Questions about the Obama Osama Drama

Lahore, Pakistan — I am incredulous!

I’ll say one thing: this US Special Forces operation deserves a standing ovation for immaculate execution. Except that some details do get confusing.  

Maybe I’m just slow, but truly, viewing the still pictures of the compound where Osama was shot to death that are being aired on local TV here, I am left spell-bound by many odd contradictions.

First, the wall that encircled the compound, which was blasted through to allow entry to the US attackers, showed a humble charpoy next to a water geyser and a few odd household items stacked right next to the opening. Not a hair out of place, so to speak. It was all a little too orderly for my lawyerly taste. Wouldn’t something have been damaged or knocked over at least?

Second, the room where the crucial “fire fight” took place causing deaths of Osama, his wife and some others (but no American), showed what were seemingly very humble lodgings. My own servant’s room is posh in comparison . There are no bullet holes, or marks of bullets ricocheting off the walls, and there’s no sign of damaged glass from the good-sized windows on one wall. The bed sheets on the two charpoys are so neat as to do a hotel maid proud. There’s just over 250 ml of blood on the floor between the two charpoys. It looks to me as though, rather than a fire fight, Osama & Co. were simply sitting ducks for a hunting party! Wait, that’s not all. The glass in the window is see-through. How odd! Anyone could have looked in and seen the world’s most wanted man once night fell, and remember, it’s an open area.

The downed helicopter, miraculously, disgorged its crew like magic. Presto! All unharmed by the crash! Yet oddly, the three neighbors of Osama who rushed to the scene to help, and who would have been witnesses to what actually happened, all have gone missing and never returned home.

And hey, where are the other dead bodies? There were some, no? And why the rush, rush, rush to dump Osama in the ocean? Why not share the evidence to put a stop of rumor mongers? At least show the corpus delicti to someone objective.
Osama's bedroom: no leaks in the waterbed after the shootoutOsama's bedroom: no leaks in the waterbed after the shootout

What were They Thinking? Suspicions will Inevitably Grow about the Extermination of Osama bin Laden

According to the brief announcement made by President Barack Obama last night, the operation in Pakistan by US Navy SEAL special forces was a well-planned hit job.

“They took care to avoid civilian casualties,” the president said of the top-secret night-time raid by helicopter on a highly secure compound near a military base in Abbottadad, a city only about an hour’s drive drive from, Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital city. He added, “After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”

Not for long though. After “double-tapping” bin Laden–that is a military term for shooting someone twice in the head to make certain that a person is truly dead–his body was taken out of Pakistan by the departing SEAL raiding party, and reportedly buried (dumped) at sea.

By Tuesday the White House was admitting that in fact, Osama bin Laden was unarmed when the US Navy commandos burst into his room. He allegedly “resisted” capture, but now we’re talking about a frail guy known to have been not particularly skilled militarily resisting capture by several guys who are maximally trained in hand-to-hand combat and who are also armed to the teeth. They shot his wife in the thigh when she allegedly “charged” them, obviously showing discretion, but they executed the unarmed bin Laden with a shot to the forehead.

According to the Washington Post, the US wanted to “prevent the creation of a shrine” to the late leader of Al Qaeda and alleged mastermind of the 9-11 attacks. “We don’t want a bunch of people going to the shrine forever,” the Post quoted one unidentified official as saying.

It seems pretty clear on the available information that they also didn’t want an imprisoned bin Laden, or a defendant bin Laden, either. They wanted a dead bin Laden, and they got it.

This is supposed to be “closure”?

Think about it a moment. The US had the living Osama bin Ladin in their hands, or at least trapped in a room last night! After almost 10 years, they had successfully cornered the guy who allegedly managed to mastermind the biggest, most disastrous attack on the US in the modern history of the country–perhaps of all time–a coordinated aerial assault on the financial and military hearts of the world’s most powerful country, carried out with nothing but box cutters–an attack which managed to neutralize the mightiest air defense system in the world! And instead of bundling him into an orange jump suit, putting a bag over his head and bringing him in for interrogation, like they’ve done to hundreds of other lesser captives in the so-called decade-long “War on Terror,” they “double-tapped” him on the spot? No stun grenade? No disabling gas? No shot to the legs or groin. It’s reported that they had already “secured” the rest of the grounds, so it’s not like the guy was going anywhere, even if he was a good sprinter.

