Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh told The Guardian that the official story about the killing of Osama bin Laden is completely false.
’“Nothing’s been done about that story, it’s one big lie, not one word of it is true,” he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.
Hersh is writing a book about national security and has devoted a chapter to the bin Laden killing. He says a recent report put out by an “independent” Pakistani commission about life in the Abottabad compound in which Bin Laden was holed up would not stand up to scrutiny. “The Pakistanis put out a report, don’t get me going on it. Let’s put it this way, it was done with considerable American input. It’s a bullshit report…”’
You know, if you really think about it, Osama Bin Laden won anyway. Our wars since 9/11 have led us to do all the things he said we would do if someone like him “stood up” to the US: that the US would show the Muslim world its “true face” by launching a crusade of revenge, that the US was not really “the greatest country in the world” but a corrupt, amoral militaristic nation and would become bankrupted, bloodied and even more fractious as a result of pursuing Al Qaeda.
Our reputation is tarnished, our civil rights are diminished, thousands have died (American and non-American) and two (Iraq, Afghanistan) going on three (Pakistan) predominantly Muslim countries have been [further] wrecked in our “War on Terror.”
He wanted to make us give him an existential conflict. And we did just that. We’re still fighting the conflict on his terms.We’ll be fighting it on his terms for years to come.
“This is not a war zone. It doesn’t make you tough to hurt these people. … They are US citizens … They don’t have guns. Why are you hurting these people? It doesn’t make any sense. How do you sleep at night? There’s no honor in this. … How do you do this to people? … You’re supposed to protect us…If you want to go hurt and kill people go to Iraq. … It’s unbelievable that you all are doing this to people. … Why are you all walking like there’s a war going on? Why do you treat people like this? This is not war. Why are you acting like this? …There’s no honor in hurting unarmed civilians… I come home and in New York City they are hurting people I fought to protect. There’s no honor in this.” - United States Marine Corps. Sgt. Shamar Thomas
Disturbing. Heartbreaking. Ironic. Must See.
Mr Thomas asks the vital questions of the NYPD and their violent acts against assemblers. He needs to ask the same questions of himself and the U.S. military and the brutality rained down upon Iraqis and Afghanis.
Background: United States Marine Corps. Sgt. Shamar Thomas from Roosevelt, NY went toe to toe with the New York Police Department. An activist in the Occupy Wall Street movement, Thomas voiced his opinions of the NYPD police brutality that had and has been plaguing the #OWS movement.
Thomas is a 24-year-old Marine Veteran (2 tours in Iraq), he currently plays amateur football and is in college. Thomas comes from a long line of people who served in the US military: Mother, Army Veteran (Iraq), Step father, Army, active duty (Afghanistan), Grand father, Air Force veteran (Vietnam), Great Grand Father Navy veteran (World War II).
It always looks bad when you criticize a soldier for doing what he’s told. It’s equally dangerous to be seduced by the pathos and drama of the individual solider’s experience, because most wars are about something much larger than that, too. They did this after Vietnam, when America spent decades watching movies like Deer Hunter and First Blood and Coming Home about vets struggling to reassimilate after the madness of the jungles. So we came to think of the “tragedy” of Vietnam as something primarily experienced by our guys, and not by the millions of Indochinese we killed. That doesn’t mean Vietnam Veterans didn’t suffer: they did, often terribly. But making entertainment out of their dilemmas helped Americans turn their eyes from their political choices. The movies used the struggles of soldiers as a kind of human shield protecting us from thinking too much about what we’d done in places like Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos.
This is going to start happening now with the War-on-Terror movies. As CNN’s Griggs writes, “We’re finally ready for a movie about the Iraq War.” Meaning: we’re ready to be entertained by stories about how hard it was for our guys. And it might have been. But that’s not the whole story and never will be.
Sometimes a story is meaningless or worse without real context, and this is one of them.
A lot of adults - and by that I mean older adults, since I guess the law includes me in that category now - talk about the heightened paranoia in American society in a post 9/11 world. As the first post-World War II generation to experience a large-scale attack from foreign aggressors on American soil, the paranoia isn’t all that surprising, if not at all understandable. For 60 years since that day of infamy in December 1941, America watched war through their tv screens and heard conflict through the familiar, fatherlike voice of Walter Cronkite. Yes, the Cold War ensured that most of us knew that any minute, Mutually Assured Destruction could rear its ugly head and the world as we knew it would fall to nuclear armageddon. Yes, we saw the proxy wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan and they reminded us of this supposed doom. But this doom never came, and when the wall fell down in Berlin in ‘89 and the USSR collapsed two years later, I think we tricked ourselves into believing that war was so far removed from us, not here, not in America, not while the flag still waved. Even as we saw the raging wars and mass murders in the Balkans and in Rwanda in the 90s, war was not real. Not here, not in America. Even when we had horrifying bouts of violence like the Oklahoma City bombing in 1994 or the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, it didn’t sink in that war was very real and very here. In the former case, it was a domestic right-wing lunatic, so it was easily passed off - one crazy does not make a war. In the latter, it was indeed an attack by foreign terrorists, but it wasn’t on American mainland technically. So we hurt, but we moved on, invincible.
