Bin Laden: A Time To Reflect

Below is today’s column in USA Today on the death of Osama Bin Laden.

The death of Osama bin Laden has left the United States with a type of morning-after effect. For 10 years, an ever-expanding war on terror has been defined by one central dark figure: Osama bin Laden. It is perhaps not surprising that in a celebrity-driven society, even our wars seemed personality driven. For many, Iraq was about Saddam Hussein. Afghanistan was about Osama bin Laden. With both of these defining figures gone, however, it is time to take account of what has been lost, and what has been gained.

For civil libertarians, the legacy of bin Laden is most troubling because it shows how the greatest injuries from terror are often self-inflicted. Bin Laden’s twisted notion of success was not the bringing down of two buildings in New York or the partial destruction of the Pentagon. It was how the response to those attacks by the United States resulted in our abandonment of core principles and values in the “war on terror.” Many of the most lasting impacts of this ill-defined war were felt domestically, not internationally.

Starting with George W. Bush, the 9/11 attacks were used to justify the creation of a massive counterterrorism system with growing personnel and budgets designed to find terrorists in the heartland. Laws were rewritten to prevent citizens from challenging searches and expanding surveillance of citizens. Leaders from both parties acquiesced as the Bush administration launched programs of warrantless surveillance, sweeping arrests of Muslim citizens and the creation of a torture program.

What has been most chilling is that the elimination of Saddam and now bin Laden has little impact on this system, which seems to continue like a perpetual motion machine of surveillance and searches. While President Dwight D. Eisenhower once warned Americans of the power of the military-industrial complex, we now have a counterterrorism system that employs tens of thousands, spends tens of billions of dollars each year and is increasingly unchecked in its operations.

Just as leaders are unwilling to take responsibility to end the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, we face the same vacuum of leadership on civil liberties. Whether it is groping at airports or warrantless surveillance or the denial of rights to accused terrorists, our security laws will continue to be justified under a “war on terror” that by definition can never end. There will always be terrorism, and thus we will remain a nation at war — with all of the expanded powers given to government agencies and officials.

If bin Laden wanted to change America, he succeeded. Bush officials were quick to claim that our laws and even our Constitution made us vulnerable to attack — even though later investigations showed that the attacks could have been prevented under existing laws. Despite the negligence of agencies such as the FBI and CIA in allowing the attacks, those same agencies were given unprecedented power and budgets in the aftermath of 9/11.

President Obama has continued, and even expanded, many of the controversial Bush programs. His administration moved to quash dozens of public interest lawsuits fighting warrantless surveillance. Both Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have refused to investigate, let alone prosecute, officials for torture under the “water-boarding” program — despite clear obligations under treaties for such action. The Obama administration has continued military tribunals and the Caesar-like authority of the president to send some defendants to real courts and some to makeshift tribunals. The administration recently instructed investigators that they can ignore constitutional protections such as Miranda rights to combat terror. Once the power of the FBI and other agencies were expanded, no one had the courage to order the resumption of lost civil liberties or the return of prior limits on government power or surveillance. It is not the lack of security but the lack of courage in our leaders that continues the expansion of this security state.

The death of bin Laden is not the marker of an end of a period but a reminder that there is no end to this period. For those who have long wanted expansion of presidential powers and the limitation of constitutional rights, bin Laden gave them an irresistible opportunity to reshape this country — and the expectations of our citizens. We now accept thousands of security cameras in public places, intrusive physical searches and expanding police powers as the new reality of American life. The privacy that once defined this nation is now viewed as a quaint, if not naive, concept. Police power works like the release of gas in a closed space: expand the space and the gas fills it. It is rare in history to see ground lost in civil liberties be regained through concessions of power by the government. Our terrorism laws have transcended bin Laden and even 9/11. They have become the status quo. That is the greatest tragedy of bin Laden’s legacy — not what he did to us, but whatwe have done to ourselves.

Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, is a member of USA TODAY’s board of contributors.

215 thoughts on “Bin Laden: A Time To Reflect

  1. I agree with Prof. Turley that our loss of liberty is likely to be permanent, for both political and sociological reasons. Even my own children, all of whom are adults, view my concerns as overwrought. And in the era of “persistent conflict” with extremism, there will be precious little political stomach to reverse intrusive security legislation. http://www.miller-mccune.com/culture/war-on-terror-promises-era-of-persistent-conflict-30653/?utm_source=Newsletter159&utm_medium=email&utm_content=0503&utm_campaign=newsletters

  2. Amerika.

    Remember these words:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

  3. Mike A.,

    Adding to what you said: Think of the legacy our leaders and media have left us with. Many Americans and a majority of teenagers who were polled approve of “enhanced interrogation methods.”

    **********
    As America continues to wage two wars in the Middle East, a striking new study shows a shift in attitudes about how to treat captured enemies. Daniel Stone reports on why the post-9/11 generation is in favor of gruesome interrogation techniques.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-04-12/red-cross-study-finds-60-percent-of-young-people-support-torture/#
    By Danial Stone
    The Daily Beast

    Excerpt:
    It’s a simple question with a gut-wrenching answer: In a time of war, is it ever OK to torture an enemy?

    For decades, the answer was an automatic no. The often-cruel conditions endured by prisoners of war during World War Two spurred the Geneva Conventions, which stipulated an agreed-upon set of standards for handling war victims. By the late 1960s, when any young man could have been drafted to go to Vietnam, the humane treatment of soldiers was at the forefront of many Americans’ concerns.

    But now, during a time of two overseas wars, Americans’ opinions on torture seem to have fractured, and largely on generational lines. A new study by the American Red Cross obtained exclusively by The Daily Beast found that a surprising majority—almost 60 percent—of American teenagers thought things like water-boarding or sleep deprivation are sometimes acceptable. More than half also approved of killing captured enemies in cases where the enemy had killed Americans. When asked about the reverse, 41 percent thought it was permissible for American troops to be tortured overseas. In all cases, young people showed themselves to be significantly more in favor of torture than older adults.

  4. To me, the following notion is only a hypothetical:

    “There will always be terrorism, and thus we will remain a nation at war…”

    Unless humans manage to escape from the solar system, our nearest neighbor star will run out of hydrogen, and human life on this planet will cease to be possible, though it may take billions of years unless humans accomplish the eradication of humanity sooner than that.

    No matter how I can model human terrorism, it is a transient event, even though it may persist for billions of years into the future.

    If human terrorism will eventually cease (for want of humans to terrorize and be terrorized) why not go about learning what actually generates terror and terrorism and set about designing and developing a practical, practicable, and pragmatic alternative?

    Why wait until there are no humans left to terrorize?

    I herewith state, without equivocation, that I can no longer find evidence that the work in bioengineering I have been doing for decades has not unriddled the essential mechanism and process of terrorism.

    Does anyone else on this planet have the will and the courage to actually explore, in detail, the merits or lack of merits of wht I have been doing, the better to learn whether it is or is not junk science, whether it is or is not pseudo-science?

    One core aspect of terrorism is found within the work of the late Dr. Martin Cooperman, to the effect that reciprocal retaliation is a defeating process, whether it happens within a psychoanalytic dyad or in the whole of global human society.

    Doing that which causes a problem only leads to solving the problem after it has become sufficiently recognized and understood that doing what causes a problem can never solve it.

    That my posted comments here on this blawg have sometimes resulted in seemingly hateful transferences being sent my way is a sadly profound hint of my work being terribly accurate in some key respects?

    If the traditional infant-child transition (sometimes called the infant-child discontinuity because of the common amnesia for early infancy and childhood people often experience) is, as the research I have done suggests to me, is the psychosocial developmental stage during which terror and the ways of terrorism are typically internalized, then there may yet be merit in exploring whether very young infants are actually capable of the forms of deception which may be the root mechanism of terrorism.

    Until someone actually demonstrates that one or more mistakes actually made could have been avoided through any achievable process, I will continue to explore the possibility that terrorism is an artifact of socialization trauma, which is itself an artifact of the limits of the thus-far-accomplished evolution of human society.

    If it is worth doing, it is worth doing poorly when that is the only actually achievable pathway leading toward learning to do it well.

    It may be so simple that only little children can understand it, children so young as to be unable to tell what they understand.

    Except for some people who keep core aspects of early infancy and childhood.

    What is autism, taken as a whole? I can tell only what I have learned. For me, autism is a condition in which the self is a proper object of study, such that self (personhood) and society are separable and thereby can be understood as separate phenomena.

    For as long as social tradition coercively mandates severe errors of attribution through terrorizing little children into self-denial and self-deception, how are the consequences of such severe errors to be averted?

    It is my best guess that the remedy for terrorism is so simple that only a simpleton like me might notice it.

    I find it useful to mentally model the universe as though made of three components. There is everything which has not yet happened. There is everything that is happening now. There is everything that has already happened.

    The observable fact that the end of the era of human terrorism has not yet happened is no evidence that it will not eventually happen.

    Why wait?

    If not now, when?
    If not here, where?
    If not us, who?

    Why live in terror of the not yet demonstrated to be forever-impossible end of terrorism?

  5. Whats most sad is that so many people recognize what we have done to ourselves, what we as a nation have become. And yet there seems to be no way to stop it, no way to return the country to what it can be what it should be.

    I have told my children to get out of the US as I think the results are going to be much worse here than in the civilized world. But I don’t think the see it and the certainly are not reacting to it.

  6. I have been thinking of the wise words of John Adams the past couple of days:

    John Adams, in a letter to Abigail, dated July 7, 1775:

    Your description of the distresses of the worthy inhabitants of Boston, and the other seaport towns, is enough to melt a heart of stone.
    Our consolation must be this, my dear, that cities may be rebuilt, and a people reduced to poverty, may acquire fresh property.
    But a constitution of government, once changed from freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever.
    When the people once surrender their share in the legislature, and their right of defending the limitations upon the Government, and of resisting every encroachment upon them, they can never regain it.

    I just hope we have not passed the tipping point. That concern is not unfounded.

  7. Hypocrisy has been with us from the get-go. Note Buddha’s post to Amerika and remember that at the time those fine words were written thousands of men, women, and children wore the chains of slavery. The hypocrisy of Free white men living off the enslaved labor of others just didn’t compute.

    Is it really surprising that we continue to manifest such a difference between our words and our actions? We are not now, nor have we ever been that which we claim to honor.

    However, we have always been exceptionally good bullies … and we love to lecture others on the subject of our righteous goodness.

    Adieu

  8. WHITE HOUSE TO RELEASE BIN LADEN DEATH PHOTO
    Tue May 03 2011 10:22:50 ET

    President Obama decided Tuesday morning to release at least one photo showing Osama Bin Laden’s death, a top source claims.

    The images, being described as ‘graphic’, are bound to stir emotions in the east and the west, and will likely become the most viewed photographs in modern history.

    One image shows a bullet wound to his head above his left eye.

    Will it remove all doubt about the death?

    The exact timing on the release is being debated.

  9. Professor Turley,

    I, most likely amongst legions of others—perhaps worldwide—appreciate your column article wherein you pull no punches.

    The only manner in which U.S. citizens might regain the full measure of civil liberties and the core principles enumerated in the Bill of Rights is through the entrance of authentic constitutional law scholars and persons of intellect and legal/moral conscience into the political arena as active participants.

    Without hesitation, you are the first person entering my mind who exemplifies the full embodiment of the aforementioned distinctive qualities. Why not have your name immortalized alongside the likes of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, et al. and as one of the unique few capable of wresting the abuses of power from the likes of Bush, Cheney, Obama, and others?

