U.S. Account of Bin Laden Assassination Frays Around Edges
Yesterday, the Obama administration admitted that it killed an unarmed Osama bin Laden in the attack on his compound after it had falsely claimed he had resisted in its original account. Today, the government has backed away from its claim that there was a massive firefight and that Bin Laden was killed in the “fog of war.” In fact, only one figure in the compound fired at the U.S. attackers, though a total of five individuals were killed including one woman:
The new details suggested that the raid, though chaotic and bloody, was extremely one-sided, with a force of more than 20 Navy Seal members quickly dispatching the handful of men protecting Bin Laden.
Administration officials said that the only shots fired by those in the compound came at the beginning of the operation, when Bin Laden’s trusted courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, opened fire from behind the door of the guesthouse adjacent to the house where Bin Laden was hiding.
After the Seal members shot and killed Mr. Kuwaiti and a woman in the guesthouse, the Americans were never fired upon again.
This account differs from an official version of events issued by the Pentagon on Tuesday, and read by the White House spokesman, Jay Carney, which said the Seal members “were engaged in a firefight throughout the operation.”
Today, an administration representative finessed Carney’s statement with this:
“They were in a threatening and hostile environment the entire time,” one American official said.
Howso? When one man fires on you at the very beginning of an operation and no one else fires on you until the end, yet your forces kill a total of five individuals (only one of whom appears to have been armed), who is threatened and who is hostile? Let’s be clear: the threat and hostility were virtually all on the American side and not on the residents side.
Yesterday, officials had said the Al Qaeda leader was killed not because he fired at anyone, but because he “resisted” in some unspecified way. At other junctures, they said he would not have been killed had he surrendered in a demonstrable way.
In today’s version, they now claim that Bin Laden was armed (was he or wasn’t he?):
When the commandos reached the top floor, they entered a room and saw Osama bin Laden with an AK-47 and a Makarov pistol in arm’s reach. They shot and killed him, as well as wounding a woman with him.
Yet strangely they don’t indicate that he fired at them. So we now have three different versions of Bin Laden’s status. At first, he was armed and fired at the attackers using his wife as a shield. Then, he was unarmed, but hadn’t surrendered. Today, he’s gone back to being armed. It reminds me of John Kerry’s campaign claim that he for the legislation before he was against it. Again, the video of the encounter is the only evidence that will prove the truth of their claim. It will clearly show whether Bin Laden had a weapon in his hand or not.
Today’s adumbration of the story indicates to me that, as I wrote yesterday, there likely was a shoot to kill order that did not include apprehending Bin Laden. Note that when Bin Laden’s wife rushed at the attackers they had the presence of mind, despite the “chaotic bloody” situation, to shoot her in the leg, while they placed one neatly targeted bullet in his head. I have very little doubt that this was a kill shot and that it was what was the goal of the entire operation.
Obama and his national security team intended to kill, rather than capture Bin Laden. Frankly, as my wife says, no American will care about any of this. But not only do I care, I think that history will care. Perhaps an expedient politician like Obama can make calculations that he can obscure the facts enough that he will not pay a price. But I hope and believe that history will make him pay a price if he has lied.
I remind him that at one time George Bush bestrode the world like a Colossus invading Middle Eastern countries right and left, threatening enemies and allies alike, making claims that were virtually unquestioned except by a few unpersuaded reporters. Look at his reputation now.
Eric Holder is also making highly specious claims concerning the legality of the assassination:
Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that the U.S. military mission that killed Osama bin Laden “was justified as an act of national self-defense” and that Navy SEALs would have had good grounds to shoot bin Laden even if he sought to surrender. The White House later Wednesday called the operation “fully consistent with the laws of war.”
“It’s lawful to target an enemy commander in the field. We did so for instance with regard to [Japanese Admiral Isoroku] Yamamoto in World War II. He was shot down in an airplane. [Bin Laden] was by my estimation and the estimation of the Justice Department a lawful military target and the operation was conducted in a way that was consistent with our law, with our values.”
