NEW YORK--President Barack Obama murdered Osama bin Laden, suspected of ordering of one of the most horrific crimes of the decade. He might have been taken alive, yet Obama's commandos killed him. The key to the truth of who might have led us to other people responsible for 9/11 is gone.
In the United States, conservatives and "liberals" agree: Might makes right. America's military-intelligence apparatus is so fearsome that it can deploy soldiers and agents without fear of retribution. The 900-pound-gorilla act might go over better if we weren't a nation that constantly prattles on and on about how civilized we are, how important it is that everyone follow the rules. For example:
"We're a nation of laws!" Obama exclaimed. "We don't let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate."
He wasn't talking about himself. This was about Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of supplying the big Defense Department data dump to Wikileaks. Manning has been subjected to torture, including sleep deprivation and forced nudity--treatment ordered by Obama.
U.S. officials do whatever they feel like and then dress up their brazenly illegal acts with perverse Orwellian propaganda.
"I authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice," Obama claimed, as if blowing away an unarmed man in a foreign country was the moral equivalent of filing an extradition request with the Pakistani government and putting him on trial. Justice is a legal process, not a military assault.
What if the United States really was a nation of laws? The news might look like this:
"Bipartisan demands for Congressional investigations into the assassination of alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden escalated into demands for presidential impeachment after reports that U.S. forces, operating under orders from President Obama, invaded a sovereign nation without permission to carry out what House Speaker John Boehner called 'a mob-style hit.' Standing at Boehner's side, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi decried Obama's 'cowboy antics' and said she had received numerous phone calls from the relatives of 9/11 victims furious that true justice had been denied."
In fact, no one knows whether Osama bin Laden was involved in 9/11. They suspect. For what it's worth, he denied it:
"Following the latest explosions in the United States, some Americans are pointing the finger at me, but I deny that because I have not done it," Bin Laden said in a statement on Sept. 16, 2001. "The United States has always accused me of these incidents which have been caused by its enemies. Reiterating once again, I say that I have not done it."
Why should we believe him? Why not? He admitted his responsibility for the East Africa embassy bombings in 1998.
There was the famous "confession video," but it was translated by the CIA, hardly an objective source. Arabic-language experts say the CIA manipulated Bin Laden's discussion into an admission of guilt.
I'm not angry that Bin Laden is dead. Nor am I happy. I didn't know the guy or care for his ideology. I'm angry that, without a trial, we will never know whether he was guilty of 9/11--or, if he was, who else was involved.