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Monday, May 2, 2011

“Bin Laden-ism must die” — Nairn

Assassination continues perversion of justice — Greenberg
Transcribing, editing Carolyn Bennett

Responding to the U.S. Government’s post-royal-wedding headline that U.S. forces under orders from the U.S. President had assassinated Osama bin Laden, Journalist Allan Nairn spoke today with Democracy Now. This is a bit of reflective sanity Nairn brought to the news from Washington.

Got what he deserved’

“I think many people have the feeling, ‘[bin Laden] got what he deserved,’” Nairn began. “This man who had massacred civilians ‘got what he deserved.’

“There is a lot of truth to that. But if we recognize that someone who is willing to kill civilians en mass, someone who is willing to send young people out with weapons and bombs to … ‘see to it that a family doesn’t have a loved one sitting at a dinner table any more, see to it that a child and a parent never meet again’—  If we say someone like that deserves to die, then we have to follow through on that idea and we have to recognize, if these things are really so enormous, we have to stop them.

“Killing bin Laden does not stop them… The world is still governed by bin Ladens

“People cheer because they thought they saw justice but this was not justice delivered by, a kind of rough justice delivered by, victims.

This was one killer killing another. A big killer, the United States government, killing another, something who is actually a smaller one, bin Laden.”

Bin Laden doctrine

“[T]he bin Laden doctrine that to take out the CIA office at the World Trade Center is okay, it’s okay to blow up the whole World Trade Center to teach American a lessons, it’s okay to slaughter thousands of Americans  — that doctrine lives on in the American White House, in the American Pentagon.

“Every day, in seats of authority all over the world, every day the U.S. directly with its own forces or indirectly through its proxy forces, its clients, is killing, at a minimum, dozens of people.

“Just since Obama came in, in the one limited area or drone strikes in Pakistan, something like nineteen hundred [1,900 people] have been killed just under Obama.

“This started decades before 9/11 [September 11, 2001]. We have to stop these people, these powerful people like Obama, like Bush, like those who run the Pentagon, who think it’s okay to take civilian life.

“And it doesn’t seem they can be stopped by normal routine politics because under the American system, as in most other systems, people don’t even know this is happening. People know the face of bin Laden, they know the evil deeds that he has done. They see that he’s dead and they say, ‘oh great, we killed bin Laden’; but they don’t see the other twenty, thirty, fifty, a hundred people the U.S. killed that day — many of them children, many of them civilians. If they did, they probably wouldn’t be out in the street cheering about those deaths.  

“We’ve got to stop this practice and Americans aren’t doing it. Egyptians, Tunisians are doing their part; they’ve risen up against the oppression they face. I think we need an American uprising if we are to put a stop to this kind of killing of innocent people.”

Letter writing won’t do it

“We need an American Romero, someone like archbishop Romero of El Salvador who, in the face of massacres, daily massacres (in the end more than 70,000 Salvadorans), stood up and said to the army of his country, ‘stop the repression, defy your orders to kill — because there is a higher principle’.

“[In his capacity of archbishop in 1980], Romero [Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero] wrote to [U.S. President] Jimmy Carter asking him to stop supporting the Salvadoran military that was slaughtering his people. … He probably really believed Carter would respond. Carter didn’t respond and kept sending the aid and within weeks Romero himself was assassinated by death squads that had originated from U.S. backing. Writing letters didn’t work in that case and it isn’t working here.“

Bin Laden-ism must die

“We’ve got to put a stop to this. Bin Laden is dead. Bin Laden-ism should die also.

Or leaders will continue to pervert justice

Another view continues the theme of an America in which principles have crumbled and justice is perverted. In today’s Guardian (UK), Karen Greenberg writes, “At the heart of the rhetoric justifying and explaining our policies has been the notion of justice.

“In the decade since 9/11, the word has been used to mean many things including revenge, retaliation, punishment, and even healing. It was used by President [George W] Bush when he told the nation and the world, time and time again, that our purpose in waging war in Afghanistan and Iraq and … was to bring the enemy to justice. In Sunday night’s statement, President [Barack] Obama labeled the killing of bin Laden as a moment of justice as healing.

“What we need to remember, though, is that the effect of bin Laden’s reign of terror on the notion of justice was to pervert it. Under the rubric of fighting terror, the United States rolled back its hallowed notions of civil liberties, its embrace of modernity, and even its reliance on its own courts. We delved into medieval-style torture, we reneged on our courts as a viable option for trying terrorists, and we blindly took aim at a religion, rather than disaffected hijackers.

