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The Execution of Osama bin Laden

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We don’t need to sugar coat anything. Let’s be honest. We executed Osama bin Laden. We didn’t want to give him a trial. We didn’t want to apply the rule of law. We didn’t want to give him any rights at all. He was the most hated man in America, so let’s just kill him.  And we did. A team of Navy Seals attacked him in his bedroom, firing a shot that injured his fifth wife in the leg. Two shots from the Navy Seals struck bin Laden in the chest and in the forehead above his left eye, ripping apart his skull and splattering his blood and brain on the wall and floor. Suddenly everyone in America is using the killer’s lexicon to describe what they did: the Seals fired a “double tap” at the target, two bullets.  We don’t have to make excuses either, like Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who claims the Navy Seals were “forced” to shoot Bin Laden. Feinstein and others, five days after the fact, argue we had to kill him because there were weapons near the bedroom door.

The celebrations were showcased on national television minutes after President Barack Obama broke the news in a special TV press conference from the White House, coincidentally timed to interrupt the climactic moment of his political rival’s TV reality series, Celebrity Apprentice, with Donald Trump. Obama implied we should not take satisfaction in all this but I bet he got some satisfaction out of that!

No one cared how he was killed. We got our revenge. We got our vengeance. After all, bin Laden’s disciples, 19 hijackers of four American commercial planes, killed nearly 3,000 people after crashing those planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.  It’s not a Christian thing to do by a nation whose people claim is a Christian nation. Christians forgive even their worst enemies. We pray for them. But no one was praying for Osama bin Laden. Just lusting for that revenge, even though this is a Christian country. Despite our belief in the separation of church and state, we have a religious political movement called the Christian right, which is the moral conscience of the conservative Republican Party and which believe that the only person born in Hawaii who must prove his natural American birthright to be an American president is an African American whose middle name is Hussein. 

America is about the rule of law. We have a Constitution that, for the most part, has been restored to most of its original principles after it was pillaged by former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, who rammed through the Patriot Act after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  The Constitution says that everyone has rights, but apparently not the Muslim whose Muslim disciples attacked our nation and killed 2,996 people on that fateful date.The truth is we treated bin Laden worse than we treat the worst serial killers and child murderers. John Wayne Gacy Jr. was executed, but only after he had a trial. I guess it’s not how you kill people that counts, but how many people you kill. Gacy was convicted of raping and murdering 33 young boys and men.  I don’t recall the United States ever holding a trial for bin Laden, not even in absentia. We just delivered justice.

I don’t sympathize with the killing of a terrorist, or a serial killer, or a child rapist or murderer. I don’t care about Osama bin Laden. But I do care about America. I care about the message we send to others in the world who watch our actions versus our words. I care about our Constitution and our civil rights. And I care about our people who have abandoned the rule of law in favor of mob justice.

I’m not a skeptic like those who believe that Sept. 11th and the destruction of the Twin Towers was an inside job, although I don’t believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Yes, skepticism and cynicism are good things, important aspects of freedoms that allow every citizen the right to question the actions and the claims made by their government. And Obama’s claim that bin Laden is dead is a claim.  I wasn’t there, but I believe bin Laden was killed.  But I also believe that we didn’t do the right thing. That we did what the terrorists are trying to do to us. We tortured prisoners in ways we would never torture serial killers. We passed special laws so we could treat those terrorists differently from common criminals who murder people all the time.We created an exception to democracy that one day might come back to haunt this nation. We executed someone without ever giving that person the opportunity to defend themselves, or to deny or even brag about what they did or did not do.

Yes, I believe Osama bin Laden ordered and planned the murder of nearly 3,000 American citizens. In fact, I believe he wanted to murder more. But I also believe that what we did was not about democracy. It wasn’t about freedom. It wasn’t about preserving liberty. It was about revenge. Stone cold revenge, execution style. Should bin Laden have been executed? Yes. Did we do it the moral and principled way? No, we did not.

Have we become the people we loathe?