What were they thinking?
Osama's secrets get another kind of water-boarding treatmentOsama's secrets get another kind of water-boarding treatment

Imperialism and Bin Laden's Assassination

THEY say he’s dead, that they killed him for justice yet they do not release photographs or any evidence of his death.



THEY say they buried him after Islam custom by dumping him in the open sea. But Islam says a body must be buried in the ground if the person did not die at sea.


THEY say a criminal suspect, even a terrorist, should be brought before a court.


THEY say, in Europe, they are against the death penalty.


THEY say he masterminded September 11.


THEY say he was terrorist number one.

Participatory Journalism

(This article is Part II of journalist Ridenour’s political autobiography, Solidarity and Resistance: 50 Years With Che. Click here for Part I)
 

Wilfred Burchett was a key source of information for many of us who wanted to understand what the United States was doing against Southeast Asians. Burchett was an intrepid reporter for decades. He was the first correspondent to enter Hiroshima after the nuclear bombing and brought the world the military-censored news of its horrors.

Burchett’s journalist code influenced my journalism:

“It is not a bad thing to become a journalist because you have something to say and are burning to say it. There is no substitute for looking into things on the spot, especially if you are going to write on burning international issues of the day. Make every possible effort to get the facts across to at least some section of the public. Do not be tied to a news organization in which you would be required to write against your own conscience and knowledge.”

I later met Burchett. We spoke of doing some writing about Cuba but we never got around to it.

I had begun working as a reporter in 1967. The written word for me is a tool I wield for our liberation from exploitation and oppression. My first reporting was for the Communist Party’s California weekly, People’s World. My last articles for that publication were first-hand accounts from Prague just after the Soviet invasion. They were not published however–a decision taken by top party leaders over the editor’s objection–and I ceased writing for the People’s World.
Che was with me in more ways than I knew at the time. His image and revolutionary thoughts were often present at demonstrations in which I participated, especially anti-imperialist actions. But what I did not know, until I worked in Cuba in 1988, was that he had a flare for writing journalistically.

On June 14, 1988, Cuba’s Journalist Union published Che Periodista (Journalist Che) commemorating his 60th date of birth. It is a collection of chronicles, battle accounts, critiques of imperialism, ideological think pieces, and an homage to Camilo Cienfuegos, a close comrade killed in an airplane accident after the revolutionary victory.

Che’s reportage originally appeared in Verde Olivo (Olive Green), the Cuban revolutionary army magazine, written between October 1959 and April 1961. I found Che’s writings concise, freshly formulated in a crisp style.

After my Czechoslovakia report was ideologically censored by the Communist Party, I sought employment in the mass media, or mainstream media (MSM). My first job was as sports editor in central California at the Hanford Sentinel (1969-70). Not knowing anything about sports writing, I learned on the job. Then, I moved up to general reporting and features. I was soon fired, because I wrote about a taboo subject: racist covenants in housing.

The editor ran my piece, “Titles Include Race Restricting Provision,” on the front page, January 29, 1970. The lead read: “Said premises shall not be sold, conveyed, rented or leased to or occupied by any person not of the Caucasian race.” I had found this restriction on deeds at a real estate agency.
Ron RidenourRon Ridenour

Philly Sheriff Candidate Would Turn Selective Enforcement on its Head

 
Some men rob you with a six gun.
Some do it with a fountain pen.

“Pretty Boy Floyd”
Woody Guthrie
_____________________
 
We hear a lot about what democracy means in America. In the case of the Cheri Honkala Green Party campaign for Sheriff of Philadelphia, what democracy means is recognizing that the selective enforcement of laws is a reality in our history and, then, offering voters the real choice of a sheriff who will not enforce foreclosure orders in a depressed economy.

Honkala is a well-known poor people’s activist in Philadelphia who, over the years, has organized large street demonstrations and even gotten herself arrested many times occupying homes and doing other actions to call attention to the plight of the poor. She was raised dirt poor in Minnesota and she has worked lots of unpleasant and dreary jobs to survive. Her first-born son, Mark Webber — born when she was age 16 and living in a car — is a successful Hollywood actor.

Some say Honkala is not serious and is out to destroy good government. One writer in Philadelphia referred to her in his headline as an “outlaw” and in his lead as “Philly’s most famous embodiment of grass-roots guerilla protestdom.”

