Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Circle of Life, the Takedown of Bin Laden, & Why Bush Didn't Return to the Scene of the Crime

Salvador Dali, Colossus (1954)

A middle-aged nonentity, a political failure outstripped by history – by the millions of Arabs demanding freedom and democracy in the Middle East – died in Pakistan yesterday. And then the world went mad. Robert Fisk, Pakistan knew Bin Laden's hiding place all along, The Independent, 5-3-11

I applaud the extraordinary bravery of those American military personnel who participated in this highly-effective operation, the intelligence operation that made it possible and the leadership of President Obama ... It is impossible to predict the future, but I hope the death of Osama bin Laden and the growth of democratic movements in the Muslim world marks a momentous turning point, which leads the region toward peace and prosperity and away from terrorism, death and destruction." Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Statement on Osama Bin Laden, 5-2-11

If we as citizens challenge the 'war' framing, if we refuse, a decade after the savagery of 9/11’s attacks, to allow 'war' framing to define the national psyche and our politics, if we demand our representatives stop couching virtually all foreign policy discussion in terms of terrorism, we have a chance to build a new and more effective security template. Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation, 5-2-11

The Circle of Life, the Takedown of Bin Laden, & Why Bush Didn't Return to the Scene of the Crime

By Richard Power

I did not want to write about Osama Bin Laden again. But under the circumstance it would be irresponsible not to, after all that has happened, and after all that I have written about him over the years. I am trying as best as I can to tend to the Circle of Life. But to mend a tear in fabric of that web, sometimes you have to remove the object that has caused the tear.

If I seem to contradict myself in the course of this post, well, that's because I do. Truth is paradoxical. The greater the truth, the greater the paradox. Writing about Bin Laden is thankless, because I end up disagreeing with those that are wrong for the right reasons, and agreeing with those that are right for the wrong reasons.

For example, the great Noam Chomsky (whose clarity of mind and depth of conscience has been a beacon for so many of us in this long night) recently wrote: We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic. (Guernica Magazine, 5-7-11) Reading this challenging statement, I confess, my initial response was (jokingly), "Hmm, let me think about that for a moment."

Shattering the Looking Glass, Instead of Looking Back Through It

The legend of Bin Laden is composed of sorry facts and insipid falsehoods, but at least it ends here. Yes, Bin Laden *is* dead, freshly dead. Dead once and once only, in reality, and forever. Shot in the head by U.S. Navy Seals, in an operation ordered by POTUS; his corpse consigned to Davy Jones' locker. And my response is "Bravo."

Alex Jones is a buffoon. And poor Benazir Bhutto, who told David Frost that Bin Laden had been killed some years ago, was misled. Even I knew Bin Laden was alive, not dead, and living in a villa in Pakistan, and not in the tribal regions. Ask yourself why Amy Goodman, Jeremy Scahill, Thom Hartmann, Rachel Maddow, and Robert Fisk are not talking about Bhutto's story. Bhutto was on Frost's show because she was going back to Pakistan to take power, and that is why she was killed, because she went back to Pakistan to take power. The people that misled her, the people that killed her, they are the same people that protected Bin Laden.

Bush-Cheney, in effect, protected Bin Laden too. They looked the other way before 9/11. They looked the other way after 9/11. The Bin Ladens were Bush-Cheney family friends and business associates. Bin Laden fit perfectly into PNAC, he gave Bush-Cheney their rationale for the foolish military adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq.

They looked the other way. They ignored warning after warning, not only from the previous administration, but from friendly governments, from the best of allied intelligence services, and from their own national security council staff. They looked the other way. It is hard to assume that they di not simply let it happen. The least they should be held accountable for is criminal negligence. Words of Power has chronicled this over the years. It is a matter of public record. People simply won't deal with it.

IF Bush-Cheney had wanted Bin Laden, they would have gone after him; but his sick plots served their purposes. However, when POTUS took office in 2008, he refocused assets onto him, and took him out within months of determining his exact location.