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About rayhanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and former Chicago City Hall Reporter (1976-1992) and President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group Media Consultants. Hanania writes on mainstream politics and analyzes Middle East events for Creators Syndicate in English and Arabic. His columns appear in many newspapers including every Sunday in The Saudi Gazette. His columns on Chicagoland politics appear in the Chicago Southwest News-Herald and the Lawndale News, and are archived on his website http://www.RayHanania.com. He is a former columnist with the Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post, the Israeli news website YnetNews.com and the Arab News in Saudi Arabia. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group which provides media and public affairs strategic consulting. Clients have included or include more than 100 candidates, elected officials and governments from U.S. Congress, state legislature, local municipalities and government services in the Chicagoland and Detroit region, and also Fortune 500 corporations from Bechtel to AON Risk Management. He is transparent about his work in his writings. RAY HANANIA Media & political analyst, distributed by Creators Syndicate “Defining the moderate Palestinian Arab voice” Ray Hanania offers a unique perspective on the news, and special insights that are sometimes humorous & always insightful on the challenges of bringing peace and an end to violence in the Middle East “two-fisted, award-winning journalism … a journalist who matters” – Chicago Reader, – Mike Miner JOURNALISM AWARDS Winner, 2009 Sigma Delta Chi National Award from the Society of Professional Journalists Winner 2009 Dr. M.T. Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award National Winner Best Ethnic Columnist in America 2006/2007 New America Media Four (4) time winner, Society of Professional Journalists Peter Lisagor Award for Column Writing (for 1985, 2002, 2006, 2009) (7-time finalist) Two-time winner, Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick-O-Type Award 1990 Pulitzer Prize Nominee (nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times) Professional communicator, media consultant, author, standup comedian, satirist, filmmaker, radio talk show host.
  • Flight

    We have always been the people we loath, but are too hypocritical to see it.

    People like bin Laden are just like our heroes of the Wild West. They make their own laws based on the situation at hand.

    We killed off the Native People because they didn’t fit in with our vision of the country. How are we any different from terrorists bent on mass extermination to further their goals?

  • http://hellaheaven-ana.blogspot.com Ana

    I’m thankful that there are Americans that are not afraid of naming things for what they are and think taking in consideration aspects that most people don’t see.
    So, please, take away the “we” out.
    If I say anything against American Government I risk being called anti-American. So I never forget putting America-government instead of America or USA.
    What a great people America has.
    But the governments…
    Yes, it was nothing about democracy and freedom, two words that Americans have to reconquest.
    You are part of these “gang” that is fighting for that and not part of the “WE”.
    You can use the famous “THEY”. I do for my own.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Some see it as revenge…while others see it as justice.

    I did not rejoice when OBL was killed…but neither was I saddened. It was something that needed to be done before he killed more Americans.

    The author of this article should have differentiated between criminals – which need to be caught and put on trial – and wartime enemies who must be defeated, and often killed.

    That said, Bush II made the wrong decision by deciding to declare war. If we had treated 9/11 as a criminal act and pursued and captured OBL, then we could have avoided the invasion of Afghanistan and the strictly illegal invasion of Iraq.

    But we – WE – did invade, with tragic results. Because of this, when President Obama took the reins, he didn’t have a choice of whether to treat the matter as a criminal act. He could only treat OBL as a wartime enemy, and hunt him down and kill him.

    Which he did.

    By killing bin Laden (without using bombers which would have caused much more collateral damage) and by treating OBL’s body IAW Islamic tradition and dumping it at sea (thereby preventing the burial site from becoming a shrine to would-be terrorists), President Obama likely saved many American lives.

    Remember – OBL was NO LONGER a front-line terrorist. Thanks to Bush II, he was a WARTIME LEADER, and a leader’s most powerful weapon is his voice. If we’d put him on trial, then he could have used his voice and his celebrity/notoriety to cause yet more death and destruction to America.

    Like it or not, President Obama did the right thing in almost every sense, for his first duty is to protect America. And by taking away OBL’s voice, by preventing him from speaking ever again, by preventing his resting place from becoming a shrine, President Obama did protect America.

    I say he deserves a wealth of kudos for his decision and his courage.

  • http://www.Hanania.com Ray Hanania

    @Glenn … I do not parse principle or justice. People accused of crimes have the right to defend themselves, regardless of their bluster and public statements. We are a Democracy and better than the enemy and we should act that way, don’t you think?
    Thanks for your comments (and all the comments)
    Ray Hanania

  • Glenn Contrarian

    So you would allow this wartime leader the opportunity to speak publicly – for trials are public – so that he might encourage more death against America? And when he was executed properly, he’d be made a martyr…and let us not forget the likely violence that would take place during the trial.