  10. To echo Former Fed’s post, the rule of law needs to return for us to regain the liberties that we treasure. Until we can get a Supreme Court that is not bought and paid for and until we can get a Department of Justice that is not constrained by politics to go after admitted torturers, we will have no justice and the downward slide of our freedoms will continue.

  11. JT,

    Beautifully and importantly said. You exemplify what the practice of law should be about and do so fearlessly. It’s what keeps me coming back.

  12. It’s also a time to reflect on the Bush Adminstration’s decision to make a war with Iraq a top priority and to take resources and attention away from Afghanistan. We had the opportunity to capture OBL in 2001…but didn’t have the will to do it. This post from Think Progress sums up the story pretty well:

    ANALYSIS: Bush’s Lackluster Hunt For Bin Laden
    By Alex Seotz-Wald
    5/3/2011
    http://thinkprogress.org/2011/05/03/bush-did-not-catch-bin-laden/

    Politico reports that supporters of George W. Bush are “irked” that the former president isn’t getting more credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden, despite the droves of conservatives lawmakers and pundits who have been rushing to give Bush equal credit as Obama.

    But this praise for Bush relies on rewriting history to obscure the fact Obama re-prioritized the hunt for Bin Laden after Bush had largely abandoned the effort to focus on Iraq.

    While many conservatives are triumphantly replaying Bush’s September 2001 declaration that he would find Bin Laden, just months later, by Bush’s own account, he was unconcerned about the terrorist mastermind. Asked about the hunt for Bin Laden at a March, 2002 press conference, Bush said, “I truly am not that concerned about him. I am deeply concerned about Iraq.” “I really just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you,” Bush added.

    By 2006, the trail for Bin Laden had gone “stone cold” and Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes said Bush told him that hunting Bin Laden was “not a top priority use of American resources.” (Indeed, there was a flailing war in Iraq to fight.)

    That year, it was revealed that the administration had he shuttered the CIA’s Bin Laden unit in late 2005. As the New York Times reported at the time, the move reflected a shift in resources to Iraq:

    In recent years, the war in Iraq has stretched the resources of the intelligence agencies and the Pentagon, generating new priorities for American officials. For instance, much of the military’s counterterrorism units, like the Army’s Delta Force, had been redirected from the hunt for Mr. bin Laden to the search for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed last month in Iraq.

    But Bush’s biggest misstep in the Bin Laden hunt occurred years before, in the early days of the war in Afghanistan. As a 2009 Senate Foreign Relations Committee report found, the Bush administration blew a critical opportunity to capture Bin Laden in 2001. Bin Laden was wounded and on the run, but top Bush national security officials rejected repeated pleas for reinforcements from commanders and intelligence officials fighting the terrorist leader in the caves of Tora Bora, despite the availability of resources:

    Fewer than 100 American commandos were on the scene with their Afghan allies and calls for reinforcements to launch an assault were rejected. Requests were also turned down for U.S. troops to block the mountain paths leading to sanctuary a few miles away in Pakistan. The vast array of American military power, from sniper teams to the most mobile divisions of the Marine Corps and the Army, was kept on the sidelines. Instead, the U.S. command chose to rely on airstrikes and untrained Afghan militias. […]

    Even when his own commanders and senior intelligence officials in Afghanistan and Washington argued for dispatching more U.S. troops, [Commanding Gen. Tommy] Franks refused to deviate from the plan.

    The report “removes any lingering doubts and makes it clear that Osama bin Laden was within our grasp at Tora Bora,” but that decisions made by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, his deputies, and other top administration officials allowed Bin Laden to escape.

    The consequence of this missed ooportunity are tremendous. As Lt. Col. Reid Sawyer, the director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, told NPR yesterday, “if bin Laden had been killed in Afghanistan eight years ago in the caves of Tora Bora, al-Qaida might well have died with him. Now the organization is diversified enough it could weather bin Laden’s death — and hardly miss a beat.”

    Moreover, as Rumsfeld himself acknowledged, Bush’s extra-legal torture and rendition policies did not help capture Bin Laden. Enhanced interrogation techniques did not work. Bush ordered one final push to capture Bin laden shortly before he left office, but this effort too was unsuccessful.

  13. The Big Lie: Torture Got Bin Laden
    The Daily Beast, 5/3/2011
    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/05/the-republican-spin.html

    Excerpt:
    Dave Weigel predicts Republican spin:

    Expect to hear more about this report that the information that led to the tailing of bin Laden’s courier, and eventually to his death, was acquired in interrogations that Obama ended once he took office. It may not be Republican candidates pointing this out. They don’t need to. George W. Bush has a considerable amen chorus in the press, with former staffers like Marc Thiessen, Michael Gerson, and John Yoo writing regular columns about how the 43rd president was right.

    Predict it? It’s already become a meme. Last night, O’Reilly simply said “What about the waterboarding?” before moving on to other issues. A military reader writes how Fox is leading with the torture lie:

    Driving right now – flipped on Fox News Channel out of curiosity on Sirius. Since 07h30, they have been openly encouraging waterboarding and have at least 6 times that I’ve noticed said that the reason we got OBL is directly attributable to what had been revealed during waterboarding sessions. I am, in two words, fucking disgusted.

    Here’s Andrew Malcolm:

    That previous president authorized enhanced interrogation techniques which convinced folks like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to give up, among many other things, the name of their top-secret courier, now deceased.

    Leave aside the horrifying fact that Republicans, seeking to score some ownership of this triumph, would look to torture as their contribution. Why not the beefed up on-the-ground intelligence from 2005 on? That’s Bush’s legacy that Obama built on. Besides, there is no evidence that it played any part whatsoever. From the NYT:

    Prisoners in American custody told stories of a trusted courier. When the Americans ran the man’s pseudonym past two top-level detainees — the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed; and Al Qaeda’s operational chief, Abu Faraj al-Libi — the men claimed never to have heard his name. That raised suspicions among interrogators that the two detainees were lying and that the courier probably was an important figure.

  14. Elaine,
    Great links. Congressman King of NY was on O’Reily and blunted stated that the information came from KSM because of Torture. These guys will lie about anything, even when lying about it produces additional evidence that the law was broken!

  15. “It was how the response to those attacks by the United States resulted in our abandonment of core principles and values in the “war on terror.” Many of the most lasting impacts of this ill-defined war were felt domestically, not internationally.”
    ————————————

    yes….there is (and has been for a long while…) a giant elephant in the iving room. Can we all see it now?

  16. While we’re waxing poetic about the importance of law, order and principle, here are a few things that those of you lost in the jingoism of killing bin Laden don’t want to hear:

    On the issue of popular opinion and the majority replacing the rule of law, where was the case against bin Laden?

    There have been only two people that have ever promised to bring forth a prima facie case against him, Tony Blair and Colon Powell, and they never did so. Sure Bin Laden was evil and deserved to die; if only for the U.S.S. Cole; but why no case against him? Might that have had anything to do with the FBI never formerly accused him of being involved with 9/11; probably something to do with the “integrity” portion of their motto?

    And speaking of jingoism making people lose track of their principles, considering there’s never been a prima facie case offered against bin Laden, what happened to the categorical imperative when we demanded that the laws regarding bare accusation apply to Bradley Manning but not Bin Laden? Since when does majority rule replace the rule of law?

    Like I said, you don’t want to hear this. But then again, since when does the law care about what you want to hear?

  17. Elaine M and rafflaw,

    I figured it wouldn’t take the Right too long to start patting themselves on their backs and “rah, rah-ing” for torture …

  18. rafflaw,

    I’m of the opinion that the end doesn’t justify the means. I’m anti-torture. I believe there are better ways of attempting to extract information from detainees.
    If we don’t live up to our own ideals how can we expect people in other countries to respect us and look up to us as that “shining city upon a hill?”

  19. If there was anyone who should be waterboarded, it should be Pete King (NY). I swear, he must whack his winkie every time he even thinks the word, “torture.”

    Pete King puts the “douche” in “douchebag.”

  20. Bob, Esq.:

    You are absolutely correct. What’s worse is that I had completely forgotten that.

  21. Bob, Esq.

    To your points, ‘Roam’ posted the following concise video yesterday on the other Bin Laden thread. Disregarding any of the philosophical statements also contained therein, do you think—not just believe—that the facts stated in the video are accurate?

  22. “On the issue of popular opinion and the majority replacing the rule of law, where was the case against bin Laden?”

    The case was that by his own admission and on videotape he took credit for the deed and used that admission as a tool for recruitment. While in an American court of law a confession can be challenged and in many cases is due to coercion, this was purely voluntary on his part and aimed at the “court of world opinion.” Lumping in all who don’t share your point of view Bob, with the term jingoism is to deny that anyone but you has a valid point of view.

    If you’d like to engage me further on this, as is your wont at all perceived disagreement with your hallowed opinions, be my guest. For the record though the term “Jingoist” in these parts is confrontation, rather than argument, so please if we do get into this, don’t pretend your innocence, or that you were unfairly attacked. A tactic you have used frequently in the past.

  23. Mike Appleton,

    Having seen the elephant in the living room, do you see it takes you back from a government-church forced geo-centric view back to the rational helio-centric view of the world?

    Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur? (The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived?)

  24. FFLEO,

    While we obviously didn’t spend a trillion dollars to find Bin Laden, he was a major rally cry for all the budget requests and legislation curtailing civil liberties.

    Obviously the video had an affect on you; what’s your take?

    I’m sure Mike Appleton would like to know as well.

  25. I have never been a jingoist. Maybe, you think all those that admit they will vote for Obama are jingoists. The real goal seems to be to bring down Obama, and his success is driving his opponents crazy.

  26. Mike Spindell,

    Jingoism is the correct term to describe the reaction to bin Laden’s death; I can’t even listen to sports radio without being regaled with the glory of the U.S. killing bin Laden for the past two days.

    Let’s face it, if the movie “Patton” is considered jingoistic, you’d be really hard pressed to refuse to use the term while describing the reaction to bin Laden’s death.

    Make no mistake, there is a thick air of jingoistic mob mentality — as in don’t you dare say word one questioning this moment of national triumph.

    Per the case against bin Laden, I’m not the only one who sees the elephant in the living room. But by all means, if you feel you can provide that which Tony Blair and Colon Powell could not, i.e. a prima facie case against Bin Laden, then by all means please do.

    Both I and Mike Appleton will be waiting with baited breath.

  27. Swarthmore mom,

    Of course, the rule of law can always be boiled down to “how does this affect Obama.”

    Give me a break.

  28. Bob, esq. You have stated many times how anti-Obama you are. Thought you were saying it indirectly again. Obama has had a few good days, and it is bothering his political enemies tremendously.

  29. FYI:But you knew it was coming,now you know by who:

    “Osama Bin Laden – Boal Writing Up Bin Laden Demise For Hurt Locker Follow-Up
    03 May 2011 01:32
    Boal Writing Up Bin Laden Demise For Hurt Locker Follow-Up

    Oscar-winning writer/producer Mark Boal is busy turning Osama Bin Laden’s death into a dramatic climax for his upcoming screenplay about the search for the Al-Qaeda leader.
    Boal and his The Hurt Locker partner and director Kathryn Bigelow have been working on the script about operatives on the hunt for bin Laden since they won gold for the 2009 war movie – and now they have a solid ending, according to a Variety exclusive.
    Their new film reportedly centres on the team that wound up killing bin Laden on Sunday (01May11).
    Sources close to Boal tell Variety that the fire-fight at the compound in Pakistan where bin Laden was found and killed will feature in the film.
    The publication reports Boal had been following the mission to seek out bin Laden, thanks to his access to military intelligence.
    Casting for the hard-hitting movie is underway and Bigelow is expected to start shooting this summer”

  30. Swarthmore mom,

    I’m not anti-Obama; I simply refuse to look the other way while he uses the constitution as a urinal puck.