I doubt I need to explain how 9/11 changed that. Most older people I talk with tell me that I can’t really understand, since I was a child on that awful day. But they forget that I was raised in a post 9/11 world, that even if I couldn’t comprehend the gravity and tragedy of that day in real time, the world that was raised by 9/11 was the world that raised me. I have never known a world without staggering fear every time someone steps into an airport. I have never known a world without a tiny inkling of dread creeping in when the phone rings, or when you turn on the tv and the news happens to be on. I have never known a world without talk of drone strikes and suicide bombers and homeland security and terrorism. I have never known of such a world, and I probably never will. I hear it’s lovely there.
So yes, I live in a wartime, and every American citizen lives in that same world whether they choose to believe it or not. As long as I see people walking down the street looking at each other with suspicion, and as I long as I feel afraid of the next words coming out of Brian Williams’ mouth when I turn on the news at night, we are at war. Fear is not inherently American. It is inherently a casualty of denial. And we are all so very full of fear.
But I don’t mean that we are necessarily at war with something that has a name, or a face, or even a physical state of being. Someone clever, probably Cheney, coined the term “War on Terror” in the early 2000’s to give this struggle a name, and this name preyed on the primitive fears of a child in the middle of a nightmare. A “War on Mideast-Associated Radical Islamic Groups” is alright, but a war on terror itself, well, that’s just something you can’t refuse.
The problem is that “Terror” did not, and does not now, specifically and singularly apply to terrorism. In America, our war is on all acts of violence, on all feelings of fear. News breaks out of a car bomb in Times Square, of a failed underwear-bomber on a flight on Christmas day, and of a possible follow-up attack on American soil after the 2005 London bus bombing, and we decry Congress and the White House for not giving enough money to Homeland Security in order to stop such close calls. There’s shootings at Fort Hood, at Aurora, at Newtown, at Virginia Tech, at Tucson, and just this morning, the Navy Yard, and we call all our relatives and text our friends and check that they’re okay and send prayers. Two radical, worthless beings set a bomb off at the Boston Marathon, and the whole city goes into a military, Dark Knight Rises-style lockdown & manhunt, while the rest of the nation holds their breath, both fascinated and sick to their stomachs with fear.
No, our war on terror is on the concept of terror itself. We invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, squelched Gaddafi in Libya, Zero-Dark-Thirtied our way through Pakistan to kill a blot on the human race, kept Guantanamo Bay open even though our lease ended in'99, passed the Patriot Act, gave the NSA more leeway than our Founding Fathers likely would have agreed with, funneled billions of dollars into military defense, reported on our neighbors by the color of their skin or the ethnic etymology of their names, passionately denounced Islam as a religion of violence, and we went home at night, briefly placated that we kept the terror at bay; and we hugged our younger generation tightly, and hoped that they would live in a better world. As a newly-kicked out member of the younger crowd, I can tell you that through a child’s eyes, none of these things had clear cut “we did x because of y" sort of reasoning. To a child, war is war, and there is no reason why. People kill and hurt each other for no reason we can imagine, other than perhaps both parties are in desperate need of a hug. Nothing is fair or right when people unnaturally die everyday, or when those who survive are permanently afraid that tomorrow it could be them. When you’re sent off to a school with a hug that lasts a little longer than usual and tears in your mother’s eyes that aren’t simple maternal love, you understand you’re at war, and you understand that it will never make sense to you.
But I know that each generation lives with this fear. If there’s ever been a person, alive or dead, who has a managed to live a life without the terror I know so well, please refer them to me and I’ll owe either them or their descendants a nice dinner with engaging conversation. But I’m confident this person doesn’t exist.
Still, I’m just foolish enough to believe that such a person can’t exist. I can’t think of the future without wondering if another 9/11 will happen, or if one of my friends will join the military and be killed overseas, or even if World War III will be shortly upon us. But I have to believe that as an adult now, I’ll have a child someday and I’ll be able not to watch their little heart beat, and wonder if it’s already beating a little too fast, thinking about tomorrow. I have to be able to believe in that dream. And as Americans, it’s why we fight. And it’s worth fighting for. But fighting doesn’t always mean guns and bombs and soldiers and SWAT teams. I believe that fighting is sometimes just as simple as smiling at a stranger, and saying quietly to yourself and to the world, "I am not afraid of you.”
War provided an essential condition-and propaganda a stratagem- that could shift the locus of power from formal institutions of governance to the operative elite…..
Those who have disproportionate access to the means of communication may change the nature of the state.
Winston P. Nagan in “Contextual-Configurative Jurisprudence: The Law, Science and Policies of Human Dignity”
And this is why you should never trust someone who declares abstract war- whether it be a war on drugs, a war on terror, or a culture war. When something becomes a state-sanctioned war, disagreeing suddenly becomes traitorous.
I am beyond lucky to have this man as my independent study and thesis advisor. I never thought wading through over 600 pages of legal text would be enjoyable, but he’s honestly brilliant and such a badass.
Illustration I produced earlier this year for Scientific American. The article was an editorial against using doctors as pseudo-spies in the war on terror. Thanks to art directors Micheal Mrak and Ann Chin!