The Murder of Osama bin Laden
For those who do not favor watching the dead speak, what she said in a matter-of-fact way is that Osama bin Laden is dead, "murdered" (to use her word for the happy event) by Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh.
Although any self-respecting conspiracy theorist worth his salt should jump at a revelation such as this, it is most likely that Ms. Bhutto simply misspoke when she said that Omar Sheikh "murdered Osama bin Laden." More than likely, she meant that Omar Sheikh murdered Daniel Pearle, a crime for which he was convicted and sentenced to hang, although, as it turned out, he probably wasn't the man who actually slit Pearle's throat.
Conceding some hope to conspiracy-oriented folks, it is not entirely impossible that Omar Sheikh really did kill the almost pathetic Osama bin Laden, the term "almost" being the operative qualifier for "pathetic" only because our own President Bush elevated the previously worthless bin Laden to the status of leader of a non-existent nation-state worthy of being engaged in global combat by the last superpower on Earth.
It is true that the life and times of Omar Saeed Sheikh are, to say the least, interesting: he might have worked for British intelligence in the 1990s, as Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has claimed, and he might even have worked for Pakistan's very own Inter-Services Intelligence, a rather inconvenient complication when the Pakistani judiciary has deemed that the young fellow is to swing from the gallows. But even if he did play junior spook at one time or another in his life, "working for" spies is a terribly murky item on a terrorist's vita: many slithering sorts barely qualifying as humans serve as "assets" for one or more spy agencies (Judith Miller and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby come to mind), and it would be most surprising if Omar were the least reputable of those who have provided information to MI6 when such assistance was beneficial to both Her Majesty's secret service and the wannabe terrorist who, in Omar Sheikh's case, was just one of countless butchers in a part of the world where lawlessness is somewhat like wardrobe accessorization.
This, by the way, should be taken as a point of understanding for anyone touting the achievements of the Bush Administration in rounding up hundreds and hundreds of scrawny, brown-skinned men for permanent confinement and torture: going to South Asia to corral very mean, really nasty bad people is like going to Idaho for a bag of potatoes. You'll find them, and you will do so in embarrassing abundance. You'll be even more prolific in your claims of capture if you declare that all the dirt clumps around the potatoes are, themselves, potatoes, too. Inventing a blanket term like "al-Qa'ida" (or "al Qaeda," or whatever) to encompass every dirt bag associated with some other dirt bag connected to some total dirt bag that had something to do with the attacks of September 11, 2001, does not mean that all those dirt bags are worth even so much as the cost of the dental hygiene regimen that would make them stop looking so darned creepy. For the overwhelming majority of those idiots on which the United States has expended huge money and its respectability, the value comes in the fact that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney haul truckloads of dirt bags to the mainstream media, which immediately and compliantly declare, "Praise the Lord, there ain't gonna be no potato famine!"
Did Benazir Bhutto misspeak about Osama bin Laden? Probably, although some might consider it a little strange that Sir David, her interviewer, just sat there not having a myocardial infarction when she dropped that bombshell, but that certainly doesn't mean he already knew about the heretofore unmentioned murder of the putative mastermind of 9/11. All it means is that Sir David is British.
A more important question is this: Does it matter whether Osama bin Laden is dead or alive?
The answer to that is obvious. Of course it doesn't matter. Our murderously efficient, rag-tag, thuggish allies of the 1980swho helped us make the Soviets miserable during their occupation of Afghanistantransformed in the 1990s into decommissioned, armed "companies" like those that roamed the countryside in the Middle Ages after their service to kings was no longer needed. The modern day, post-useful mercenaries kept their wretched Misery Tour going only as a regional gig in the back alley club bars of awful places no self-respecting talent scout would venture. It was up to some of the more enterprising of the mercenaries-without-a-cause to figure out that marketing is everything, and the best advertising is on a billboard provided by the global presence of a superpower.