    Those who are truly anti-Obama are the racists on the right who think him nothing more than an “upity nig***.”

    Accordingly, it would be greatly appreciated if you didn’t lump me in with the racist right.

  31. Come on, Bob! Everyone knows there’s nothing more racist than a penguin in a top hat. (I kid!) You know I’m not down with letting Obama abuse the Constitution either, but honestly, unless he wanted to put Bush on trial too, do you think Obama had a choice in this matter? As a pragmatic spineless purely Machiavellian political decision? I have to lay the blame on limiting those choices squarely on the torturer’s doorstep. To blame Obama for lacking a spine to do the right thing is a bit like blaming a jellyfish for being slimy. Is he responsible for further degradation of the Constitution? You bet he is. But the not brining OBL to trial thing? Eh, I have to go with the fix was in when Obama got there.

  32. Bob, Esq. Sometimes the rhetoric is quite similar, but I appreciate the fact that you clarified your position.

  33. Buddha,

    My comments were strictly limited to a response to Swarthmore mom.

    The problems with the treatment of OBL as a mythic figure more than a fugitive from justice existed long before Obama took office and into his presidency.

    I stand by what I said.

  34. “The problems with the treatment of OBL as a mythic figure more than a fugitive from justice existed long before Obama took office and into his presidency.”

    And that was my point, Bob.

    The fix was already in unless Obama wanted to put Bush and Cheney under the legal microscope as well – something he’s said he won’t do (because he’s a spineless two-faced liar like 99% of all politicians under the current CF model).

  35. Bob, Esq.

    I am appalled that any lawyer, especially a constitutional lawyer—supposedly so, would state that justice was done through the callus act of clandestine cold-blooded murder. Respecting those who suffered from September 11, 2001 and all of the other lives lost since then, I still cannot understand the celebratory atmosphere displayed by otherwise decent individuals. While I am light-years distant from being perfect, I find repugnancy in the actions of ‘high-fiving’ and ‘toasting’ over any person’s murder.

    _______________

    {Quote:

    “Justice has been done,” a relieved and proud President Barack Obama said in the East Room late Sunday. Americans had shown their unity and determination by bringing bin Laden to justice with a bullet to the head in a suburb compound of Islamabad, he said.”

    End Quote}

  36. Former Fed,
    Great link to an interesting article. I agree that some of the uproar after the killing of OBL might have been over the top and a little too nationalistic for my liking, I can’t deny that I was glad that OBL was no longer going to be the face of al-Qaeda. I am also glad that President Obama used American forces instead of lobbing another cruise missile or ordering another Predator drone hit. I agree that Obama has violated the Constitution in the past, but this was the correct action for this particular problem.
    Now, I am very interested in seeing what happens now. If Obama uses this moment to get some stones and stick to his withdrawal plan or even accelerate it, we will all be better off.
    The money has to stop flowing to two or three wars or OBL will have won by bankrupting the US.

  37. I think the reaction to OBL’s death was heightened by the fact that only a week ago Obama was considered un-American and had to produce his birth certificate.

  38. Swarthmore,
    you could be right about that. I think what also came into play was that younger people who have only known the world with OBL as the Bad Guy, were relieved to have that “fear” extinguished. Many of the people outside the White House after the announcement looked very young to this old guy.

  39. I updated Michael Moore ever so slightly..

    “We like non-fiction. We like non-fiction because we live in fictitious times. We live in a time where fictitious election results gave us a fictitious president. We are now fighting wars for fictitious reasons. Whether it’s the fiction of duct tape or the fictitious ‘Orange Alerts’ we are against war, Mr. president. Shame on you.”

  40. The following excerpt illustrates the extent to which the Obama Administration will go to denigrate the memory of bin Laden with false claims that he was “hiding behind women” at the time of his murder.

    {Quote:

    “President Barack Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said Monday that U.S. military operatives were prepared to capture Osama bin Laden alive but were “absolutely” ready to kill him when he fought back.

    Brennan painted a dark scene of bin Laden’s final moments. He said the al Qaeda leader used one of his wives as a human shield while he was being shot at. “From a visual perspective, here is bin Laden … living in this million dollar-plus compound … hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield. I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years,” Brennan said. “Looking at what bin Laden was doing hiding there while he’s putting other people out there to carry out attacks again just speaks to, I think, the nature of the individual he was.”

    [UPDATE: Administration officials retreated late Monday from Brennan’s claim that one of bin Laden’s wives had served as a human shield or that bin Laden himself had been firing back at U.S. forces.]”

    End Quote}

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/02/brennan-we-would-have-taken-bin-laden-alive_n_856541.html

  41. The following excerpt illustrates the extent to which the Obama Administration will go to denigrate the memory of bin Laden with false statements that he was “hiding behind women” at the time of his murder. This Obama’s top counterterrorism person.

    {Quote:

    “President Barack Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said Monday that U.S. military operatives were prepared to capture Osama bin Laden alive but were “absolutely” ready to kill him when he fought back.

    Brennan painted a dark scene of bin Laden’s final moments. He said the al Qaeda leader used one of his wives as a human shield while he was being shot at. “From a visual perspective, here is bin Laden … living in this million dollar-plus compound … hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield. I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years,” Brennan said. “Looking at what bin Laden was doing hiding there while he’s putting other people out there to carry out attacks again just speaks to, I think, the nature of the individual he was.”

    [UPDATE: Administration officials retreated late Monday from Brennan’s claim that one of bin Laden’s wives had served as a human shield or that bin Laden himself had been firing back at U.S. forces.]”

    End Quote}

  42. FFLEO,

    While I agree with everything you said, I wasn’t so much repulsed by the executive decision or the reaction; I was more bewildered by the utter lack of coherency of thought and outright jingoistic mob mentality surpassing a “Lord Of The Flies” chaotic state. All the laws and principles completely ignored for the sake of a movie like ending to the story of 9/11; made the celebratory reactions feel incredibly ‘inappropriate.’ So, it wasn’t just the objections you raised that I found disturbing, but the whole gamut of sheer idiocy leading up to and resulting from the death of bin Laden.

    Further, I take it you too can’t stand, what I keep calling, that jingoistic mob-mentality atmosphere that almost makes you feel you can’t speak your mind. No rational/critical thought allowed while celebrations are in progress; we’ll pay attention to the law and legal process later.

    As a former federal law enforcement officer, tell me this quote from High Noon doesn’t aptly describe your thoughts and feelings at this moment:

    Martin: “People gotta talk themselves into law and order before they do anything about it. Maybe because down deep they don’t care. They just don’t care.”

  43. Bob, Esq.

    Perhaps people equate jingoism with one of its potential synonyms—xenophobic, which I certainly do not think that you are implying. I am patriotic but not to the extent that I would stand behind Mr. Obama’s government at all cost to display my nationalistic pride. I simply do not understand—rather than cannot stand—the jingoistic exhibitions that cause you angst.

  44. The Professor’s words have that ominous and prescient ring to them. He is, in the main, correct that much of our trouble was perpetrated on us by us. From an erratic and oftentimes immoral foreign policy to hypocritical positions on human rights, torture, and UN approval of military force, we shoulder much of the blame. However, what shouldn’t be lost in all of this wringing of hands is that we were the victim here. We were savagely attacked as a nation and as a population. No superpower in the history of the world would have exercised the restraint –there I said it — that we showed in dealing with a foreign attacker with both an all-emcompassing suicidal and homicidal bent as Bin Laden et als demonstrated.

    A few episodes from history attest to this fact. In 782 Charlemagne ordered the massacre of 4500 Saxon prisoners in response to the killing of two of his envoys and twenty four of his nobles in battle. In 1002 at the famous St. Brice’ Day massacre, King Ethelred II ordered the death of all Danes in England in response to a charge they were merely aiding the invading Viking raiders. In 1914, Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination sparked WW1. The list is endless.

    Revenge is at least as natural a human emotion as love and honor, and much more in abundance. When in service to our interests we call it avenging a wrong. When inflicted against us, it is an overreaction. The point is quite simply that we are the product of our genetics and our evolution and self-defense remains the most basic of human motivations. We have certainly failed to live up to our principles, and we continue to grapple with the conflict between safety and freedom. This is nothing new. How we respond to the challenge is the question, and for that we have room for hope. Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus but the courts pulled back from that calamitous path. FDR imposed unthought-of of requirements on industry and the economy only to see much of that repealed by judicial fiat or legislative adjustment. The good remained but the excess subsided.

    For me the jury is still out on our pull back from the excesses of the so-called “war on terror.” We may well right the ship and continue sailing toward a future with expanding rights and greater opportunity. Of course, we may move toward a more restricted sort of society. I think the likely outcome is that we will shift from our obsession of avenging and protecting ourselves to realize that what we were protecting is valuable but that its value lies in remaining true to ourselves even as we defend that which we cherish. That we didn’t learn this lesson the first go ‘round should dissuade or discourage us.

  45. rafflaw,

    Even if retractions are issued a day or so after a spurious comment, those initial statements remain in one’s mind; therefore, the damage has been done. To me it is very similar to accusing an innocent person of a heinous crime and although he is acquitted, his reputation is still often tarnished and the innocent verdict is published—if at all—deep within a paper somewhere near the classified ads. Unjustified doubts often remain. One has to wonder why Obama’s *Chief *of counterterrorism made such counterfeit claims.

  46. “Accordingly, it would be greatly appreciated if you didn’t lump me in with the racist right.”

    Bob,

    That is a fair request, so perhaps you can stop lumping me in with the Jingoists who responded to this as if it were a holiday. Not quite my metier, nor my demeanor. I have in depth provided my reasons that I’m glad OBL is dead and they have little to do with my country right or wrong. By the same token you request for me to provide prima facie evidence against OBL is a stretch considering what I clearly stated:

    “The case was that by his own admission and on videotape he took credit for the deed and used that admission as a tool for recruitment. While in an American court of law a confession can be challenged and in many cases is due to coercion, this was purely voluntary on his part and aimed at the “court of world opinion.”

    I would hope you would credit me enough to know that there is more nuance involved than just that statement. On another thread I clearly stated the reasons I feel that way. Now you may disagree, but if you did I would present my refutation, which wouldn’t be a characterization of you as a traitor.

    As far as my being an Obamabot as some have charged. This was my response today to a questionnaire sent to Obama supporters:

    “I write this as a registered Democrat for 46 years and one who has always voted Democratic and has contributed and worked for the party. If the tone of the Administration and its action don’t change from their current course I will not vote in 2012 and will urge others to do the same. Since I’ve always voted, except in times when I was hospitalized, this would represent a sea change for me but I do not see any alternative.

    My wife and I cried when the President was elected, feeling that not only had the Country grown in its color-blind choice, but that we had elected an uncommonly erudite leader who had the best interests of all the people at heart. I will explain what has changed my viewpoint tersely, but please understand that beyond the brevity I have the education, knowledge-base and debate skills to back up everything I state.

