesite to serve as a shrine. The radio reported that the burial was done in accordance with Islam. I suppose we did not want to offend anyone. I cannot imagine anyone that idolized Bin Laden thinking any better of us saying we buried him in accordance with his religion. This makes no sense to me.
I learned later in the day, Bin Laden was shot in the head. I put two and two together and got six. I figured there was never any plan to capture him alive. If we were afraid his burial site might become a shrine, why would we want to give him the platform of a trial to state his case and position. No there was probably no dead or alive here.
I was not alone wondering how Bin Laden could have been hiding in a huge Fort Knox like bunker so out of place in Abbotabad. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan asked the very same question that was on the minds of so many: How could he be hiding in such a place that stood and so near the Pakistani Military Academy. It made no sense, unless a lot of local officials were paid off. If that is the case, perhaps Bin Laden was turned in by someone who felt he was not getting enough of the bribe money.
How do I feel about this? I am glad it is finally over. I believe I understand why he was killed and not captured. I understand why he was buried at sea. Yet, I would have liked to have seen a trial of some kind. I would have wanted to see him answer questions. Even if he just stood there stoically in shackles not answering anything at all. I may have wanted to see him in lifetime solitary confinement. Killing him may have been important to our national psyche. It may have been important to our image or the image we wanted to project to would be radicals and terrorists around the world: do not mess with us, we will get you.
I have not read a lot about the reaction from the Arab and Islamic parts of the world. I can imagine them looking at the people cheering, waving flags, and singing outside The White House on Sunday evening perhaps the same we looked at images and footage of people cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11/01. It is all a matter of perspective. Everyone thinks they are right.
The destruction of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon were diabolically brilliant. It was audacious and spectacular. It changed everything. It cost us dearly in the immediate loss of life and property. It continued to cost us ever since as we are paying dearly with more lives and untold sums of money to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It cost us in the pain that air travel has become because of 9/11. Bin Laden was the single man who caused all this.
It took a long time to catch Bin Laden. To me, I could not believe he was that elusive and that hard to find for almost ten years. This was an indication of the discipline and dedication of this enemy.
Hopefully, the world will be a better place without him...