Sunday, May 08, 2011


I didn't dance in the streets when Osama bin Laden was killed, but I was pleased, and I never really felt any qualms about that. I don't feel self-righteous about that, as Maureen Dowd does ("I don't want closure. There is no closure after tragedy. I want memory, and justice, and revenge"). I think I feel that way partly because I don't see any other alternative.

Steve Benen was appalled at some comments from John Yoo this week:

In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal Wednesday, Yoo wrote that shooting the unarmed bin Laden meant "one of the most valuable intelligence opportunities since the beginning of the war has slipped through our hands."

Yoo told [CNN's Eliot] Spitzer "that a deliberately small force was sent in" to Abbottabad, Pakistan by the White House because "they don't want to capture high-level al Qaeda leaders."

Why? As Yoo said in his op-ed, the administration is terrified of backing the Bush administration's moves in the war on terror.

"Capturing [bin Laden] alive would have required the administration to hold and interrogate bin Laden at Guantanamo Bay," Yoo wrote, "something that has given this president allergic reactions bordering on a seizure."

A friend of Steve's tweeted: "Shorter John Yoo: It’s too bad you killed Osama, because if you’d captured him, I could have criticized you for not torturing him."

The problem is, Yoo may be basically right about the Obama administration's choices, and Steve's friend is actually putting it mildly: if bin Laden had been captured alive, it would have been deemed mandatory to put him in Gitmo, and to waterboard him. The howls from the right simply would never have stopped. The U.S. certainly couldn't have tried him in a civilian court, and it's unlikely that even a military trial with real due process would have been acceptable to the right-wing ranters who would have begun dominating the discussion of bin Laden ten minutes after his capture, and who would have never shut up until they got their way.

Now, when cops shoot an unarmed suspect, many people are outraged, because they know we have a workable civilian legal system. But in the case of bin Laden, we may as well have shot the guy, because we don't have a workable justice system for terrorist suspects. We have what Bush and Cheney created and whatever Republicans can demand through demagoguery.

So, yes, President Obama may have had bin Laden killed because he felt he had no choice -- correctly. On this subject, it's Bush, Cheney, and Yoo's country, still.

No comments: