Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bin Laden's Body

I'm not sure why this particular, um, corpse is being disinterred. You'd think the Obama people would have gotten bruised enough the first time around, with that chaotic and fanciful bin Laden story. You remember – no one could get the story straight for weeks, even though there was only a handful of witnesses and they all belonged to the same military unit. My interpretation is that the Obama people, Democrats, and liberals in general are all so eager to put the most positive political “spin” on things that their very anxiety turns them into gibbering idiots. So any given story is spun, first, one way and then another way – with plenty of fine tuning, revisions, updates, and adjustments – and then still another way, and never mind the gaps that become more blatant as time goes on, or the obvious contradictions between the various stories. For the liberal, there is no such thing as history, and no such concept as consistency – it's all about the best spin for that particular day, or hour, and the fact that they consistently get away with it is less a comment on them than it is a comment on the electorate. We can accept that, for whatever reason, liberals have no internalized concept of truth; the truth is, quite literally, not in them. So whatever they say, or do, is based on relativism, political expediency, and the impulses of the moment. They would prefer never to hear the word “truth” -- it's such an alien concept, like “morality”. But if they must use it, then they use it in a totally political way – there is no truth aside from politics... aside from the will of the people (or their rulers) at any given time. Thus, the truth can change as rapidly as the weather, or the stock market, or one's blood sugar level. It's not an absolute, and since it does not differ in any way from politics, we'd be better off getting rid of the term altogether.

So with all of that in mind, consider the latest “news” concerning the disposal of the mortal remains of the late, unlamented “terrorist”. Well, to begin with, they haven't changed their story that burial at sea is a “traditional” mode of Islamic burial. Right – a race that lives, almost entirely, in deserts has a hallowed tradition of burial at sea. Which Marx Brothers movie did that come out of? Then there's the highly-suspect whisking of bin Laden's body from utter Pakistan to some place in the Indian Ocean in less time than it would take a short-wave signal to make the journey. Right. And then there's the utter chaos as to who was or was not killed, were they or were they not armed, who pointed a gun at whom, who shot first, what did they say while all this was going on... as if any of it matters, but the administration seems to feel that it has to say something – anything – even on the most mundane matters, in order to bolster the overall narrative.

So what tidbits are we now being treated to – all supposedly in order to really and truly, and for keeps, cement this story and eliminate all doubt?  Hold that thought for a moment, because first I want to ask, what is the evidence?  --  “Internal emails... obtained by the Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act”. OK... do I have to mention that the AP is a mainstay of the running dog media, and that they wouldn't bust Obama's chops on any issue for all the tea in China? And as for the hallowed Freedom of Information Act, well... I was on the other end of plenty of those requests during my time in the government, and even though we were very conscientious about the matter, it was easy enough to see how the system could be gamed. To begin with – unless something has changed, which I doubt it has – an FOI request cannot be couched in “anything you have” terms; i.e. it can't be used to support a fishing expedition. You have to already know what you're looking for – not to the extent of being able to name it precisely, but at least to make it searchable and verifiable.  In other words, in order to get these emails via an FOI request, AP had to have had a pretty good idea they existed and what they were about.   

That's one thing. But the real flaw in the system is that it's still the agency in question that determines what (if anything) the FOI request applies to, whether it can supply said documents, and whether said documents can be withheld for some reason, e.g. one having to do with “national security” (which can mean anything). Not only that, but... well, I'm sure this would never happen, but... an agency could, in theory, provide fake documentation in lieu of the real stuff, and how is the requester supposed to know the difference? The bottom line is that, in response to an FOI request, an agency simply has to provide documents along with the assurance that they are, indeed, what was requested and that it's all there, or provide reasons why not. And if you think there's a third party that goes in and checks, well...

So – having said all that, let's see what these alleged “internal emails” have to say, according to the AP. For starters, “no sailors watched Osama bin Laden's burial at sea”. So... no witnesses, right? Or very few. Also, “traditional Islamic procedures were followed” -- and we all know that U.S. Navy vessels all have experts in Islamic burial procedures on board at all times, right? As if we cared! I mean, who are we even trying to impress, or placate, by making this claim?

And, oh yes, the emails are “heavily blacked out”, which means that the most interesting information (or non-information) is still unavailable – so we're talking about crumbs here.

To go on -- “only a small group of the ship's leadership was informed of the burial”. In other words, not only few, if any, direct witnesses, but no “hearsay” witnesses either. All very convenient.

Now, get this. Remember, this is all supposedly happening on board a U.S. warship. “A military officer read prepared [by whom?] religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic [for whom?] by a native speaker [who just happened to be on board].”  (And BTW, what are "religious remarks"?  Wouldn't you love to have a transcript?) 

