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Day of the Dead: The Hit Man as Hero

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Oh, they often shake their heads sadly or waggle their fingers sternly at some action or policy of Obama's. They often can't understand why he does these things -- cut taxes for the rich, bail out the bankers, torture Bradley Manning, form commissions to gut Social Security, escalate and prolong the Terror War, kill hundreds of people with drone missiles, etc., etc. But nothing douses their fundamental (fundamentalist?) fervor to keep him in power and to scorn those who oppose him. Nothing keeps them from seeing themselves as his true and faithful "base," still waiting for him to return to them, despite his many betrayals. (Subconscious betrayals, no doubt.)

And we can expect more encomiums to the president's eloquence and heroism from these quarters on Thursday, when, with the good taste and tact so characteristic of our bipartisan ruling class, Obama goes to the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York City to celebrate the shooting of an unarmed man in the head.

Yes, the president of the United States, accompanied by various Establishment worthies and doubtless a few dignified clerics, will stand at Ground Zero to glorify a killing that his own minions tell us will change nothing whatsoever: the wars will go on, "vigilance will be redoubled" (i.e., civil liberties will continue to be eroded, black ops will continue in the 70 countries or more where America is carrying out covert operations), the Secret State will keep growing, the universal license to kill and snatch and incarcerate and torture will remain in full force. So what exactly is being celebrated?

A cynic -- or someone being skeptically "stupid" in the Digbyian sense -- might say the occasion is more exploitation than celebration: exploiting the grief of the families of 9/11 survivors who will be trotted out to express their tearful gratitude to the president who has given them "closure" -- and who will reap the poll bounce from this moment of "national unity," just as his predecessor rode a similar exploitation of death to his own re-election.

Oh, but let us not be stupid. Let us acknowledge that the president kills innocent people and "asserts the right to keep prisoners in jail forever and kill American citizens" and puts out false information (subconsciously, of course! Always subconsciously!) about murky operations which we must take on faith like dutiful subjects in militarized state, not fully-fledged citizens in a republic -- but let us still revel in his triumphs, delight in his eloquence, and work with all our strength to make sure he continues to invert, pervert and subvert every progressive value we hold dear.

That's not "stupid" at all, is it?

***

UPDATE: Administration officials are now denying that Obama's national security team watched the execution of bin Laden on video feed, as was originally reported. Officials now say that the team was receiving "minute-by-minute updates" -- via unspecified technology  -- and that, according to CIA honcho Leon Panetta, "there was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes that we really didn't know just exactly what was going on." That would be the 20 or 25 minutes when the actual killing took place, presumably.

It's hard to understand how this wild story about the team watched the whole thing unfold in real time. Just one of those crazy urban myths, I guess. Or perhaps it was because of this bit of "subconscious mythologizing" that was offered up by the president's own chief adviser on counterterrorism, John Brennan, just two days ago:

"We were able to monitor in a real-time basis the progress of the operation from its commencement to its time on target to the extraction of the remains and to then the egress off of the target" we were able to monitor the situation in real time and were able to have regular updates and to ensure that we had real-time visibility into the progress of the operation. I'm not going to go into details about what type of visuals we had or what type of feeds that were there, but it was -- it gave us the ability to actually track it on an ongoing basis."

I suppose really vague language like "we were able to monitor in a real-time basis the progress of the operation" from the start to the kill to the "extraction of the remains" and the grand skeedaddle could be twisted by stupid conspiracy theorists into some kind of cockamamie notion that Barry and Hill and, er, John Brennan, had, well, monitored the operation in real time. But now we know better.

UPDATE 2: There will doubtless be more backtracking and backfilling and sidestepping and subconscious mythologizing in the days to come. For it turns out that the crack crew of American agents left a whole group of eyewitnesses to the operation behind -- including the 12-year-old daughter of bin Laden, who saw her father killed -- and was also wounded in the attack.

As the Guardian reports, at least 10 people were left behind after the raid -- presumably because the raiding party did not have room to cart them off after losing one of their helicopters before the kill. Pakistani officials found the survivors -- including bin Laden's wife and the wounded daughter -- when they arrived on the scene just after the American exit. All of the survivors had been handcuffed, Pakistani officials said. The Americans also left four dead bodies behind: three men and a woman, taking only bin Laden and his dead son. From the Guardian:

"Local authorities arrived on the scene of the raid as American special forces were leaving. It is believed that the attackers originally planned to evacuate all those in the compound but the breakdown of a helicopter meant there was no space to take them.

"Instead, only the bodies of Bin Laden and his son Hamza, who was in his early 20s, were taken to the aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson and buried at sea. Survivors were left with their hands fastened with plastic handcuffs, a second Pakistani official said, adding that initial communications with the survivors had been difficult as the Pakistani police and military arriving at the scene did not speak Arabic."

The survivors are now being held by the Pakistanis, who say they will return them to their home countries as soon as the respective governments ask for them. At the moment, they are not allowing American agents to interrogate them -- strenuously or otherwise. But no doubt as the survivors' stories begin to emerge -- and yes, they will have their own spin and agenda, just like Obama and his subconsciously mythologizing security apparatchiks -- we will see several more "corrections" of the "historical record" now being woven and re-woven in front of our eyes.

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Chris Floyd is an American journalist. His work has appeared in print and online in venues all over the world, including The Nation, Counterpunch, Columbia Journalism Review, the Christian Science Monitor, Il Manifesto, the Moscow Times and many (more...)
 

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I echo this in my Glory and Malicearticle... by Mark Sashine on Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 7:31:34 AM
Why is anyone surprised at the BS - These are AMAT... by Jon Ross on Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 11:50:22 PM
How macabre can US politics get. Killing someone (... by Robert Campbell on Friday, May 6, 2011 at 3:06:23 AM
I don't know what it will take for many Progressiv... by Alfred McGuire on Friday, May 6, 2011 at 5:34:19 AM
Tell one lie and you'll probably need to tell more... by Donald on Friday, May 6, 2011 at 8:53:54 AM
It's the 10th and I've read many articles on this,... by Mike Cormany on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 1:31:44 AM