Robin Hood and Cheri HonkalaRobin Hood and Cheri Honkala

I prefer to use one of the most famous sheriff references in world literature. I see Cheri Honkala as Robin Hood. Instead of running around in green tights and using bows and arrows to engage the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham, she’s using the ballot box to take the Sheriff of Nottingham’s job.

The central plank of Honkala’s campaign is a determination to stop the evictions of poor and middle-class homeowners whose mortgages have been foreclosed on by banks and lenders. There’s no mystery or sleight of hand; anyone who votes for Honkala knows what he or she is voting for: A revamped Sheriff’s Office with a new mission to counter the pirate-style economics of the moment.

TCBH! Exclusive: Statement by President Barack Obama on Release of his Democratic Party Registration Certificate

Hello, everybody.

As many of you have been briefed, we provided additional information today about the authenticity of my Democratic Party registration, and my commitment to liberal values. Now, this issue has been going on for two, two and a half years now. I think it started during the campaign, when I voted in the Senate to grant immunity to the telecommunications companies that were helping the National Security Agency spy on all of your electronic communications without a warrant. And I have to say that over the last two and a half years I have watched with bemusement, I’ve been puzzled at the degree to which this thing just kept on going. We’ve had every official in New York and Chicago too, Democrat and Republican, every news outlet that has investigated this, confirm that, yes, I registered as a Democrat when I turned 18 in 1979 and have remained a Democrat.

We’ve posted the voter list page containing my name and party affiliation that is filed with the City of New York’s Registrar of Voters on the Internet for everybody to see. People have provided affidavits that they, in fact, have seen this page. And yet this thing just keeps on going.

Now, normally I would not comment on something like this, because obviously there’s a lot of stuff swirling in the press on at any given day and I’ve got other things to do. But two weeks ago, when the Congressional Progressive Caucus had put forward their proposed budget that if passed would have huge consequences potentially to the country, slashing military spending and raising taxes on the wealthy and on the hedge fund managers who have been my campaign’s bread and butter, and when I gave a speech about my own budget, which would take a whack at Medicare, and leave military funding on its upward trajectory, during that entire week the dominant news story wasn’t about these huge, monumental choices that we’re going to have to make as a nation. It was about whether I am a real Democrat.
 
 President Barack Obama IS a DemocratDocument proves it: President Barack Obama IS a Democrat

 

3rd Circuit Appeal Ruling Favoring Abu-Jamal Smacks Down US Supreme Court

The federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, in a stunning smack at the U.S. Supreme Court, has issued a ruling upholding its earlier decision backing a new sentencing hearing in the controversial case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted killer of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

The latest ruling, issued on Tuesday April 26, 2011, upholds a ruling the Third Circuit issued over two years ago siding with a federal district court judge who, back in 2001, had set aside Abu-Jamal’s death penalty after determining that death penalty instructions provided to the jury, and a flawed jury ballot document used during Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial, had been unclear.

The U.S. Supreme Court had ordered the Third Circuit to re-examine its 2009 ruling upholding the lifting of Abu-Jamal’s death sentence.

The nation’s top court had cited a new legal precedent in that directive to the Third Circuit, a strange order given the fact that the Supreme Court had earlier consistently declined to apply its own precedents to Abu-Jamal’s case.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said that, honoring a “campaign promise,” he had asked Faulkner’s widow Maureen Faulkner what her wishes were, and in response to her request was appealing the decision back to the US Supreme Court.

Abu-Jamal’s current lead attorney, Prof Judith Ritter of the Widener Law School, said of the decision, “Each of the four federal judges that has reviewed Mr. Abu-Jamal’s case has found his death sentence to be unconstitutional. The Third Circuit’s most recent opinion reflects a detailed analysis demonstrating that their unanimous decision is well-supported by Supreme Court precedent. We believe this carefully reasoned analysis will stand.”
Mumia Abu-JamalMumia Abu-Jamal

War Crimes Charges Anyone?: New Exposé of Big Oil’s Role in the Iraq War

   When it was  suggested the war in Iraq was about oil, Tony Blair,then the British prime minister, had this to say on February 6,2003

     “Let me just deal with the oil thing because… the oil conspiracy theory is honestly one of the most absurd when you analyse it. The fact is that, if the oil that Iraq has were our concern, I mean we could probably cut a deal with Saddam tomorrow in relation to the oil. It’s not the oil that is the issue, it is the weapons…”