“It is not surprising … that bin Laden was killed in a gunfight [on orders] to kill not capture, even in a face-to-face encounter, which this apparently was.

“We thus forfeited the right to parade his [bin Laden’s] excesses to the world at large – including to the thousands of Muslims whose family members [were] killed by al-Qaida attacks. We ran, knowingly, from the chance to hold [bin Laden] in custody and to punish him by due process, make him account to the world for what he has done.”

Sources and notes

“‘One Killer Killing Another’: Journalist and Activist Allan Nairn on Obama’s Targeted Killing of Bin Laden— ‘Bin Laden is dead, but the world is still governed by bin Ladens. People cheer because they thought they saw justice, but this was not justice delivered by victims. This was one killer killing another,’ says Allan Nairn. ‘... I think we need an American uprising, if we are to put a stop to this kind of killing of innocent people. We need an American Romero, someone like Archbishop Romero in El Salvador,’” May 2, 2011, http://www.democracynow.org/2011/5/2/one_killer_killing_another_journalist_and

Allan Nairn

Allan Nairn (b. 1956, Mobile, Alabama) is an award-winning U.S. investigative journalist who became well-known when he was imprisoned by the Indonesian military while reporting in East Timor. His writings have focused on U.S. foreign policy in such countries as Haiti, Guatemala, Indonesia, and East Timor.

Nairn visited Guatemala in 1980 in the middle of a campaign of assassination against student leaders, amidst a chaotic counterinsurgency campaign against Marxist guerrillas active in both urban and rural areas. In Guatemala, he interviewed U.S. corporate executives who had endorsed the death squads. He decided to investigate further death squad activities in that country and in El Salvador, also in the throes of civil war. In a 1994 article, Nairn revealed the U.S. government’s role in establishing and funding the Haitian paramilitary death squad, FRAPH (the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti).

Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero

A strong critic of El Salvador’s military establishment, Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, was assassinated while offering mass in March 1980. At the end of that year, three American nuns were raped and murdered, a Roman Catholic lay worker was also murdered. In 1989, the El Salvadoran military killed six Jesuit priests. [Britannica note]

“How Osama bin Laden perverted U.S. justice Osama bin Laden’s death is a moment to reflect on the damage he caused us to inflict on American justice in the ‘war on terror’ (Karen Greenberg,  guardian.co.uk, May 2, 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/may/02/osama-bin-laden-justice

Karen J. Greenberg

Karen J. Greenberg is executive director of the Center on Law and Security. She is author of The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days; co-editor with Joshua L. Dratel of The Enemy Combatant Papers: American Justice, the Courts, and the War on Terror; and The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib; and editor of the books The Torture Debate in America; and Al Qaeda Now

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden (b. 1957, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) “was one of more than 50 children of one of Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest families. He attended King Abdul Aziz University, where he received a degree in civil engineering.

“Shortly after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, bin Laden, like thousands of other Muslims from throughout the world, joined the Afghan resistance, viewing it as his Muslim duty to repel the occupation.

“After the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, bin Laden returned home as a hero, but he was quickly disappointed with what he perceived as the corruption of the Saudi government and of his own family.

“His objection to the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War led to a growing rift with his country’s leaders.

“By 1993 he had purportedly formed a terrorist network known as al-Qaeda (Arabic: “the Base”), which consisted largely of militant Muslims bin Laden had met in Afghanistan. The group funded and organized several attacks worldwide, including detonating truck bombs against American targets in Saudi Arabia (1996), killing tourists in Egypt (1997), and simultaneously bombing the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (1998), which altogether killed nearly 300 people.

“In 1994 the Saudi government confiscated his passport after accusing him of subversion, and he fled to The Sudan, where he organized terrorist training camps and from where he was eventually expelled in 1996. He later returned to Afghanistan, where he received protection from its ruling Taliban militia.

In 1996–98, bin Laden, a self-styled scholar, issued a series of fatwās (Arabic: ‘religious opinions’) declaring a holy war against the United States, which he accused, among other things, of looting the natural resources of the Muslim world and aiding and abetting the enemies of Islam.

“Bin Laden’s apparent goal was to draw the United States into a large-scale war in the Muslim world that would overthrow moderate Muslim governments and reestablish the Caliphate (i.e., a single Islamic state). To this end, al-Qaeda, aided by bin Laden’s considerable wealth, trained and equipped terrorists. It had thousands of followers worldwide.”  [Bin Laden, Osama.  (2008). Encyclopædia Britannica. Deluxe Edition.  Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica]


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