    1. Afghanistan must be ended now. The mission is impossible, has no rationale, end game, or possibility of success. To deny this is to deny history.
    2. The Defense Budget must be drastically cut, coincided with evacuation of both Iraq and Afghanistan.
    3. The monies derived from the above must be put into both infrastructure which will mean jobs and into developing “green” industry which will not only improve the environment, but will mark a rebuilding effort to again allow us to become a manufacturing power.
    4. The tax breaks for the wealthy must be ended. Corporations that avoid taxes via dummy headquarters overseas must be forced to pay their fair share. US Corporations, like GE must also pay their fair share and its former CEO should be removed from this administration. All these actions will eliminate the purported budget crisis.
    5. The creation of jobs must be a main priority, whether in the private and public sector. These jobs should be meaningful in that they improve our failing infrastructure and rebuild our manufacturing base.
    6. Single payer health care is also a priority and the social services safety net must be restored.
    7. Programs like HAMP and HARP must be bolstered by legislation to ensure greater compliance by the banking/mortgage industry.
    8. Although as Democrats we must always support programs to aid those poorest of us, we must start arguing for the salvation of the middle class which is fast diminishing in this country and will lead to our ultimate reduction to third world status if the trend continues. It is because our rhetoric is pointed mainly to the poor that we have alienated many in the middle-class who believe wrongly that we do not act in their interests.
    9. We must extract ourselves from the false “free trade” meme, which is not follwed by our economic competitors, to the detriment of American industry and American workers. No company that has a balance of its manufacturing abroad should receive government contracts. We must get our workers meaningful jobs.
    10. Electoral reform is a primary issue, for without it our Democracy is lost.
    11. The “War On Terror” meme must be ended and the unconstitutional excesses committed in its name must cease and the reasons for its end explained to the American people.

    I could literally write a book as to what is wrong with Democrats today and with our President’s policy. This I know wouldn’t meet your needs. President Obama has failed to use the bully pulpit constructively. He has started from weakened bargaining positions. He has filled his administration with too many who are to blame for our financial crisis. His financial policies have not attacked the root causes of the financial mess, nor has it punished those financiers responsible for the fraud perpertrated upon us. His bi-partisanship meme has been a failure because the Republican Party has been taken over by extremists, who do not understand the meaning of compromise. By “compromising” with them he has only shown weakness and given away far too much.

    We lost the election of 2010 not because we were too far left, but because we lacked the courage of our own Democratic convictions. Get out of the DC bubble and ignore the Press Corp pundits and see and understand that in 2006 and 2008 the public showed it hungered for change, but found that after the election Democrats were not willing to follow through with real change. While it is true that the Republican House will resist anything smacking of sanity, the way around them is not to give in to them but battle them on the field of rhetoric.

    You professionals” will be surprised to discover that despite your common wisdom this country is further to the “left” than you might imagine. I write this not as some far out “leftist” but as a mainstream Democrat of 66, who loves his country and its people. I have been disappointed once to many times and unless I see substantive changes on the part of the Administration and the Party, I will be forced to conclude that my vote is meaningless and will cease to exercise it.”

  47. Mike and others who may be undecided about voting in the next election, I have two words to chill you to the bone: Supreme Court.

  48. Former Fed,
    I see the misstatement as an error based on incomplete information. I fail to see any damage. OBL was already dead and had admitted to his evil deeds years ago so how is OBL’s “reputation” anymore tarnished than admitting he masterminded the deaths of thousands of innocents?

  49. OS,
    Amen. Not voting brings more Scott Walkers, more Tea Party embarrassments and more Koch Brother’s candidates. Not voting allows the Senate to go to the Republicans and Paul Ryan’s disgusting budget passes and harms millions.

  50. Mike Spindell
    1, May 3, 2011 at 8:21 pm
    ————————
    Nice post Mike. My response to the current rabid farce known as party politics’ has been to register as an Independant. I wonder if we would have such crazed obnoxious playing to the crowds if the ‘people’ did not register with any party…and reserved the expectation for election day. What do you think THAT would do to the body politic?

  51. How does one vote in the primary if you are registered an independent?. Sometimes the most important election is the primary. The last somewhat successful independent candidate for president was Ross Perot. Maybe Trump will run as an independent if he does not get the nod from the republican party.

  52. Mike Spindell: “perhaps you can stop lumping me in with the Jingoists who responded to this as if it were a holiday.”

    I made a general statement regarding the prevailing atmosphere in the wake of the killing of OBL. How is it you and only you took it personally?

    Mike Spindell: “I have in depth provided my reasons that I’m glad OBL is dead and they have little to do with my country right or wrong.”

    That’s great; but what does it have to do with my statement regarding the prevailing mindset in this country right now? Once again, you were not the direct object of my statement.

    Mike Spindell: “By the same token you request for me to provide prima facie evidence against OBL is a stretch considering what I clearly stated: “The case was that by his own admission and on videotape he took credit for the deed and used that admission as a tool for recruitment. While in an American court of law a confession can be challenged and in many cases is due to coercion, this was purely voluntary on his part and aimed at the “court of world opinion.”

    It’s not a stretch Mike; you can’t provide a prima facie case against bin Laden because none has been made in the ten years since 9/11. Prima facie cases are not built upon special pleading, question begging, appeal to circumstances, appeal to emotion and fear.

    Mike Spindell: “I would hope you would credit me enough to know that there is more nuance involved than just that statement. On another thread I clearly stated the reasons I feel that way. Now you may disagree, but if you did I would present my refutation, which wouldn’t be a characterization of you as a traitor.”

    Mike, I’m sorry to break this to you, but when it comes to forming a prima facie case against a defendant, the law doesn’t care what you ‘feel.’ The video tape is far from a prima facie case and has a dubious pedigree at best considering who benefited most from its existence. Lest we forget that all it took was a well timed video from OBL to get G.W. Bush a second term.

    Mike Spindell: “As far as my being an Obamabot as some have charged. This was my response today to a questionnaire sent to Obama supporters:”

    What does this have to do with ANYTHING I said??

    Once again Mike you’re picking a fight with the shadow you’re projecting on me.

  53. In a Youtube video uploaded by the imam he said: “The western dogs are rejoicing after killing one of our Islamic lions. From Al-Aqsa Mosque, where the future caliphate will originate with the help of God, we say to them – the dogs will not rejoice too much for killing the lions. The dogs will remain dogs and the lion, even if he is dead, will remain a lion.”

    The imam then verbally attacked US President Barack Obama saying: “You personally instructed to kill Muslims. You should know that soon you’ll hang together with Bush Junior.”

    “We are a nation of billions, a good nation. We’ll teach you about politics and military ways very soon, with god’s help,” he vowed.

  54. Mike Spindell: “I would hope you would credit me enough to know that there is more nuance involved than just that statement. On another thread I clearly stated the reasons I feel that way. Now you may disagree, but if you did I would present my refutation, which wouldn’t be a characterization of you as a traitor.”

    And another thing, how is it you can charge me with knowledge of your statements on other threads?

    That’s just silly.

  55. rafflaw,

    To expand on one of the great moral imperatives, one “shall not bear false witness,” especially against the deceased since they certainly cannot defend themselves. Whatever people think of what happened to bin Laden, he must not have fallacious attributes affixed to his death, particularly those which further inflame Islam–therein lies the damage. I think bin Laden’s death should have been a time for humbleness instead of gloating revelry.

  56. FFLeo:

    Great to hear from you! On your question, I would have preferred a capture and the attendant trial to get as much information as possible. I think OBL could have been fairly represented and his views, warped though they may be, been given the airing a trial affords. Since OBL eschewed that invitation and violently resisted capture using a new wife as a human shield, I think that natural justice was served.

  57. “We are a nation of billions, a good nation. We’ll teach you about politics and military ways very soon, with god’s help,”
    —————————————
    great, just f–king great.

    I remember when the litte airport near me was fingered as one of the places that was training the ‘one way’pilots….you know, the ones that didn’t need to learn how to land? I hd always enjoyed what many Americans have enjoyed…an unbreached sense of safety rooted in ‘knowing’ that I lived in a Country that upheld a very high standard being (for lack of better terminology…)…the highest in fact…in honoring and respecting the civil rights and liberties of others, the legal rights and protections of all citizens…a place where fair play and all was the bottom line. Well, it’s not like that here any more….feels like we have come full circle and we are about to start another cycle. I hope the spiral is upward this time.

  58. Former Fed,
    If it was an intentional attempt to slur the name of an admitted killer, I would agree. This seems to be a mistake that was clarified within 24-36 hours. How can that be bearing false witness?

  59. FFLEO: I am inclined to agree, but they are still in the process of debriefing the two dozen or so SEALS who were there. You will agree, I’m sure, that it is not good to dribble out the facts as they learn them. I know the people are clamoring for information, just as they do after things like plane crashes and other big events. However, dribbling things out is not good, especially when they have to dial it back as more information is learned.

    The public needs to be more patient, but that is hard to accommodate with the 24-7 news cycle these days. It is not helpful that the President’s critics are part of the hue and cry, throwing out conspiracy theories right and left. Unfortunate but true, part of the problem is the necessity of slapping those down before all the facts are known.

  60. Mespo,

    I think what our country did in the aftermath of 9/11 went beyond avenging a wrong or an overreaction when we started a preemptive war with Iraq, a country that was not responsible for the destruction of the twin towers and the deaths of approximately 3,000 people.

  61. rafflaw and Otteray Scribe,

    We all must forgive misstatements because we have all been there. I admit that I commend the Obama Administration for releasing as much information as possible and I certainly will overlook the mistakes, especially when they are corrected promptly.

    I would rather have some correctable human error in reporting than no news at all. Obviously, someone was concerned enough about the facts to correct Obama’s Chief of Counterterrorism and that is a positive sign toward transparency.

  62. rafflaw,

    I have one last comment on this specific subject and we can agree to disagree because this is clearly opinion. The ‘Chief’ could have tentatively withheld the information about bin Laden ‘hiding behind women’ even if he knew that as factual. He should understand the cultural/religious differences between ‘us and them’ and that an Islamic man hiding behind a Islamic woman’s skirt to avoid harm is very likely a major disgrace in Islam, especially when attributed to the actions of a lionized bin Laden.

  63. FFLEO,

    Eh, I’m going to have to slightly disagree. A man hiding behind a woman to avoid harm is a major disgrace period, regardless of religious tradition. Otherwise I agree with you in principle. Releasing that OBL hid behind women was released for only one reason: propaganda. It’s not a fact salient to the outcome of the operation.

  64. Buddha wrote,

    “Releasing that OBL hid behind women was released for only one reason: propaganda. It’s not a fact salient to the outcome of the operation.”

    _____________

    Yes, yours is a very good explanation for what I was attempting to express. That the ‘hiding’ event was very likely fabricated made it exceptionally distasteful.

    Thanks

  65. Former Fed and Buddha,
    What is the evidence that the comment was an intentional attempt to embarrass OBL? Why would you unring the bell so quickly if you wanted to slur OBL?

  66. Guys, that was not my take on it. Keep in mind this was the middle of the night and everyone there saw things from a different angle and perspective. The initial word was that he was hiding behind a woman. Later versions were that his wife attempted to resist or intervene and in the process got between the assault team and Bin Laden. She was shot in the leg, but not a fatal injury. The phrase has been beaten to death, but I cannot think of a better one: “Fog of war.”

    FFLEO, I suspect you have been in some very fast moving situations where different people saw the same thing differently. My best estimate is that this was not propaganda, as juicy as it might have been, but a mistake. Otherwise, they would not have retracted it. One has to wonder if the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld crew would have made the correction.

    More will become clearer as the debriefings of the assault team are concluded and the information gathered is collated. I fully expect some of the stories to change to some degree as they find out more. Right now, this is the military equivalent of an Internal Affairs investigation in its earliest stages. I just wish they did not feel compelled to release information before all the facts are in.