Once Bin Laden has escaped from Tora Bora, it should have taken at the most two or three years to track him down, determine the likely consequences of any action, weigh all the options available, develop a good plan of attack, and take him out. Well, that is what happened. As soon as someone sat in the Oval Office who understood the symbolic importance of capturing or killing Bin Laden, someone who saw Bin Laden's capture or death as a necessary grammatical punctuation with which to end a sentence and turn a page, someone who was not conflicted, someone who was not complicit.

POTUS took over in 2008, Bin Laden was killed in 2011.

Bitter Pill After Bitter Pill

I am deeply disappointed in many (if not most) of POTUS' actions (and inactions), e.g., his failure to lead on Climate Change, the disgraceful treatment of U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, his White House's abandonment of the public option in the struggle for healthcare reform, the two-year extension of the Bush-Cheney tax cuts for the rich, his escalation of the war in Afghanistan, etc., etc. etc. Nevertheless, the takedown of Bin Laden, is one of his worthiest accomplishments, along with ending of the "pre-existing condition" scam of the health insurance racketeers, and appointing Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Yes, it is slim pickings, but it is NOT Bush-Cheney or McCain-Palin, and while he is in office there is still hope.

To those who say Bin Laden should have been captured and brought trial, instead of killed on the spot, I say this: assuming that it was not the kind of split-second decision that a commando must be allowed to make in a fire-fight, assuming that taking him alive was an option, I ask you, why would we want to? To feel better about ourselves? It is too late for that.

Remember, POTUS attempted to hold a trial for Khalid Sheik Mohammed in Manhattan, in criminal court. The political blowback from the ignorant and the cowardly (apparently predominant in our political kulchur) was too intense. Likewise, POTUS ordered Guantanamo shutdown as soon as he took office, but the procedural pushback and political blowback have proven too intense; the blight lingers on, though the worst of what happened there is over.

So I suggest to you that bringing Bin Laden back would have been a foolish move, at this point. If nothing else, POTUS' time in office has proven that our circumstances are much worse than most people have really come to grips with, and that the "Imperial Presidency" is just another false meme, unless, of course, the will of that "President" happens to be in sync with that of those at true apex of power in what Gore Vidal aptly calls the National Security State.

The War IN, OF, FOR and BY Terror

As much as I respect him, in this instance, I do not agree with Michael Moore: the U.S.A. has not "lost part of its soul" in this action. Although over the last decade, we have indeed lost large chunks of our soul in wreaking havoc and mayhem on millions of innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan, and on the bodies, psyches and families of our own military and intelligence personnel, who after all were sent to battle chimeras and scarecrows in those cursed countries, when in reality, the enemy looked over our shoulder, sat at our table, and were trained in the use of our weapons; yes, elements within the governments of Saudia Arabia and Pakistan, "our strong allies in the war on terror."

But it isn't really a "war on terrorism" anyway, that term was not only a misnomer, reflective of our ignorance of what we have stumbled into, it was also a lie, reflective of a self-deceit at the core of so much of our agenda. Over and over for a decade, I have written that this was not a "war on terror" but a "war IN, OF, FOR and BY terror."

This "war" has not been a success, it never could be a success, it was not even designed to be a success, it was not even meant to ever end. From the beginning, it was an excuse to seize strategic position and establish bases in the Middle East and Central Asia, and to break the bones of the face of our republic and re-shape it into something hideous.

It has been a war on ourselves as much as it has been a war on anyone else.

Nevertheless, there were and are madmen who want to blow up our cities, and slaughter our innocents. Unfortunately, the means chosen to move against them serve the purposes of those madmen better than our own. Furthermore, precious little reflection on how this all came to be, and what its true causes are, is allowed to break through the insulation of ignorance that has plunged the corridors of power into darkness.

Bin Laden and 9/11

Over the years, another recurring refrain in my writing on Bin Laden, 9/11, etc. was "Bring me the head of Osama Bin Laden."

Because for so much of that bloody decade, U.S. blood and treasure was committed to foolish military adventures that had little or NOTHING to do with bringing Bin Laden to justice. Iraq had NOTHING to do it, as many millions of us knew, and demonstrated we knew, by protesting the invasion and occupation of Iraq in those desperate months BEFORE it was undertaken. And Afghanistan had little to do with it, after Bin Laden was allowed to escape from Tora Bora when Bush-Cheney denied a C.I.A. request for the green light, and the U.S. Marines, to run him down.

Was "9/11 an inside job"? I don't go there. I don't embrace it, nor do I refute it. I know enough from what is available in the public record to insist unequivocally that Bush-Cheney looked the other way. Were there demolition teams? Was the collapse of the towers a controlled demolition? I don't care. I know all that I need to know. The _resident and VICE _resident of the U.S.A. ignored warning after warning in the months preceding the event; they not only did nothing, they did less than nothing, they undid the good that Clinton-Gore had done in the 1990s and leading up to the Millennium.

Whether or not Bin Laden received help, coordinated or not, from dark extra-governmental elements within the military-industrial complex, it was Bin Laden's Zombies that commandeered those planes and fly them into the World Trade Center. (And U.S. citizens too often forget that, over the years, Bin Laden's operations also led to the slaughter of many innocents in London, Madrid, Jakarta, Bali, Mumbai, Istanbul, and elsewhere.)

The Real Reason George W. Bush Didn't Return to the Scene of the Crime?

So why didn't George W. Bush join POTUS at Ground Zero? It was not that because, as the official story goes, "his family believes we only have one President at a time" nor was it because, as the off-the-record story goes, he was put off by POTUS "beating his chest." Perhaps George W. Bush did not join POTUS at Ground Zero out of fear and shame.

Perhaps, like Lady Macbeth, he cannot wash the stains from his hands. Perhaps shame pursues him even if the U.S. Justice Department does not. Millions have been displaced because of the foolish military adventures of Bush-Cheney. Over a million have died. Furthermore, the fear must be intense. The action that POTUS ordered, and those U.S. Navy Seals carried out, was not supposed to happen. Bin Laden was not supposed to be caught, and the treasure trove of his personal files and communications was not supposed to fail into our hands.

The camel's nose has peeked under the tent within which some of the most ghastly of secrets have been hidden for years. But don't hold your breath. The truth does not come to light easily in the U.S.A., even in its healthiest eras, and this is one of its sickest. So it is not likely that too many of those ghastly secrets will show up in the media, or in congressional hearings, or in Grand Jury proceedings, but they will now have a life of their own. The U.S. Navy consigned Bin Laden's corpse to Davy Jones' locker; they flew his papers and computer files to Beltwayistan.

A Grim Fairy Tale

The U.S. body politic chooses not to feed on reality, it chooses to feed on fairy tales. "Once upon a time there was an evil man who killed thousands of our citizens, and now he is dead, and we all live happily ever after."

Unfortunately, a "happy ending" is impossible; there is, however, some hope for a better day.

Consider these brief excerpts from the commentaries of Pepe Escobar, Ray McGovern and Robert Parry:

So to symbolically kill the "war on terror" - which was invented because of 9/11 - Obama had to (literally) kill the (alleged) perpetrator, be it real or not, guilty or not, a clone or not. Thus the hit, the swift disposal of the body, no photos, end of the movie, no credits rolling; a tight cinematic narrative. The obvious holes in the plot, as in any Hollywood blockbuster, are deemed irrelevant; what matters is success at the box-office - and we move on.
Like a basketball-playing Freudian, Obama went for the kill, the reason of the whole trauma. He identified it as the only way to start anew - as in trying to end the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq and start concentrating on what really matters for the US; investments in education and infrastructure, the dire state of the economy.
Pepe Escobar, Welcome to the post-Osama world, Asia Times, 5-6-11

