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In the latest expression of Republican frustration with conservative GOP colleagues, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) ...
Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, ponders Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court case that decided the 2000 presidential election.
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It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person. [...] the country would be safer by only ‘a small percentage’ and would see ‘a very insignificant increase in safety’ if al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught because another terrorist would rise to power.
Of course I would have ordered the taking out of Osama bin Laden. Of course. This is a person who had done terrible harm to America and who represented a continuing threat to civilized people throughout the world. If I had been president of the United States, I would have made the same decision the president made, which was to remove him.
IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually ]guaranteed.
Romney chief strategist, Eric Fehrnstrom, April 2012:
His [Romney's] position on the bailout was exactly what President Obama followed. He said, ‘If you want to save the auto industry, just don’t write them a check. That will seal their doom. What they need to do is go through a managed bankruptcy process.’
Consider that the crown jewel. The only economic success that President Obama has had is because he followed Mitt Romney’s advice.
Mitt Romney – a living, breathing cartoon if ever there was one.
I thought I had pretty much made up my mind on bin Laden being taken out in the way which he was. An evildoer and the poster boy for terrorism had been killed by American SEALs in a clean and efficient operation in which none of the good guys were harmed. How perfect is that?
I think there is little doubt that the order was given to take out bin Laden on the spot as opposed to capturing him alive. There is no compelling evidence that the powers that be wanted a prolonged trial, one which would have given the al Qaeda leader a platform from which to spout his twisted and demonic justification for the killing of thousands of innocent people. I agreed with that decision to take him out and be done with it. Best to get rid of the vermin on the spot, I thought, than give them a second longer of precious life they did not deserve.
And then I received an email from a regular contributor to these pages, Tommy, who directed me to a post by Michael Moore over at HuffPo – Some Final Thoughts on the Death of Osama bin Laden – and it got me to rethink my position. I was aware of Moore’s position that bin Laden was executed. He pleaded for the President to come clean and admit as much. I simply dismissed Moore’s take as a well-intentioned example of liberal extremism – sweet but not practical in a real world setting. And then I read this from Moore:
In a perfect world [...], I would like the evildoers to be forced to stand trial in front of that world. I know a lot of people see no need for a trial for these bad guys (just hang ‘em from the nearest tree!), and think trials are for sissies. “They’re guilty, off with their heads!” Well, you see, that is the exact description of the Taliban/al Qaeda/Nazi justice system. I don’t like their system. I like ours. And I don’t want to be like them. In fact, the reason I like a good trial is that I like to show these bastards this is how it’s done in a free country that believes in civilized justice. It’s good for the rest of the world to see that, too. Sets a good example.
The other thing a trial does is, it establishes a very public and permanent historic record of the crimes against humanity. This is why we put the Nazis on trial in Nuremberg. We didn’t do it for them. We did it for ourselves and for our grandchildren so that they would never forget these horrors and how they were committed. And we did it for the German people so they could see the evidence of what their elected leaders had done. Very helpful. Very necessary. Very powerful.
And for those who wanted blood back then – well, the majority of the Nazis all hanged in the end. So, it doesn’t mean the bad guys get away – they still swing from the highest tree.
Can anyone see the flaw in Moore’s logic? I can’t. Yes there is great satisfaction in knowing that justice was served and bin Laden is dead. And it was done, as Bill Maher described it, in Moe Greene fashion – a bullet in the eye. But how does one intelligently counter Moore’s argument about civilized justice and a public and permanent record that a trial would have given? I’d like to hear one.
Revenge is a dangerous game. It suspends reason for the instant gratification it affords us. I recall watching the Charles Bronson Death Wish vigilante movies and feeling somewhat good at watching the bad guys being taken out in the fashion that they were. A thorough beating and assassination, sans trial, of the murderous scum took away any possibility that they’d find a legal loophole they could use to prevent justice being served. Again, instant gratification, vigilante style, took away years of waiting and trials and lawyers doing their thing. A bullet to the head, instant closure and everyone could move on with their lives. Wonderful…except that in the end what did it all say about ourselves that we would adopt the tactics of the very people we were out to avenge?
I get it and I’m not about to condemn President Obama and the people who made that difficult decision to execute the terrorist leader. Osama bin Laden is dead and anyway you choose to view it, that’s a positive. Moore’s point is that within the bigger framework of justice and the American way, there is a strong argument to be made that the same ending would have been achieved by taking him alive and subjecting him to an open trial for the entire world to see. Yes it would have dragged on for years and bin Laden would have had ample opportunity to defend his actions. But, so what? There is a price to pay for not rendering justice (yes, in the twisted minds of terrorists, killing innocent people is their version of justice) in the way that the Taliban, Nazis and al Qaeda do. As Moore puts it:
Assuming it was possible to take him alive, I think his victims, the future, and the restoration of the American Way deserved better. That’s all I’m saying.
“Apparently, Osama bin Laden was killed with money and phone numbers sewn into his clothing. So we got him right before he left for summer camp.” –Jay Leno
“Bin Laden was buried at sea. Or as Dick Cheney calls it, ‘the ultimate waterboarding.’” –Jay Leno
“Some top Republicans are giving most of the credit for killing bin Laden to former President George W. Bush. It’s kind of like when someone opens a pickle jar and you say, ‘Well, I loosened it.’” –Jimmy Kimmel
“Last night the Dalai Lama implied that the killing of Osama bin Laden was justified. I think his exact quote was, ‘I love all living things, but that guy was a dick.’” –Conan O’Brien
“President Obama said he will not release the photo of Osama bin Laden’s dead body. Well, there goes my Christmas card idea.” –Jimmy Fallon
“Obama’s even getting a little cocky. Today he held a press conference and said, ‘Yeah, I was born in Kenya. What you gonna do about it?’” –Jay Leno
“I think the next election just got a lot easier for President Obama ’cause his response to every question during the debates will be: ‘Wait, I forget…Did you kill Osama Bin Laden? Or did I kill Osama Bin Laden. Oh no, it was me, wasn’t it?’” –Craig Ferguson
“The Republicans are so happy about bin Laden they’ve granted President Obama full citizenship.” –David Letterman
“Finding bin Laden was like finding a needle in a country that swore it didn’t have needles.” –Stephen Colbert
‘He was living a half a mile from Pakistan’s version of West Point in a town surrounded by retired ex-military officers. Let me put it in New York City terms. Bin Laden was on 21st and Seventh Avenue; they were on 21st and Ninth Avenue. If the Pakistani military academy were Domino’s, they would have been delivered to bin Laden on foot.’ –Jon Stewart
“President Obama gave the order for Navy SEALs to kill bin Laden. When President Bush heard about it, he was really upset, saying, ‘I could have used seals?’” –Conan O’Brien
“By the way, ‘buried at sea’ means ‘dumped in the ocean.’ That’s what they did with him. They dumped him in the ocean. Now I won’t feel so guilty about peeing in the water anymore when I go to the beach.” –Jimmy Kimmel
“And so, Osama Bin Laden got his first bath in almost ten years. This could the best shark week ever.” –Jimmy Kimmel
“Osama bin Laden’s death has been in the news all day. Leftish stations are going, ‘President Obama saves the world.’ Stations on the right are going, ‘Obama kills fellow Muslim.’” –Craig Ferguson
“I would like us to kill bin Laden every Sunday night. It makes for a much brighter start to the week.” –Jimmy Kimmel
“Bin Laden was living in a house with no Internet access, which explains why there were all those bin Laden sightings at the Islamabad Kinko’s.” –Conan O’Brien
“I suppose I should be expressing some ambivalence about the targeted killing of another human being. And yet — uhhhh, no!” –Jon Stewart
“I’m as giddy as a schoolgirl who just shot bin Laden in the eye. Suck my giant American balls, Al Qaeda. Hey Osama, no 3D movies for you in hell. Which I’m pretty sure would be The Last Airbender. … I am just so happy. And I hope I am never again this happy over someone’s death.”–Stephen Colbert
“The CIA says bin Laden’s last words were, ‘Are you guys here about the dishwasher?’” –Jimmy Kimmel
For every idiot still clinging on to the memory of George W. Bush and whatever role they imagine he had in the death of Osama bin Laden, Andrew Sullivan has a message for you.
What’s staggering to me is how the right insisted, immediately after Obama’s inauguration, that all responsibility in the war on terror was now his, just as responsibility for the debt was now his, and the near-depression was now his. Any errors, even minor ones, were plastered on his face.
But more than two years later, the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden is primarily George W. Bush’s doing.
Unfuckingbelievable. Except, of course, it isn’t.
And leave it to another Brit to get it just right. Matthew Norman of The Independent:
But Obama did more than quell the screechings of the wingnuts, chat-show rabble-rousers, the Birthers and those we should term the Placentas (the After-Birthers who have now progressed to post-certificate conspiracy theories to question his legitimacy). He reminded the world why it fell in love with him in the first place.
People have criticised him for being “professorial” as well as arrogant. They will do so no longer. He pondered for months, studied the research, weighed up the evidence, and reached the right conclusion. This is one cool, tough prof, and the lesson he has taught by example won’t quickly be unlearnt. [...]
If that sounds childishly simple, it defeated the simpleton Bush and his brutish cabal as they confused two-bit fake patriotism with American self-interest, and indiscriminate crusader cruelty with military wisdom. Let no one hear attempts to share Obama’s credit with Dubya without revulsion. He failed pitifully in this, as in almost every thing else, and even if waterboarding a key al-Qa’ida operative helped to identify the courier, it cannot begin to justify holding boys of 14 and senile 89-year-olds at Guantanamo Bay. Guantanamo remains open. Obama hasn’t honoured on every promise, nor will. He is not the Messiah, although if the Kool Aid truck has redelivered at last, make mine an octuple. For tempering vengeance with mercy, by refusing to reckon countless civilian lives a price worth paying to safeguard himself, he deserves to sleep easy in his bed, and leave all the sweaty 3am angst to Donald Trump and the other malevolent midgets who will never trouble him again.