  67. Otteray,

    “I just wish they did not feel compelled to release information before all the facts are in.”

    I think it’s one of those situations where the Adminstration would be damned if they did…damned if they didn’t.

  68. As I stated above I can accept retracted statements; however, the Chief’s entire statement and his exact wording were damning and irrelevant. There is a distinct difference between the two statements of using a woman as a human shield and hiding behind a woman.

    OS: I doubt that the Bush Admin would have made any retractions and the cover-up would have begun.

  69. http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/05/04/arguing-against-torture/

    (credit goes to Frank for posting this to another thread)

    excerpt:

    Arguing Against Torture
    by mistermix

    While I agree that torture almost never yields valuable information,… I’m willing to entertain the possibility that torturing someone will gather useful intelligence. The reason I’m willing to do so is because I’m not interested in arguing whether there might be a case somewhere in history where torture led to important intelligence. The argument I want to have is whether a policy of torture is one we ought to adopt, and that’s a far broader question than whether it might work on rare occasion.

    Let’s start with principle, then. Why don’t we torture? Because torture is diminishes our humanity—because in any and all instances we have a basic duty to ourselves, our allies and our enemies to treat all human beings in our custody with dignity. Not torturing, specifically the prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishment”, is as key a part of the Bill of Rights as freedom of speech. It’s codified in laws governing conduct of our citizens, and in military regulations governing our treatment of non-citizens. Not torturing is both a founding principle and the law of the land, and Guantanamo and Bagram and all other places where we tortured people exist because some actors in the Bush administration knew damn well that they needed to hide their horrible deeds from the law.

    After this first principle, and the laws that come from it, the next practical argument against torture is that it diminishes our standing in the world, which I don’t think requires a lot of argument, considering that we’re constantly inveighing against regimes that torture and have signed treaties prohibiting it.
    These first two arguments are absolute, and there’s no “ticking time bomb” scenario that can be used to argue against them. Our deeply held principles are true no matter what Jack Bauer did in some episode of his show, and our national standing is hurt by us torturing regardless of whether we gleaned some nugget from waterboarding KSM.

    The reason that we’re always hearing arguments about efficacy instead of principle or national standing is because that weak argument is the only place that torture proponents can put a stake in the ground. Once in a while, though rarely, and almost cetainly not in the case of Osama bin Laden’s killing, torture may work. So, they argue, we should make it our policy.

    The simple answer to that is that even if it works in some rare scenario, it’s not worth sacrificing a 250-year-old principle and our national standing for the tiny, fleeting benefit that may come from it. We’re America, and we’re better than that.

  70. Mr. Greenwald always states my views much better than I can or ever could. Here is just one excerpt from a good article. I should have read this yesterday when it was published.
    ____________

    {Quote:

    “In bin Laden killing, media — as usual — regurgitates false Government claims

    Speaking of “frat boy reactions,” Leon Panetta is excitingly speculating about which actors should portray him in the movie about the Hunt for bin Laden, helpfully suggesting Al Pacino. It’s been a long time since Americans felt this good and strong about themselves — nothing like putting bullets in someone’s skull and dumping their corpse into an ocean to rejuvenate that can-do American sense of optimism.”

    End Quote}

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/05/03/propaganda_bin_laden/index.html

  71. Former Federal LEO ,

    Thanks for posting that snippet. “Frat boy” mentality indeed…

    (…and it’s good to see you posting again. I hope that your granddaughter is doing well and you’re enjoying time with her.)

  72. Anon Nurse,

    My granddaughter is doing well and is up to 10+ lbs–a real roly poly. Thanks.

    Regarding posting, I think everyone should take an occasional break (respite) from posting. I know that you did a while ago. I have many other tasks I must do besides posting here but the topics and insight are sometimes too good to miss. I did not take my respite because of anyone posting here and occasionally I will take more because of reasons unrelated to any discussions.

  73. Bob, Esq. (to your point regarding jingoism),

    From Glenn Greenwald 2 days ago (I should receive a thousand lashes (preferably those of the fluttering/batted ocular variety) for not reading Greenwald over the past few days).

    ___________

    {Quote:

    “It’s already a Litmus Test event: all Decent People — by definition — express unadulterated ecstacy at his death, and all Good Americans chant “USA! USA!” in a celebration of this proof of our national greatness and Goodness (and that of our President). Nothing that deviates from that emotional script will be heard, other than by those on the lookout for heretics to hold up and punish. Prematurely interrupting a national emotional consensus with unwanted rational truths accomplishes nothing but harming the heretic…”

    End Quote}

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/05/02/bin_laden/index.html

  74. Bob, Esq.

    Thanks. We sure know how to do justice–American frontier style, that is.

  75. “And another thing, how is it you can charge me with knowledge of your statements on other threads? That’s just silly.”

    Bob forgive me for thinking that before you comment on a thread, you read all the prior comments. While that seems logical to me, I admit that others possibly with far more faith in their infallible
    opinions don’t have the need. My comments were made on the Osama is Dead thread on which you also posted.

    “I made a general statement regarding the prevailing atmosphere in the wake of the killing of OBL. How is it you and only you took it personally?”

    SwM also felt personally affronted by your statement, which admittedly you fleshed out in response to her.

    “It’s not a stretch Mike; you can’t provide a prima facie case against bin Laden because none has been made in the ten years since 9/11.”

    Me:
    “The case was that by his own admission and on videotape he took credit for the deed and used that admission as a tool for recruitment. While in an American court of law a confession can be challenged and in many cases is due to coercion, this was purely voluntary on his part and aimed at the “court of world opinion.”

    Now of course someone with your perspicacity and precision of language might not understand the obvious inference to be made from my statement, so as a courtesy to your needs let me further explain. I don’t care whether or not there was a “prima facie”
    case against Osama since it was never possible to try him. To try him specifically would have given him the martyr’s exit he
    seemed to so desire, if of course he could not have lived to an old age. I’m sorry if that offends anyone’s sensibilities, or notions of justice, but it is nevertheless true. Would I prefer a world that lives regulated by a fair and impartial judicial system, of course I would. It doesn’t exist and since you are a lawyer you know it better that I.

    Hitler was tried and sent to prison in Germany for sedition. He used that time to write “Mein Kampf” and shortly after release he took power. OBL was dangerous in a different way. Mespo’s quotation of Eric Hoffer touched on this. Terrorism in movements is not easily prosecuted in any manner that will counter it, save at times ensuring the downfall of its figurehead.

    Do I feel that the “War on Terror,””the Patriot Act,” torture, etc. are effective tools against terrorism, the proof is in the failure of these programs and in the loss of lives of many innocents and the jailing of others. I do feel though that in certain specified instances, OBL particularly, the Rule of Law doesn’t work. OBL brought this on himself by taking credit for it and in doing so ensured that this would result. I take little satisfaction in the cheering and I more than most am quite cognizant of the finality of death, sometimes we cannot tie things together with truth and justice. I hate that fact with every fiber of my being, but I’m too aware of the predatory
    sub-brain that lies within us.

  76. Note to all terrorists when confronted by ‘Merican black helicopters and jackbooted Ninjas…Don’t Look Ethel!

  77. Mike,

    Just because you said something on an another thread doesn’t mean I remember it or didn’t miss it completely; accordingly, if you reference yourself from other threads you should either provide a link or copy and paste the portion you’re referring to.

    MS: “SwM also felt personally affronted by your statement, which admittedly you fleshed out in response to her.”

    SwM accused me of simply ‘hating Obama.’ That she said she didn’t consider herself a jingoist does not mean I accused her (or you) of being one. It means there is air of jingoism and she doesn’t consider herself amongst the crowd creating said air.

    Again, you are the only one (chasing his shadow) taking personal offense.

    MS: “I don’t care whether or not there was a “prima facie”
    case against Osama since it was never possible to try him.”

    Pragmatism and law don’t always mix. Are you aware that the above argument is just as valid as attempting to legitimize torture if anything usable is derived from it?

    http://jonathanturley.org/2011/05/04/through-a-glass-darkly-obama-officials-attempt-to-justify-torture-in-claiming-false-credit-for-bin-laden-killing/

    MS: “To try him specifically would have given him the martyr’s exit he seemed to so desire, if of course he could not have lived to an old age. I’m sorry if that offends anyone’s sensibilities, or notions of justice, but it is nevertheless true. Would I prefer a world that lives regulated by a fair and impartial judicial system, of course I would. It doesn’t exist and since you are a lawyer you know it better that I.”

    If we adopted your comments as a maxim to be a universal law, there would be NO LEGAL SYSTEM WHATSOEVER. Where is the integrity of a legal system where members could invoke your exception any time they felt a trial would be inconvenient?

    This is why we have laws in the first place.

    MS: “I do feel though that in certain specified instances, OBL particularly, the Rule of Law doesn’t work.”

    I rest my case.

  78. “If we adopted your comments as a maxim to be a universal law, there would be NO LEGAL SYSTEM WHATSOEVER.”

    Bob,

    Really? How much of a legal system do we have with Scalia on SCOTUS? How much of a legal system do we have when SCOTUS made GW Bush President? How much do we have when torture goes unpunished? How much do we have when innocent people are executed; when the country can be brought to financial ruin due to fraud and it goes unpunished; when we have Guantanamo Bay; when the vast majority of people in prison are of color; when judges are elected by party line; where prosecutors see their positions as stepping stones politically and act accordingly; etc., etc., etc.

    I do believe in the rule of law and in the Constitution, but i’m honest and realistic enough to know that both stopped being vital forces in our Country years ago. That unconstitutional behavior has no party line. You know this too because you’re a perceptive man. Perhaps the difference between us is that think
    that defending the rule of law and the Constitution requires making judgments as if it existed and I believe that trying to re-institute it requires open acknowledgment of its absence. That is why I admire lawyers like JT, etc. (perhaps even yourself) because they fight the fight knowing the odds are stacked against them and yet continue to do battle.

    Do I feel queasy that this was probably a “hit” ordered by our
    President, yes I do. However, in my opinion this was a minor
    transgression compared to the evil it destroyed and compared to the overwhelming evil that oppresses the live of the majority of humanity. It’s all about nuance to me Bob and also why I never
    wanted any part of politics after my first taste. I could never do what JT, you and other lawyers do, in the face of their certain knowledge of how much the system is rigged. To me this incident is the distinction of bringing a knife to a gunfight. To
    have tried OBL would have been a disaster, whether or not he was convicted. It’s shitty, but that the way it and reality works.

  79. In the real world, a true commitment to the rule of law under Kantian principles demands a large dose of existentialist stubbornness.

  80. Bob,
    If the Seals had been able to capture OBL alive, where would they take him? To Gitmo? Where would he be tried? The Republicans wouldn’t allow him to be tried anywhere but Gitmo and then we would hear about the kangaroo court process there.(rightfully so) I don';t think there was any way we could have properly tried him here in this political climate other than in the military commissions. The Seals were taking enough risk to do the raid and they were correctly allowed to kill him if they had any hesitation about their security.
    If you are suggesting that the President shouldn’t have sent a team into Pakistan at all, that would be a different discussion, in my opinion. I think it was better than a drone attack or a cruise missile attack because of less collateral damage and I wouldn’t be surprised if we had the approval of Pakistan, but noone will admit to it in order to allow Pakistan to save face. No evidence of that, just a hunch.