    How many people do you think is enough to sacrifice in order to protect OBL’s “rights”?

    Listen, Ray – I’m quite liberal. If you ask the BC conservatives like Dave Nalle and Clavos, they’ll tell you I’m way out on the fringe of the left. I am certainly dead set – no pun intended – against the death penalty.

    BUT for everything there is a season…and that includes killing. If someone is coming to kill you and yours, are you going to allow him to do it? Or are you going to kill him? If we only captured OBL, if only at the public trial, we would sooner or later have given him the opportunity to speak, to communicate to the outside world with his most powerful weapon – words. And innocent people would die.

    In my opinion, protecting OBL’s ‘rights’ was NOT worth risking more innocent American (or Afghan or Pakistani or any other) lives. Remember, no matter how ethically pure a nation’s leader tries to be, sometimes it becomes necessary for that nation’s leader to order death and destruction in order to protect the lives of those he is sworn to protect.

    Bush II made the wrong decision, with horribly tragic results. Obama made the right decision…

    …and people will live who would otherwise have been targeted by OBL.

  • iandave

    There is a big reason why OBL was killed, it was to give justice to the people he killed years ago. I was really shocked when I heard the news that OBL died. I thought it was just a joke but now I know it is really true. He has the right to be judge but years ago he made hid own law, which is to kill the people who are innocent. Killing him gave justice to the people he have killed. Bring forth justice!

  • Boeke

    iandave: you’re talking about vengeance, not justice.

    My feeling is that OBL WAS a criminal, but Bush2 elevated him to the status of General (or something) by inflating 9/11 into a military operation. So we kind of got stuck with that. And, as a war, soldiers are justified to shoot to kill enemy soldiers. QED.

  • http://ragingbullandfrenzyshark.blogspot.com/ ragingbullandfrenzyshark

    I love Ray Hanania’s writings. I pick on him a lot but the guy has class and a writing style that compels me to read anything he pens. It’s great to see him here.

  • Clavos

    And when he was executed properly, he’d be made a martyr.

    He will be, even now.

  • S.T..M

    Raqy: “People accused of crimes have the right to defend themselves, regardless of their bluster and public statements.”

    He wasn’t just accused of crimes. He was accused of carrying out acts of terror and mass murder in the name of a hateful ideology and a war he himself had declared against America and the other western nations (not just Americans; it has included the killing of 80 of my countrymen and women in the Bali tourist-strip blasts in 2002 and the bombings in London and Madrid around the same time).

    He declared war on us, not the other way around.

    Live by the sword, die by the sword.

    If you’re going to declare war, there’s a fair expectation you might ultimately die in it. Adolf Hitler, that other mass murderer, and many of his minions, learned that in 1945.

    A trial is a red herring here. Bin Laden made a public declaration of war against the US and its allies.

    In the end, his dying as part of the war he’d declared was simply a case of reap what you sow.

    So tell me, rocket, what were the commandoes supposed to do … turn up with a warrant for his arrest, ignore the other guys firing at them (they managed to shoot enough bullets to bring down a chopper), read him his rights and ask him to turn and face the wall while they put handcuffs on him?

    Seriously, some people would be dangerous if they were possessed of an extra half a brain cell. I don’t see what the big deal is about the double tap either.

    All special forces are taught to do it as a matter of course. It stops the possibility of wounded people firing back at you.

    And yes, it’s designed to kill. Which is precisely what that mission was about.

    No one is pretending otherwise, even if the stories might have varied initially.

    War is war; Bin Laden really signed his own death warrant on September 11, 2001.

    \

  • S.T..M

    And Americans shouldn’t be in the least bit phased by it. Dancing in the streets is probably foolish, but the whole thing is what it is.

  • S.T..M

    Ragingbulland frenzysharK writes: “I love Ray Hanania’s writings. I pick on him a lot but the guy has class and a writing style that compels me to read anything he pens. It’s great to see him here”.

    G’day Ray.

  • http://www.themediaoasis.com Ray Hanania

    @Glenn who writes “So you would allow this wartime leader the opportunity to speak publicly – for trials are public – so that he might encourage more death against America? And when he was executed properly, he’d be made a martyr…and let us not forget the likely violence that would take place during the trial.”

