Just for now

By Phil Plait | May 2, 2011 5:00 am

The Earth spins on, the Universe ticks away, the Sun still shines, and there is and always will be science to report on.

But for a little while, just a little while, there are other things to contemplate today.

In the coming days, weeks, and months, we’ll learn more about what happened in Pakistan yesterday. There will be claims made, stories spun, politics created, conspiracy theories woven and layered upon.

But for a little while, that isn’t important.

In general it seems wrong to me, alien, to celebrate the death of a human. But when that human has caused so many deaths, and when he planned so many more… well, as many people tweeted last night quoting Clarence Darrow*: "I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction."

My own emotions are a bit complicated right now, and merit some further thought. Satisfaction is certainly playing a large role, though. And, as my friend Marian Call so wisely put it on Twitter, "Wow. No joy. Just relief."

I can live with that. Those directly affected by the events of and since September 11 may feel more strongly, and I certainly understand that and sympathize. But for me, just for now, relief and great satisfaction will do just fine.


* This has been misattributed to Mark Twain, and I’ll admit I retweeted it as such myself. Just want to set the record straight here.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind

Comments (140)

  1. John Carter

    “In general it seems wrong to me, alien, to celebrate the death of a human. But when that human has caused so many deaths, and when he planned so many more…”

    Sadly, that can pertain to a number of people throughout history…some even still living.

  2. BigBadSis
  3. Well said. Pretty much how I would have summed it up as well (especially with the Darrow quote).

    I wonder though, how long before some Republican or Tea Bagger starts claiming this was a bad thing just becuase it happened under the Obama administration, and he gave the order? Seems to be their way of reacting.

  4. Mikey Cooper

    “In the coming days, weeks, and months, we’ll learn more about what happened in Pakistan yesterday.”

    Last week, you mean. They announced yester And I couldn’t agree more about celebrating the death of a human. Just posted on my Facebook:

    “Take no joy in the dispensation of justice. While required to maintain order, we should feel disappointed that such measures are necessary. Feel satisfaction only in that justice is served, never in the suffering caused by serving it.”

    It saddens me to see people wishing he had died in a manner that caused him to suffer longer.

  5. Mikey Cooper

    That is, they announced yesterday, but the attack took place last week.

  6. Brian Davis

    Agreed. Not happy about death. Not even this one. But relieved that at this aspect is… past.

  7. John Carter

    “Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.” – Gandalf

  8. Kris

    “But when that human has caused so many deaths, and when he planned so many more… ”

    Sep 11 body count: 2,977 (wikipedia.org)
    Iraq body count: 100K directly reported (iraqbodycount.org), full number estimated to be between 393K and 942K (The Lancet 2006 study)

  9. Dr.Sid

    I don’t understand the celebration as well. Bin Ladin was no Hitler .. there will be another leader. Another attacks. It may actually show that the new leaders will be worse.
    I guess it job well done for the soldiers, because that is what they were trying to achieve for all that time. But for the US, for the world, I’m pretty curious, what will happen next.

  10. Kullat Nunu

    John Carter & Kris: Well said.

    After seeing people rejoicing I can’t stop thinking Roman triumphs.

    I think it would have been much better if he was captured alive and put on trial. It is harder to consider one a martyr if he is treated like a criminal.

    Since 9/11 OBL has been more or less irrelevant figure from tactical point of view. His death will be mostly symbolic, either it demoralizes his supporters or makes him a martyr. The latter is much more likely, especially if the West keeps bombing one Islamic country after another.

  11. Klaus Breuer

    Weird. I remember way back in 2001, that he said “Have a look at ! You’ll love it. I know about it, but I wasn’t involved.”

    The horrible happening triggered a (long-before planned) war by the USA, attacking – Afghanistan. Although most of the planners were dead, and most of the others came from – Saudi Arabia.

    No, I find it strange that people all celebrate about the death of some old nutcase…

  12. Jason Dick

    To add to Kris’s post, the Iraq war has caused more US deaths than the 9/11 attacks, and vastly more foreign deaths. If I thought that killing Osama bin Laden would actually do anything to help improve safety, I might be slightly relieved about it. But I really can’t see being more happy about Bin Laden dying than being happy about Bush dying.

    So yeah, my response to this whole thing has been “Meh, why are people happy about this?”

  13. UmTutSut

    I look at it rather more personally. One of my son’s best friends, a Marine Lance Corporal, was killed in Afghanistan last year fighting in the war this monster started. Whatever else, hopefully LCPL Kurt Shea rests just a bit more peacefully this morning….

  14. Gustav

    If this means Obamas chances of reelection has improved I think it was worth it for the world as a whole.
    He should have been put to justice though, and I’m afraid the dumping of the body to sea may well mean we will have a fresh new batch of conspiracy theories popping up now.

  15. Dan I.

    It’s easy to look at cold numbers and claim more equivalency. But the truth is that we haven’t deliberately targeted and massacred people simply because of who they are. We haven’t tried to go in and cause as much pain and suffering as possible. We haven’t fought anyone with the stated goal of destroying a people. Bin laden did. His goal was suffering and terror.

    That makes a difference that cold dispassionate numbers can’t measure.

  16. Ricky

    I liked this comment on twitter by AmandaStratton: “The girl married her Prince. The bad guy is dead. It’s a real Disney weekend here on Earth.”

  17. Jeff

    @Mikey – Don’t believe Sarah Palin… The attack too place yesterday and was announced the same day…

  18. TerryS.

    What’s with “last week” people? It happened around 1:00 am Monday morning in Abbottabad. That’s 4:00 pm EDT. Not a week ago…yesterday, our time.

  19. Ythaca

    I think it should be a time of reflection rather than a time of joy. When I heard the news I thought about the twin towers falling and Bin Laden’s victims. A time for quiet reflection… and hoping that all hell doesn’t break loose in the name of revenge!

  20. Ythaca

    To back up Jeff and TerryS check out @reallyvirtual tweeting it from Abbotabad as it happened.

  21. Andreas H

    I don’t like Osama Bin Laden getting his wish to die as a martyr in combat by a bullet. I’m also not convinced that this will make this planet any safer, short or long term.

    In fact the way this mission was carried out, including the disposal of Bin Laden’s body will provide fuel for Islamic extremists and conspiracy theory nut-jobs alike.

    It very much feels like a loss for the free world, the justice system and the ongoing efforts to make our planet safer. I sincerely hope we won’t regret the breeding ground for extremist and misanthropic thinking created today!

  22. fred edison

    I feel no happiness knowing the cost of the wars on the country and more so the cost in human lives. I am relieved to know a catalyst for indiscriminate death and destruction has been permanently put out of operation.

  23. Jason

    @TerryS

    Exactly. Obama gave the order to go ahead with the operation last week, but it was yesterday that it was carried out.

  24. “What’s with ‘last week’ people? It happened around 1:00 am Monday morning in Abbottabad.”

    Like Phil implied, misinformation is flying around already and conspiracy theories are being brewed as fast as some ATS or Prison Planet poster can type on his keyboard. That’s what happens when facts are optional. You can concoct whatever you want as soon as you get the urge.

    I understand the issue with bin Laden dying as a self-appointed martyr but honestly, I think that being able to detain him alive would’ve been like winning the lottery twice in one day: highly unlikely, especially when he’s surrounded by guards and weapons. And that’s not to mention the logistical nightmares of actually housing him. Where do you hold the most wanted man in the world and how many resources do you put in guarding him?

    Yes, he’s just one man, and yes, I’m sure that al-Queda will carry on, but killing him was an important statement. If after all that effort, the United States failed to find him and kill him, he would’ve been even more of a demigod to jihadists that he would be as a martyr.

  25. Jeremy

    I don’t think you can meaningfully compare the deaths from the wars in Iraq and Afghanisatn with the deaths at 9/11. If those wars didn’t occur how many people would have died as a result of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban? What would the difference in death tolls be in 1000 years comparing if we went to war or not? We can’t answer that question in any meaningful manner, so we can’t really say that the wars cost lives compared with the alternative. I’m not trying to make a point about whether they are justified or not, just that I don’t think it’s a fair comparison. In 20 years we may have lasting peace in both countries. If we hadn’t gone to war there may have been a peaceful revolution in those countries and then lasting peace. If we hadn’t gone to war the revolutions we’re seeing in the Middle East might not have happened. It’s all just speculation, and it’s impossible to gauge whether the wars have actually cost or saved lives.

