Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: You know what ...

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    I guess I was asking for it, but I've just seen the front page of yesterday's Dominion Post. The headline?

    UTU

    Speechless.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Richard Aston,

    Why not Bin Laden ?

    Ok fair enough. As I said the cost of getting this wrong would be enormous - the president would be laughed out of office, several heads of department would go as well. These people really like their pay packets and the power of their jobs and will do pretty much anything to avoid such embarrassment. They have a huge incentive to avoid being shown up in this way.

    Why no gruesome pictures? Well oddly I think it's an attack of sensitivity and intelligence. I know it's unusual to ascribe smarts to the US military but showing body shots would only create icons for the terrorists and offend both supporters and opponents. Pictures would have inflamed even moderates in the Islamic world, rightly. the picture will exist and we will probably see them someday - but not the day after. But seriously what self respecting conspiracy theorist would believe a picture or a movie - I mean they faked the moon landings and that was with technology decades ago - they could easily fake dead bin Laden pictures.

    They probably wouldn't have minded capturing him alive and putting him on trial but that would have been risky and on balance no better than simply killing him in a firefight.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    And if Saddam and bin Laden were best buddies,

    Another myth but that one popular with the Right.

    Jason Burke deals with The 10 key myths about Osama bin Laden.

    First up, the myth he was funded by the CIA:

    He did not receive any direct funding or training from the US during the 1980s. Nor did his followers. The Afghan mujahideen, via Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency, received large amounts of both. Some bled to the Arabs fighting the Soviets but nothing significant.

    In understanding bin Laden it's important to recognise he became important because he could resource foreign fighters in Afghanistan independently from what the US and others were doing. His funds came mainly from Saudi Arabia, he wasn't one to play second fiddle to infidels.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    It would have been a bonus to see him captured, but given there appears to have been a fire fight, that was not an option. Killing isn't murder when they are wanted for mass murder and are shooting back at you.

    Hmmm. Hold up on the "we got the goods by torturing KSM" thing ...

    Today we hear that:
    - Osama was unarmed when shot
    - He didn't use a woman as a human shield as earlier 'reported'
    - He was identified by facial recognition software when exercising outside

    so the full story is still a work in progress...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7876 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Craig, what got me about the DomPost billboard was the tag "BUT ARE WE ANY SAFER?" which of course presupposes much about who "we" are and the likelihood of danger.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3121 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    The Herald had another one of their polls on the same question. I had to think hard, and then figured I leaned slightly toward feeling just that little bit safer, that now the US can put that Mission Accomplished tick in the box they might actually get the hell out of the Middle East, which could mean NZers back from Afghanistan. Once again, I had misunderestimatated Granny readers, 70% of whom did not feel safer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn,

    Ah yes - UTU. And on it goes. Revenge from one side, then revenge from the other side, ad infinitum.....

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to webweaver,

    But anyway....

    Yeah, very cool comment webweaver.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Rebuilding was happening, but through charities, not the government.

    Welcome to the NZ government's housing policy. For real.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Rob S, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Right or wrong I think Utu is a good description of Bin Ladens killing.
    My understanding is that he wasn't the mastermind behind the Twin Towers murders but helped with the operation and soon became the public face of the attack.
    The US has always proffered a bogey man to hate and he fit the bill nicely.[Ghadaffi might get his old job back]
    Interesting to ponder how he'll be viewed by the history books in 100 years time.

    Since Apr 2010 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Rob S,

    Right or wrong I think Utu is a good description of Bin Ladens killing.

    We're going to have to agree to disagree on that -- I think it's tasteless, misleading and more fitting for the box of a Playstation first person shooter game than a serious daily newspaper.

    Still, ka pai for using te reo. Chur, cuz.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Sacha,

    Welcome to the NZ government’s housing policy. For real.

    I was somewhat more hopeful then that we'd do better.

    Today we hear that:
    - Osama was unarmed when shot
    - He didn’t use a woman as a human shield as earlier ‘reported’
    - He was identified by facial recognition software when exercising outside

    so the full story is still a work in progress…

    The head of the CIA just said that the orders were to kill, but capture if he "put up his hands and surrendered". I think we can all agree how likely that was - and how likely it was to be taken seriously by the soldiers involved.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Still, ka pai for using te reo.

