Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Is Osama Bin Laden a lame duck terrorist?

with 5 comments

An esteemed reader recently argued that Osama bin Laden is a lame duck. He went on to explain that dead he would be a martyr, and captured alive he would be  a political nightmare. This explains why the USA hasn’t taken the trouble to catch him. It’s an interesting argument, and it is an interesting situation. I mean, nearly eight years after 9/11, arguably one of the worst mass murders in history, the alleged and self-proclaimed perpetrator hasn’t been brought to justice? What the hell is going on here anyhow? This is clearly a mystery of the first order.

The first item of note is that this post  is all conjecture. None of the evidence available to us peasants is of any empirical use, all we have are a few videotapes and audio recordings. And in this day and age, pictures prove nothing. So the best we can do is logically examine some of the possibilities and see where they lead us. For the sake of argument I am going to assume than Osama Bin Laden is a real person, and he was behind the 9/11 attacks and the ensuing videotapes. While granted anything is possible, I’ll leave speculation along other lines to some other day. Even with this caveat, there’s still a lot of territory to wander around in.

So OK, why hasn’t Bush killed or captured Bin Laden yet? I can think of three possibilities, and will examine each in turn:

The first is that the USA has simply been unable to catch or kill him. On first pass, this may seem unlikely, how can the USA with all the power it possesses be unable to track down one guy? Especially when his is one of the world’s most recognized faces, and he is at least 6′ 4″ tall? Bin Laden’s not going to be blending into any crowds. Still, Israel has been unable to kill Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah. Saddam Hussein survived numerous assassination attempts and “decapitation strikes.” The first and second in command of the Taliban are still at large. The fact is, if a fugitive has a good base of support, the world is a big place to hide in. As much as people might like to believe, it’s entirely possible that the USA has been unable to capture or kill Bin Laden.

The second theory is the aforementioned lame duck theory: Bin Laden is still alive, but the USA isn’t trying too hard to catch him because he’s more valuable alive. It’s superficially a very appealing for the reasons previously stated. The problem that I have with it, is that it leaves Bin Laden free to plot more mischief. If he pulled off another 9/11, or something worse, the results would be unpredictable. Especially  if he tried to influence the US election, it’s by no means a given that another 9/11 would benefit the “war on terror” proponents like McCain, especially if Bin Laden managed to attack what should have been another well protected target like the Pentagon. So I’m going to say that I’m not too sure about this possibility, it would be a real calculated gamble on the Bush administration’s part, and they’ve never struck me as the calculating sort. At least not in regards to terrorism or foreign policy.

The last possibility is that Osama Bin Laden is dead, and the people who know this are keeping it a secret. There is some historical precedent for this. Stalin kept his knowledge of Hitler’s death a secret, and it remained a secret for decades. There’s any number of reasons why any of the parties involved might want to keep Osama’s death a secret. Al Qaeda for the simple fact that it would be disheartening for his followers if his death got out, and possibly more importantly, if he’s already dead the west will continue to waste resources hunting for him…and his apparent freedom will continue to inspire his followers. I mean, think about it, even if the USA is sure the tapes are fake and he must be dead, would they dare announce his death? Not without his body, the risk of him showing up alive would be political suicide.

And as has been previously stated, maybe the USA did kill Bin Laden and is keeping his death a secret to both confound his followers, and to inspire the military spending and scaremongering that is such a hallmark of the Bush administration. It’s possible, the USA has the technology to produce credible fake tapes. And it would explain why more and more of Bin Laden’s purported communications seem to be directed at the USA political scene. As I’ve said for years, if the Bush administration comes up with Bin Laden’s body at a critical moment, look for the freezer burn.

Is there any way we can choose which possibility is the most likely? Well, I’m going to go out on a limb and rule out the lame duck theory, simply because I think it’s the most unlikely. While capturing/killing Bin Laden would certainly entail some serious political risks, it would also be a tremendous political boon to the Bush administration and would eliminate the chances Bin Laden could pull off more attacks. I find it hard to imagine that Bush would deliberately choose not to put that feather in his cap if he had the chance.  He’s got Saddam’s pistol on the wall of his office, Bush wouldn’t pass up the chance to hang Bin Laden’s AK-47 next to it. Especially now with the legacy thing looking so iffy.

That leaves the “Osama is dead” or “Osama is free” theories as our two contenders. And I argue that the election may give us a litmus test to choose between them. If Osama is dead, I suspect we will see another audio or videotape just before the election, trying to manipulate public opinion. This would be the last chance for the Bush administration to use the Osama myth they have created to their own ends, and with McCain down in the polls, what have they got to lose? On the other hand, if Osama pulls off some last minute attack on the USA or USA interests, one that involves carnage…I’m going to say that means Osama is still alive.

Is this a definitive argument? Of course not, as I originally stated, we simply don’t have enough information available to reach definitive conclusions. Let’s just wait and see what happens in the next week before the election. Even if Bin Laden doesn’t make a peep before the election, it might mean something. So I’ll revisit this issue after the election one way or the other. Let’s hope it’s the other, because I am frankly still worried about how my countrymen will react if there is another 9/11 type event. I’m not going out on a  limb to say that sober reflection and critical analysis of the attack will not be the order of the day, far from it sadly.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, is central to illustrating the post, and it’s use here in no way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. If I knew who to credit it to, I would. For other views on Bin Laden and the election try here, here, and here.)