  81. “http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/05/04/973035/-Osama-bin-Laden-assassination-turns-conservatives-into-dirty-hippies Anything Obama does is considered wrong by Fox. The dalai lama says the killing was justified.”

    The Rabid Right is in disarray … the statements coming from the Rabid Right are mind-boggling … My head hurts … maybe it’s from repeatedly pounding it into a brick wall …

  82. The quandary under discussion might have been avoided had the Obama administration re-established the rule of law from the moment the oath of office was taken. Instead, the President effectively ratified the decisions of his predecessor by either continuing unlawful policies or preventing the investigation and prosecution of war crimes. That decision set the tone for his presidency, and the capitulation on Guantanamo sealed the deal.

  83. Mike A.,

    Seconded and hear, hear.

    Obama screwed up the very day he said, “Let’s look forward, not backward.” If people cannot learn from their mistakes without examination and correction (which they can’t), how does a country – an assembly of people – learn from their mistakes? The answer is – they don’t. Those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them.

  84. Mike A.,
    I agree that Obama’s first mistake was not holding true to the rule of law and going after the torture crowd on day one.

  85. Professor Turley,

    I have read your column several times; however, I did not read your opinion regarding whether or not President Obama’s action to kill bin Laden was legal.

    Please give us your legal opinion—based upon your expertise as a constitutional law scholar—was the extrajudicial assassination of Osama bin Laden a legal act or was it an extralegal action prohibited by the U.S. Constitution, numerous Treaties, and standing legal statutes?

  86. FFLEO:
    Assassination is a loaded word. May I quote a friend who is a professor of anthropology, and the daughter of one of the Tuskegee Airmen. This afternoon, she wrote:

    As was pointed out [elsewhere] MLK, JFK and RFK were assassinated.

    ObL was not.

    Osama bin Laden declared war on the western world and its culture. It was a global war. He was taken out, just as we went after Admiral Yamamoto and other high value targets in previous wars. This was a military operation. I see little difference between this and a sniper taking out a high value target on a battlefield. Or those P-38s taking out Yamamoto.

    I agree that we have some unfinished business regarding alleged war crimes by our own leadership and only hope those are revisited. As it is, Bush, Cheney and some others will never be able to travel safely outside the country, lest they meet a fate similar to that of Adolph Eichmann and other blights on the human race who were eventually brought before the bar.

  87. I agree with the above, even with people I have disagreed with in the past. The U.S. does not have the raw power to dominate the world. We should be taking the high road and setting a good example. I wasn’t there but if possible I would have taken Bin Laden alive and given him a totally exemplary trial as an example of what a good nation we want to be in the kind of just world that we want to belong to.

  88. Otteray Scribe,

    There is abundant ground to cover regarding your statements and those of your anthropological expert, statements that I consider erroneous—respectfully so, of course.

    To start, here is a definition from wiki that demonstrates from basic language alone that the term assassination clearly encompasses the murder of bin Laden. Other sources will give similar definitions.
    _______________

    {Quote:

    “An assassination is “to murder (a usually prominent person) by a sudden and/or *secret attack*, often for political reasons.”[1][2] An additional definition is “the act of deliberately killing someone especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons.”

    Assassinations may be prompted by religious, ideological, political, or *military* motives.”

    (Editorial note: *emphases* added)

    End Quote}

  89. I agree with the Wiki definition; however, it is still an emotionally loaded word. Capt. Tom Lamphier, one of the P-38 fighter pilots who shot down Yamamoto (he and Lt. Rex Barber got credit for the kill) mused later in life shortly before he died, that he was bemused by the fact they had to kill this interesting man. And Tom Lamphier himself used the term, “assassination.” But he also observed that it was something that had to be done. We were at war.

    Bin Laden declared war on the US even before the events of 9-11. Like Yamamoto, the mastermind of Pearl Harbor, Bin Laden had to be removed before he could do more harm.

  90. Otteray Scribe,

    I was getting this source when you posted above. As a Ph.D. psychologist, you certainly should not shy away from using correct sceintific terminology although it might sound ’emotionally loaded’. The same applies here.

    There are numerous articles within recognized and established media sources on the web using the term assassination for bin Laden’s murder.

    Here is just one by Dr. Parag Khanna, Ph.D. who speaks 6 languages (“English, German, Hindi, French, Spanish and basic Arabic”).

    http://articles.cnn.com/2011-05-02/opinion/khanna.obl.assassination_1_bin-muslim-leader-qaeda?_s=PM:OPINION

    A short bio:
    http://www.paragkhanna.com/?page_id=849

  91. We have not declared war. The Global War on Terror is not officially a war so the allowances given the president et al. during wartime do not apply.

  92. Others and I think the U.S. Constitution, Treaties, and federal statutes forbid the president from committing assassinations such as bin Laden’s. However, we need someone like Professor Turley to weigh-in.

  93. FFLEO, of course the article by Dr. Khanna is labeled “Opinion,” as it should be. We are in the realm of opinion rather than science.

    Way back in undergraduate school I became fascinated by the use of rhetoric to make points. The great hypnotherapist, Dr. Milton Erickson, was a master of the careful use of language in making indirect suggestions. There are lots of loaded words in our everyday vocabulary, and I try to be very careful in how I phrase things. I do not like to use words like assassination in the context of a military operation, simply because it has the connotation of an illegal act. When Marine sniper Sgt. Carlos Hathcock lay in wait for that NVA General and killed him, that may have technically been an assassination, but in wartime, it was an act of killing an enemy.

    The Republican strategist, Dr. Frank Luntz, is a renowned master of the use of loaded words to make points. Frank does not use fancy words; he uses words everyone knows, but puts them in a context to make either a favorable or unfavorable impression regarding issues.

    But, back to the beginning, the use of the word “assassination” in the context of killing Bin Laden in a midnight firefight in a fortified building is a stretch.

  94. FFLEO, I do not accept that a death during a midnight firefight is an assassination. I know you do not particularly like the President or his policies, but that is beside the point. The continued use of a psychologically loaded term or phrase slips into the area of propaganda and spin.

    Frankly, as I mentioned to Lottakatz, had I been face to face with one of the most dangerous men in the world in the middle of a midnight firefight, I would have pulled the trigger on him and lost not a minute of sleep.

  95. Former Fed,
    I read the article and Greenwald was talking about Obama’s authorization to assassination of a U S citizen, not a wanted criminal who was not a citizen.

  96. rafflaw,

    Yes, of course, and I anticipated that question. I think if the term applied to a U.S. citizen then it would most certainly apply to the assassination of others that were non-citizens. The basic definition still remains.

    As a lawyer, you have labeled bid Laden a criminal before any due process whatsoever. Is that just and fair?

    President Obama said that Private Manning had broke the law before he was even charged with a crime. Is that just and fair?

    Neither Manning nor bid Laden have been convicted of the crimes for which they were accused by the U.S.

    As an LEO, I could not label a person a criminal until they were convicted of the crime for which they were charged.

  97. FFLEO, I read it when it was first published. I did not re-read it tonight because I remembered what Greenwald wrote. I do agree with rafflaw that the discussion was about whether it would be legal to target a US citizen abroad for killing. There was considerable back and forth about that, justifiably so.

    The only difference between the events of this week and back in the 1990s when Clinton authorized missile strikes, and when Bush authorized JDAMs to be dropped on his hideout, was this was up close and personal. He was an enemy, not only to the US, but to most of the civilized world. You do what you have to do to eliminate a threat.

    As a former law enforcement officer, I know you trained in combat firing simulations. This was one of them, carried to the extreme. Bin Laden was only 54 years old, a formidable 6’6″ tall with an unknown number of weapons at his disposal. Those SEALS were not about to get into a physical takedown with that giant of a man in the middle of a firefight. The attack team was using night vision goggles and things must have been moving very fast. The Marquis of Queensbury rules do not apply and neither does Miranda.

    This was a combat situation, not an arrest. They went there with the mission of, as George Bush said, taking him dead or alive. If he had come out with his hands in the air, they might have put him in restraints and led him away. That obviously was not going to happen, since he announced years ago that he was not going to be taken alive.

    It is kind of funny, I do not remember the word assassination used even once, by anyone, when the two psychopathic sons of Saddam Hussein were killed.

  98. FFLEO, equating Bradley Manning and Bin Laden is a Fallacy of False Equivalence. As I explained in another thread, that is the fallacy of defining distinct and conflicting items in similar terms, thus equating items that are not, in fact, equal.

    Bradley Manning is a US soldier and US citizen, subject to the UMJC and the US Constitution. Bin Laden is/was a foreign national and any conflict with him is subject to the Geneva Convention, not the ordinary laws of US courts. He was a foreign national, on foreign soil, and had declared a guerrilla war on the US and its interests. He was an enemy combatant in the purest sense of the word. We did not have to prove anything in a court of law. It had already been established by his owe words that he reveled in the deaths of thousands of US citizens.

  99. Otteray Scribe,

    Neither you nor I are lawyers and rafflaw is neither an international legal expert nor a constitutional lawyer. Therefore, I will await Professor Turley’s assessment regarding whether or not bin Laden’s assassination or murder, whichever you or others prefer, was legal. There are wide-ranging legal opinions on this question and unfortunately, it seems to run along political lines.

    I voted for Mr. Obama, I will never do so again, and I am certainly never helping to enthrone him or any other president as king.

  100. Then use homicide if you prefer. However, the proper term depends on if the *killing* was legal or illegal…

  101. FFLEO,

    I may be wrong but are not treaties, the constitution and most rules of law suspended during times of declared war? Lincoln showed us how it works on American soil…..

    War and Treaty Powers
    The issue: How have the war and treaty powers in the Constitution been interpreted?

    http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/warandtreaty.htm

    And an Emory law Review….

    7 Emory Int’l L. Rev. 197 (1993)
    How War Affects Treaties between Belligerents: A Case Study of the Gulf War; Prescott, Michael K.

    http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?collection=journals&handle=hein.journals/emint7&div=15&id=&page=

  102. Source: Authorization For Use Of Military Force in
    Response to the 9/11 Attacks (P.L. 107-40)

    “The President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

    http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RS22357.pdf

    Harold Koh, legal advisor for the State Department, wrote an opinion back in March:

    Some have suggested that the very use of targeting a particular leader of an enemy force in an armed conflict must violate the laws of war. But individuals who are part of such an armed group are belligerent and, therefore, lawful targets under international law… Some have argued that the use of lethal force against specific individuals fails to provide adequate process and thus constitutes unlawful extrajudicial killing. But a state that is engaged in armed conflict or in legitimate self-defense is not required to provide targets with legal process before the state may use lethal force.

    http://www.asil.org/files/KohatAnMtg100325.pdf

  103. I awoke this morning nervous about seeing what response my last comment wrought. My comment laid out emotionally where I stand regarding all of this. From other areas of the net (I too read Greenwald, Sirota, Moore etc.) I knew that the indignant moral tone of some non-Teabagging/non-Birther people, many of whom I respect, has been harsh. I’m surprised to find that rather than that a rather civil discussion has taken place clearly putting forth positions, without resulting in harsh characterizations of
    those one disagrees with. This is exactly why I began commenting here, rather than other venues and it makes me feel good that without many trollish interjections, we can still have a civil, if contentious discussion.

    “In the real world, a true commitment to the rule of law under Kantian principles demands a large dose of existentialist stubbornness.”

    Mike A. you are no doubt correct which is why I never could have made it as a lawyer. My approach to life is to trust my gut. I react to things viscerally, even though informed by my thought processes tempered by my experiences.

