Thursday, May 5, 2011


On May 2, less than 24 hours after his death, Osama bin Laden's body was placed on a flat board and eased into the North Arabian Sea. Before being slid overboard the USS Carl Vinson, his body was washed and wrapped in white sheets in a 40-minute long traditional ceremony, while a Muslim officer read prayers for his soul.

While the U.S. military did not try to humiliate bin Laden in death, I struggle with the fact that the choice of how to dispose of his corpse was made by us.

After all, we vilified the Vietnamese government for the better part of two decades because we claimed they did not return all of our fallen to us. Heck, Hollywood made an institution out of it (Uncommon Valor, Rambo, more Missing In Action movies than Planet Of The Apes). If the Vietnamese were bound to return our dead to us, how is it that we did not have the same obligation to return Bin Laden to his family?

Oh, I forgot. The rules do not apply to us.

But we're supposed to better than that.

What's done is done, and I guess if anyone wants to, they could dive for Bin Laden's remains. Quite frankly, if we were going to have our way with the corpse, I might have buried him under a huge spittoon on the new site at Ground Zero. That way, New Yorker's could spit on his grave every day.

But we're supposed to better than that.

There's been a debate on whether or not to release photographic evidence of Bin Laden's demise. It does not seem like a big deal, right? After all, Al Qaeda sends us videos of beheadings. We're only doing what they're doing.

But we're supposed to be better than that.

The President decided Wednesday not to release graphic photographs of Bin Laden's corpse, concluding that making the images of Bin Laden public could incite violence against Americans. President Obama was direct in an interview with CBS, according to a transcript released by the network.

“It is very important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence — as a propaganda tool.”

“That’s not who we are,” Mr. Obama added. “We don’t need to spike the football.”

Or said differently, we're supposed to better than that.

I know there are many skeptics who do not believe that Bin Laden is dead. The decision on whether or not to release these pictures should not have anything to do with them. If Bin Laden were alive, we'd have already seen a video to that effect, and this decision should be based on what is right.

Not quieting the skeptics, and certainly not rubbing the Arab world's nose in this accomplishment.

We're supposed to be better than that.

Or as President Obama said, "That's not who we are."

Mr. President, I've been quick to point out where I disagree with your policies on this blog. I have taken jabs, made jokes (okay, insults) and questioned your policies and motives.

On this matter, you are right. I have no wisecrack, no criticism.

Not only do I agree with your position, but I commend you for taking the high ground.

And maybe for a moment, all of America can be united not only in remembrance of those who have fallen, but that for once, we're acting like we're better than our enemies.


  1. Most of the time I can weigh the facts of an issue and make a clear, confident declaration about what I believe is the correct thing to do. I'm rarely "wishy-washy" when determining which path I think we ought to walk down on any given issue.

    This is one of those rare occasions where I find myself in an area that is more grey than black or white. I can understand the arguments on both sides of these questions - the proper way of disposing of the body; whether or not to release photographic evidence - and I think there are valid arguments to be made for both sides.

    Frankly, I tend to disbelieve most if not all of what "Uncle Sam" says; his track record indicates to me that he should be doubted until proven truthful. That's the safest approach to take with a chronic liar like "Uncle Sam".

    So, although I personally have no desire to see photos of Osama with a bullet hole in his head, I will naturally question the whole story until others have seen convincing evidence of his death.

    As for disposal of the body (assuming there was one), I tend to lean slightly in your direction, that it should have been returned to his family. But at the same time, I believe there are also some valid arguments to be made in the other direction as well.

    It's rare that I find myself on a fence like this, but... here it is.

    I strongly dislike Barack "USAP" Obama (nothing at all to do with "race", as you know!), so, if I were inclined to nitpick a little bit - and I am - I could add that I just don't find it very "presidential" when America's Commander in Chief, while discussing a very serious topic such as this, uses such a casual, slang expression like, “We don’t need to spike the football.”

    I mean, really! Could he or his speechwriters not have found some classier or more dignified way of expressing that idea? Sheesh! The guy just comes off as such a community organizing "street boob".

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  2. While I see your point on the "spike the football" analogy, I think you give too much credit to the general public if you think they'd understand something classier or more dignified. These are the same people who were chanting "we're number one!"

    As to your thoughts on whether to believe the government, I hear you, Stephen.

    I just don't think the decision whether or not to release photos should be predicated on whether or not people believe the current administration.

    Had Ron Paul said he had examined the body, would you still want to see proof or would you take him at his word?

    And if you took him at his word, would you think it right or wrong to release these photos to the media?

    Contrary to what the media will espouse ("the people have a right to know"),I see the release of such pictures as something worthy of the National Enquirer.

    By the way, I believe the National Enquirer is running a cover photo of Bin Laden having a beer with Elvis while listening to Jim Morrison singing with Jimi Hendrix on guitar.

    I'm pretty sure they report that Bruce Lee was also in attendance.


  3. >>>....Had Ron Paul said he had examined the body, would you still want to see proof or would you take him at his word?

    And if you took him at his word, would you think it right or wrong to release these photos to the media?

    I myself would be willing to take Ron Paul at his word, but he's probably the ONLY person currently in Congress whom I have THAT MUCH trust in.

    However, in that case, I would be speaking only for me, and I could still see why a lot of people who lost loved ones on 9/11 - and who believe that Osama is the person most responsible - might want to see photos of his dead body for some sense of "emotional closure".

    And I'd be lying if I said that I can't at all understand where they'd be coming from, despite the fact that I myself did not lose anyone near and dear to me on 9/11.

    For me, this REALLY IS an issue where I can appreciate multiple points of view.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  4. Wonderful post! I'm more of an Obama fan than you are (though with some reservations) in general, but in this case, he's won the approval of more than just his usual troupe.

  5. Beth-

    I disagree with Obama on many things (quite frankly there are few politicians in either party I see eye to eye with once you examine their actual behavior), but in this case he was right, and I applaud him.

    As your current post says quite well, we've proven that although we're quite good at waging war, it simply is not an effective solution.

    If the killing of Bin Laden was a justifieable act, certainly publishing pictures of a corpse is sensationalism at best.


  6. Except he's *not* a "we" and I get terribly itchy and disturbed when he uses the term at all.

    I don't think it's necessary to publish pictures (though some actual evidence would sort of be nice, especially considering Obama's a known participant in other frauds and forgeries) but knowing, having seen, what these groups do with corpses, I wouldn't have returned the body either. I think that was actually a good call. It makes the blood run COLD seeing what they've done with corpses...yeah, that part I go along with. Had our fallen been returned to us we would have shown flag-draped coffins with uniformed men blowing bugles and firing off salutes, and parades of black cars. That isn't what these groups do; I would not even have worried about that but for the shit I've seen, which is so horrifying I don't even want to talk about it. If he was some kind of actual leader involved in the perpetration of 9/11, or if his people believed he was, or if they wanted it to seem he was, the desecration would be far worse than a mere burial at sea. At least that was private.