Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Crazy Lefties Abound
Quick story about how crazy some people can be. One of my professors spent a couple weeks in Iraq this last month helping to establish the rule of law, Western style. She's a Dem herself, but I admire her willingness. Anyways, after class the day she got back several students stayed around to talk about her trip.
She told a story about some of the other coalition lawyers there who said something to the effect of "Bush already has Osama in a jail cell and is going to whip him out for an October suprise." She, although a Dem, is quite rational, so she said (again, paraphrasing) that the Admin wouldn't be able to keep something like that a secret. Some soldier or other person involved would spill the beans.
One of the Brits responded by saying the admin would simply tell all the soldiers that the Government knows where they live and knows where their family lives. My prof., a little appalled, asked if he seriously thought the gov't would threaten a soldier like that. He responded "No, they would kill him."
Upon querrying some of the students whether they thought this would happen, one person actually said "I wouldn't put it past the Republican Party to kill for political gain."
Alright, let me first analyze these statements from a completely cynical standpoint. First, Osama is clearly either dead or captured. He's too egotistical to not tout his continued survival on air, but we haven't heard from him on air for months.
Second, if he is captured, why haven't we heard about it? There are two possible explainations for keeping such a thing secret. 1) the proposition advanced by the Brit/Aussie lawyers in Iraq and Democrats, namely, that he is being held for an October suprise to give Bush a boost in the polls. Now, here we are a week before the election, and Osama's mug has yet to be dragged onto TV. If I were Karl Rove, I would have dragged him out in the middle of one of the debates. Kerry would say "Bush diverted resource from the war on terror to Iraq. We have abandoned the hunt for Osama for a hunt for phantom WMDs" or some such thing, and Bush would reply "Um, excuse me, I'd like to announce we captured Osama bin Laden 5 months ago. My press agents are standing by with video of him in an American holding cell." This didn't happen, and we are coming far too close to election day to deliver maximum political effect. Thousands have already filed provisional or absentee ballots. This is clearly not the answer.
Which leads to the second reason Osama's capture may be hid from us, permamently or at least extreemly long-term. 2) National Security. We are fighting religious zealots, and we all know how they love a martyr. Announcing we have Osama in captivity would spur instant terrorist action to try and gain his release. Osama also has a widespread appeal in the Middle-east, even among many who don't personaly advocate or practice terror. His capture would also galvanize them into action, either violent or political. Not wise. So if he is captured, we wouldn't tell.
Ditto if we know for a fact he's dead. Again, the martyr factor. There would be mass marches, renewed demands to push Israel into the sea, and attacks on the West in the name of Allah, the Prophet, and His Holy Martyr. And no one would be safe, because Afganistan was the "good war" that got the support of Old Europe, Russia, and China.
The current situation, where Bin Laden isn't actively encouraging people or his capture or death stirring them into a frenzy, is much better. Even if people suspect he has suffered one fate or the other, they can't prove it so it can't stir their emotions. It's a muddled, squishy state of the unkown, and we like it that way.
So, if the Admin has Bin Laden captured or know he's dead, they won't want to tell us, ever. At least, they wouldn't if they're doing their jobs right.
Now, on to how they're keeping us from finding out. There are two options, one more likely if he's captured and one if he's dead. If he is captured, then maybe the ideas postulated above may indeed be accurate, to an extent. Containing Osama would require using far more people than the Admin could be sure they could trust. They may indeed threaten or even kill those who would expose his capture. So I ask, is that a bad thing? They aren't using his capture for political gain, evidenced by the fact they haven't trotted him out yet*, so it must be for the national security reasons I've outlined above. What is the boundary for preventing the above from happening? What line shouldn't be crossed? I don't have the answer to that.
There is another alternative for how we have been kept in the dark about Osama: he's dead. He was either killed by a bomb, a special forces unit, or a regular army unit during the action in Tora Bora. If by a bomb, we may not even know where his body is. Ditto a regualr army unit, which doesn't necissarily identify all the corpses of mujahadeen they kill. A Special forces unit may have been aware of the nature of the target, but as a smaller more heavily trained group they would be easier to keep quite than the several dozen people needed to contain Osama.
Now I allow my optimisim to leak in. I find the possibility that he is dead far more likely as a matter of Occam's Razor. Then they don't need to threaten any American.
*Also, I make reference to Nixon. The tapes reveal that at times the kidnapping or murder of political dissidents was openly discussed, but ultimately vetoed. If Nixon, the definition of an Imperial President, wasn't willing to do it, why would Bush & Co.?
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