Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Why kill Bin Laden?

Why Kill Bin Laden?

Bin Laden is now dead for 16 days. We need to ask some critical questions of the success and failure of the Bin Laden operation.

The first question to be asked is a simple but important one:


The President of the US, past (Bush) and present (Obama), has made two promises:

(1) Secure America from terrorist attacks.
(2) Bring Bin Laden to justice.

Increasingly it appears that Bin Laden was deliberately killed, making the Navy Seal operation a kill on sight mission, from the start:

Bin Laden was taken by surprise.
Bin Laden was a frail man, not capable of hurting anyone.
Bin Laden was unarmed.
Bin Laden did not try to fight back.
Bin Laden did not try to escape.
Bin Laden need was shielded by his (unarmed) wife.

If the above (assumptions of) facts are correct, the only conclusion one can draw is that the killing of Bin Laden was a deliberate execution. (It is also possibly that it is a human error. It is also possible that it is a spur of the moment, reflex type of act, reaction. When people are all pumped up in the heat of battle, reflex takes over. In the fog of war, the best battle plan, well rehearsed, becomes a figment of imagination, a second into an operation.)

The deliberate killing of Bin Laden might bring people momentary joy; short term bliss at the expense of long term pain.

This commentary argues that: It is not in the best interest of the US to kill Bin Laden then and there. As the President said, he expected more attack from the terrorists, in reaction to or succession of Bin Laden.



(1.1) If one of our, or perhaps only, purpose is to secure America against terrorism, then we should do everything in our power to capture him. If we have done so, we might get to know more about Bin Laden's capacity, intent and operations. With that, we will be able to take the whole Bin Laden organization down, piece by piece.

(1.2) Since the operation, no one has ask the question still less given a satisfactory answer as to why gathering intelligence from the head of a dangerous terrorism net work is not worth keeping him for a while longer, at the planning stage. With all the information at hand, Bin Laden will die one way or another. Why not spare him for a couple of months. The question is troubling. The silence is telling. The nation deserves an explanation.

(1.3) The question to ask here is whether the President have seriously considered capturing him, why and why not? (We were told that there was serious discussion of a a drone attack, to minimize loss. Which is reasonable.) If we should have the opportunity to capture Bin Laden, which we were told we could, but did not, what would we have learned?

(1.4) Finally, and most importantly, how might the loss of information from him, hurt or help with our terror fight? For example, is there a succession plane? Where are the sleeping agents? What is the next target of attack? At the very least, how good is our intelligence? Are we on the right track? Should we stop some dead leads, open up new investigations and clean a few (many?) of the innocent detainees?

How might suck information secure us, specifically against Bin Laden operatives, generally, how we are doing in fighting terror? For example, are the Pakistan supporting Bin Laden while receiving US aid? Are there double agents within our counter-terrorism ranks?

Now the secrets of Bin Laden is buried in the ocean? How would we ever know? For strategic planning or tactical operations, and for history?

(1.5) Alternative, the President can inform us the benefits of killing him? In the end, how killing him advance our counter-terror cause? Again, thus far, not a word about this cost benefit analysis. Everyone and anyone, from the President down just assume that killing is Bin Laden is the best cause of action.

(1.6) Three factors might make the capture of Bin Laden not a prefer cause of action.

(1.6.1) Bin Laden has been successful contained by the US global war on terror to the point of being insignificance, except in name. He has been marginalized. He knows very little. He control even less. (see 1.3.2) This line of argument has been denied by CIA. According to CIA, Bin Laden is still very much in control.

(1.6.2) Bin Laden has little control over the terrorists net-work, thus removing him would make little different. This thesis derives from the observation that the new terror movement built and led by Bin Laden is a decentralized one, world-wide. Each terror cell work on its own, not to the drum beat of Bin Laden. A Donald trump franchise, not an IBM subsidiary. It is not like the Red Army of old, highly organized with central command and control, through and through. Thus far, this is very much a theory that awaits proof. Even then, Bin Laden’s would be the one to provide answers to the command and control (or lack there of) of his terrorist organization, net-work, ways and means.

(1.6.3) Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Bin Laden is terror personify. He is the organization, a one man band. If he dies, the organization dies with him. With his death, the whole terrorism operations build by him would fall, never to rise again. In essence Bin Laden is worth more dead than alive. But this is not a very compelling argument. We have learned that there was much dissension within Bin Laden’s ranks, to the point that Bin Laden is not in complete control. If that should be the case, Bin Laden is absolutely necessary to fill CIA in about his enemies within the ranks; the many Bin Ladens of tomorrow.


It is a national policy of the US on paper to capture (or kill if need be) Bin Laden to face justice. In order to do so we need to bring Bin Laden to face US system of justice. Executing him summarily is not US justice, even when the killing was ordered by a "war time" President. (Recall Bush use the same strategy to deny the Constitution, and with it the oversight of the Congress and judiciary. The nation still has not call him to account.) Bin Laden deserves his day in court. The US people deserve to know why they have spent trillions on this man. The victims of 9/11 might like to attend the legal execution, to express their anger, to seek final closure, or in some case to forgive and forget.

The international norm of war and peace is to bring war criminals to trial. We have done that in WWII when the German and Japanese killed millions of people. Why do we treat Bin Laden differently?

(2.2.1) Many Muslims here and abroad want to know why Bin Laden did what he did in their name. They deserve to have their name cleared. They deserve to hear it from Bin Laden that he is not in the mainstream and has not, and will not, represent the Muslim cause.

(2.2.2) A Bin Laden trial will help the Muslim worldwide in saying to the world: "We might not agree with American's quest to conquer the world through military power with the invasion of Iraq, drone attacks of Pakistan, navy inspection in Yemen, or ideological/cultural domination by way of bikini beauty contests in Afghanistan and fatty burgers in Inida, or commercial exploitation through setting up sweat shop Nike factories in Indonesia and charging juveniles pricey trashy hi-hop musics/x-rated movies/violent games on the net while objecting to government censorship (of vice)/parental electronic monitor (of porn) in China, but we think Bin Laden has no right to kill innocent people in fighting US, and should face Muslim justice, properly dispensed (if possible) by Muslims, not summarily imposed (for convenience) by Americans."

(2.2.3) In summarily executing Bin Laden, the President has proven Bin Laden correct: The US is not interested in (Muslim) justice, but in extending and expanding their own value, interest, and power.


I raise the above issues not because I think Bin Laden should live or die. My opinion hardly matters. But if we, as a people, really want to secure the nation (for the future) and realize justice (for all – victim, rule of law, world peace), we should have made every effort to capture him.

President Obama as Commander-in-Chief should explain why killing is better capturing Bin Laden in keeping US safe.

President Obama as the President of the US should explain why killing of Bin Laden does not defeat American constitution, law and justice.

Finally, President Obama, as our chief diploma, should explain to the world, why international moral norms and war conventions are not being honored.

For those of you who are conspiracy theorists, there might be a real possibility that Bin Laden was killed because he knows too much of things we rather not know!

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