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The Death of Bin Laden, Revisited


The books and the films are coming out. The subject is a sure winner. The American tracking down and execution of Osama bin Laden in May of 2011. Has there ever been a better example of Good triumphing over Evil? Of Yankee courage and cleverness? “The bin Laden operation was a landmark achievement by our country, by our military, by our Intelligence Community, and by our Agency,” said the acting Director of the CIA, Michael Morell.

But even if everything the government has told us about the operation is true … How important was it really? What did it change in Washington’s glorious War on Terror? American taxpayers are not spending a penny less on the bloody spectacle. American soldiers still die in Afghanistan as before. American drones still bring extreme anxiety, death and destruction to children and parents in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. Guantánamo still holds numerous damned souls who wonder why they are there as they bang their head against a brick wall.

Anti-American terrorists are still being regularly created as a result of US anti-terrorist operations. (Even the way bin Laden was “buried” increased the hatred.) It’s a mass-production terrorist assembly line working three shifts even if the bin Laden model has been discontinued. If only one in 10,000 of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims is moved to want to attack the US because of Washington’s repeated outrages against Muslims, the United States will have created a pool of 160,000 Muslims devoted to seeking revenge against Americans.

“Remember when the United States had a drug problem and then we declared a War on Drugs, and now you can’t buy drugs anymore? The War on Terrorism will be just like that,” declared author David Rees in 2008.

The fear mongering remains as is; airport security has not gotten any less stupid, embarrassing, or destructive of civil liberties than before, only worse. “Will that be frisked or naked pictures with your airline ticket, sir?” The No-Fly list grows bigger with each passing day, listing people who are too guilty to fly, but too innocent to charge with anything.

Wherever you go — “If you see something, say something!”

People are entrapped as much as ever, charged with some form of terrorism (or “terrorism”), staged and financed by government agents, put away for terribly long periods. The State Department puts a country on its terrorist list, then the FBI persecutes Americans for helping someone in that country, perhaps no more than medical aid.

And surveillance of Americans … the science fiction methods are expanded without end … no escape from Fortress America. Protestors in America are monitored and harassed and recorded as much as before; witness the recent revelations concerning the FBI/Homeland Security/et al and the Occupy Movement. The Patriot Act is still the law of the land, now joined by the National Defense Authorization Act which makes it easier than ever to hold people in indefinite detention, for any reason, or no reason, including American citizens. And now we have the president’s clandestine “kill list”.

Could it be any worse if bin Laden were still alive?

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War IIRogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir. He can be reached at:

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