He might have been an enemy commander, but when he’s holed up in a compound outside a war zone (such as Afghanistan), and within which it’s impossible for him to play much of a role in the field, how do you argue he’s a “commander in the field?” Killing a Japanese admiral flying in a war plane in the middle of a declared war is, it seems to me, quite different from what the Navy SEALS did to Bin Laden.
Also, killing a figure who killed your citizens is an act of retaliation but not self-defense. The latter happens when you are protecting your country from attack. Bin Laden had already attacked America and every reasonable expert concedes he wasn’t playing an operational role in anything now given his extreme seclusion. Claiming that killing him would somehow prevent future attacks on America is dubious. I would have no problem describing this operation as a response to 9/11, but self-defense is not part of that.
Given this statement by Holder during Congressional testimony, it seems likely, as I state above, that the SEALS were there neither to have tea with Bin Laden nor accept his surrender:
…The attorney general said there’d have been a “good basis” for the SEALs to have killed the Al Qaeda leader even if he gave some indication of giving up.
I’m touched also by Sen. Lindsay Graham’s solicitousness for the nine children who lived in the compound. According to him, the SEALS were only protecting the kids when they put a bullet through Osama’s brain:
…Shooting him as soon as possible probably protected everybody, including the SEALs and women and children.”
Regarding the alleged brouhaha over the Bin Laden photos, the question is not whether to release them. That will tell us little. We need to see what happened inside the compound, specifically in Bin Laden’s quarters. My hunch is that the video will not confirm the account peddled by the administration. If it does, then it should release it. If it doesn’t, we’ll know why.
12 thoughts on “U.S. Account of Bin Laden Assassination Frays Around Edges – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Do you think that Obama is a war criminal considering the Bin-Laden execution ?
I said what I had to say. If you have any statements of your own to make on the subject, do so.
Welcome to the Banana Republic.
Leon Panetta said the orders were to kill.
Extrajudicial assassinations and death squads shock the conscience, the real test of societal right and wrong. We made up laws for Nuremberg on this principle.
Remember when Seymour Hersh and Jeremy Schahill first wrote about them? Now apparently this kind of murder is acceptable to our political class and their apologists.
Let’s not forget that Eric Holder defended United fruit from charges over the use of death squads.
Obama said he respected Reagan. Well, he fails to live up to even that test. At least Reagan and Ford wrote executive orders prohibiting political assassinations and Reagan spoke out against torture. http://www.trialbriefs.com/politicalassassination.htm
Obama and Bush have really debased our society morally(have you noticed mostly the same people fill the offices? It’s hard to tell if this is a Bush or Clinton 3rd term) ; They’ve fuzzed the line between right and wrong which is the cause of the partisan fracture amongst the people. The same thing happened over slavery, and I hope it doesn’t take a civil war to put the monster back in the closet. Shame on them.
Your wife is right. I think the reason they aren’t going to release the video or pictures because it depicts cold blooded murder and there could be a trial over it; something even Fox News admits. Doctoring the photos isn’t an option as it can be detected. It is not because of any morally superiority, as the hypocrite Obama tells us: we are better than our enemies that drag bodies through the streets (after assassinating them).
Yes, the lines between right and wrong and justice and injustice have been blurred and it bothers me even more when I see Obama, a former civil rights attorney, twisting the law and the truth in the same manner as Bush and his administration did.
The violent behavior of the U.S. and Israel represent dangerous threats for human evolution and the civilized world. They have dragged others countries (Poland, Ukraine, Egypt, etc) into their subversion of the law and the truth in order to execute a blockade, wars against civilian populations, renditions, kidnappings, torture and executions, but I hope that the rest of the Western world and civilized world recognizes the slippery slope here and condemns these acts forcefully so that this kind of vigilante justice doesn’t become the norm.