  26. Stephen Mackenzie

    Assassinating your political opponents? Sorry. No. That’s not the act of a democratic country.

  27. Chelsea

    “In the coming days, weeks, and months, we’ll learn more about what happened in Pakistan yesterday. There will be claims made, stories spun, politics created, conspiracy theories woven and layered upon.

    But for a little while, that isn’t important. ”

    Oh it’s very important. The “politics created” affect the direction the wars are taking and how much money is spent on them. Refer back, please, to the previous post on the cost of SETI and comparisons to costs of weaponry, and how a “victory” like this will be used to justify blowing things up rather than be used towards the peaceful victories of science. There will be a short-term surge of support for military endeavors, and will overshadow efforts to support and fund things like SETI.

  28. GebradenKip

    Should have brought him to justice like a civilized country. Of course I wasn’t there, so I don’t know if that was possible, but it should have been the intent.

  29. What bothers me about this is that there are plenty of people who think the problem of Islamic fascism is going to suddenly go away. I’m glad he’s dead, but the movement he was such a prominent symbol of is not going anywhere any time soon.

  30. You said exactly what I was feeling, but couldn’t quite put into words. Thanks, Phil.

  31. alfaniner

    Similar to what I posted to a friend. “I know this isn’t over, but for now I feel damn satisfied.”

    I’ve been thinking of it as “5/11″. Month/year – because it took so long. It also reflects on the original tragedy date.

  32. Mikey Cooper

    My bad. I had read new reports that the operation took place “last week” and they were waiting for confirming DNA results to announce it. Seems that I was mistaken.

  33. Scuba

    I am also glad hes gone, but god damnit, America. You had the chance to arrest him, judge him and show the whole world, that we western people are better than the terrorists. But nooooo, you had to send a murder squad and execute him without a trial. That makes you just as bad as he was.

  34. Lawrence

    If he had been captured alive, we would have spent tens of millions of dollars to hold him, wrangled for a decade or more over the details of a trial (how much access he’d have to classified data for his defense, etc), used the US Justice System to thumb his nose at us, and just been more trouble than it ever would have been worth.

    Of course, we also could have bombed that compound flat – but I’m glad that it was a US Soldier that put a bullet in his head. I would never celebrate the death of a single individual, but in this case, it does tie up a loose end that needed to be tied.

  35. Gus Snarp

    In general it seems wrong to me, alien, to celebrate the death of a human. But when that human has caused so many deaths, and when he planned so many more… well, as many people tweeted last night quoting Clarence Darrow*: “I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.”

    I’ve been seeing a lot of this: “I know it’s wrong, but…” flying around (mixed in with just, “Yeehaw!, USA! USA! Find the head!”), and I find the two not much different. In your case you’ve stated that what you feel is more relief than joy, which is great, but the Darrow quote implies otherwise… It’s only natural I suppose, but my response is simpler. I find it impossible to take pleasure in the death of human being, no matter how great his crimes.

    As Sun Tzu wrote: “To rejoice over a victory is to rejoice over a slaughter of men”.

    And now we’ll be subject to saturation media celebration of the death for the next week at least, with official intelligence pundits all telling us how debilitating this blow will be to Al Qaeda, pretending that Al Qaeda in Afghanistan/Pakistan has been a major threat over the last few years, instead of the truth, that Al Qaeda in Yemen and other organizations that are quite separate have been the real threat for some time, and that the Taliban is the major factor in Afghanistan and Pakistan. No, this is useful more as a political tool in the U.S. than for actually combating terrorism. And let’s all forget that we weren’t supposed to have american troops operating on the ground in Pakistan, it doesn’t matter that we’ve been lied to, as long as we got Bin Laden.

  36. Well, Gus, rejoicing or not-rejoicing aside, it makes precious little difference. When you are faced with fascism – real fascism – you have to fight it. It’s simply too insane and destructive to be tolerated.

  37. Grand Lunar

    “But for me, just for now, relief and great satisfaction will do just fine.”

    Agreed 100% on that, Phil.

    I can’t help but wonder what form, if any, will the retalitaiton will be in, though.

    @Gus Sharp,

    Yours is probably an accurate assessment of this situation.

  38. John Carter

    There’s another unfortunate side to this, and it involved the Seals. Secrecy is their specialty but sooner or later some print or media tabloid (or Fox) is bound to discover the name of the Seal who did the “job.” I feel badly for that guy and what he’ll have to go through with the press and especially the Media, not to mention possible retribution to his family and friends by sympathizers. Hopefully, our government, one that can’t keep secrets, will try their damndest to keep this one. Trust me. It happened in Nam. It’ll happen with this, too.

  39. Sam H

    Maybe it’s because I’m still young and packed with testosterone, but I for one don’t have that much remorse towards the death of such a sick minded man and didn’t at first. Sure, he did many good things throughout his life (as all human beings do and are capable of doing), but it was a good thing he has been killed – justice has been served on one who killed so many innocents, knowing full well what he was doing. I of course know that by no means is this over – it probably never will be, so long as radical Islam exists (which cannot be destroyed by us) – but justice has been served this week.
    And for those who guessed, yes I believe in the death penalty. When one has knowingly killed an innocent, what’s more important – trying to help the guilty killer, or the innocent victim? Trying to “cure” the killer of whatever motivated him/her to kill, or serving justice? Personally, I’d say that serving justice is always more important than the people involved. I know this debate is a slippery slope, but here I stand. And I only support capital punishment for first degree murder and rape, or any of the few other crimes of similar magnitude that may exist.

  40. Kris

    @25 Jeremy: “I don’t think you can meaningfully compare the deaths from the wars in Iraq and Afghanisatn with the deaths at 9/11. ”

    Fact is, in terms of killing people, OBL’s achievements rank 2 orders of magnitude below the “collateral damage” of the second Iraq war, 3 orders of magnitude below Pol Pot and about 4 orders of magnitude below Stalin. I also guess Kim Jong Il and his daddy (still in office despite being dead) combined would also rank about 3 orders of magnitude above OBL, yet, sadly, nobody wants to take on these guys. Also, ironically, OBL’s actions have directly enabled the second Iraq war, ultimately leading to death of at least a hundred times as many Muslims as infidels. So, in hindsight, his jihad was a large failure.

    The difference between OBL and the other guys is that we could see the 9/11 live on TV.

  41. Chris

    The conspiracy theories are out of the woodwork. The stuff I’m reading just baffles my mind. As soon as I read he had been buried at sea all I saw was a ridiculous amount of fuel for these people.

  42. Gus Snarp

    @Chris – The conspiracy theories are inevitable and could not be stopped. I believe the Geneva conventions prevent the public display of his corpse or photographs thereof. Even if photographs were published, conspiracists will not believe they are genuine. Hell, they think we faked the moon landing, one of the most well documented events in the history of mankind, they can surely imagine a faked photograph of a corpse.

  43. Kris

    @41 Gus Snarp: “Even if photographs were published, conspiracists will not believe they are genuine. ”

    Some conspiracists do not even believe that this guy existed.

  44. Gus Snarp

    @Kris – Indeed. Nothing is beyond the grasp of the conspiracist mind. Nothing except logic and reason.

  45. CNR

    I don’t know. I mean, I get the celebration, but it all seems so short sighted.

    Bin Laden is dead. He, like all of us, was going to die at some point.

    But Al Qaeda still exists. Bin Laden never planted a bomb so it’s not like the bombs and attacks stop.

    We are fighting two seemingly meaningless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fools Errands if you ask me.

    So call me a party pooper, but I just dont see the big deal. This changes very little and I see little worth in emotional victories.

  46. Daats

    I’ve spent all day searching for the words to express how I’m feeling about all this…… you’ve just found them for me, thank you.

