Breaking down bin Laden
Murray, the world’s cutest dog who was taught how to speak, read and write by the good people at the Literacy Network of South Berkshire, was waiting for me when I got home from work the other night. He wanted to be picked up and I obliged.
He licked my face and said, “Pops, Pops, I couldn’t wait for you to come home so I could ask you about Osama and Obama. I heard on the radio — Mom always leaves it on for me when she goes out to do her art — that at great peril to themselves, Navy Seals landed in Osama bin Laden’s compound and killed him.
“First the radio said that he was armed and resisted, but then the White House announced that he wasn’t armed,” Murray continued. Then we heard that he was buried at sea, according to Islamic law. Pops, if he wasn’t armed, why didn’t we just arrest him and bring him back for trial?
“Plus, we heard that the Seals took pictures but then the president said that he wouldn’t release the images because doing so might incite violence. The ferocious doberman down the street thinks that the president did the right thing. Did he, Pops? Did he?”
“Well, Murray,” I said to the dog with the cute pink tongue, “You raise a lot of good questions. Sometimes in life there are things we would like to do but we can’t because of other exigencies. For example, we know that our Constitution calls for trial by jury. Osama didn’t get that. It’s dangerous when a president is allowed to sign a death warrant for an enemy of the United States. I mean, there are previous presidents who might have characterized me as a dangerous enemy.
“Then there is the question of that pictures that the president ordered suppressed,” I told Murray. “We showed the bullet-ridden bodies of the sons of Saddam Hussein, and we saw the unofficial video of Saddam’s hanging. On the other hand, Saddam was not suggesting that he was a religious Muslim while Osama was. So, when the president said that he didn’t want that picture out there because it could incite violence among some people, he may have had a good point. But it does seem more than a little ironic that we could bust into the guy’s house, shoot him even though he wasn’t armed and then suggest that we had to bury him in a respectful manner.
“That leads us to the next issue,” I said, “the behavior of the people who ran out into the streets and celebrated bin Laden’s death. After 9/11, Americans were saddened and alarmed to see some people in other countries partying in the streets, celebrating the death of more than 3,000 Americans. I still think that was part of our motivation to get Osama and the conspirators at all costs. The president suggested that some of those celebrating were being patriotic. I think that may have been a mistake.
“It can’t be easy to be the President of the United States. President Obama’s re-election campaign just got a mighty boost. Part of the consideration here may be political. This president may well have been seeing through the camera mounted on the Seal’s helmet as Osama was actually executed. All of a sudden, an ‘indecisive’ president was anything but and that seems to make a big difference to a lot of Americans.
“Sometimes, Murray, you really can’t do the right thing. We may never know what bin Laden knew. We may never know why he was shot on the spot. We don’t know whether part of the plan was to prevent him from gaining a worldwide soap box at trial. If you look really carefully at President Obama, you see a man whose hair is turning grayer, day by day.
“Do you understand, Murray?” I asked the little dog.
“I think so,” said Murray.
Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 5/7/2011