    The issue isn’t about Bin Laden, it is about us. Are we a Democracy that follows principles and the rule of law, or are we a mob that acts out of anger and revenge. The answer to your questions is our enemies will do all those things whether we execute Bin Laden as we did or we treat him within the context of our own integrity as a nation.

    @STM who writes: “He wasn’t just accused of crimes. He was accused of carrying out acts of terror and mass murder in the name of a hateful ideology and a war he himself had declared against America and the other western nations (not just Americans; it has included the killing of 80 of my countrymen and women in the Bali tourist-strip blasts in 2002 and the bombings in London and Madrid around the same time).

    He declared war on us, not the other way around.”

    Bin Laden claimed otherwise that the US Declared war on America and he executed Americans (by his logic) claiming we murdered innocent Muslims. SO his logic is based on the same logic you use here which basically argues that we do not need a rule of law to execute “justice” if we believe that the criminal has crossed a red line that we define. Apparently that red line exists among others. Principle, justice and morality demand that we apply one rule to our conduct in order to claim to be a Democracy and a nation of laws. Laws are permanent, not applied when we feel it is convenient. So yes, we should have arrested him, brought him to trial and then applied justice, although I guess it wouldn’t matter and people we hate can never get a fair trial in this country anyway.

    Our actions are an example that will be used against us. Every people who claims that we have killed and murdered their people will now apply the Bin Laden rule that it is okay to murder someone or people if they believe that the target used terrorism (self-defined word apparently with no definition in the rule of law). It’s a pretty poor example of American principles
    Ray Hanania

  • Boeke

    13-Ray: Ray is right: once OBL is in our power “The issue isn’t about Bin Laden, it is about us.”

  • S.T..M

    Bin Laden might use his idea of America declaring war on Muslims – the US actually didn’t do anything of the sort – as the twisted justification for mass murder, but it’s a nonsense.

    We could go on all day about the US and its blind, one-eyed support of Israel, and the wrongs committed by organisations like the CIA in the name of “democracy” (supporting friendly regimes that are anything but democratic), but it’s a red herring in this instance: the US has not sought in the past couple of decades to willfully go out an commit mass murder. Even in situations where they could have done so – in the first Gulf War – they have been remarkably restrained.

    Bin Laden’s declaration of war on the US and the west is on record. It was made publicly and with much fanfare. Remember what you’re dealing with here … an organisation that videotapes the live beheading of hostages with a knife and posts them on the internet and thinks that’s a good laugh.

    Your argument is a nonsense Ray. Yes, in the English-speaking nations, we all live by rule of law and we’re lucky that we inherited that from our cousins in the old country. Others have had the chance to have it too and have chosen the path of tyranny and oppression instead.

    I’ll reiterate: if you declare war on someone and they end up killing you, the answers are all in the mirror.

    It’s fanciful to think that the members of a special operations mission could put their own lives at risk to capture the world’s most wanted terrorist and “bring him to justice”.

    He simply got the kind of justice he was meting out. Can you imagine the uproar among the radicals in the muslim community worldwide as the trial of Bin Laden dragged out for months, even years, most likely offering him the perfect platform – every word of it rep[orted, because unlike in Bin Laden’s worldview, ours subscribes to freedom of speech and of opinions and of the press – to utter all kinds of perverse calls to action among those who subscribe to his hateful thinking.

    It’s a noble idea, thinking that he could have been caught and tried. But it’s also naive to think that such a capture could could have been carried out safely and successfully or that such a trial would have served any purpose except to rally Bin Laden’s supporters who would almost certainly mount further accusations of torture whilst railing against any idea of justice in our system of jurisprudence.

    I think you’ve been living under a rock, Ray. You’ve presented a cogent argument, but it doesn’t mean it’s right.

    In fact it’s so detached from reality IMO, it simply comes across as a piece of nonsense and a political agenda you’ve tried to dress up in a coat of good ol’ American goodness.

    People like Bin Laden have in the past decried the US for its inability to act decisively in the situations they have placed it in. Too much American goodness might have been the cause of the problem in the first place.

    This time, the US made good on a promise it would never have had to make if a pack of lunatics didn’t think it a good idea to blow up thousands of innoceny people around the world or fly jets full of inncocent people into sktscrapers full of innocent people.