  47. Dave

    Interesting. I guess I’m too ‘simple’ for this crowd, but I’d have gladly put the bullet in him myself.

  48. The burial at sea thing, the early reports that it was a week ago, the statement that they have a picture that isn’t being released. It’s like this is all being organized to encourage conspiracy theorists.

    As for those saying you won’t celebrate a death, I have to call BS on that. If you heardf the death of you political ‘enemies’, most of you would certainly celebrate. If you read of the death of Cheney or maybe Palin you’d definetly celebrate.

    As for the death of bin Laden, in the long run it means very little. It won’t change much of anything in the world of terrorism except perhaps increase the number at attempted attacks for a while. It is a morale boost to the US, and a morale loss for the terrorists. Perhaps it gives Obama a shot at reelection, but it comes too early to make a huge difference in that.

  49. CNR

    Side note – I have to say as i was watching CNN, the way Wolf Blitzer was doing the tease for the president’s announcement, saying that world leaders were being notified, that it was an event we had been preparing for for a long time, etc…. I was certain they were going to announce an incoming NEO/asteroid impact.

    I guess that’s what happens when you think about astronomical events more than world events. I had no idea they were going to talk about bin Laden.

    Am I the only one?

  50. Gus Snarp

    @VinceRN

    As for those saying you won’t celebrate a death, I have to call BS on that. If you heardf the death of you political ‘enemies’, most of you would certainly celebrate. If you read of the death of Cheney or maybe Palin you’d definetly celebrate.

    Don’t presume to know what I would or wouldn’t do. Go forth to the vast array of tubes and find one piece of evidence of me celebrating the death of Reagan, or Falwell, then you can talk. You have essentially just told me I was lying about my own beliefs, and made the standard conservative assumption that I must side with the terrorists over America. You seem to believe I find Sarah Palin to be more evil than Osama Bin Laden, which is absurd. She is nothing more than an ignorant side show barker. You don’t know what you’re talking about, and I’ll thank you to disagree with me without pretending I’m a hypocrite simply because my opinions are different from yours.

  51. Neeneko

    @15 Dan -

    That doesn’t help the case much. While Osama was spun as ‘wanting to create terror’, the State Department’s own documents tell a rather different story. Something that has gotten lost in the hype is that these groups actually do have specific goals, with terror/suffering simply being the best tool they have available to them. Years back there was an interview with OBL where he expressed frustration that Americans repeatedly did not seem to understand what he was actually fighting for. This whole ‘they are trying to destroy our lives and freedoms’ meme was an American invention.. it bares no resemblance to their actual manifesto.

    To say that OBL only wanted to create terror would be like saying the US only wanted to cause civilian deaths.

  52. Georg

    “What’s with ‘last week’ people? It happened around 1:00 am Monday morning in Abbottabad.”

    As a first step, its a week. Soon it will be “backponed” to Bush presidency :=)

  53. Daniel J. Andrews

    For reasons others have mentioned, I’m not even sure I’m relieved. The circumstances that raised a bin Laden have raised (and are raising) others. Someone will step into the void he left behind. In fact, it seems highly likely he would have had plans for people to step into his position when he died. Even if he didn’t, don’t underestimate how angry people are at having their country invaded…there will be no problems finding qualified leaders as well as people eager to carry out the plans. No, I’m not relieved at all….it is far bigger than just one man who may now wield more power dead than alive.

  54. Also, ironically, OBL’s actions have directly enabled the second Iraq war, ultimately leading to death of at least a hundred times as many Muslims as infidels.

    Depends on your definition of infidel. To al-Queda, the Shi’a who were killed during the war in Iraq were heathens who enabled the Americans and their deaths were perfectly justified. His group always killed more bystanders and civilians than his real targets, chalking all this up to Allah’s will. But that’s what jihadists do. They don’t care about civilian casualties, believing them to be either just because the bystanders “were enemy sympathizers or worked with the enemy,” or waiving them away.

  55. UmTutSut

    CNR wrote: ” I was certain they were going to announce an incoming NEO/asteroid impact.”

    I said out loud to myself, “Either they got Osama, or there’s confirmation of extraterrestrial intelligence and contact.” So my thoughts ran along lines similar to yours.

  56. Dave

    Conspiracy theories are silly, but the genuinely awful stuff I see is all this, “he wasn’t evil, just misunderstood” trash.

    He was the definition of evil, with no compunction about the intentional murder of innocent people, near and far. His methods were deplorable and he was among the best examples you could point to as an enemy of all humanity. Listening to apologies for him and his ilk is already making me nauseous.

    Those are not insightful remarks… they’re tragic. They minimize the suffering he caused over the decades and disrespect everything we’ve sacrificed to bring him to justice.

  57. oldebabe

    @46. No, you aren’t the only one.

  58. Miko

    VinceRN:

    As for those saying you won’t celebrate a death, I have to call BS on that. If you heardf the death of you political ‘enemies’, most of you would certainly celebrate. If you read of the death of Cheney or maybe Palin you’d definetly celebrate.

    Anyone who has political ‘enemies’ that they despise so intensely that they would celebrate their deaths should be prohibited from voting.

    Kris:

    Also, ironically, OBL’s actions have directly enabled the second Iraq war, ultimately leading to death of at least a hundred times as many Muslims as infidels.

    Nah, look at Obama’s actions in Libya: he had no trouble starting a mid-east war is an oil-rich country without the need of any action on bin Laden’s part. OBL was at most a convenient scapegoat that let Bush do what he wanted to do anyway, as evidenced by the fact that Bush was able to convince people like you that the war in Iraq had something to do with OBL when there was obviously no connection between the two. Wars will continue to be fought for the only reason that any war has ever been fought: to increase the power and wealth of an economic elite. The real determining factor for whether a country will be invaded in the growing sweep of the “War on Terror” is how much oil it has; things like “fighting terrorism” or “spreading democracy” or “humanitarian intervention” will have as much to do with these wars as “ending slavery” had to do with the American Civil War.

  59. My only regret is that, once again, we will be forced to look at the a____’s ugly face in the media. I was rather enjoying its absence. But…I’m rather enjoying this, too. Wish it would have happened about a decade (and a couple of stupid wars) ago.

    You can’t have everything.

  60. NoAstronomer

    Stephen Mackenzie #26:

    “Assassinating your political opponents? Sorry. No. That’s not the act of a democratic country.”

    Too bad OBL wasn’t in a democratic country*.

    Mike.

    * No, Pakistan doesn’t count.

  61. If only for the symbolism it was a potent example of the sword of justice. It is good he got got.
    OBL reaped what he had sowed.
    Will it atone for the thousands dead on 9/11 or the hundreds of thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan? Probably not.
    Are the scenes of young Americans partying in front of the Whitehouse a bit over the top? Probably, but it certainly isn’t as bad as the scenes of jubilation in some parts of the world when the towers came down.

    When I heard that Obama was going to speak the first thing I thought of was they’ve stopped something big like a terrorist act. That made me think no, they got OBL.

    “Assassinating your political opponents? Sorry. No. That’s not the act of a democratic country.”
    OBL wasn’t a political opponent. He was a terrorist.

  62. MartyM

    While what happened during this military operation is not objectionable to me in any way (based on what I know now), and that I tend to think that this is the best possible outcome (having 0 American soldiers killed in this effort), I do not think that this is justice in an American Justice sense. This may be thought of as some sort of cosmic justice, or Golden Rule justice, but it’s not the way of the American justice system. So having said that, I do not have a problem with the military’s operation, although I do have some sense of shame seeing thousands of people celebrating and conducting “justice is served” demonstrations in the streets and on TV. My first though is that this is exactly what we see from Iran and other mid-eastern countries when they deem something grand happened to them, or something bad has happened to us. It puts us on the same playing field as that. To lower our standards of justice to vengeance is not how I prefer to view the American Way. If we claim to be the greatest most moral country in the world (which is questionable, obviously) then we should start acting like it.

  63. Robert S-R

    This post and most of the comments I’ve read so far are bolstering my faith in humanity. Thank you all for being human, folks.

  64. Ray

    @Gus,

    The Geneva Conventions don’t apply to terrorists. It is only common decency – which is sadly not common – that prohibits gratuitous photos of dead people from public view.