    “The quandary under discussion might have been avoided had the Obama administration re-established the rule of law from the moment the oath of office was taken.”

    I agree he should have, but disagree that he had the power and/or support to do so. He did have the moral obligation to try. Also I believe that the Rule of Law has long been broken at least as far back as the “Cold War” period, but probably much farther back than even that.

    “As a lawyer, you have labeled bid Laden a criminal before any due process whatsoever. Is that just and fair?”

    “As an LEO, I could not label a person a criminal until they were convicted of the crime for which they were charged.”

    FFLEO,

    As a LEO you were no doubt the epitome of the best in your profession. Indeed I know that from the temperance of all you write. However, my opinion in this has been clear in that I differentiate this from a normal criminal matter. 9/11 was not a crime within the boundary’s of a country, but the result of an
    international terrorist movement that committed an act in a particular country (and indeed did so in many others)that was purposed to be used by them as propaganda on the World Stage. Its’ “alleged” initiator OBL, with fanfare, openly admitted ordering the act, with the specific intent of increasing his and his organizations power base. To me there is no doubt of that.
    Given this, to me, the question of his actual guilt in the crime is made irrelevant by his use of it to advance his cause. He welcomed the symbolic role as leader and thereby the question of his actual innocence is moot.
    be

  104. Just a thought on this thread. FFLEO, eta al, this has been a spirited and stimulating discussion. I appreciate the civility and mutual respect the commenters here have exercised in this lively debate. Unlike other threads that were hijacked by trolls, this is refreshing. When the discussion has this kind of tone, we all learn and it gives us a chance to hone our thoughts and arguments. Good on everyone this fine morning. :-)

  105. OS,

    “It is kind of funny, I do not remember the word assassination used even once, by anyone, when the two psychopathic sons of Saddam Hussein were killed.”

    Good point, OS.

  106. Well done by all. I have to echo Former Fed’s comment that I am not a constitutional lawyer,nor an international lawyer, but I think OS has given significant legal precedent for the use of force in this manner.

  107. Otteray Scribe, rafflaw, Mike Spindell, Mike Appleton, Bob, Esq. and others:

    The foregoing discussion is why I requested that Professor Turley weigh-in by writing a column on the legality of the action. Perhaps he might write those constitutional legal opinions—or not. Nevertheless, I think such clarification from a widely respected constitutional scholar is important. The ultimate result is that no official reprimand will issue against President Obama for his actions regardless of enumerable constitutional and international legal experts’ opinions. I concede to that reality. This is one for history book reflections.

    Our discussions here do serve useful purposes. Of utmost importance is one’s ability to consider contrary evidence without resorting to ad hominem fallacies. I think we most often accomplish that aspect of debate to a higher degree than many other fora achieve. That is why I, like Mike Spindell wrote above, keep returning. Let us continue to self-regulate ourselves to ensure that we maintain the decorum that reflects our profound respect for Professor Turley.

  108. FFLEO: Her you go:

    107th CONGRESS 1st Session S. J. RES. 23

    JOINT RESOLUTION
    To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.

    Whereas, on September 11, 2001, acts of treacherous violence were committed against the United States and its citizens; and

    Whereas, such acts render it both necessary and appropriate that the United States exercise its rights to self-defense and to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad; and

    Whereas, in light of the threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by these grave acts of violence; and

    Whereas, such acts continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States; and

    Whereas, the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

    SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This joint resolution may be cited as the `Authorization for Use of Military Force’.

    SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.

    (a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

    (b) War Powers Resolution Requirements-

    (1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

    (2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supercedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.
    Passed the Senate September 14, 2001.

    Attest:

    Secretary.

    107th CONGRESS

    1st Session

    S. J. RES. 23

    JOINT RESOLUTION
    To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United

  109. OS,
    great catch.
    Former Fed, unfortunately, I don’t think we have had a Congressional declaration of war since WWII or Korea, have we? The Gulf of Tonkin resolution was “authorization” for the debacle in Vietnam and all of the other skirmishes have been outright Executive power grabs or resolutions from congress and/or UN resolutions.

  110. rafflaw,

    Yes, that was my point, there has been no *formal* Congressional declaration of war, which is why–as you know–we have instead been in endless “military engagements authorized by Congress.” Those engagements are forevermore open-ended in the black hole that is the ‘Global War on Terror’ and its accompaniment—the ‘Patriot Act’.

    In one of the Greenwald posts I linked above, he provides links to the similar material to which Swarthmore mom provided (thanks).

    Hail King Obama, Hail.

  111. FFLEO The last time congress formally declared war was 1941. Why do you single out Obama? You can vote against him next year.

  112. Korea was not a declared war, so it was called a “police action.” Vietnam was fought following the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Reagan went into Grenada and we invaded Panama and kidnapped that country’s President. Bush 41 launched the first Gulf War and Bush II the second. Then Afghanistan.

    From where I sit, the 2001 resolution by Congress makes more sense than some of the others. We were facing a guerrilla war on an international front. I fail to understand singling out Obama for special criticism for going after Bin Laden. This sounds more like sour grapes than a legitimate gripe.

    I want to know why the same people who are now complaining about legal technicalities over raid on Bin Laden’s compound did not raise the same questions of Bush when Saddam Hussein’s two psychopath sons were killed in a similar raid.

  113. Former Fed,
    I agree with you that Congress needs to grow a pair and demand that they pass a Declaration of War before any President goes to war, but the cat is out of the bag for Afghanistan. Congress could stop funding, but that won’t happen in our lifetimes!

  114. For the record, although I am a longstanding registered Republican, I did not vote for Bush and I opposed the invasion into Iraq and Afghanistan. I served in the U.S. Army during the Viet Nam Era, although I strongly opposed that conflict.

  115. OS,

    “I want to know why the same people who are now complaining about legal technicalities over raid on Bin Laden’s compound did not raise the same questions of Bush when Saddam Hussein’s two psychopath sons were killed in a similar raid.”

    I completely agree. Particularly since those who are now complaining were the one’s calling anyone who criticized McFlightsuit and his misadventure in Iraq as traitors, unpatriotic and unAmerican …

    Well, I think one part of it has to do with the fact that, once again, a Democrat did what a Republican said he would and couldn’t (I guess taking his eye off the ball doesn’t factor into it). Their hatred of Obama – and Democrats in general – runs so deep that there is nothing, absolutely nothing Obama or a Democrat can do that is worthy enough for genuine praise. Just genuine criticism.

  116. Mike Spindell: “Really? How much of a legal system do we have with Scalia on SCOTUS? How much of a legal system do we have when SCOTUS made GW Bush President? …”

    Mike,

    You do know that you can’t justify a wrong by citing precedent of other wrongs; right? It’s good that you bring up Scalia since that man ripped my heart and soul out when he did what you described above. Let’s just say that the way he twisted the minds of the masses was so repugnant, that while watching the scene in the film “Hannibal” where Anthony Hopkins is feeding Ray Liotta his own brains, I commented loudly to the person I was sitting with in the theater — “That’s Scalia!”

    But I digress.

    Keeping with the topic of movies, the film that did express the moral & legal dilemma facing those attorneys who could not simply be realists and ‘accept’ the court’s ruling was “High Noon.”

    Melodramatic? Hardly.

    As Mike Appleton correctly observed: “In the real world, a true commitment to the rule of law under Kantian principles demands a large dose of existentialist stubbornness.”

    There’s simply no choice in the matter. Thus when Will Kane in High Noon explains why he has to go back and face Frank Miller, he says…

    Will: “I’ve got to, that’s the whole thing.”

    The law affords no room for whim or caprice. And you’ve ended this debate by acknowledging such to Mike Appleton by saying:

    MS: “Mike A. you are no doubt correct which is why I never could have made it as a lawyer. My approach to life is to trust my gut. I react to things viscerally, even though informed by my thought processes tempered by my experiences.”

    I’m well aware of the decline for respect of law and order in from the post Watergate paranoia era to present, but that is in no way a license to abandon the law whenever we find it inconvenient. That’s simply resigning yourself to live in Hadleyville U.S.A.

  117. Otteray Scribe: “FFLEO, equating Bradley Manning and Bin Laden is a Fallacy of False Equivalence. As I explained in another thread, that is the fallacy of defining distinct and conflicting items in similar terms, thus equating items that are not, in fact, equal.”

    Actually comparing bin Laden to the empire of Japan would be a false equivalency.

    Further when you said:

    OS: “Osama bin Laden declared war on the western world and its culture. It was a global war. He was taken out, just as we went after Admiral Yamamoto and other high value targets in previous wars.”

    To be clear, OBL’s declaration of war is not equivalent to our declaration of war against Japan; nor was it similar to the existing states of war with Germany and Italy as a result of the Tripartite Act. Yamamoto was shot down during a genuine state of war; not a mere rhetorical device used to justify expansions of executive power.

    Per Bradley Manning, you said:

    OS: “Bradley Manning is a US soldier and US citizen, subject to the UMJC and the US Constitution. Bin Laden is/was a foreign national and any conflict with him is subject to the Geneva Convention, not the ordinary laws of US courts.”

    Actually, bin Laden, as an enemy combatant, would be subject to the UMJC as well.

  118. Stamford Liberal: There is one more dimension to the criticism of Obama than the fact he is a Democrat. I am more senstive to this since I am from the South, but there remains the unspoken thing: He is one of those scary brown people. A day does not pass that I don’t hear some comment out on the street about that n*****r in the White House.

    So, he is one of “those people” with a double whammy against him; he is a Democrat and he has brown skin.

  119. Per The AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.

    The key words are “necessary and appropriate.”

  120. Bob, I noticed that typo after I posted, but figured everyone would know what I meant. Brain and fingers not working together and my dyslexia kicked in.

    Bob, they kill enemy combatants in raids and attacks. Had he come out with his hands up, perhaps they would have cuffed him and taken him prisoner at which time the rules of the Geneva Convention come into play. Can we all agree that the chance of that happening were somewhere between nil, none and zilch?

    There is a rough equivalent to the killing of Yamamoto and Bin Laden. There is no exact equivalent to either anywhere, but it is the best I could do on short notice.

  121. OS,

    “There is one more dimension to the criticism of Obama …”

    Yes, you are correct. Actually, that’s a much larger factor for the constant criticism thrown at him than just being a Democrat.

    The Right is just seething over this …

  122. I would like to share the reason I have been comparing the Bin Laden affair with the killing of Admiral Yamamoto. It has been 68 years since Capt. Tom Lamphier and Lt. Rex Barber shot down Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. I know exactly where I was and what I was doing when the news came over the radio they had “gotten” Yamamoto. My gut reaction then was exactly the same as my gut reaction this week when I heard the news they got Bin Laden. A déjà vu moment.

    Each of these two men were the architects of the two biggest foreign attacks on the US since the British set fire to the White House. I do not revel in the death of either, but the news they could do no more damage was a moment frozen in time for me. We only have a few of those moments in our lifetimes.

  123. “You do know that you can’t justify a wrong by citing precedent of other wrongs; right?”

    Bob,

    Yes I do know that an attest to its’ truth. I think I’ve been clear in saying that the whole thing made me queasy. That said I do believe that we need the Rule of Law and to enforce the Constitution, but for the life of me I don’t think that either has existed in the US or the rest of the world.

