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Terrorist Or Martyr?: Not Releasing bin Laden Death Photo Is Smart

It was inevitable, with the emergence and escalation of the “birther” campaign, that we would experience the same bizarre skepticism when it comes to Osama bin Laden. If there are a group of conspiracy theorists who insist on seeing proof of U.S. birth for President Obama, is it any surprise that there would be a concurrent call for proof of death for bin Laden?

President Obama has decided not to release a photo of the dead bin Laden. True, it would perhaps appease those who don’t really believe that the U.S. military and intelligence personnel, under Obama’s direction, completed the task of killing the hated bin Laden. But releasing a photo or video could also rally terrorist forces around the world, buttressing any movement to turn bin Laden into a martyr.

We’ve become unfortunately accustomed to a YouTube, reality TV, cell phone photo approach to living–a world where privacy and dignity are sacrificed for hyper-transparency and more commonly, pure voyeurism. But images matter, and sending provocative images or videos around the world can have a destructive effect. The Internet posting of a video showing the burning of a Koran in Florida is one such example, giving amplified attention to a local pastor whose narrow-mindedness and ignorance does not deserve to be promoted.

What would be the purpose of releasing a photo? Would it really reassure Americans that bin Laden is really dead? Or would it just provoke a new wave of conspiracy theories about doctored photos and lies? There are people, remarkably, who still don’t believe Obama was born in Hawaii, despite indisputable evidence to the contrary. Why would a picture of a dead bin Laden be any more effective? At best, it would give some satisfaction to those of us who want to see the face of hate bloodied and lifeless. At worst, it will incite would-be terrorists around the world.

And at its heart, the demand for pictures of a deceased bin Laden are not much different from the demands for further proof of Obama’s domestic birth. In both cases, we are dealing with people who simply cannot believe that a mixed-race man became president, and further, will refuse to believe he could have accomplished something so great. The Obama haters will believe what they want to believe, regardless of what is shown them. Releasing photos won’t change their minds.

By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, May 4, 2011

May 4, 2011 Posted by | 911, Birthers, Islam, Journalists, Middle East, Muslims, National Security, Politics, President Obama, Press, Pundits, Religion, Terrorism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Swagger: Osama bin Laden’s Killing Vindicates Obama’s Approach

It was a very different Barack Obama who stood in the White House  late Sunday to deliver the astounding and satisfying news that Osama bin Laden  was dead. Or was it?

Obama was derided  during the 2008 presidential campaign for saying he would be willing to go into  Pakistan unilaterally to nab the hateful and hated leader of al Qaeda. The idea  was naïve at best, diplomatically disastrous at worst, his opponents said.  Obama’s calm tones, lack of swagger, and professed desire to repair  relationships with the rest of the world—the Muslim world, in particular—were used as a weapon to portray him as weak, someone who would not possess the  cool-headedness to destroy the most cold hearted of mass murderers. And yet,  Obama, with the able help of U.S. intelligence and military minds and bodies,  pulled it off brilliantly, and in a manner entirely keeping with the personage  he offered during the campaign.

For most of us,  the mere fact of bin Laden’s death would be enough. But the way the operation  unfolded was virtually perfect: bin Laden was hunted down by U.S. forces and shot  in the head—not killed in an air strike or explosion, but in a manner in  which we can presume that bin Laden, in his final moments, knew that it was  American troops who would personally take his life. No U.S. troops were killed,  and civilian casualties (except, possibly, for the unidentified woman bin Laden  used as a human shield) avoided. His body was identified by DNA, preemptively  silencing any “deathers” who would circulate rumors that it was all just a  public relations stunt and a lie. Bin Laden’s body was disposed of at sea—to avert the need to find a country willing to bury him, and to avoid having  his grave site used as a rallying spot for al Qaeda operatives and  sympathizers. He was buried quickly, in Muslim tradition, averting criticism  that the United States was being insensitive to the religion. Pakistan, which  Obama said cooperated in the mission, but which apparently did not know the details  of it until it was done, has not accused the United States of any invasion of  sovereignty.

In his White  House address, the serious-faced president avoided showing any glee over bin  Laden’s death, although he surely was as happy about it as the rest of America.  Nor did he take a cheap political victory lap, declaring “mission  accomplished” against terrorism; in fact, the president rightly warned, the  nation needs to be on alert for any retaliatory attacks. He reiterated that the  United States is not at war with Islam, but with terrorism. There was no comment, implicit  or otherwise, that he had managed to achieve what former President Bush had  failed to do—to get bin Laden. Obama had the good manners to call Bush  personally to tell him of the feat, and Bush responded in his statement with  grace.

Obama lacks  Bush’s aggressive style and provocative rhetoric. That does not mean he is weak  or was less determined to get bin Laden. And while the president had not  mentioned bin Laden much in public recently, that does not mean the  administration wasn’t working on it. Similarly, while the Bush administration  did not manage to kill or capture bin Laden, we have no way of knowing how many  major attacks the previous administration defused.

Obama on Sunday  night might have shown some of his critics a side they didn’t think existed,  that of a determined commander in chief. But that was exactly the approach  Obama presented during the campaign. It was just that his opponents didn’t  think he could pull it off. He did—and the fact that Obama is not hanging a  “Mission Accomplished” banner across the East Room makes the feat even more  impressive.

By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, May 2, 2011

May 2, 2011 Posted by | 911, Foreign Policy, Ground Zero, Homeland Security, Islam, Justice, Muslims, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Terrorism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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