  65. Joseph G

    Stephen Mackenzie #26: Assassinating your political opponents? Sorry. No. That’s not the act of a democratic country.
    Seriously? OBL was no one’s “political opponent.” And his movement, a regressive theocratic regime that advocated violence against civilians, is about the furthest thing there is from anyone’s definition of Democracy.

    @48 Neeneko: That doesn’t help the case much. While Osama was spun as ‘wanting to create terror’, the State Department’s own documents tell a rather different story. Something that has gotten lost in the hype is that these groups actually do have specific goals, with terror/suffering simply being the best tool they have available to them.

    That’s true. But even sympathizers to AQ’s cause often seemed to completely ignore those goals in favor of killing infidels.
    And seeing as how those goals involve the dissolution of a number of mideast governments in favor of creating a vast Islamist caliphate, I think we can all agree that allowing that agenda to go forward is not an option. It would probably create more death and suffering then all the strife in the entire region over the last 20 years combined, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
    You’re right, of course, in that not many people seem interested in studying his personal philosophy. But I think we can be excused for that, considering :P

  66. Utakata

    To my understanding of how al-Qaeda works, they’ll just keep chugging along. And likely someone or someones unknown will fill Osama’s shoes. Perhaps with someone more prolific than he was, with even a bigger chip on his shoulders. By just shooting off the tip of the iceberg, as prominent as it was, the iceberg will still float.

    So this death solves nothing. People around the world will continue die to terrorist acts. So there is no really breathing a sigh of relief. Or celebrating on the streets. Only when we can wean the world off of the reliance on religion and nationalism and make it more economically just, then we may see terrorism reduced. Just saying.

  67. TSFrost

    Will this relax the Patriot Act at all? Does this mean that children will no longer be molested by airport security? Is there any real evidence that the world will be ANY safer now? If Obama was assassinated, would America crumble? No, we would appoint a new leader, then cry “Revenge!”

  68. Gus Snarp

    @Ray –

    The Geneva Conventions don’t apply to terrorists.

    I think that’s a matter of opinion, not a plain fact. And I for one fundamentally disagree with that, as well as many other legal opinions of the Bush Administration.

  69. I’m sure that if I had lost a close relative in the attacks my feelings would be different, but I can’t help feel that all we have done is created a new martyr. I’m in no way happy about the death of a human, and I think that his death is likely to be the cause of many more. Is this a relief? Not to me, this isn’t the death of a serial killer who worked alone and now we can rest easy. In fact it’s likely that we can rest less easily than before this. Sorry, I find the celebrations disgusting and the quiet satisfaction more confusing than anything else.

  70. KiltBear

    #8 Kris: thank you! On that fateful day, and for days after “everyone was an American” was a sentiment often echoed globally. Such alignment and kinship and kindness from around the world was squandered by those of great avarice behind the war machines and who pander to people pushing the idea that revenge is justice.

  71. Nullius in Verba

    #68,

    The Geneva conventions apply between signatories to the treaty, and between signatories and those non-signatories who abide by all the terms of the convention. All of that is written into the treaty. Any militia or military force can obtain its protection simply by abiding by it, and it ensures that there is a material motivation for all parties to do so, which besides the natural justice of it, also results in a greater number of people being protected in circumstances where people are often feeling very unreasonable about their enemies.

    As terrorism, and most of the tactics used by terrorists, are explicitly against the Geneva conventions, then if they were signatories and if the conventions applied to them it would make them war criminals, many times over. That applies also to nations and prospective nations whose governments have used terrorism. But it is part of the moral ambiguity of this modern age that many close their own eyes to such legal niceties, while criticising the mote in their neighbour’s eye.

  72. Wasn’t it incredible how some psychic predicted Osama’s demise yesterday so accurately? I mean, with such a huge event it had to have been predicted by someone? Come on, they didn’t miss this too did they?
    :-)

  73. Matthew Saunders

    “…any man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind…”

    –John Donne

    Good article by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “Hate Osama, But Do Not Rejoice in His Death”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/hate-osama-but-do-not-rej_b_856130.html

  74. Quiet Desperation

    This post and most of the comments I’ve read so far are bolstering my faith in humanity.

    What was the last thing to go through Osama’s mind? His eyeball.

    There. That human enough for you?

    Thank you all for being human, folks.

    You’re welcome. Just thought I’d skew the average a bit. :-P

  75. People complaining we didn’t capture him alive probably have never been shot at… I am sure that would have been a treasure trove of infomration had we been able to manage that, and was (from all operations I have been a part of) probably a goal. However, I’m not going to let some guy shoot me full of holes just to try to capture him alive. The childish viewpoints expressed are as delusional as the conspiracy theoroists.

    As to burying him at sea, that’s a simple call: No gravesite for him to be a further draw for.

    This is a matter of finishing a job. We didn’t start it, and the whole job isn’t done, but this is a chapter that can be closed. Us humans are not exactly civilized, and anyone that pretends otherwise is probably on something. But we try to do the best we can.

  76. James

    “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

    America’s reaction to this makes me sad.
    I thought more of western civilisation, but it looks like humanity is still as backwards as it always was.

    I’m not sure if we will ever break the cycle of murder, revenge, murder, revenge.

    It doesn’t matter if this man was the most evil man to have ever lived… If we celebrate his death, then is there really any difference between us and the crazy religious zealots who cheer while they jump up and down on the bodies of American soldiers?

    By his death, he has escaped any punishment for his crimes. In the end Osama has got exactly what he wanted.

    He is a martyr to his cause and the hatred and insanity will continue.

  77. My second thought after hearing of the demise of OBL was, in my best mafia parody voice, “he sleeps wit da fishes” or was that Troy Mclure from The Simpsons? Either way, that was before I found he was dumped at sea. Sweet.

  78. Digital Atheist

    It’s okay to wonder how you should feel Phil. I’ve felt relief and satisfaction and even a touch of sadness that a human could bring such hatred upon himself that people all over the world would celebrate his death. Sadly the part that makes me saddest is that he will not have to go to trial and face his accusers. Sigh

  79. katwagner

    Osama bin Laden’s obituary was carried last night on MSNBC. The whole thing. The guy had hundreds of millions of dollars from his dad’s work as the top building contractor in Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden used that money to personally fund al Qaida. PERSONALLY fund bloody, terrorist attacks on numerous embassies, ships, buildings, and the World Trade Center TWO times.

    Hundreds of millions of dollars! What good deeds he could have done with that kind of dough – but, no, he chose to kill thousands of people. His followers needed real schools and he gave them virgins in heaven? Sorry, I am not sad for him. I’m glad he’s gone and I hope all the people whose lives he crushed on 9-11 find some comfort in his death.

  80. Georg

    I “started” the story that Bin Laden has retired to the stronghold
    of Martin Bormann in Brasilian djungle today in a German forum.
    I’m looking forard whether the story will “flower” and grow :=(

  81. James

    Having his burial site be a shrine was apparently not a problem, as the brand of Islam to which he belonged prohibits the veneration of shrines. Supposedly, the burial at sea was because no country was willing to accept the body (though I wonder if they asked?).

  82. “If we celebrate his death, then is there really any difference between us and the crazy religious zealots who cheer while they jump up and down on the bodies of American soldiers?”

    Absolutely.

    Religious zealots hate the American soldiers for who they are, unable to understand that not every service member agrees with the nation’s foreign policy and that they’re not all tools of whatever conspiracies they envision in their heads, believing that they’re told by their god to kill anyone and everyone who isn’t like them.

    We loathe religious zealots not for what they are but for what they do, because of all the women and children they kill as they simply don’t care about anything other than fulfilling their personal fantasies.

  83. Surprised Fox News hasn’t lead with “Obama fakes Bin Laden death to take heat off forged birth certificates”.

  84. kid cool

    I agree with everyone that we shouldn’t really celebrate the death of another human being, but there is an exception to every rule and OBL qualifies.

    @VinceRN: I didn’t celebrate Jerry Falwell’s death, but I wasn’t going to waste my breath giving that bigot any platitudes either.