    That you bring up High noon though is prescient on your part. That was the first movie I remember seeing and mostly understanding in a theater, I was 7. Cinderella didn’t count because what 5 year old couldn’t understand Cinderella/ Anyway High Noon was a great early influence in my life. As you no doubt remember Will Kane was no longer Sheriff and the town’s
    rough legal system didn’t support him. He set out to kill Frank Miller and gang, not capture them, even though he lacked the authority to do either. He had resigned his position and there was no move to reinstate him. Actually that lines up with my point about the killing being justified

    Should he have done otherwise? Not in my opinion. You don’t know how that movie influenced this lonely 7 year old, nor what fights I got into emulating the good LEO. :=)

  124. Mike,

    Way to turn my High Noon metaphor on its head. Nonetheless, your comment to Mike Appleton tells me you know what I’m talking about.

    But one important point you forgot about High Noon; Marshall Kane hadn’t been officially relieved yet. His replacement was due the next day.

    Thus the line:

    “This town will be safe ’til tomorrow.”

    So technically, he was still Marshall and merely postponed his early departure.

  125. Otteray Scribe: “Bob, they kill enemy combatants in raids and attacks. Had he come out with his hands up, perhaps they would have cuffed him and taken him prisoner at which time the rules of the Geneva Convention come into play. Can we all agree that the chance of that happening were somewhere between nil, none and zilch?”

    Bin Laden was unarmed.

    Further…

    “Still, as the raid is now commonly understood to have transpired, the “firefight” that was said to have lasted for “most” of the forty-minute operation (as the senior DOD briefer alleged), or “throughout” it (as the statement that DOD prepared for Jay Carney stated), which was said to have persisted even as the SEALs “were making their way up the staircase in that compound” (as Leon Panetta told PBS), and which was believed to have “killed” bin Laden (as John Brennan claimed), was later revealed to have been, in fact, a volley of gunfire that erupted at the very outset of the raid; ended quickly; and involved only one resident of the compound: Abu Ahmed Al-Kuwaiti, the courier to bin Laden who was the first to confront the Navy SEALs. The Americans shot and killed Al-Kuwaiti, and a woman with him, in a guesthouse they had to traverse before reaching the main house, on whose third floor bin Laden himself awaited. After the shoot-out with Al-Kuwaiti, the U.S. forces were never fired upon again.”

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/05/06/bin-laden-killing-white-house-pentagon-cia-botched-storyline/

  126. “This town will be safe ’til tomorrow.”

    Bob,

    With that line it shows that even at an early age you were destined to be a lawyer. I on the other hand was too
    awash with strange feelings, for a 7 year old, about Grace Kelly.

  127. Bob: Where was the outrage when Bill Clinton fired Tomahawk missiles hat OBL’s hideout in the 1990s, and George Bush the Lesser dropped JDAMs on his hideout a few years later? When that happened, did they try to determine if he was armed or unarmed at the time potential death rained from the sky?

    This is manufactured outrage. The Democrat authorized the strike that got him where Shrub McFlightsuit failed. Not only a Democrat, but he is that “dirty Kenyan Muslim who hates America” brown guy. Sorry, I cannot get worked up over your argument. As I said before, if I had been on that raiding party, I would have lost no sleep if it had been me that offed him.

  128. Otteray Scribe: “This is manufactured outrage. The Democrat authorized the strike that got him where Shrub McFlightsuit failed. Not only a Democrat, but he is that “dirty Kenyan Muslim who hates America” brown guy. Sorry, I cannot get worked up over your argument. As I said before, if I had been on that raiding party, I would have lost no sleep if it had been me that offed him.”

    The only one manufacturing outrage here is you. It’s not the killing of Bin Laden that bothers me, but the wholesale disregard for the law involved in the whole 9/11 event; all ten years of it.

    First there was all the (accept it on faith) administrative road blocks put up to keep people, like F.B.I agents O’Neil & Crawley from finding out about or preventing 9/11.

    Then there was the “bin Laden did it” but we don’t have to show you a prima facie case; just accept it on faith tripe.

    Then there was the (accept it on faith) “if everyone’s at fault, then no one’s to blame” crap and other frauds contained in the 9/11 Commission Report.

    http://www.harpers.org/archive/2004/10/0080234

    All you’ve been doing is cobbling together outcome deterministic back fill to fallaciously support your arguments.

    Your little temper tantrum above is further proof that you’ve been singing the same old song: step into your histrionic imagination and accept it all on faith.

    I have no patience for stupidity en masse; no matter who’s selling it.

  129. Rafflaw,

    I thought (incorrectly) that I’d responded to this earlier.

    Rafflaw: “If the Seals had been able to capture OBL alive, where would they take him? To Gitmo? Where would he be tried? The Republicans wouldn’t allow him to be tried anywhere but Gitmo and then we would hear about the kangaroo court process there.(rightfully so) I don’;t think there was any way we could have properly tried him here in this political climate other than in the military commissions.”

    At the very least OBL was an enemy combatant subject to a military tribunal. More importantly, we don’t ignore the judicial process simply because we find it inconvenient.

    As I remarked earlier “Where is the integrity of a legal system where members could invoke your exception any time they felt a trial would be inconvenient?”

    The whole idea of terrorism has been turned on its head so that the people claiming to be fighting it are the ones leveraging it to further decimate our freedoms in the name of ‘protection.’ And make no mistake, it is a protection racket.

    Do you know you are twice as likely to be killed by a falling vending machine than in a terrorist attack? And yet you stand there and say “how could we try OBL?”

    Get a grip man and stand your ground.

  130. Mike,

    Grace Kelly was beautiful, but my I think my favorite female actress of all time was Ann Bancroft.

    “Prisoner of Second Avenue” need I say more?

    Edna: We’ve been robbed.

    Mel: What do you mean, robbed?

    Edna: Robbed. Robbed. What does rob mean? They come in, they take things out. They used to be yours, now they’re theirs.
    We’ve been robbed!

  131. Swarthmore mom wrote (and in agreement is Otteray Scribe):

    “Why do you single out Obama? You can vote against him next year.”

    ____________

    I am not singling out Obama. Had it been any other president I would had done the same. I voted for a person who I thought was a bona fide constitutional lawyer who—with his attorney general—would right the many constitutional wrongs exacted on the U.S. and the world by the previous administration and its major participants, all of whom I learned to despise.

    Mr. Obama and AG Holder are flimflammers reminiscent of a movie I saw in the 1960s (The Flimflam Man). They are political and legal con artists of the first order.

    “I want to have a look at them (their) cards”
    “They’re looking for more suckers”
    “What have you got for a logical alternative?”

  132. “Grace Kelly was beautiful, but my I think my favorite female actress of all time was Ann Bancroft.”

    Bob,

    She was great and the interchange beyond hysterical. Sad to admit that mine was Jean Rogers who played Dale in the original Flash Gordon serial. Never underestimate the sexual imprinting on a tender young male mind of a beautiful girl in slinky dresses. I could have killed Ming for daring to aspire to her. Liked Jean Harlow too.
    This bears no correlation of course to the fact that my mother was a petite, yet curvy blond. Purely coincidental.

  133. When I was in graduate school, Ann Bancroft was the Arts Scholar in Residence at the University. I saw her just about every day for months, since she used an office in our building. And the rehearsal stage was in our auditorium classroom. Eat your collective hearts out. ;-)

  134. Hoyl Cow, Ms. EM,

    Our resident Ph.D. psychologist will have something to analyze about those of us that saw something in that Rorschach image moment at time 0:36 +.

    Ugh, wait a minute, I saw nothing!

  135. Back on Topic.

    Posted this afternoon:

    {Quote:

    Osama Bin Laden Dead: Was Killing The Al Qaeda Leader Legal?

    Human rights groups, lawyers and academics have suggested, among other things, that this could violate an Executive Order that forbids the U.S. government and its employees from engaging in ‘political assassination’.

    The Guardian quotes Prof Nick Grief, an international lawyer at Kent University, as saying that the attack had the appearance of an “extrajudicial killing without due process of the law”.

    End Quote}

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/06/osama-bin-laden-killing-legal_n_858580.html

  136. Former Fed,
    I don’t think the political assassination idea is proper because he was not the head of state. I think this episode needs to be reviewed from the perspective that we have not had a formal declaration of war since WWII and the authorization to go into Afghanistan is what would apply here, IMO. It is interesting that the media seems concerned about this special ops mission when this is not the first time the US has crossed borders to grab people who sometimes are killed in the process. How many people were killed in Panama in order to kidnap their President? How many people were killed in Iraq without a declaration of war? I am not suggesting that killing OBL was a great act, except for the fact that he is no longer able to help al-Qaeda plan attacks. My main issue is that fact that if we are legally in Afghanistan and we went there to get OBL, then I believe the mission into Pakistan would be legal.

  137. Former Federal LEO
    May 6, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Hoyl Cow, Ms. EM,

    Our resident Ph.D. psychologist will have something to analyze about those of us that saw something in that Rorschach image moment at time 0:36 +.

    Ugh, wait a minute, I saw nothing!

    **********

    Should I ask what you thought you saw???

    BTW, what do you think of Veronica Lake?

  138. rafflaw,

    I agree completely with your Declaration of War and leaving Afghanistan statements. As in some other rare cases, we will just have to agree to disagree respectfully.

    Others have called you a gentleman recently and I agree. Since you became a guest poster, you have added abundantly to the topics and discussions. Before that time, you mostly posted late in the evenings after a long day of lawyering. I prefer your status of posting now.

  139. Ms. EM.

    Regardin’ what I saw, well, (clears hisn throat) Um,…I’ll tell you what. I just called rafflaw a gentleman. Let’s have him watch the video and see what he saw, if anything. If he sees what I thought I saw then I saw what he saw, since he is a gentleman and all. If he did not see what I thought I saw then then I did not see what I saw. Deal rafflaw?

    Veronica Lake, you ask?

    I went water ski’n there as a lad, no wait, that was Possum Kingdom Lake in Texas.

    I never got the pleasure of seeing Ms. Lake’s films or pinups–that I remember( I done a Goolgle search). From her images online, she was an exceptionally beautiful woman and died too young and confused. Why does that happen so often to starlets…I can see why your old man, er, you father liked her.

  140. rafflaw,

    You are *way* more of a true gentleman than I thought! Let’s see what Doc OZ er OS says.

  141. I just got in a few minutes ago and looked at this thread. It has been a very long day, and on my way home the car conked out and I had to have it towed. Not the best thing to put me in a good mood.

    I watched the video a couple of times and rewound it to re-watch the referenced 0.36 moment. The photographer in me kicked in and what I was was a masking technique, but nothing else significant. I have been a serious photographer for more than half a century and there is nothing wrong with my eyesight. Not sure what else folks might see but all I saw was a slide show of some great pinup photos. I like Roy Orbison, and hated to learn of his passing way too young.

    As for Veronica Lake, she was one of my childhood favorites. That hair is SEXY!

  142. Thanks Doc OS for taking the time on one of those “Momma said there would be day’s like this” days.

    Regarding that Rorschach image moment, perhaps I just need one of your business cards…do you charge for initial consultations?

  143. My business card has an inkblot on it. You have to figure out what it means before I can see you.

  144. For those that may have missed the news. The SEAL team seized 2.7 terabytes of material stored on hard drives and media storage devices from Bin Laden’s compound.

    To put that into a real world perspective, one terabyte of storage can hold about 220 million pages of text or about 2,000 hours of audio recordings. The SEALS seized almost three times that much.

    The only way that many files could be sifted through rapidly is to use indexing software.

    I cannot imagine what it must be like to be an Al Qaeda operative this week. Anyone who had the Xanax franchise for them right now would do well. Makes one wonder if the attempt to get Anwar al-Awlaki was the result of that intelligence data dump.

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