Yet, despite the future risks for the United States and the Muslim world – and the fact that the U.S. assault was a fairly clear violation of international law – the killing of bin Laden paradoxically does offer a possible route back from the institutionalization of American lawlessness ... The first step in that journey would be a serious attempt to negotiate a political settlement in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of American and NATO troops. If enough public pressure is brought to bear, there could even be a full-scale reassessment of U.S. priorities, pulling back from the expensive garrison state that bin Laden helped create. Ray McGovern, What Has Bin Laden's Killing Wrought?, Consortium News, 5-5-11

Though it remains unclear what the long-term consequences of this action will be, Obama’s success – after years of Bush’s failure – does suggest one important lesson: U.S. officials would be well advised to ignore the special pleadings of the neocons who remain highly influential inside Official Washington. The neocons, along with other Bush advisers, exploited the 9/11 tragedy to justify a policy of inserting U.S. military forces into the heart of the Arab world to the detriment of bringing the masterminds of 9/11 to justice. That miscalculation did horrendous damage to both the United States and the people of the Middle East. It also allowed Osama bin Laden to remain at large for more than nine years, until Sunday. Robert Parry, Finishing a Job, Obama Gets Osama, Consortium News, 5-2-11

A Profound Ignorance

Just as a bitter reminder of how far from reality we still are, as a nation, and a kulchur, consider the code-name given to the operation: Geronimo. An incomprehensible stupidity? Or a willful ugliness? Either way, an unforgivable blunder in propaganda.

Chomsky comments.

The imperial mentality is so profound, throughout western society, that no one can perceive that they are glorifying bin Laden by identifying him with courageous resistance against genocidal invaders. It's like naming our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Tomahawk ... It's as if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes "Jew" and "Gypsy." Noam Chomsky, My Reaction to Osama Bin Laden's Death, Guernica Magazine, 5-7-11

How can a people as ignorant and unconcerned as we are with the truth of our past ever find our way to a better future?

Meanwhile, the Circle of Life is in Peril

Report: Arctic Warming May Raise Global Sea Levels Five Feet, Reuters, 5-3-11

Climate Change Analysis Predicts Increased Fatalities from Heat Waves, Terra Daily, 5-4-11

World population to pass 7 billion in October - UN, Reuters, 5-3-11

Climate change has spurred food prices: study, Reuters, 5-6-11

The greatest national security threat of all, the Climate Crisis, worsens by the day, not only in Bangladesh, the Sahel, Bolivia and the South Pacific, but in the so-called "Heartland" of the U.S.A., with hundreds of tornadoes in one weekend, and floods that threaten to devastate farms and towns along the Mississippi. One of the tornadoes, fifty miles wide, destroyed the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (See Top Climate Scientist On The Monster Tornadoes: ‘It Is Irresponsible Not To Mention Climate Change’)

Ironically, if Al Gore had been sworn into the office that he was elected to in 2000, the Climate Crisis would have been properly prioritized as our greatest national security threat, and as a by-product of coming to grips with it, we would have diffused the geopolitical and macro-economic time-bomb of the Middle East and Central Asia.

Excuse me, what did you say? Oh, oh, the tornadoes and the floods are not due to the Climate Crisis? They are only a result of La Nina? Oh, OK, sorry to disturb your slumber, you just go back to sleep now. Do you want me to tell you that Grim Fairy Tale again, the one about the bad man and how we got him in the end?

Papantonio: Dick Cheney Helped Pakistani Terrorists

Thom Hartmann: What is Alex Jones Smoking? Bin Laden mission...a fake?!

Do you know why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love? Go to for the answer.

Richard Power's seventh book, Between Shadow and Night: The Singularity in Anticipation of Itself, is now available. Here are links to purchase it from, or from CreateSpace.

You can also visit Richard Power author's page at