Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Achieving the impossible

Once you get Alex Jones on-side, you are doomed. He is the conspiracy theorists' conspiracy theorist, which means that when he covers a subject, the line he takes can be dismissed by all "sensible" people as the ravings of a loon. However, just because Jones says it does not automatically make it wrong, any more than a US president saying it makes it right.

Oddly enough, I had not seen this video (above) until long after I'd written my own piece. Thus, quite separately and independently, we cover the same ground. But, while Jones is unreserved about calling the current death scene a "hoax", I am not prepared to go that far.

However, he and I share the same reservations about this rather strange decision to dispose of the body at sea. The "shrine" argument does not really hold together and Mr Obama would have done far better to have submitted the body to independent experts, for a full autopsy – not least to rule out any suggestion that the body had been preserved, and brought out for this current exercise.

The contrast with this and previous practice remains extreme. For instance, when al-Qaida's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in a US airstrike in June 2006, the US military performed an autopsy, in part to dispel allegations in the immediate aftermath of the airstrike that the terrorist leader had been beaten or shot by US soldiers while in American custody.

There was no rush to get the body buried, and nor was there with Saddam Hussein's sons. But here, there is not even the slightest concession to the need for evidence gathering. The problem we thus have is that Obama's actions (or inaction) invite suspicion. And consider this. If someone behaves in a suspicious manner, are those who become suspicious then wrong?

That said, I am not going down the conspiracy route. But, as I have also remarked on the forum, unlike in previous terrorist slayings, Obama has made no attempt whatsoever to provide evidence that events are as he claims. He is relying entirely on the belief system. Even The Guardian is reporting the disquiet, telling us that: "Obama administration's insistence that DNA tests prove body is 'virtually 100% match' fails to silence calls for graphic evidence".

Yet we are now hearing that the White House is having "reservations" about releasing what it says is a "gruesome" photograph of a (sic) dead Osama bin Laden. It could be "inflammatory", officials are suggesting. Jay Carney, a White House press officer, tells us: "We will continue to review that and make decisions about the appropriateness of releasing that information ... There are sensitivities here concerning the appropriateness of releasing photos".

However, he appears to be referring to images from the "helmet cams" worn by the Navy Seals who stormed what is said to be bin Laden's compound. But these were not the only images. The body was cleaned up and flown to the Carl Vinson aircraft carrier for committal to the deep. Photographs were taken of the body during that period. A "sanitised" picture should be available.

At least one US representative is unequivocal on this issue. "The photos have to be released", says Rep. Joe Heck, a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence: "Most definitely - to make sure we get rid of any conspiracy theorists that think that we didn't take care of bin Laden".

Bizarrely, he, this writer and the Taliban are sharing the same territory. Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, in a statement emailed to journalists, is also demanding sight of the photographs. "This news is only coming from one side, from Obama's office", he writes, "and America has not shown any evidence or proof to support this claim".

This does not stop a "Daily Mail Reporter" writing under the title: "After the hurried burial, now for the conspiracy theories". He (or she) writes:
Knowing there would be disbelievers, the US says it used convincing means to confirm Osama bin Laden's identity during and after the firefight that killed him. But the mystique that surrounded the terrorist chieftain in life is persisting in death. Was it really him? How do we know? Where are the pictures?
One is troubled by this. The reporter may be right about the US saying that it used convincing means to confirm Bin Laden's identity. But surely reporter cannot be so stupid as not to realise that the US has not provided any evidence to the outside world, and has shut down any opportunity to acquire independent evidence, with the hasty burial at sea.

Given that in the past the US has provided evidence, and given that there are special circumstances here – with claims that Bin Laden had been killed some time earlier and kept "on ice" – one might have thought that the US government would pre-empt the naysayers, and make the necessary evidence available.

Instead, it seems almost if the Obama administration is going out of its way to create doubt, to invite suspicion, even mocking those who want evidence. A White House spokesman told reporters to "be patient, given how much information has already been released". He must know full well that the key information, the only information that really matters, has not been released.

From this side of the fence, however, there is no "conspiracy theory". Simply, one observes that the US president has made claims about the death of Osama Bin Laden and, two days after the event, has still not furnished evidence to support his claims. That is fact.

I am beginning to get the overpowering impression that Barack Hussein Obama is trying to take us for fools. If he continues down this path, he will achieve something many people would have thought impossible – turning Alex Jones into a credible reporter.