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Skepticism Grows. Who Did the Rambo Squad Really Kill?

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Message Cameron Salisbury

If one listens between the lines, it seems clear that the U.S. government has serious doubts about whom it murdered in Abbotabad.   The problem is not just the changing account coming from spokespersons.   The problem is the facts themselves.  

 At first they were 90% sure that they had killed Osama Bin Laden, meaning a one in ten chance that they had screwed up.   Pretty poor odds for an assassination.   Then the odds went to 95%, and finally, after a miraculously fast DNA analysis, to 99.9%.  

What that tells us is that they still weren't positive that they had their man.   The problem is that they matched the DNA of the dead man to the existing DNA of other Bin Ladens, of which there are hundreds.   Assuming accurate DNA testing and reporting, what they showed was that they had killed one of the many Bin Ladens.   There was no DNA match of Osama with Osama.

Then, there was what they seemed to regard as the thrilling announcement that Al-Qaeda itself said OBL had been killed.   If we already knew, why the breathlessness?   Further, there is some doubt about the legitimacy of those claiming to represent al-Qaeda, since their announcement showed that they were unaware that the body had been buried.

The entire pursuit of OBL has been fraught with inconsistency and credibility problems.

We were told after 9-11, that Osama Bin Laden was a sick man, using kidney dialysis and in generally poor health.   Word came from numerous sources in early 2002 that he had died.   If true it would certainly have been inconvenient for President Bush, who was itching for a war in Afghanistan, which may have something to do with his statement in about 2003 that OBL didn't matter to the war effort.

The Rambo squad took video of the entire compound after assassinating whoever it was and four others.   One of the items captured on tape was the medicine shelf, which was carefully dissected by news crews.   Turns out there was nothing on that shelf more potent than nasal spray and aspirin.   No sign of any dialysis machinery.   Actually, the people who lived there seemed to be in good health.   If Osama was in poor health, could he have lived there?

Osama Bin Laden was a wealthy man.   The people who lived in that compound were not.   Despite the efforts of the administration and the lapdog media to paint his home as a luxurious mansion, videos told the truth.   The buildings where those people lived were more shabby hovel than an upper class Shangri La.   Would Osama, raised with wealth, really have ever spent time there, much less six years, with no sign of luxurious furnishings?   Aw, c'mon.

The break in and murder were captured on real time video via cameras attached to the commandos' helmets.   If the film is ever released, we'll be able to see for ourselves how much the man resembled Osama before he was murdered.    Does that have anything to do with the refusal to release it?

 There are two pictures of a man we are told was OBL, when the reality for anyone who compares them is that the pictures are of different persons, often run within seconds of each other on broadcast news programs.   The media tells us that the second Osama dyed his beard black.   If the consequences weren't so serious we might be inclined to think that was a punch line in a joke.   What are the chances that the leader of an international terrorist organization would bother?   Who are we supposed to believe he was trying to impress?   Or is the joke on us?

Despite the fact that Osama was six feet four and slender, there has been no information about the dimensions of the body. We're supposed to believe that the commandos just forgot to bring a measuring tape.   OK.   Well, there must have been one on the ship where the body was taken.    Oh.   They didn't have one either?  

Identifying the dead is a basic of any coroner's job and usually means that someone who knew the person can testify to his identity.   But not us.   We relied on the man's wife who supposedly called his name.   Was that in English?   Plus, dubious DNA evidence, plus the comments of a person identifying himself as a member of al-Qaeda. We assassinated a foreign national in another sovereign country.  Is that all we've got?

When the commandos blasted and shot their way into the compound killing four persons after crashing a helicopter, their only orders, according to Leon Panetta, were to kill Osama if they found him and get the hell out if they didn't.   There seemed to be nothing in those orders that required a positive identification.    In fact, the months and years of training, adrenalin off the charts, with the President and other high officials watching on a closed circuit, with their sky-high emotional investment in the mission and the pressing need for speed before the Pakistani army arrived, what exactly are the chances that they would have been capable of backing off long enough to say, "Excuse me but I need to see your driver's license'? It seems more likely that they would shoot first and let others justify later.

American officials have been spinning the Pakistani government's lack of knowledge of the hideout as incompetence.   Maybe it's not.   Maybe it's an indication that Osama was not hiding in Abbotabad after all.  

We are hardly getting the other side of the story.  

... maybe after our government talks to his wives we'll get the truth ...

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Cameron Salisbury is a biostatistician, epidemiologist and grant writer living in Atlanta.
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