    Let’s face it: today the world is a little more just and a little bit better because OBL is dead and now sleeping with the fishes. Please note, I didn’t say safer, but a little bit better.

  85. Mark

    There might be another leader, but he’ll never have the infamy and symbolism that Bin Laden had. He was the face of the 9/11 attacks, and unless his successor pulls off a similar attack, he wont be remembered or hunted in the same way.

    Plus, most reports say Al Qaeda as a centralised organisation has been dead since about 2002. People might still blow themselves up in their name, but it’s not like they got a text off Osama telling them where to stand, it’s mostly of their own accord. Killing him is more symbolic than anything, and it’s good in a way that people affected by attacks can maybe feel justice has been done, or that they have closure, but it wont really change anything.

  86. bob

    I cried for Bin Laden. I am not sure why. I think I just felt that SOMEONE should, and nobody else was going to.

  87. James

    @Greg Fish

    American soldiers do their fare share of killing women and children.

    I remember the look on an certain Afghan mans face as American troops handed him thousands of dollars of blood money as ‘compensation’ for the fact that they just killed his wife and kids.

    …Or some certain US helicopter pilots who opened fire on unarmed civilians who had just stopped to help an injured journalist, who they saw crawling along the pavement. The sick way those pilots laughed as they obliterated what they described as a ‘bongo bongo’ truck… and they way, when discovering that truck contained two children, they instantly blamed the men who had simply tried to help another human being.

    In my option, anyone who thinks these insane wars are in ‘any way’ right or just…
    …anyone who thinks the hundreds of thousands of deaths that have happened after 9/11 are a justifiable response to that attack… those people are not decent human beings, they are the ‘real’ terrorists.

  88. Travis L

    It is a very big sigh of relief that Bin Laden is dead.

  89. Greg,

    At the risk of making this personal, but might I suggest you adopt something than the spectacles of the provincial isolationist?

    “American soldiers”? I assure you, those are the ones this buzzard and his flea-bitten acoylates least wanted to engage with. To quote the Hitch: “in the past few years, their main military triumphs have been against such targets as Afghan schoolgirls, Shiite Muslim civilians, and defenseless synagogues in Tunisia and Turkey.”

    That’s not even the half of it. There’s his filthy admirers in Somalia, the genocidal goons of the Sudan etc. How about a little solidarity for those overseas who have to face naked fascism without the safety of Fortress America? Just to underline that, it is commonly thought that 9/11 killed three thousand people. Wrong. The economic shock from it impoverished ten million children and starved about four hundred thousand of them to death.

  90. “I remember the look on an certain Afghan mans face as American troops handed him thousands of dollars of blood money as ‘compensation’ for the fact that they just killed his wife and kids. “

    I love the amount of detail in this anecdote. It focuses only on your personal opinion of an event you may have seen on a news site or a documentary rather than give us any backstory or facts on what happened. If soldiers kill civilians caught in a crossfire, the least they can do is offer something. What do you expect them to do? Bring the people back to life? Or reverse time and years of preceding policy decisions that lead to them being there?

    “Or some certain US helicopter pilots who opened fire on unarmed civilians who had just stopped to help an injured journalist…”

    According to a description published by WikiLeaks when Assange was hurting for cash and needed a media sensation. Then, when he got one, he decided to editorialize what happens in the fog of war using 20/20 hindsight. But no, please, let’s indulge in even more editorializing and drama now that we know what happened years afterward and having been told who was who…

    “anyone who thinks the hundreds of thousands of deaths that have happened after 9/11 are a justifiable response to that attack…”

    … seem to be either an invention of your mind or politicians covering their tails for terrible decisions without thinking about what comes out of their mouths first. I know of no one who thinks that the civilian casualties of post 9/11 conflicts are fully justified. But really, to pretend that we somehow have to restrain ourselves from saying that the man who made it his life’s work to make already complicated, messy, and bloody quagmires even worse and bloodier just because it tickled his fancy or we’re just like him and his minions, is utterly ridiculous.

    But hey, to each his own. Enjoy your pedestal of righteous virtue and all-knowing hindsight.

  91. ND

    If Osama was captured live and heading towards trial, that would have inspired terrorist acts to try and force his release. Putting the man on trial would have had its own satisfaction I’m sure. Telling him he’s guilty to his face. It would have been a very progressively democratic thing to do. But again, I think it would have invited terrorism to force his release. You can’t get back a dead man. Then again, someone could always replace him. There are plenty of rich Saudi princes out there.

    Edit: I’m guessing they would have wanted to get bin Laden alive, but that it would have depending on him.

  92. kid cool

    Yes, Gregg Fish innocent people die in wars. Yes, the US is responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians.

    I think it is a good arguement why wars are to be avoided, unfortunately sometimes we have no choice.

  93. Greg,

    Oh goodness me – I am sorry. I didn’t look carefully, and I thought that you were saying the words you were, in fact, quoting. I am sorry about that.

  94. James

    @Kid cool

    “Yes, the US is responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians.
    I think it is a good arguement why wars are to be avoided, unfortunately sometimes we have no choice.”

    America could have made the ‘choice’ to actually hunt down the men responsible for the attack, instead of what the did… which was to use the American peoples anger, to justify attacking two un-related countries… Iraq and Afghanistan… causing countless deaths and human suffering… and transforming what was a relatively small terrorist group, into a massive international organisation that can no-longer be stopped by military force.

  95. In case anyone is interested, here is a great entry from a friend of mine that addresses the whole “What’s Next?” question. Pretty good write up I think: http://a-million-gods.blogspot.com/2011/05/death-of-figurehead.html

  96. Quiet Desperation

    If we celebrate his death, then is there really any difference between us and the crazy religious zealots who cheer while they jump up and down on the bodies of American soldiers?

    Yes. The type of morally equivalent thinking you exhibit has enabled more horrors throughout history than those who are able to run a simple moral sort algorithm.

    Surprised Fox News hasn’t lead with “Obama fakes Bin Laden death to take heat off forged birth certificates”.

    I have no use for Fox News, but when you begin to believe your own stereotypes, you might want to step back and take a few deep breaths.

    Hundreds of millions of dollars! What good deeds he could have done with that kind of dough

    Saved SETI? ;-)

    My second thought after hearing of the demise of OBL was, in my best mafia parody voice, “he sleeps wit da fishes” or was that Troy Mclure from The Simpsons?

    More like Fat Tony, but the expression comes from the first Godfather film. Not sure if Puzo coined it. Old Sicilian saying, maybe? Dorme con i pesci?

    To my understanding of how al-Qaeda works, they’ll just keep chugging along.

    Barely. People don’t realize just how much we’ve devastated AQ’s leadership since the shooting started. OBL was just one of many. People focus on the idiocy of Iraq, but the other stuff we’ve done, especially since the advent of the Drone Wars, has been very effective.

    bob Says:I cried for Bin Laden. I am not sure why.

    I could suggest a few reasons, but will maintain decorum (well, as much I ever do). Why don’t you go blubber quietly over there in the corner. That’s a good lad.

    and hoping that all hell doesn’t break loose in the name of revenge!

    OBL wasn’t as well liked as you might think, even amongst other extremists. Many of the slightly moderate ones feel he set back East-West relations a century or more.

    I feel no real emotion at all about his death other than disgust at those who aided and abetted his escape for so long while pretending innocence. You didn’t think he was a lone fugitive on the run from the might of the West, did you? That mansion was set up just to hide him. He had powerful friends all over the region, including elements of the Pakistani government. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he had a kidney transplant at some point. I doubt he spent much time in a cave.

    In case anyone is interested, here is a great entry from a friend of mine that addresses the whole “What’s Next?” question. Pretty good write up I think:

    Not really. He misses the point, argues against strawmen I don’t head anyone stating, and fills in the rest with a lot of stuff that, like, everyone actually knew before his little blog came along.

  97. Winston The Cat

    which was to use the American peoples anger, to justify attacking two un-related countries… Iraq and Afghanistan

    Iraq was absolutely stupid, but if you think Afghanistan was unrelated, you’ve been completely disassociated from reality for a good 20 years or more. Seriously, you have to have been sealed in a bunker for two decades, or blinded by ideology to the point of questionable sanity to say what you just did.