Although a few rounds of blowing up some U.S. military assets and embassies overseas was nice, breaking into the big league required, first, an inattentive defense of the American homeland and, second, a President who would help with the post-advertising name-recognition blitz.
Sadly for the Osama bin Ladens of the world, the Clinton Administration, by thwarting the Millennium Plot, denied them the big-screen show here in the United States. Gladly for those same Osama bin Ladens, Mr. Bush was considerably more willing to do a long-term co-branding deal.
The United States of America versus al Qaeda. All terror, all the time, forever and ever. Drop what you're doing, put down that Bill of Rights, another episode is coming right up after a brief break for less important news about everything else.
Alive or dead, who really needs Osama bin Laden at this point in the game? For that matter, who needs al Qaeda? Benazir Bhutto certainly didn't. The tapes clearly show that she was dropped by a lone gunman.
That's how it usually works, of course.
The Dark Wraith has spoken.
The Lioness Fallen
U.S. President George W. Bush, whose Administration has coddled the military junta while trying to assist in building a conciliatory relationship between the pro-democracy Bhutto and the authoritarian Musharraf, said of the assassination, "The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan's democracy." For his part, strongman Musharraf took the occasion to declare, "This is the work of those terrorists with whom we are engaged in war," taking advantage of the tragedy to wave the bloody flag of Islamic fundamentalism at internal forces and to remind the Bush Administration of his alliance with the United States against terrorism, a platform of fear-mongering and repression that has served both Musharraf and Bush during their respective and otherwise troubled tenures as leaders.
The White House had gambled on some means by which Bhutto could once again become prime minister of Pakistan while Musharraf retained the office of the presidency, even though Bhutto was widely believed to have been committed, with our without the help of a former dictator of her country, to assisting the United States in continuing its war on terrorism in western Asia and the Indian sub-continent. The Administration's continuing loyalty to Musharraf further reinforced long-standing questions about the extent to which the United States wishes to deal effectively with global threats to peace and stability versus merely using U.S. military power and financial resources to construct solidly loyal spheres of political influence and economic control.
In 2003, the United States attacked Iraq despite the fact that it was Pakistan, through the long-term, ongoing efforts of nuclear scientist and entrepreneur Dr. A.Q. Khan, which was the principal wellspring from which not only the technology of nuclear weapons was spreading, but the actual parts to build the bombs, themselves, was flowing to countries like North Korea, Iran, and Libya; but instead of crushing the operation, arresting the participants, and punishing Pakistan and its leaders for their support of this global bazaar of weapons of mass destruction, the Bush Administration, through its very own top-level officials, outed a CIA non-official cover spy, Valerie Plame, and thereby destroyed her network that was tasked to tracking these very WMD proliferators. Moreover, the Bush Administration, which now expresses outrage at the assassination of the best hope for Pakistan to emerge from years of authoritarian rule, has poured billions of dollars of aid at the corruption-riddled Pakistani leaders, even as the junta-led Pakistani armed forces have been entirely ineffective in preventing the country's western frontier from falling solidly into the hands of Taliban forces and their sympathizers, who have pumped combatants, war materiel, and ideological strength into the debilitating war of attrition being waged against U.S. and other NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Yet, despite the fact that terrorist organizations are alive and well in Pakistan, feeding allied groups and assorted malcontents that foment trouble and kill locals and American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, George W. Bush is able to keep a straight face and express outrage at one more consequence of a failed war on terrorism, which commenced with tens of billions of dollars in property damage to the largest city in the continental United States and thousands of lives lost, and now proceeds across the Middle East and into Asia Minor, western Asia and the Indian sub-continent, billowing forth with American military casualties by the thousands, deaths and injuries to indigenous peoples of the region in the hundreds of thousands, the utter collapse of moral and financial leadership by the U.S., and political instability that ripples across vast swaths of the world.
Today, that death-swollen legacy of disastrously incompetent policies made a brief stop in Pakistan for the assassination of a once and future leader, a champion who died a martyred heroine even as our own President will live on as a catastrophic failure.
The Dark Wraith has spoken.