Written by unitedcats

October 27, 2008 at 8:16 am

Posted in Terrorism, World

5 Responses

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  1. Imagine capturing him alive, and trying to try the guy in the US. You know the US would be under pressure to try him somewhere more, uh, neutral, but what political figure could say that was okay? “Sure, he’s a jerk that killed a bunch of civilians, but I think the Swiss can handle his trial.”

    Then you’ve got the nutjobs coming out of the woodwork saying that he’s not behind it, the incessant FOIA and discovery process trying to not just unearth more about the intelligence organizations in the US (for whatever gain), but perhaps even to determine his guilt or innocence (or, that of these perpetrators of “controlled demolition” at wtc and “missile strikes” on the 5gon).

    And, perhaps because I work in the guns and bombs business, I have a pretty good idea of just how goddamn big this whole war endeavor is right now. Sure, I think people would like to shoot him. I can’t think of any warfighters I know who wouldn’t take the opportunity to. However, I think it’s far more likely – as you seem to allude to – that if we find him, it’s more likely to be by accident, and then you’ve either killed him and made him a martyr, or you’ve captured him and have to figure out what to do with him. The scope of the war operations right now, both covert and overt, is so incredibly broad that the effort to find him has been lost deep beneath new classified projects to develop weapons and sensors. It’s almost as if we don’t have time to go find one dude in a cave somewhere. There’s a lot of other stuff to do.

    The trial of Saddam was farcical and garnered harsh criticism from just about every corner of the globe, including people in the US who were against the invasion of Iraq. Would people who are against the war(s) presently claim it was unjust to capture the dude, bring him over here, waterboard him a bit (because we know all intelligence organizations gotta get a bit of that in first, right…), and then put him on trial? Really, he was minding his own business in whereversville and maybe he didn’t plot this attack. And did we even have jurisdiction to yank him from that hole in Pakistan? Shouldn’t the Pakistanis have done that? Or, alternatively, if he was in Afghanistan, don’t you think the Afghani government would very much like to claim responsibility for having captured (or killed) him?

    Sure, people want him dead. But, dead, he’s useful. Alive, in custody, he’s not very useful. His current status as “uh…” is actually kind of helpful in that all anyone has is conjecture as to whether the guy is alive or even relevant. And for him to confirm that he’s alive is to put a giant target on his head and ensure a socom detachment finds and kills him.

    If he pokes his head up (or somebody pretends to; I assume you know about “Juba the Iraqi Sniper” who is almost certainly many people) before the election and blows something up (oh, like my home…), what has he accomplished except that the American Military Industrial Complex should be gnashing its teeth and turning over rocks with JDAMs, trying to find the guy?

    It’s unwinnable for the US. It’s unwinnable for bin Laden (or perhaps, more correctly, he couldn’t win any more than he has, except get elected to office somewhere).

    As to the rest of the what-if’s, well, they’re interesting. I tend to not really think about those kinds of things. Call me myopic.

    And you didn’t really address the notion that the newer generation of jihadis are so young as to not even understand where the guy is coming from, save that he’s a fanatic who wants to go kill jews. Er, America. Which is run by jews. Or something like that.

    Esteemed. Heh.

    Alex J. Avriette

    October 27, 2008 at 3:00 pm

  2. Hey Doug, I want to start off by congratulating you on a successful blog. I’m not a blogger actually, to be honest I despise the word “blog” if it is a word at all. Nevertheless, you make for interesting news clips or online articles.

    Now to the topic – look, I find and found the bin laden story mindnumbing now, and when it first hit the newsmedia outlets. All the boys and girls got real excited, they had and are having a real brouhaha over it too.
    I agree with you 100% that the information available to commoners, people like you and me, doug- assuming you are a commoner- is bogus, vastly falling short of the mark and plain laughable. Still, one can attempt to look at it all and piece some kind of opinion together. Personally, I tend to go with my gut on issues larger than life, since I ain’t got the access to the stuff that matters in these events.
    My gut says bin laden worked as a consultant for the “company” that has manipulated US and other Gov. for its own ends for many many years (namely, making weapons, fueling wars, and recruiting minds/personnel). I won’t give this “company” a name because that will only invite irrelevant debate and detract my point.
    Those like bin laden who join this “company” have no religion, no allegiances and roots in anything, except their work for the company. Nothing else matters.
    Name a dubious figure in history over the past 1000 years whose deeds either revolted you or left you wondering about their role in those noted events and you may have hit on a variant of this “company” and its roots. (Dulles brothers, hoover, hitler, stalin, ford, rothchild, rockefeller, the crown, pope pius xii, churchill, philby, north…)
    People continue to die to this day, and those of us that can afford to speculate wait and hope that someone who refused recruitment to the “company” can reverse some of the damage and bring back honour and dignity to our established institutions.
    Finding “the desert consultant” won’t make a difference, the company has moved on to other ventures to further its profit and its history making scenarios.
    I’m going to hedge my bets in the belief that they will fail miserably in this course of bad history making.


    October 28, 2008 at 9:13 am

  3. Some good points, I agree with most of it, and I will discuss “Jihadi’s, Next-Gen” in an upcoming post. As well as the mind numbing scope of the US military machine, another point that needs more attention. However, not sure about the great conspiracy behind the scenes company conspiracy theory. I haven’t looked into it in awhile, but a post is now in the works.

    Thanks, two comments have inspired three posts. LOL God only knows when I will get around to writing them, but I always appreciate thought provoking comments.


    October 29, 2008 at 8:43 am

  4. American is Fuck


    February 17, 2010 at 3:29 am

  5. this dirt bag is dead


    May 1, 2011 at 8:32 pm

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