    Good on ‘em for having the balls to reply in kind, and with the only kind of justice these people understand.

  • S.T..M

    Glenn, regarding the invasion of Iraq.

    I lived there as a boy and still have contact with Iraqis. It wasn’t the invasion they didn’t like … they saw it as a liberation from one of the most repressive regimes that has existed anywhere, ever, on this planet. Baathism under Saddam became a bizarre pan-Arab form of Stalinism. Saddam’s police state in operation was every bit as bad, and even worse in some ways, than Stalin’s or Hitler’s.

    No, it wasn’t about the invasion … it was the way the US dealt – or didn’t deal, to be more precise – with the peace afterwards.

    Abu Ghraib was the moment it all went pear-shaped. The US had to deal with one of the most sensitive tasks in its history: the custody of suspected Saddam supporters intent on foiling the undoing of the regime.

    Given that not all those held were anything of the kind, it needed to be approached in a very even-handed, softly-softly fashion.

    So some bright spark at the Pentagon does what?

    Instead of tasking full-time military police with the job, the genius instead gets a bunch of mid-west army reservist MPs taking time out from their jobs at a state correctional institution, most of whom couldn’t have pointed to Baghdad on a map – or Canda, probably – since most of them likely had never been out of Hodad County.

    So asking them to respect basic ideas of nicety might have been a bit too much. I can just imagine the conversations. “Anyone wearing a turban must be our enemy and a member of al-Qaeda” … “He’s a Shiite? .. shee-it, what’s that? He looks like a terrororist, let’s set the dogs on him and take a holiday snap”.

    Sadly, I don’t think Americans understand sometimes how that stuff turns against them. And after the event, when transparency finally comes into play, is too late.

    And as for invading Afghanistan … that’s where al-Qaeda lived, along with their the people who were giving them shelter.

    You’ve been in the navy, you know that a lot of people around the world see America as weak. You can stand on the deck of one of those aircraft carriers and know that militarily and materially, that is not the case. In fact, almost all Americans I have met have an idea of that power and are quite proud of it.

    But power isn’t just about parking big boats offshore at various locations around the world and rattling the sabre.

    It’s about the willingness to punch someone back when they’ve given you an almighty whack in the nose. Arabs, in particular, respect strength. Wars are only won by fighting, unfortunately.

    Bin Laden and many islamic fundamentalists didn’t think America and her allies would have the will to do it because they have consistently misunderstood how we all think (and in America’s favour, it has always been slow to anger. And for real courage, forget brainwashed suicide bombers; have a look at reruns of 9/11 and see NYC firefighters going into burning skyscrapers, many of them knowing they’d likely die). People like Bin Laden and his minions mistake kindness and compassion for weakness. At their peril, as it turns out.

    But Bin Laden’s killing a whole decade down the track is just one example in this case of how wrong they could be.

    They won’t win, because hateful, murderous ideologies don’t win.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    STM, in Tucson AZ, a former Marine is executed while he was being served a warrant by a SWAT team. Also this month, Americans, after being told that Osama bin Laden is finally dead, are encouraged to mark the joyous event with decorum, and not raise much of a fuss about his execution being conducted without a trial. Are US citizens being conditioned to regard the Magna Carta (1215, after all) as being generally out-of-date?

    A few sentences from your comment #16 really caught my eye: Abu Ghraib was the moment it all went pear-shaped. The US had to deal with one of the most sensitive tasks in its history: the custody of suspected Saddam…So some bright spark at the Pentagon does what? Instead of tasking full-time military police with the job, the genius instead gets a bunch of mid-west army reservist MPs taking time out from their jobs at a state correctional institution, most of whom couldn’t have pointed to Baghdad on a map…

    The family of the executed Marine is demanding justice. Here is a video of Jose Guerena’s widow, at the end describing how the “acquisitions branch” (wonderful euphemism!)of the government agency left the scene with her wedding ring and the medals from her husband’s Marine uniform.

  • http://osama-bin-laden-execution.com/ OBL

    Thanks for this thoughtful article. The Osama Bin Laden execution is a curious thing. To what extent do we mourn the death of a human being and to what extent do we celebrate the end of an infamous terrorist? The ethical dilemma in this saga is far from simple.

  • Kaj2Han

    Well written Ray…well written!.