    Ae. Though I wonder if it's just the word being shorter than "Vengeance" (or "Gotcha" for that matter) and so allowing a larger headline. Blood seems to bring that out in editors..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson,

    I would like to see the US response when an Iraqi hit squad takes out George Bush Jr on US soil for his crimes against the people of Iraq (accountable for a lot more deaths than Osama one would have to guess). We could see the measured and thoughtful response they came up with as Islamic students in Baghdad danced and cheered, and toasted revenge.
    The US still doesn't want to deal with the "why" of 911 and will no doubt be shocked and surprised if there is some form of retaliation from the assassination of Osama.
    I don't feel at all comfortable with summary justice being dealt out like this.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • Rob S, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    As to good taste in newspaper headlines that's a wide open field.
    Utu as a description for US blood revenge doesn't seem too inapt.

    Since Apr 2010 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • webweaver, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Looks like the details of what exactly happened at the compound are getting murkier by the day. From The Guardian:

    Bin Laden, according to a briefing on Monday, used his wife as a human shield and she was killed. By Tuesday, the White House reversed that: she had not been used as a human shield and she was not dead. The other point of discrepancy was the initial briefings that stated Bin Laden resisted and was killed in a "firefight", which suggests he had been armed. The White House insisted he had resisted, without saying how, but said he had no gun.

    The "having no gun" bit but still (according to the WH) "resisting" is interesting... especially when the question of whether it was an assassination or an unavoidable death is being debated.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 331 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to webweaver,

    The “having no gun” bit but still (according to the WH) “resisting” is interesting… especially when the question of whether it was an assassination or an unavoidable death is being debated.

    The guy I saw was pretty up-front that the primary order was to kill, not capture. Whether capture was a viable secondary option...probably impossible to determine without a lot more evidence than will ever come out, and sure as hell no-one on the ground will get any blame for it.

    He also commented that the changing story was mostly due to more detailed debriefing of all the soldiers involved. I suppose that in a combat situation like that, the stories will differ, and the final account will probably involve putting all of them (and the audiovisual evidence) together. At this point it seems unlikely to be deliberate editing of events - though you never know.

    As to good taste in newspaper headlines that’s a wide open field.
    Utu as a description for US blood revenge doesn’t seem too inapt.

    My favourite bad-taste Dom Post headline (actually, it would have been the Evening Post then) was after the 1999 RWC semifinal, which simply read "BUGGEUR".

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    First up, the myth he was funded by the CIA:

    I love the depth of evidence that supports that detail in that article, Neil - none. I'm more comfortable with the researched and printed evidence elsewhere.

    Also - don't you worry that you've stated one thing as a myth and then followed it with a quoted paragraph which contradicts your claim. I guess not.

    His funds came mainly from Saudi Arabia, he wasn't one to play second fiddle to infidels.

    I'm always impressed with the way you have access to information that no-one else has.

    MAK was funded mostly by the ISI (which used US funds matched dollar for dollar by the Saudi govt) and by private donors. The weaponry used by them was almost completely funded by the CIA.

    And he didn't 'become important'. He was never that important in Afghanistan - there were only ever a couple of thousand Arabs. The real argument re: the CIA was that he wasn't important enough for them to be aware in any major sense who he was.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2604 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    the full story is still a work in progress

    Yes, but I'll lean further towards 'cockup' (or rather 'muddle'), than I will 'conspiracy' on this one. We're only a few days out from a major event that, by necessity, would be shrouded in 'need-to-know' type secrecy. Most of what we'll be getting at this stage is going to be a bit garbled and incoherent, with the inevitable clarifications to follow.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Creon Upton,

    If it were politically advantageous in this particular theatre for the man (and his companions) to be taken alive; and especially if the command from the very top had been, unequivocally, "take him alive unless there's really no other way" -- then I'm pretty sure that a far greater effort than was made in reality would have been made toward that end.

    (There are some suppositions underlying my musings here, but frankly, let s/he who is without sin on that particular count cast the first stone.)

    So if it's accepted that any greater effort could have been made to keep those people alive, the unavoidable reality is that mentions of extra-judicial execution by pesky pedants like I/S are quite relevant. Keeping people alive, respect for law, due process -- these are supposed to be bottom lines for those who exercise power in what the UN likes to call "civilised nations".

    It's a bit like the old free-speech conundrum: the principle's really only tested -- and affirmed -- when the matter in question is one where huge numbers of people, all invoking quite sound-seeming sentiments, believe that they are justified in forsaking it.

