Sunday, 15 May 2011

Bin Laden murder wah wah wah

I had this steaming pile brought to my attention yesterday, and while I'm aware there is absolutely no point in trying to convince the conspiratorially inclined to reconsider, using such weak weapons as reason and evidence, I succumbed to the temptation to give it a more-than-cursory-dismissal (1). I suppose it can stand for all the other crap out there, as it is much of a muchness.

Well, I got as far as "Obama murdered Osama bin Laden," before I started to entertain doubts as to the piece's credibility. Unfortunately, that's the very first line. To advance such a claim, the author must have some remarkable evidence to back it up, showing that Bin laden was killed without provocation and the SEALS had no goal other than his death. Astute legal argument as to the legality or otherwise of his death could be expected. Yet, I note, not a single footnote citing a source for this.

In the second paragraph, we're assured, "there's no attempt to arrest him or bring him to justice," another remarkable claim given no substantiation. Yes, I know. He was shot. He wasn't carrying a gun. But he had after being challenged. He was the head of a terrorist network which glorifies martyrdom. He could easily have been wearing a suicide vest, or grabbing a grenade, or seeking some means to take a few of the infidels with him. The SEALS were justified in killing him. It's an unfortunate reality of military operations that people sometimes die. Just as people perceived as dangerous may be shot if they the resist police.

After that it turns into a standard whine about how everything would have been different under Bush - the left would have "protested Bush's violations of international law and basic human rights. They would have complained about killing the Al Qaeda leader before questioning him about possible terrorist plots. They would have demanded investigations."

Really? Plenty of things were done by Bush that the (sane) left accepted. It was only his egregious offenses that provoked protests. Of course, the insane left protested everything - just like they are doing now over the killing of Bin Laden. To justify the claim of hypocritical silence by the left, Rall would have to demonstrate that killing a legitimate target resisting capture was on a par with, oh, I dunno, illegally invading a country based on blatantly trumped up evidence. But Rall, as pointed out earlier, completely fails to make that case. It must be, because he says so, is what his argument amounts to.

Then we get more wailing about Manning's "torture" - though again, unsubstantiated. Not one authoritative source is identified as describing Manning's treatment as torture. PJ Crowley didn't, for example, didn't describe it in those terms, even though he saw fit to resign over it (2).

Then, towards the end, there's a logical howler. Rall states Bin Laden never claimed responsibility for 9-11, and even denied responsibility in the immediate aftermath of the atrocity. Rall dismisses various alleged admissions as CIA framing, or "trying to keep himself relevant for his Islamist audience." Sorry, but that sort of special pleading can be deployed to account for later admissions, it can also be used to account for earlier denials. Perhaps Bin Laden denied (direct) responsibility to avoid being handed over by the Taliban, or to buy time, or who knows?

But Rall isn't playing fair, or even playing unfairly but with-in the rules. He's just writing shit.
1 - "What If Right Made Might: Reimagining the Assassination of Bin Laden," by Ted Rall. Posted on Information Clearing House, 11th of May, 2011. (
2 - "PJ Crowley: 'No regrets' over Bradley Manning remarks," unattributed BBC article. Published by the BBC, 28th of March, 2011. (

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