Western Civilization’s Unrelenting Expansion – Part 9
I’m still not clear on why Osama bin Laden was murdered by Seal Team Six and buried at sea. Why wasn’t he captured and brought back to the United States (or Guantanamo Bay as appropriate) where he would stand trial for his involvement in 9/11? If we go back to the first joint declaration by the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union, which officially noted the mass murder of European Jewry, the allied powers resolved to prosecute Nazis who were responsible for the Holocaust and other crimes against humanity. Although, they were initially divided over trials, because some political leaders had pushed for summary executions instead, they eventually agreed to court proceedings. The allies did not want those who were guilty of war crimes to be able to piously assert that their admissions of guilt were extracted from them under duress.[i]
By summarily executing bin Laden, the United States forfeited a golden opportunity to demonstrate to the world that it is a nation that respects the rule of law. By forcing him to stand trial, it would have further established that its motivations for capturing him were fueled by a desire for justice and not a need for vengeance. The transparency of a trial would have also allowed the public to peer into the bowels of the Military Industrial Complex.
The day after the announcement of bin Laden’s death, the headline in the Washington Post’s lead story read, “U.S. forces kill Osama bin Laden; Obama: ‘Justice has been done.’” However, was justice really served? It seems dubious to the Rt. Reverend Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester, England who said, it is “much more reasonably viewed as an act of vengeance or revenge. It a failure of the whole world order that nobody in a position of responsibility trusts that we have systems of justice to cope with such a vast set of crimes as this man is responsible for.” The former mayor of London, Ken Livingston, attacked the killing, saying we should have put bin Laden on trial: “Are we gangsters or a Western democracy based on the rule of law?”[ii]
Trying bin Laden would have also given the United States an opportunity to evaluate its own criminal laws. High profile prosecutions test the limits of America’s constitutional protections, and in the case of bin Laden, it would have certainly been one of the most closely examined criminal proceedings in American history: the public; the media; Congress; and the international community would have been riveted to every word of the court’s transcript. This type of scrutiny shines such a disinfecting light on the prosecution, it imposes built-in limitations on the prosecution’s ability to play loose with the facts, and it often exposes the injuries that other suspects have experienced in previous trials.
Americans should take comfort in the fact that they live in a society that respects the rule of law. Blind Justice is so pure, that she would rather see Ted Kaczynski, Jeffrey Dahmer or the DC Sniper, John Mohammed, set free than to be convicted in violation of their Constitutional rights. This is not to suggest that these men, who were convicted of heinous crimes, were in any way innocent. I simply offer that Justice should be distilled from the impurities of bias and prosecutorial misconduct. However, it is not so reassuring to understand that too often cases are so skewed against an innocent defendant that a guilty verdict will be guaranteed unless the person charged with the crime has a multi-million dollar defense fund to draw from.
Let us consider for a moment the O.J. Simpson trial where he was charged with the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown-Simpson and her alleged lover, Ron Goldman: If a working-class individual had been charged with the same crime and the prosecution offered the same facts, that man would be serving time in a state penitentiary right now for a crime that he did not commit. However, Simpson’s legal team, led by Johnnie Cochran, proved their client’s innocence in a multimillion-dollar defense effort. Barry Scheck, one of Simpson’s lawyers and a leading expert in the field of DNA evidence, is the co-director of the Innocence Project; an organization that assists prisoners who could be proven innocent through DNA testing. To date, 271 convicted inmates have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 17 who were serving time on death row.
Scheck has pointed to research that demonstrates that as many as four percent of the DNA matches produced by laboratories are in error. To a victim of a crime, this small discrepancy may be acceptable; however, for those who fall into that four percent error range, everything that they have ever worked for can be destroyed during the space of a 15 minute court arraignment. Focusing on these types of errors is the beauty of a high profile criminal case.
A criminal prosecution of bin Laden, although not an American citizen, would have certainly tested the limits of our own Constitution by looking at possible systemic problems in criminal prosecutions, whether in state or federal court or before military tribunals. Plus a trial would have diffused much of the criticism and suspicion surrounding the operation. Human nature tends to be more trusting in what their eyes see than in what their ears hear. Considering that the United States Government does not have a sterling record for honesty, and add satan’s resume of deceit to his march for global supremacy (see the introduction to this series, along with Parts 1-6), it does not bode well for those who expect candor from their leaders. Permitting the evidence of September 11th to be scrutinized by interested parties would have been a noble gesture for a country that seems to be accountable to no one.
The evidence surrounding 9/11, that has been presented to the public, seems to be irrefutable; however a nation that boasts about abiding by the rule of law, should not be hesitant about having its evidence examined and then cross examined. It helps to preserve the accuracy of the historical record, which can often be diluted by the ‘fog of war.’[iii]
Within hours of releasing information regarding the bin Laden capture, the Obama Administration had to back-peddle from one of its more sensational claims: According to John Brennan, the White House’s counterterrorism chief, bin Laden used one of his wives as a human shield. If it was true that he used his wife to protect himself from the seal assault, it certainly would have been an ironic end to America’s Public Enemy #1. However, within hours, the administration came back and offered a more accurate version of the events—that bin Laden did not use any human shields and that he may not have been armed, which probably means that he was not armed. And if we are to give any credible consideration to bin Laden’s 12 year old daughter, she claims that her father was captured before his execution. If this is true, it seems to suggest that any alleged resistance by bin Laden had been stifled by the seals.
In the age of WikiLeaks, governments must take extra precautions to refrain from the type of hyperbole that could cause a national embarrassment in the event its falsehoods are exposed. The Obama Administration has had to retreat for cover on more than one occasion over disclosures by WikiLeaks, and a leak that contradicted the administration’s official position on the bin Laden operation would be devastating for a president who is campaigning for a second term. Consequently, although I am not certain how pure its motivations were, it certainly took the appropriate action by correcting the record. However, taking the proper steps to preserve the historical integrity of an operation does not exempt the Obama Administration from further scrutiny. In one of the great speeches in American history, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned…
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together (excerpt from President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, Delivered January 17, 1961).
…to be continued
© 2011 David R. Tolson
[i] International Military Tribunal At Nuremberg, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007069.
[iii] Fog of War is a term that is ascribed to Carl von Clausewitz which describes the uncertainty in situation awareness experienced by participants in military operations.