This really sums it up, but it’s another matter altogether when a state decides to take it up against it’s (unarmed) enemies, having a judicial system at it’s disposal.
It’s like Terrorism: how the poor make war vs. War: how the state commits terrorism.
What they have done is a crime.
The shifting accounts of what really happened proves one thing with convincing certainty. We are NOT getting the truth.
9/11 has given the U.S. a license to throw out the law and to kill scores of people over the years who had nothing to do with that crime. In this case, I must seriously question why they killed all the people they killed who lived on that compound. These people were unarmed. This was not collateral damage; it was just plain murder.
I’m not saying OBL had no planning involvment, but show us the money. Give us the proof. I want to know exactly HOW he was involved. For example, if his involvment was to fund the operation; then that proof should be easily traced and presented in a court of law.
Here’s the thing. The Nazis killed even more people than died on 9/11 and they got to face their accusers, and witnesses and evidence was presented.
I find vigilante justice, extra-judicial executions all a disturbing and barbaric trend. I should think that as humans we have evolved but instead I see all this vengeance and killing as regressing to the Dark Ages.
Oh and one more thing: Obama had disappointed me in too many ways to count, specifically in regards to his handling of the Israeli Occupation (ie settlement expansion), Afghanistan and the Egyptian Revolution. In this case, I sense that we are being denied the truth and justice is being denied as well. Therefore I have no problem stating what I believe to be true about Obama: he’s an empty suit who doesn’t mean what he’s says, a political opportunist, and a snake charmer who makes fantastic speeches but has no guts to be the man he pretends to be, plain and simple.
I had a bad feeling about him, which I ignored at the time, since I was so desperate to see someone truly different replace Bush. Cast Lead happened after the election and Obama was practically silent on the atrocities that Israel was committing in Gaza. Another thing that bothered me is the fact that he wasn’t at his mother’s side when she died and again when his grandmother was dying and subsequently died; he neglected to be there for her and postponed attending to her for weeks! This grated on me, but I just ignored it, and the fact is, I was right. The man has no integrity and puts political self-interest and ambition before his conscience.
Holders defense of assassination by tagging OBL as a commander in the field is incorrect. Ayman al-Zawahiri is the commander. If anything at all he was now retired and living as a private citizen, ailing in health.
It is widely believed that OBL was a ”source of inspiration” for his followers and had no actual role in planning or approving any attacks.
The recording that he supposedly made taking credit was likely forged. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/nov/30/alqaida.terrorism
The video which the government said he admitted it was translated incorrectly, this went unreported in the US.
Never the less, even if he was guilty of having a hand in the Cole bombing he deserved a trial, and we deserve to have our leaders stand by their commitment to our Constitution and show confidence in our system of justice, that is, if it is in fact superior at all it should withstand the tests for which it was designed.
They murdered five people for a symbolic victory, but in reality it will cost us dearly. I can’t help feeling like the age of enlightenment is over. The cautious conservatives, intellectuals, the moral and wise have been sidelined. We are ruled by greedy barbarians.
Well said, Parah Salin. Bin Laden deserved his day in court no less than Timothy McVeigh did. And you’re right about al-Zawahiri being the true leader of Al Qaeda.
We need to see the video. there is no other way to assess what happened. No video, no truth.
Tried to surrender but could still be shot? Well, a fact question and a legal question.
Resisted and therefore shot? Again, a fact question and a legal question.
It’s like Cast Lead except one does not expect any of the SEALS to speak out.
Does anyone know if there is any conclusive evidence of Osama bin Laden’s involvement in 9/11 or any other terrorist attacks? Except of course his own words. The fact that he praised the attacks and claimed (I don’t know if he did) that he was involved will not be sufficient in a court of law.
If you admit in a court of law that you are the author of a crime I’d say your case is pretty much sunk. But I truly wish the U.S. gov’t would’ve mounted a full court press to prosecute him either here on in The Hague. It could’ve been a model use of international law.