  98. I have a 17-year-old son who is bound and determined to commit to the Marine Corps as soon as he turns 18. We refused to sign for early commitment, since we hoped he would grow up and think about it again. Any action that might end the wars we are fighting a day earlier is welcomed.

    However, as I watched the celebration in Washington last night on TV, I was reminded of how some Middle East nations danced and chanted after the 9/11 attack. That is really unnerving. What have we become?

  99. Lawrence

    When the R. E. Lee surrendered, effectively ending the Civil War, there were street parties across the North – including massive celebrations in Washington DC.

    When WWII ended (both for the surrender of Germany & Japan) there were again, massive celebrations across the country (and a particularly famous photograph / kiss comes to mind).

    So no, it isn’t unusual for Americans to let loose when something fairly spectacular takes place.

  100. James

    @Greg
    “What do you expect them to do?”

    If a foreign soldior had just killed my wife and kids I would not expect them to come round to my house with bundles of cash. That is totally sick.

    “The decided to editorialize what happens in the fog of war ”
    Are you saying the voices of those soldiers were ‘dubbed’ over… because I heard what they said and the ‘way’ they said it… That is not the only time I have watched US soldiers behaving in that way. I have seen it too many times to count. Some of them kill people like they are playing a computer game… they joke with each other as they blow a man to pieces.

    These kind of people are not the kind you should want in a situation like Afghanistan, if you want to show the Afghanis we are on their side.

    When the video in question came out, the men involved and the people who tried to block its release should have been held accountable. New training regulations should have been issued to make sure US troops treat the local population like human beings.

    But no… they locked up the man who released the video and tortured him. While portraying Julian Assange like some sort of ‘terrorist’, to distract away from the failings and atrocities carried out by their own dysfunctional military.

    “…to pretend that we somehow have to restrain ourselves”
    Hey if you want to jump around in the streets shouting “USA, USA” …just because some man is dead then knock yourself out. But personally, I think revenge is less important than breaking the never-ending chain of violence and hatred, ‘that’ sort of response encourages.

  101. James

    @Winston

    “If you think Afghanistan was unrelated…”

    Yes, but if the IRA bombs London we aren’t going to invade Ireland are we?

    The Taliban are not the same thing as Al Qaeda.

    It was obvious from the start that Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan, America should have worked with the Pakistan government to find him… ‘without’ starting any wars. If they had done that, Al Qaeda probably wouldn’t even exist anymore… it certainly would have a lot less support… and a lot more people would be alive.

  102. Neeneko

    @James

    “”If a foreign soldior had just killed my wife and kids I would not expect them to come round to my house with bundles of cash. That is totally sick.”"

    Differnt culture, differnt rules. This is one of the things that has gotten the US (and other nations.. we all have this problem, including Arab nations) in so much trouble over the years… looking at other cultures and assuming they have the same rules we do.

    Blood money is acceptable in that region, just like prison time is acceptable in our’s.

  103. Robin S.

    It’s satisfying in the way that seeing justice done in court may be to the family of someone murdered: in the very short term it’s an emotional victory, but soon that fades as reality sets in and its realized how little has changed and how much there is to overcome. For the friends and families of those who died on 9/11 this likely provides some closure…..some.

    On the ground, I think this will change very little.

  104. Lawrence

    James – OBL was in Afghanistan until just after the US Invasion (when he left Tora Bora & headed into Pakistan).

    And as far as blood money goes – it is the culture there. Tribal custom is that penalties / recompense are paid either in kind (stuff) or money.

  105. Ripple

    78. Digital Atheist Says: “I’ve felt relief and satisfaction and even a touch of sadness that a human could bring such hatred upon himself that people all over the world would celebrate his death.”

    Very well said (from a “digital catholic” who is also a fighter pilot and would have been a willing participant of this raid). When I talk to my children about this in a bit, I will use this comment and give you the credit (and reinforce the fact that “athiest” does not equal “bad”). Thank you.

  106. James

    “Blood money is acceptable in that region.”

    The man in question didn’t find it acceptable.

  107. Gus Snarp

    @Lawrence – If we were celebrating the end of a war, I would be all for it, but the wars continue.

  108. “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
    ~Martin Luther King Jr.

  109. Gary Ansorge

    There is one lesson to be applied from this incident; no matter who you are or how rich you are or where you’re hiding or how long it takes, if you frak with us, you’ll die.

    Of course Al-quida will continue, but at least now they know, we will find them,,,eventually,,,

    Gary 7

  110. Tree Falling in Forest

    Phil-You are abiding by the “Don’t Be a Dick” Rule, unlike some other sanctimonious, atheist bloggers I could name.

  111. James

    @shawmutt
    A very nice quote.

    I am not religious, but it saddens me that such a religious country as America can completely forget one of the few good things taught in the Bible (even though the Bible contradicts itself many times on this topic).

    Hatred is never a good thing.

    What is done is done but at least maybe we can learn a few things from how much we have messed up the world with this stupid war on terror.

    America could have played a much smarter game… they could have worked with the Afghans to capture OBL without an all out war… If the hundreds of billions of dollars that this war has cost had gone instead to improving the lives of Afghanis, giving them jobs and futures for their families, then they would not have been so quick to join the Taliban.

    Taking on the Taliban by force is the worst thing the US/UK could have done. You have to remember that every Taliban member shot dead by an American will be some man’s brother, cousin, son, father… Their family will hate the Americans for what they have done… so they join the Taliban too and it just gets worse and worse… and well we all know what happened next.

    Lots of intelligent people around the world warned this would happen, but no… America just had to try out its shiny new war toys… on any one that looked a bit like a terrorist… It just ‘had’ to have payback.

    As a young man my father traveled across Afghanistan without fear… but now thanks to western stupidity and gung-ho patriotism those days are gone and Osama bin Laden has got his wish.

  112. Rob

    It’s great that OBL has been dealt with. Sooner would’ve been better. I am under the impression that, by now, he has become more a symbol, a spiritual leader if you will and others are running the day to day.
    On balance I think live capture would have been preferable, but I can see how that may have been simply impossible. And besides, it’s not like putting him on trial would’ve resulted in anything other than a death sentence anyway.

    I understand that crowds can get whipped up into a frenzy, and there’s a few hundred million people and ten years worth of frustration and anger that needs to be vented.

    From the outside looking in, the dancing and chanting in the street is a jarring visual. I’m not even sure if it’s wrong, undeserved or unexpected.

    Also, it just occurred to me as I am typing this, I expect that the celebration would’ve looked largely the same had he been caught alive. So I’m a little more ok with it.

    I think it’s uncomfortable because it’s about the death of a man that doesn’t bring about the end of a conflict. I think I would be totally fine seeing dancing in the streets on the news of Hitlers death as this meant the defacto end of a conflict.
    Here, I’m not blaming any of the faces on the news chanting “USA”, but I’m not ready to join in on the chanting either.

    (typing from the relative sidelines here in the Netherlands)

  113. Nic

    You know I thought the evil SOB was already dead.
    Surely smarter it would have been smarter to kill the ******* and say nothing though, let the memory go, no martyr etc.
    All credit to the American forces, and as Phil said I’m not keen on wishing anyone’s death, but then, an M16 a Time Machine and Hitler? Oh yes.
    But I reckon hushing the event up may have avoided martyrdom, possible (probable?) terrorist activity, all of that, reprisals etc.. To announce the death in 2024 or something…
    I’m pleased my country’s allies have once again done a bloody good days work though.
    Mmm, thinking out loud – but..
    To the boys on the ground – if you happen to be reading – ‘Well done lads!’. And I’m glad you are all ok.

    N

  114. Quiet Desperation

    The Taliban are not the same thing as Al Qaeda.

    The Taliban gave aid and comfort to, and were heavily involved with, Al Qaeda, who were identified as part of the problem and part of the attack. It was never *just* about OBL.

    It was obvious from the start that Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan, America should have worked with the Pakistan government to find him…

    Well, in the border regions for quite a while. We *did* work with Pakistan. *They* didn’t work very well with us.

