Why Osama’s Death Gives New Life to Skeptics
By: James Di Fiore
It was supposed to be a touchstone moment for America – the successful assassination of Osama Bin Laden. Indeed, when the news struck there was jubilation. Crowds swarmed the streets in America shouting chants of ‘USA! USA!’ and celebrated til the morning hours. President Obama – deemed soft on foreign policy by his critics, managed to out-hawk the neo-conservatives who up until that moment had a monopoly on national security. And then it all changed.
Or had it?
The successful killing of Bin Laden was immediately followed by the news that his body was laid to rest at sea. DNA samples allegedly taken from the body proved to be a match, according to military officials, leaving no room for doubt that the word’s most wanted terrorist was dead. Unfortunately for President Obama, many citizens still frustrated from 8 years of the Bush administration are skeptical of government statements claiming successes in foreign policy. People are demanding more than just grandiose statements from their leaders. They want tangible evidence to support government claims. The remarkable facet of this story appears to be the extreme lack of evidence to support the claim that Osama Bin Laden was killed during a Navy Seals operation in Pakistan. Even more interesting is the blanket approach by the government and the media to allow this claim to go unquestioned. Any skepticism has been met with immediate dismissal and labels of conspiracy theorists; tin foil hat wearing crazies who believe in UFOs, that 9/11 was an inside job and that the moon landing was a hoax.
But isn’t skepticism a healthy bi-product of democracy? Shouldn’t the killing of the world’s most wanted man require indisputable evidence vetted by non-American military and intelligence officers? The initial reason given by the Obama administration for the burial at sea was that it was in-line with Muslim custom that required a proper burial within 24 hours, but a proper Muslim burial also requires the corpse to be pointed towards Mecca, buried in the earth…not water. Additionally, the idea that America would toss Osama’s corpse overboard so hastily just to appease the Muslim faith seems rather extraordinary. And to get the burial custom wrong appears incompetent in that haste.
So, and rightfully so, people began to ask questions. Almost preemptively, the administration, members of the House Intelligence Committee and the media began to systematically label people with questions as conspiracy theorists; the go-to title for those who have questions about government statements. In the past, the definition of a ‘theorist’ of any kind required an actual theory to be hypothesized. But in today’s political climate one only needs to ask questions to earn that label.
“Why did you bury Osama at sea?”
“You must be a conspiracy theorist.”
“But I did not theorize an alternative, I just asked a question.”
“You are a conspiracy theorist.”
And so on.
This sets a dangerous precedent in American politics. When George W. Bush was president there were many Americans who believed he either had prior knowledge or was directly involved in the 9/11 attacks. The people who had these ideas could rightfully be called conspiracy theorists. But there were also those individuals, particularly within the 9/11 families, who asked the 9/11 Commission tough questions about the attacks. Those individuals were for the most part considered to be patriotic Americans who simply wanted answers. But in today’s bizarre political and cultural climate, asking the American government for tangible evidence of Osama’s demise is being met with veracious finger pointing by politicians, pundits and even journalists. Paradoxically, staunch conservatives find themselves supporting unsubstantiated claims from a man who many see as a Kenyan born, secret Muslim who is covertly dragging America towards socialism. Perhaps many right wing politicians would rather not focus on a foreign policy victory by Obama, or perhaps 3 years of real conspiracy theories from their base has exhausted their credibility to the extent that legitimate questions must now go unanswered.
Here are legitimate questions about the killing of Osama Bin Laden:
Why didn’t officials allow diplomats from other countries terrorized by Al Qaeda independently identify his body? Surely America is not the only nation with vested interests in Bin Laden’s death.
Since it was not a proper Muslim burial, what was the real reason for the alleged burial at sea?
If the public can view graphic photos of Saddam Hussein’s dead sons, why not Osama?
Who was the soldier who killed Osama Bin Laden?
And finally, if asking questions about extraordinary government claims is akin to being a conspiracy theorist, have we entered a new chapter that renders the press impotent? And worse, have the people been marginalized to spectators during the world’s most cataclysmic events? If so, who are the government watch dogs the next time an extraordinary claim is made, and when will we be notified directly that our questions are no longer needed to form an intelligent opinion?
Believe whatever you want about the killing of Osama Bin Laden. But remember – there are tales in details. And please, try not to ask too many questions.