One might also take note of the hypocrisy of government claims of bringing justice and human rights to the people of Afghanistan while at the same time failing to abide by international norms of extradition. Upon the US demand that the Taliban hand over bin Laden, the Afghan leadership made a simple request: submit your evidence against him and we will gladly release him to an international tribunal to stand trial. The Bush administration responded by launching what amounted to a vigilante attack that has resulted in a civilian body count, never to be adequately accounted for and an Afghan war which has cost more than a half-trillion dollars. With opening of Camp X-Ray in Cuba and sponsoring extraordinary rendition, the government turned its back on the foundation of the American judicial ethic of “innocent until proven guilty” and the right of due process, all while purporting to uphold the highest standards of justice in the world. Yet, to be accused of being responsible for the crime of the century somehow disqualifies that person from defending himself in a court of law.
Culminating in a midnight raid, the world is told that Osama bin Laden has been killed in what is described as a million dollar estate within an enclave just outside the Pakistani equivalent to West Point and a short distance from the capitol. The three choppers used in the operation reportedly went undetected by the Pakistani military. In perfect xenophobic narrative, we’re told bin Laden used a woman as a human shield before being gunned down in a firefight. A day later, we’re told another version; the woman was not used as a shield and he was unarmed. In accordance with Islamic funeral rites, we’re told a ceremony was read by a native Arabic speaker and his body was slipped into the sea. When questioned about the decision against a land burial, we’re told no country would accept his remains.
Already, there are significant inconsistencies with the details surrounding bin Laden’s execution. As with his supposed “suicidal jihadist” tendencies that somehow led him to deny involvement in the 911 attacks out of self-preservation, his assassins claim that he was “buried at sea” because the US government wanted to avoid a “terrorist shrine” being constructed over his grave. Are we really expected to believe that people who consider such shrines−in some cases even a gravestone−heretical would make an exception in his case? Apparently so, amid the impulsive flag waving and sports-like chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” The Obama administration is being asked to produce photographic evidence of bin Laden’s killing, as though a photo would provide conclusive proof of anything. Are we somehow to believe that the government is ill-equipped to produce fraudulent evidence? Perhaps it would be an improvement over the grainy videotape supposedly found in a hotel room left behind by bin Laden wherein he admits to planning the 911 plot.
While I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories about a hidden government and the like, I don’t doubt such “evidence” will eventually be released, but it really won’t make much of a difference at that point. It’s well documented that prior to September 11th, bin Laden was diagnosed with diabetes and there are allegations that he had become unable to walk in recent years. In fact, it would be surprising if he had even been alive at the time his supposed assassination. The point is, however, that we may never know. Whether he died of natural or unnatural causes (assuming he actually is dead), he will never stand trial, the US government will never have to produce evidence to a jury proving his involvement with the 911 attacks, and we will never be able to confirm his death at the hands of an elite military force. Sadly, the rush to celebrate 'justice served' may, in fact, be at the expense of justice itself, for had he been condemned by an international tribunal, I, for one, would have felt much greater contentment, knowing the claims against him were actually substantiated and a lawful execution was carried out. We can be assured of one thing: for better or worse, news of the killing of Osama bin Laden will greatly add to the likelihood of a second Obama administration, albeit in exchange for living up to the ethical standards we have set for ourselves.