    Parts of the Pakistani government were helping Bin Laden hide. The situation is about 100 times more complicated than you seem to think. My suspicion is that we finally threatened them with something that made them roll over.

    If they had done that, Al Qaeda probably wouldn’t even exist anymore… it certainly would have a lot less support… and a lot more people would be alive.

    No, to make Al Qaeda cease to exist you needed to go after the rest of Al Qaeda… who were in Afghanistan… protected by the Taliban… any of this getting through your reality distortion field?

    they could have worked with the Afghans to capture OBL without an all out war

    For pity’s sake, we tried that! We gave them opportunity to cooperate. I think Winston is right. You must have been completely baked for the last decade.

    As a young man my father traveled across Afghanistan without fear…

    Was that pre-Taliban (before 1992 or so)? After that he might have gotten caught in one of Mullah Omar’s massacres or Bin Laden’s “055 Brigade” that basically went around mass murdering civilians. Yeah, let’s all shed a tear for this guy.

    BTW, the 055 was an Al Qaeda trained force that was integrated into the Taliban military.

    But, no, the Taliban and Al Qaeda had *nothing * to do with each other, right? Right?

    Ask the young women of Afghanistan about what it was like traveling across Afghanistan under the Taliban. Oh, wait, they weren’t really allowed to travel, were they?

    I think I would be totally fine seeing dancing in the streets on the news of Hitlers death as this meant the defacto end of a conflict.

    Hmm. Is this a Godwin? Can I get a ruling?

  115. Quiet Desperation

    as Phil said I’m not keen on wishing anyone’s death

    I’m curious. What does a person have to do to make you think they should just be taken out? *Is* there anything? Go look up the 055 Brigade I mentioned above. Is there any threshold of death and horror than a man can cross that will finally make you say that the man no longer belongs amongst the living?

  116. Well said, Phil.

  117. Colin

    @ James:

    If a foreign soldior had just killed my wife and kids I would not expect them to come round to my house with bundles of cash. That is totally sick.

    So now your are judging another culture for being different from our own? Or do you just not care to understand pashtunwali

  118. Brian Too

    I note that winds of change are blowing in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Winds that Osama bin Laden, despite his stated intentions, seems to have had little to do with.

    Let’s hope that humanity learns something for a little while at least. I won’t ask for more than that, as every generation reinvents itself. We always find new ways to succeed and new ways to fail.

  119. Dave, England

    For those with “regret” over OBLs death, look at it this way :

    This individual was as wretched an example of humanity as could be found; he lived and dedicated himself entirely for and to the sole purpose of planning and promoting death and suffering for any and all of us.

    By his plans, the ending of your life or those of your loved ones, meant nothing to him except “success”, as literally thousands of families can testify.

    A great many plans, from the “imminent” to the “perhaps”, will now be stopped or prevented, both with OBL’s death, and the intelligence recovered on-site.

    He committed, funded and orchestrated heinous crimes without regret, restraint or consideration for the lives taken, and when the Law came to his door, as he surely knew one day they would (hence the compound), he had already chosen “suicide by cop”.

    OBLs funding was initially critical to AQ, so it’s doubtful he would have released the purse strings, so the on-site intel will likely lead to both his own yet unseized funds, other AQ revenue streams, and the manner by which cell funding is currently performed…and perhaps even to swathes of membership, both active and sleeper cells…indeed, just how much this puts AQ on the back-foot should not be underestimated…no cell truly knows what those above them have in notebooks or on hard-drives…they will have to sweat it out, or expose themselves outright.

    Whilst the scenes of “vigorous rejoicing in the streets” was perhaps at the excess end of the scale, and understandably uncomfortable for many of us to watch, it is to be remembered that for current generations, we have long been at war not with a nation to “boo” and “hiss” at, but with a concept, terrorism, and OBL has always been the face of terrorism’s representative Mr Bad Guy.
    To see him fall is therefore a quite natural relief, and if similarities with V-Day celebrations are cited in the media, I shall not be surprised.
    Aside from some clumsy (but still potentially deadly) reactionaries, maybe, a period of “quiet” from Al Qaeda and terrorism can certainly be anticipated…which is news indeed worth celebrating.

    No-one except his own similarly deluded and murderous followers will attribute “martyr” to this despicable man, and we should not give him or they the satisfaction of using that word when describing his death, as it bestows him with a degree of nobility that should remain the reserve of those who have sacrificed themselves for Peace and Life, not diluted to the benefit of those who bring terror, death and carnage to people’s lives.

    I therefore see no reason why we need to question any feelings within ourselves of “quiet satisfaction” at his passing, and certainly, this man did not deserve any loss of sleep as a result of wrestled consciences.

    Our Muslim friends, on hearing of OBL’s inevitable demise, have (collectively, calmly and merely) remarked “God Is Great”…and I think that nicely sums it up.
    Vengeance is, after all, for Gods to administer, not us.

    We should quietly close the book on OBL, permitting him no further voice…just as he silenced so many voices.

    I do have to wonder, though, if a certain resident of Tripoli still has clean underwear…I hope not.
    Oops !

  120. Jack C

    Wow. I’m going to be called a troll, but I do not understand this moral equivocation. Too many weary years of the Cold War made us forget that sometimes we made friends with bad dictators (e.g., the Shah) because his alternative was to ally with the Soviet Union. Remember the Soviet Union? A little Stalinist dictatorship that killed more people than Hitler? Khruschev meant it when he said “we will bury you.” So we can’t defend ourselves, we can’t consider ourselves the champions of liberty and equality, even though we lead the world in those values? Yes, we do, who else does? I’m glad Usama bin Laden is dead. I don’t feel like we deserved 9/11. UBL was a hateful monomaniac who wanted to lead a movement to kill you for your freedoms. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who tortured his own people by the thousands. When we took out Saddam, there was a lull, but guess what? The Arab world started to think, “hey, maybe we CAN get rid of these dictators.” No, that would require you to put a stop to your real hatred, of George W Bush. (I’ll bet you didn’t know that he was praised vigorously in Time magazine by Bob Geldof for his humanitarian work in Africa. No, that destroys your fantasy narrative…)

    Rock on, liberals! Barack Obama pulled this trigger. So you can criticize one of your own, that’s what you do best, anyway.

  121. Jack C, you think the message to the Arab world when you took out Saddam was hey you can do this yourselves? Oh dear.

    What it took was a catalyst. One man frustrated by corruption immolating himself in an Algerian street. That was the spark that lit the Arab world that 10 years of warfare could not do.

  122. QD
    Surprised Fox News hasn’t lead with “Obama fakes Bin Laden death to take heat off forged birth certificates”.

    I have no use for Fox News, but when you begin to believe your own stereotypes, you might want to step back and take a few deep breaths.

    It was a joke taking a swipe at the inevitable conspiracy theories and denials that, surprise surprise, have already popped up. Fox News is just a convenient whipping boy. Next time I’ll put in the :-)

  123. Gonçalo Aguiar

    lol Phill, do you actually believe he was killed??? I thought you were a skeptic…

  124. Gonçalo Aguiar

    So far the evidence suggests someone was killed in Abbottabad. Independent evidence.
    It was live twittered.
    Pakistani news reports show blood stained rooms and military crawling all over the compound.
    The area has been cordoned off.
    Wikileaks released something a week or so ago that suggested OBL may be in Abbottabad and may have been the instigation for the raid on Sunday.
    No one claims to know anybody who knows of his earlier demise.
    And…
    Obama himself hasn’t stepped forward to claim he is still alive.
    Bring on the DNA and photos.

  125. dimx

    Execution without a trial is “the American way” ?
    well now we are waiting to see the islamic way .

  126. QuietDesperation

    It was a joke taking a swipe at the inevitable conspiracy theories and denials that, surprise surprise, have already popped up. Fox News is just a convenient whipping boy.

    Actually, I meant to put one in myself. ;-)

    I note that winds of change are blowing in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Winds that Osama bin Laden, despite his stated intentions, seems to have had little to do with.