But hey, there was a reason for all this secrecy and weirdness. A quote from one of the emails: “The paucity of documentary evidence in our possession is a reflection of the emphasis placed on operational security during the execution of this phase of the operation.” So... “operational security” was foremost in everyone's mind. This is on a ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean. No – the real message is that it was kept secret because it was kept secret.  Which may mean that the real secret is that there was nothing to be kept secret.  But we'll get back to that.   

And then there are some folksy, spy story-type tidbits, like the use of the term “FEDEX” (and I can't wait for the lawsuit), “package” (i.e. corpse), “trucks” (i.e. helicopters)... you know, the kind of thing kids in the backyard will make up when playing in that tree house with the sign saying “No Gurls Allowed”. No reason for it – it's just what we do.

And then – despite this veritable cornucopia of information – it's also mentioned that “the Obama administration... is keeping a tight hold on materials related to the bin Laden raid.” For example, there are no “photographs or video taken during the raid or showing bin Laden's body”. And “no images of his body on the (ship).” Really. The operation that was Obama's sole argument for being re-elected, and no photos or videos?  This from the king of photo-ops, whose narcissism rivals that of Donald Trump or Madonna?

And! No “death certificate, autopsy report, or results of DNA identification... or any pre-raid materials discussing how the government planned to dispose of bin Laden's body if he were killed.” So – no advance planning, and yet they managed to, in the twinkling of an eye, come up with a traditional Islamic burial at sea, with prepared religious remarks and a native translator. Wow, these guys are good.

And finally – no helicopter maintenance logs, and no reports about the performance of military gear used in the raid (although we do have anecdotal evidence gathered by bin Laden's neighbors on cell phones). 

Now – if you're not already doubled over with laughter at all this, there is something seriously wrong with your funny bone. (Maybe someone ate it by mistake on Thanksgiving.) This is farce of the highest order – and, as I've pointed out before, it's just possible that the administration prefers to present this image and look like a bunch of idiots, rather than present the real truth. But what is the real truth? There's no sense picking this pile of do-do apart to try and salvage something real. The simplest theory – and one that has been kicking around ever since the supposed raid – is that bin Laden was not killed at that time or at that place, therefore there was no body, and therefore there was no burial... and that the narrative that the administration finally settled on after the raid was a myth, and that these recent revelations are simply elaborations on the same myth.  Kind of like telling a kid who doesn't believe in Santa Claus that you have Santa's Social Security number.   

The problem with this administration, as with many others, is that they aren't content to just let one lame-ass story that's full of holes out, and hang tough when the critics start bellowing. No – they have to make things worse by coming out with something even more absurd and improbable. And just you wait – if they have any more to say on the matter, it will be even more absurd and improbable than what we have now. But see, it's like their truth problem – they don't recognize absurdity either. And the most wildly improbable story seems no more far-fetched to them than any other, simply because they are dealing with truth as a function of politics, not as a function of probability or reality.

The people I really feel sorry for are the military types who have to put up with all this. They have, in most cases, a certain small amount of reality-testing capability left. In a military environment, especially when combat is involved, it helps to have a concept of “ground truth” -- you know, stuff like where the bad guys are, which way their guns are pointed, etc. But politicians, including our commander-in-chief, have the luxury of ignoring all that. Recall that back in the Vietnam era, truth was not what was actually going on in Vietnam, but what LBJ said it was (and Walter Cronkite too, before he wandered off the reservation). I think the military took notice – but what could they do? And isn't the same thing happening on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan? Don't we have the Ministry of Propaganda saying one thing, and the troops experiencing something a bit different? (I recall also that American citizens were never able to access Voice of America broadcasts. I always found that quite significant.)

Well... frankly, I don't give a rat's ass whether bin Laden is dead or alive, or who killed him, or when, or how. I just find it amazing that one man – one man! -- is supposedly the cause of our starting two major wars (and any number of minor ones), squandering trillions of our wealth, passing oppressive laws and regulations for the “security” of our citizenry, and mounting a program of deception that is, I believe, unmatched in our history. If Hitler or Stalin were able to look on in envy, they would. By almost any measure aside from the one of who's still alive (and even that is shrouded in ambiguity), Osama has won, and he continues to win. A tall, skinny raghead has a lumbering, bumbling giant on the ropes. I mean... our society might actually fall – economically, militarily, and in terms of personal freedoms – as a result of Osama's exertions. If so, he will be the most important personage in our history, even though we buried him (or so we claim).

No comments: