Correct not to publish photos of bin Laden

President Barack Obama decided on Wednesday not to publish pictures of the killed Osama bin Laden.

Obama released the news about the pictures in an interview on CBS 60 Minutes to be broadcast on Sunday evening. Today, White House press secretary Jay Carney explained the decision at length.

It is a completely correct decision, I believe. Bin Laden is dead. There is no doubt about that. The photos are not needed to prove this. And for those who do not believe that bin Laden is dead, photos of his dead body would not change their minds. They will continue to believe that he is alive and that the United States is lying, which is what has happened after Obama released his birth certificate recently. The members of “birther” movement still do not believe in him or that the certificate is genuine. No evidence is enough, for some.


“Torture apologists” and Osama bin Laden’s death

As I pointed out yesterday, with every hour we learn more about how Osama bin Laden was tracked down and killed.

Front-page articles in today’s New York Times and Washington Post are, of course, a must to read, but I would also point to The New Yorker’s website, and its blog News Desk, where invaluable reading can be found in a number of articles by the staff, in particular Jane Mayer’s piece on the new torture debate in the “Bin Laden Dead: Torture Debate Lives On.”

In comments about bin Laden’s death, leading Republicans like Dick Cheney have praised President Obama, but many of the comments have been stingy and some have completely avoided giving Obama any credit, as Sarah Palin did not do in a speech yesterday in Colorado. In many of the Republican comments Obama’s success is really the result of the foundation laid by President George W. Bush, including the harsh interrogation methods – – torture, plain and simple — against al Qaeda members in secret prisons and at Guantanamo.

Jane Mayer writes:

Well, that didn’t take long. It may have taken nearly a decade to find and kill Osama bin Laden, but it took less than twenty-four hours for torture apologists to claim credit for his downfall.

Mayer refers to the organization “Keep America Safe”, where Cheney’s daughter Liz and Bill Kristol published a “victory statement” that praised the Bush administration’s interrogation methods, without mentioning President Obama at all.

Also Slate’s legal columnist Dahlia Lithwick writes about “torture apologists” in her comments, “Closing Pandora’s Box”.

She writes: we can never prove or disprove, that the Bush administration’s interrogation practices led to bin Laden’s death. All we can say with certainty is that we tortured. And we must now decide if we want to continue to live like that.

With Bin Laden’s death, let’s simply agree that the objectives of the Bush administration’s massive anti-terror campaign have finally been achieved, and that the time for extra-legal, extra-judicial government programs—from torture, to illegal surveillance, to indefinite detention, to secret trials, to non-trials, to the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay—has now passed. There will be no better marker for the end of this era. There will be no better time to inform the world that our flirtation with a system of shadow-laws was merely situational and that the situation now is over.

Conclusion: a better America!

Secret elite force killed Osama bin Laden

With almost every hour, we learn a bit more about the American attack on Osama bin Laden in the town of Abbottabad in Pakistan. An article on National Journal’s website today is interesting reading about how the U.S. tracked bin Laden and how the attack was executed by a top secret team, the SEAL Team Six, whose official name is Naval Special Warfare Development Group, which in turn belongs to the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) .

Since 11 September 2001, JSOC has become the U.S. government’s most efficient and deadliest weapon in the fight against international terrorism. JSOC has about 4,000 civilians and soldiers and costs the U.S. government a billion dollars a year. But few details are known about JSOC.

Yesterday’s attack on bin Laden took place in cooperation with the CIA, the Central Intelligence Agency, based on data from the National Security Agency and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

In all 22 people were killed or captured in the attack. Bin Laden shot twice in the face when attempting to fight back. His body was taken away in one of the helicopters from the Ghazi air base in Pakistan that brought the force to bin Laden’s home. Then, bin Laden’s body was first transported to Afghanistan and later buried at sea.

Cheers and joy, but also dark memories

All of America is cheering President Obama’s dramatic statement last night that Osama bin Laden had been killed. Obama’s statement that “justice now been done” reflects well the satisfaction and relief around the country.

Osama bin Laden had by now almost been forgotten, and most Americans had given up hope that the United States would ever catch him. This fact contributed to the total surprise of the news.

The relief and satisfaction were particularly felt among relatives of the nearly 3,000 Americans who were killed in the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington ten years ago. The face behind the biggest terrorist attack ever on American soil, Osama bin Laden, was dead. This was big and the news evoked strong emotions, but also nervousness and, maybe, a little fear for the future.

For many, the news also brought old and dark memories, also for me personally. On September 11, 2001, I lived with my family on John Street, just three blocks from Ground Zero. Memories of the terrible events that beautiful September morning, when the World Trade Center’s two huge towers came crashing down and everything suddenly turned pitch black around us, are unforgettable. Like for many Americans, bin Laden’s death was for us the end of a long and dark chapter but with many new concerns and questions about the future. Alert levels have been raised around the U.S. as well as on military bases and U.S. embassies around the world.

Bin Laden’s death is seen as a major step forward in the fight against al Qaeda, a milestone, but officials have also underlined the need for continued vigilance. His death is also seen as a great personal achievement for President Obama, who won praise across the political spectrum. Republican congressman Peter King from New York, with hundreds of casualties among the residents of his constituency and who has often been critical of Obama, congratulated him on the success.

It was a new lead in August last year on bin Laden’s whereabouts that signaled the beginning of the end for bin Laden. According to press reports, the president ordered the attack last Friday and the Pakistani government was not informed or involved. See the article on the New York Times website on the detective work that led to bin Laden’s death.

President Obama: Osama bin Laden has been killed

Osama bin Laden is dead, President Barack Obama announced in a special television address to the nation from the White House just before midnight tonight, nearly ten years after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on 11 September 2001.

“Justice has been done,” Obama said in his speech.

Bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda and the man behind the attacks in New York and Washington which claimed nearly 3000 lives, died after U.S. Special Forces found him and his family in a house deep in Pakistan, in the town of Abbottabad near the capital Islamabad, and after a brief fire exchange shot him to death. His body is now in U.S. possession. No U.S. soldier was injured in the attack.

Obama said that U.S. intelligence sources received a lead on bin Laden’s whereabouts in August last year and special troops have been closing in on him ever since. According to press reports tonight, the president ordered the attack last Friday.

Obama also said that this is not the end of the fight against terrorism. He said we must continue to be on our guard, stressing that this is not a war against Islam, but a war against al Qaeda which has killed many Muslims.

The news was greeted with great joy, satisfaction, and relief not only in the White House but across America. Outside the White House here in Washington a crowd gathered around midnight, waving American flags and singing the national anthem.

Bin Laden’s death ends a chapter in the war against terrorism,a war that led to the U.S. attacks on Al Qaeda and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and then to the invasion of Iraq. It now remains to be seen what repercussions bin Laden’s death could have on the overall fight against terrorism. The state of alert has been raised around the country and on military bases and U.S. embassies around the world.