    Only the right to life and the right to a fair trial are a bit further up the hierarchy of rights than the right to freedom of expression.

    This site is largely populated by thinking people who basically believe in the fundamentals -- rule of law, so forth. It behooves you, I believe, to consider not only that this is a situation where (as is always the case) an exception to the fundamentals should not be made on the basis of convenience or public mood or righteousness or anything else -- but also that if we truly believe in what we say then this is the very situation where we should prove that we do.

    Surely?

    Y'know, for the kids. So that perhaps they will come to understand what we are -- and what we're not. (Or at least what we aspire to be -- and what we don't.)

    "We", by the way, refers I guess to participants in liberal, western democracies.

    Thanks to everyone for such thoughtful and thought-provoking and unhysterical comments -- especially Craig R and others, who have I think already said (and probably said more clearly) what I've tried to say above.

    I read through these threads last night (couldn't sleep) and was really struck by how smart, articulate, informed, reasonable, and sometimes even witty this collection of opinionators is.

    Christchurch • Since Aug 2007 • 68 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    I love the depth of evidence that supports that detail in that article, Neil – none.

    I'm not sure on what basis you doubt Jason Burke's credibility when it comes to this topic, from his wiki:

    In 2003, Burke authored Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror, which was later updated and republished as Al-Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam. Noam Chomsky described it as the "best book there is" on the Al-Qaeda.[4] In 2006, he authored On the Road to Kandahar: Travels through Conflict in the Islamic World.

    So when he says:

    Though barely noticed by western security services while he supported Afghan mujahideen in their struggle against the Soviets from bases in Afghanistan in the 1980s, reports that Bin Laden received cash from the CIA are false: the Saudi began to concern American intelligence agencies from the early 1990s.

    i'm inclined to pay attention. As well as to:

    CIA had no direct dealings with him in 80s, had barely heard of him, dealt just with pakistanis who dealt with the Afghans not the international brigade (whose military contribution was negligible anyway). how do i know this? lots and lots of footwork in Peshawar and in the US. Absolutely no one - American officials, Pakistanis, former mujahideen, no one - accepts the whole "blowback" thesis.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • webweaver, in reply to Creon Upton,

    This site is largely populated by thinking people who basically believe in the fundamentals – rule of law, so forth. It behooves you, I believe, to consider not only that this is a situation where (as is always the case) an exception to the fundamentals should not be made on the basis of convenience or public mood or righteousness or anything else – but also that if we truly believe in what we say then this is the very situation where we should prove that we do.

    +1 (or more) - especially the bit I've bolded above

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 331 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    In one of the reports they mentioned the successor, Ayman al Zawahiri, in the same breath as commenting on the $25 million dollar 'bounty' for his capture, presumably also 'dead or alive'.

    'Utu' with a cherry on top.

    This particular 'wild west' approach to the global terrorist hunt comes with it's own FAQs, through the 'Rewards for Justice' website.

    In case anyone wondered, although I'm sure it has been covered before or is obvious;

    However, under the law that governs the program, U.S., state, local, and foreign government employees are generally not eligible for a reward if they provide information obtained in the performance of their official duties.

    And I think to myself 'what a wonderful world'؟

    ETA:

    The Rewards for Justice program has paid more than $100 million to over 60 people who provided information that prevented international terrorist attacks or helped bring to justice those involved in prior acts.

    Wow! Just wow!

    Excuse my sarcastic tone. It just doesn't really sit well with me this particular 'policy' initiative.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    Though barely noticed by western security services while he supported Afghan mujahideen in their struggle against the Soviets from bases in Afghanistan in the 1980s, reports that Bin Laden received cash from the CIA are false

    Thanks for the attempt to continually insert a straw man, Neil.

    That pretty much agrees with what I was saying, if you'd read it. However it has zero to do with whether Bin Laden was 'created' by the CIA.

    My car was created by a German car company. However the ongoing funding to keep it on the road comes from me. The two are distinct however you try to muddy it.

    That MAK was partially funded by the funding mechanism put in place by Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, the head of Al Mukhabarat Al A'amah, and the CIA - via ISI - is hardly controversial stuff, even Burke accepts it in that book.

    The word that's continually tripping you up is 'direct'.

    Wright, however, also documents a direct line of weaponry (not cash - once again the two are distinct) via former Soviet Republics. That's also in Ghost Wars.

    And with all due respect to Burke - which I've read - Wright still offers the definitive book on the journey to 9/11.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

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