    Social networking. They younger generations there are being exposed to more than just the Koran and state run media, and they like what they see. Drop iPhones, not bombs. ;-) And, yes, for the geekier, we can drop some Androids, too. It’s all good.

    Once again we engineers are changing the world for the better. :-) Woot!

    other AQ revenue streams,

    That’s the part I feel we do not go after enough. A lot funding comes from successful people all over the world- people who you’d look at and just see another businessman. Then it’s revealed they send money to Hamas or some other pack of killers and you’re all like WTF? Him? Huh? Seems like we’ve never been good at that, even back in the IRA days when a lot of funds came from the US.

    And, yeah, by “go after” I mean Apache helicopters hovering outside 50th floor corporate corner offices.

    Didn’t Tom Clancy do that in one of his books? The one with a short skirmish with Japan? The US goes after the corporate/yakuza instigators right in their business offices in downtown Tokyo. Classic.

  127. Michael

    Where can you source that Clarence Darrow quote? It is ALL OVER THE PLACE right now, and everyone is citing Mark Twain.

    I tried to look and all I found was this gem: “When in doubt, attribute quotes to Mark Twain.” — Mark Twain

  128. kaos

    i almost left the death from the skies thumb in place when i posted this to fb. it just occured to me what a scary picture that may prove to paint. please forgive the lack of shift usage. mine doesn’t work…

    btw nice post, phil

  129. Yeebok Shu'in

    Phil it’s good to see your nicely written post.

    I’m not exactly overjoyed by it. I’m an Aussie and to be honest I am not sure it is a good thing – keep in mind I’m not trolling here, and I understand some of this may sound off to a US citizen. I disagreed with the war, I accept Osama was behind 9/11 but I haven’t personally seen anything proving it. and to be perfectly honest there should have been a Nuremberg style trial rather than a raid, some gunfire, a death and a body thrown overboard. I know it will give some people much needed closure, but it’s not as if the patriot act or being felt up at the airport are going to go away for US citizens, are they?.

    It’ll just be someone else that has the finger pointed at them. I guess what I am trying to say is it won’t outwardly change anything for anyone, those killed will still be gone, things will still be a mess.. but they’ll be relieved some guy they’ve never met is dead. It’s a hollow victory I guess.

  130. It was posted here earlier, but…

    “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” –Martin Luther King, Jr

  131. @Joann – MLK jr never said that. It’s a fake quote running ’round the net.

  132. I will note that in the wake of the news, the “America, F*** Yeah!” video on YouTube (the one using the song from _Team America, World Police_) had a noticeable upward spike in its hit count.

  133. Quiet Desperation

    Pithy quotes never built a barn.

    I totally just made that up on the spot. :-) Me = awesome!

  134. Osama bin Laden’s death is great news for the world, the USA and Anglosphere in particular. :-)

    It may be impossible for any man to be entirely 100% evil but OBL came about as close to being that as it is possible to get – so good riddance to him. The world is a better – perhaps not safer – but better place without that mass murdering pyschopathic source of evil in it.

    The American people’s celebrations of this news were entirley natural and human reactiosn and quite understandable. Quiet reflection is also a reasonable and justifiable resposne – people react in different, individual ways most of them legitimate.

    I think its a shame & a bad move that they buried bin Laden at sea though. Had I been running things his wishes and his religions customs would’ve been last on the list of priorities. I’d have taken his corpse back inside a pig carcass full of alcohol and publicly displayed it until the stink got unbearable then had it cremated with the ashes being put in a garbage bag full of “barker eggs”, bacon rinds and pork bones then disposed of a New York landfill. Good luck making that a shrine! :-P

    Yes, that would’ve been provocative and stirred the Muslims up plenty – but know what? I really don’t care what the Muslims think. I respect their culture as much as they do ours – which is not at all. Besides, its really not like they could possibly hate us any more than they already do.

    @ 119. Dave, England, #120. Jack C, #114. & #96 Quiet Desperation & #65. Joseph G : Well said – & seconded by me. :-)

    @86. bob : “I cried for Bin Laden. I am not sure why. I think I just felt that SOMEONE should, and nobody else was going to.”

    Wrong. Lots of people cried for bin Laden – the Jihadist terrorists of Al Quaida first and loudest of all. Kahild Sheik Mohammad would’ve weept withothers inGuantanamo bay, Ayman al-Zawahiri probably sobbed and trembled where-ever he’s hiding and there’d have been a day of mourning and gnashing of teeth in Hamas-ruled Gaza. Plus I think Fred Phelps & Jeremiah Wright may have shed a quiet tear or two. Feel happy to be in that company do you?

    Did you cry for the people bin Laden killed in all his terror attacks from the embassy bombings in Africa to 9-11 and beyond too?

    The only tears that should rightfully have been shed for this mass -murderer are those of joy. I’m sure his wives (plural) sobbed outwardly but quite possibly felt happiness deep in their own secret hearts to be free of him. Many of Osma bin Laden’s own family rejected him and adopted Western values.

  135. Gunnar

    I am not a bit sorry that OBL is dead. He epitomized Pasqual’s quote: “Men never do evil as completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”

    I get the distinct impression, though, that a very substantial proportion of Muslims (perhaps even a majority of them) are also glad that this monster is dead.

    I can’t help wondering how the terrorists reconcile the death of so many of Al Qaeda’s top leadership, and the detection and foiling of so many of their attempts to pull off terrorist acts, with their belief that Allah is on their side. Surely some of them must be wondering, if they fail as often as they do, if maybe they are mistaken about Allah really condoning their actions. If Allah is omnipotent, how can they fail as often as they do if Allah approves of their efforts?

    @Greg Fish: “They don’t care about civilian casualties, believing them to be either just because the bystanders “were enemy sympathizers or worked with the enemy,” or waiving them away.”

    I think it is even worse than that. I’m sure they figure that even if the civilian bystanders who were casualties were totally “innocent” from the terrorists’ perspective, it doesn’t matter because, Allah will sort the innocent out and send them to a martyr’s reward in Paradise where they would be better off and happier than they could have been in life.

  136. #26 Stephen Mackenzie:
    No, the US does not “assassinate its political opponents”. It has assassinated a revolting piece of criminal scum, who was behind the mass murder of thousands of innocent people.

    #86 Bob:
    You cried for him???? Are you serious? Do you really think any of us should have any sympathy for that piece of sub-human slime? He ordered the indiscriminate slaughter of thousands, and brainwashed others into doing his dirty work for him.

    As for him becoming a martyr; as I understand it, when the end came, he couldn’t even die like a man. He died as the coward he always was, cowering in a corner and callously using his own wife as a human shield! Really brave, huh?
    All you bleeding heart types, please tell me one single reason why this odious apology for a human being should have been allowed to live.

  137. Neil, don’t believe all the reports yet. Wait till the dust has settled. No wifely human shields apparently. Not armed either although the latest report has him going for a weapon.

    Having said that I have no problem with him being taken out this way. However, bizarrely for some I guess, if he’d been captured I’d hope he wouldn’t get the death penalty. Your country does tend to execute with depressing regularity and that is state sponsored murder.

  138. Silent Bob

    @ 96 Quiet Desperation

    The type of morally equivalent thinking you exhibit has enabled more horrors throughout history than those who are able to run a simple moral sort algorithm.

    Yeah, right on! God save us from morally equivalent thinking! If only Hitler* & Stalin & Pol Pot & the Inquisition & the Crusaders & Joseph McCarthy & Osama Bin Laden… hadn’t indulged in so much namby-pamby morally equivalent thinking – if only they’d been a little more sure of their own self-righteousness – everything would have been fine. (/sarcasm)

    Srsly. WTF are you talking about??

    The greatest horrors in history aren’t due to “morally equivalent thinking” – they’re due to the EXACT OPPOSITE.

    (* Please spare me bleating about Godwin)

  139. #138 Shane: So who cares if he wasn’t armed? Neither were the 3000 innocent people who were murdered by his lackeys!
    And FYI, my country doesn’t execute anyone! I’m not American: I’m British. My country hasn’t had the death penalty since 1965 – but I for one am 100% in favour of reinstating it.

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