  In fact, as I and numerous others, have reported on many occasions before, both during and after the war, oil was a principal if not the principal reason, for going to war. The reason for thinking this comes from any reading of oil history in the Middle East. The  modern industry began in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), which today probably boasts the largest reserves in the world. Current knowledge of oil and the war in large part comes from  the work of a  researcher in the UK named Greg Muttitt. Among other things, Muttitt has had close contacts with the Iraq oil workers union. Now Muttitt has written a book–released in Britain and India this week, called Fuel on the Fire-–that makes crystal clear  the role of big oil. His research had turned up hundreds of pages of heretofore secret documents and is further backed up by interviews with executives of the international oil companies.
Big Oil had plans for Iraq before the war even startedBig Oil had plans for Iraq before the war even started

Talking Revolution: The New Elderly Generation can Provide the Spark for an American Rising

I am 62 and have just reached the age where I could apply for Social Security retirement benefits. Of course, I’d be crazy to do that and collect some $700 a month for the rest of my life, when I could keep working and wait until I’m 70 and get $2000 a month.

But the point is, I’ve arrived. I’m a “senior.” And now I’m paying a lot more attention to what the Right and its paymaster, the corporate lobby, are trying to do, not just to my retirement plan (which is Social Security. period), but also to Medicare, the program upon which my medical care will depend once my wife decides to retire from her university job.

The picture is not pretty. Both the Republicans, and the pathetic Democrats, led by President Barack Obama, are talking brazenly about cutting back on Social Security, and on Medicare. The Republicans openly say they want to kill Medicare and secretly want to end Social Security too, which is the agenda of most of the corporations which fund lobbies like the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Assn. of Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable, etc. Oh, I know they say they’re only talking about “changes” for people who are under 55, but that’s just for starters. The goal is to ruin the program for younger workers, and then make them resent what we older folks still get. Then the next step will be to eradicate both programs altogether.

But here’s the thing. The reason these parties and lobbies are trying so hard now to use the recession and the national deficit as cover to decimate and destroy these two proven and critically important social programs into which all working Americans have been paying all our working lives, is that they realize what most 50 and 60-something Americans haven’t realized yet: that we are about to become the most powerful political force in the country, and that we are certainly going to demand both an excellent government Medicare program, and a decent retirement program.

Pres. Franklin Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act into lawPres. Franklin Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act into law

The way I see it, we in the Baby Boom generation–those people born between 1946 and about 1964–are just starting to hit retirement age. In another 10 years, we will become a political force twice as powerful and certainly more than twice as noisy and demanding as the current senior lobby. We can either wait until then, after they have successfully gutted the two programs we depend on, making it so we have to fight to recreate or restore them, or we can start organizing now to defend and improve them, and save ourselves a whole lot of trouble.

So here’s my proposal.

Hedging, Delusion and Dishonesty in Afghanistan

“The Americans have not been honest about this, even among themselves.”

That’s how Mullah Attullah Lodin, deputy chairman of the High Peace Council of Afghanistan, sees our nation and its government as it relates to the question of permanent bases in Afghanistan and to his specific portfolio, the establishment of peace in Afghanistan.

Lodin is a former Hizb-e Islami militia commander (they fought the Russians), and he’s now in the Karzai government. Some might suggest he has an agenda, which generally means not being in synch with US policy. Americans don’t have “agendas.” The presumption is Afghans are backward and corrupt and somehow not as worthy of trust as a westerner or an American. And Lodin’s all for talking peace with the Taliban, which makes him radioactive.

Under the reigning myth of American Exceptionalism, whatever Americans do is right and good because they are Americans and — more important — because they have the most lethal weapons on the planet, up to and including the R&D marvel of the Afghanistan War, lethal drone technology.

As the rock anthem says: We are the champions!

Mullah Attullah Lodin, Kabul and the Mad HatterMullah Attullah Lodin, Kabul and the Mad Hatter

Only in America can a man in a flight suit in an air-conditioned room monitor TV screens following unaware people going about their business 10,000 miles away and, on orders from some other air-conditioned room, while sipping a Diet Pepsi turn those distant human beings into exploded pieces of steaming offal and flesh. This man, then, gets in his car and drives home to dinner with his wife and kids.

So far, we have not heard what it’s like in the realm of Post Traumatic Stress to do this kind of lethal, remote “combat” day-in-day-out. At what point does a drone pilot burn out or crack up? Is there a rest and relaxation spa and special counselors for drone pilots who begin to ask moral questions?