SYNDICATED COLUMN: Praise for bin Laden’s Killer Exposes Americans as Barbarians

France is grappling with the damage to its reputation as the global capital of intellectualism after the nation’s minister of culture sheepishly confessed that she doesn’t read books. “Barbarism is here,” declared the writer Claude Askolovitch. “If one can be culture minister without reading, then we are mere technocrats and budgeters.”



At least there are still some among the French who care about their nation’s image.

Here in the United States, the face of barbarism appeared in the banal form of Robert O’Neill, a former Navy SEAL who claimed on Fox News to have been the SEAL Team Six member who shot the fatal shots that killed Osama bin Laden.

O’Neil is very proud of himself. “Standing on two feet in front of me, with his hands on his wife’s shoulders behind her was the face that I’d seen thousands of times, UBL,” O’Neill told Fox. “Very quickly I recognized him and then it was just pop, pop pop.”

Military men, including some of O’Neill’s former comrades, criticized him for speaking publicly about a classified operation, going against SEAL tradition. Others questioned whether he really fired the fatal shots.

But no one went after him for being, you know — a first-degree murderer. (Since four other people were killed in the raid, it’s probably closer to the truth to say mass murderer.)

What happened to America? We used to have morals. We celebrated Rosa Parks. Assassins were scum.

As recently as the 1980s, a right-wing president, Reagan, signed an executive order banning political assassinations. Which is exactly what the bin Laden rubout was.

There was never any intention to try to capture bin Laden alive. To the contrary — an eyewitness, bin Laden’s daughter, says the Al Qaeda leader was captured alive, then blown away, mafia-style. The man — in this crime, which is what it was, we have to call him the victim — was certainly unarmed. We’ll never know for sure, since no medical examiner got a peek at the victim’s body before it was dumped into the ocean.

The assassination of Osama bin Laden diminished what little was left of America’s moral authority. Calling it “justice” was a mockery of law and due process. It also denied his victims their right to see the facts about his alleged — since he was never tried, we have to say alleged — crimes revealed in open court.

As Geoffrey Robertson wrote at the time: “The U.S. is celebrating summary execution, rationalized on the basis that this is one terrorist for whom trial would be unnecessary, difficult, and dangerous. It overlooks the downsides: that killing bin Laden has made him a martyr, more dangerous in that posthumous role than in hiding, and that both his legend and the conspiracy theories about 9/11 will live on undisputed by the evidence that would have been called to convict him at his trial.”

The operation was, without question, illegal. If the U.S. were a nation of equal justice under the law, everyone involved, from O’Neill to the president, would face murder charges.

I don’t care how you feel about bin Laden. Assassinating him was disgusting, might-makes-right bullshit.

If anyone in the media agrees with me, however, I can’t find them.

“If [O’Neill] killed bin Laden, then he deserves the recognition that comes with it. … I say, ‘Well done, O’Neill, tell it like it is and let them howl. They’ll criticize you no matter what. Hooyah,'” wrote an editorial writer in the otherwise charming town of Saint George, Utah. Time magazine called the shooting of an unarmed suspect (while invading a foreign country, by the way) an “action that warrants…acclaim.”

Don’t forget the hit film “Zero Dark Thirty,” which portrayed the bin Laden murder — as well as the torture that preceded it — as heroic.

What happened to us?

Top Nazis, responsible for a lot more deaths than 9/11, were put on trial at Nuremberg. Just two decades ago, it would have been impossible to imagine that a state-sponsored assassin would garner praise for his role in a “wet op” (as long as he really did it).

Or that a president would brag about ordering it. (“Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive,” Vice President Biden crowed.)

Or that said president would enjoy a bump in his polls as a result (as opposed to a knock on the door from the FBI).

ISIS? Mere pikers.

Barbarism, c’est nous.

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and cartoonist, is the author of the new critically-acclaimed book “After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan.” Subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)



5 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Praise for bin Laden’s Killer Exposes Americans as Barbarians

  1. The mathematician’s solution for how to slice a cake? Person A cuts, and Person B chooses whether to take the slice or let Person A have it. That way, in theory, no one gets screwed with too-small a piece being forced on them or someone else making off with too large a slice.

    I mention this because the assassination of OBL was, if not illegal, clearly a bad policy. Presidents do not go around killing opposition members. ESPECIALLY when things like Henry Kissinger, who is wanted in France, is allowed to go about his merry way.

    You want to be wild-west tough? Fine. Put a couple bullets in Osama bin Laden’s face. And then arrest Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, et alia, and have a real trial. Kick down Kissinger’s door and arrest him. Put him on an express plane to France (business class) so that he can answer the allegations against him. If he’s guilty, the French have prisons. Put him in one. How many incinerated Cambodians never got even that option?

    I think every administration should be under continuous audit by an independent judicial body with absolute powers of instantaneous subpoena, arrest and detention. Obama’s killed children. That’s not debatable. It’s fact. You want to keep us “safe”? I suspect it would be easier to keep us safe if we were seen as friends and neighbors rather than murderous high-tech goons with no manners.

  2. Didn’t Robert O’Neil just publicly confess to murder?

    re: the conspiracy theories about 9/11 will live on undisputed by the evidence that would have been called to convict him at his trial.

    The official conspiracy theory is likewise undisputed by that evidence, so one must begin by examining motive, means, and opportunity then continue by asking, “cui bono?”.

    Duh gubbmint certainly had means and opportunity unavailable to the truthers. As Ted’s pointed out – there are certainly downsides to the gangland style execution of UBL. What’s the upside? Given that valuable information can be extracted from shepherds, then why would we be so quick to lose such a highly placed resource? Who benefits from his silence?

    • *The official conspiracy theory is likewise undisputed by that evidence….*

      I highly recommend interested persons view “The Anatomy of a Great Deception” (Dave Hooper); I believe it’s available at – or you can request an email from me with the movie as attachment.

  3. Today, the majority of US voters think all Muslims are criminal enemy combatant terrorists who should be killed without trials. This is War, and the Laws of War are that the US is always the Greatest Force for Good the world has ever seen. We didn’t give the people living in Dresden a fair trial before killing them, and at least the people in Dresden were European Christians. The voters want a president who will deal much more harshly with Muslims than we did with the citizens of Dresden. After all, the US must protect itself from all terrorists. As Trudeau put it many years ago, we must kill not just the men terrorists, but also the women and children and infant terrorists.

    Those who rooted for Socrates (or at least the Socrates created by Plato) should be able to see that, while Thrasymachus seemed to have lost the debate, he wins under US law.