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A Volcano of Lies

Article by Alexander Cockburn.
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Barack Obama, who pledged to restore ethical honor to the White House after the Bush years, is now burying himself under an active volcano of lies, mostly but not exclusively concerning the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

There was scarcely a sentence in the President’s Sunday night address, or in the subsequent briefing by John Brennan, his chief counter-terrorism coordinator, that has not been subsequently retracted by CIA director Leon Panetta or the White House press spokesman, Jay Carney, or by various documentary records.

• The White House photograph of Obama, Clinton and top security advisors supposedly watching real-time footage of the Navy Seals’ onslaught on the Abbottabad compound, their killing of two men and a woman (excuse for the latter killing: the standard “caught in crossfire”) and liquidation of OBL himself turns out to have been a phony. BO and friends could have been watching basketball replays. Panetta has admitted the real-time video link stopped working before the Seals got into the compound.

• Panetta also admits Osama bin Laden was not armed, and that he did not hide behind his young wife’s skirt. He conceded that under military rules of engagement Osama should have been taken prisoner, but then added vaguely that he showed some unspecified form of resistance. He probably reached for his walking stick, since he has been ailing from kidney and liver problems. As any black or brown resident in, say, the purview of the Ramparts Division of the LAPD knows full well, reaching for a walking stick or even holding a cell phone can be a death warrant; multiply that likelihood by a factor of 100 if you are the world’s most wanted terrorist in front of a score of heavily armed and homicidal Navy SEALs, no doubt amped up on amphetamine.

An admitted fan of the herb, Osama may have been stoned as part of his pain management program since there was a marijuana patch outside in the allotment and, like any world star in retirement, Osama liked to smoke a lot of weed and made DVDs of important speeches which stacked up forlornly on the bookshelf next to the bottles of pills and the Koran, hoping to get picked up by Al Jazeera or HBO. How his lieutenants must have yearned for his summary martyrdom as they received his importunate bulletins that they derail a train during Obama’s State of the Union and other madcap schemes.

• The White House claims that issues of delicacy prohibit the release of photographs of Osama’s bullet-riddled face and required that after an alleged match with a relative’s DNA he be given a swift but formal sea burial in a weighted body bag dropped from the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson into the north Arabian Sea, presumably awaiting retrieval by salvagers with a fix on the Vinson’s position at the time of burial.

Maybe the Navy Seal photographer forgot to take his lens cap off. Obama’s claims of ethical sensitivity certainly ring hollow. He’s battling the wimp factor, and “Lo! The head of Osama” would be a nifty prop. There was lengthy display back in Bush-time of the mutilated bodies of Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusay, killed by US special forces in 2003, plus filming of Saddam’s own execution by hanging.

Further back, when DNA matches were unknown, US special forces verified Che Guevara’s execution by permitting many photographs immediately post-mortem. They also cut off Che’s hands, for subsequent verification by the CIA. We’re not talking Miss Manners here.

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