But first, the popular question: Who cares?
Osama bin Laden was responsible for the most heinous act of terror in modern history. Only lawyers and their sophistry could defend human-rights protections for someone who displayed so little humanity. Right?
These arguments may seem obvious to most, but disquiet in legal circles has been growing after the initial euphoria following bin Laden’s death. It is quickly becoming apparent that the “who cares” retort will not wash, that Washington must establish a proper legal basis for having killed bin Laden. By doing so the U.S. could not only deconstruct the myth that an unarmed bin Laden was an innocent who was killed unjustifiably; it could also negate the jihadi narrative about Western hypocrisy: that we are no different from the terrorists. In what could be bin Laden’s last hurrah, Washington has yet to make its case, and the Obama administration is rapidly losing the narrative.
Via Kenneth Anderson, who has also been harping on this.
This is just one part of all the Keystone Kops nature of the administration actions in the wake of the killing. Another is why they’ve been talking about what a treasure trove of intel they got, and why they were in such a hurry to declare him dead:
I’m no expert on such matters — though I’ve talked to several about this — but even a casual World War II buff can understand that the shelf life of actionable intelligence would be extended if we hadn’t told the whole world, and al-Qaeda in particular, that we had it.
It’s a bit like racing to the microphones to announce you’ve stolen the other team’s playbook before you’ve had a chance to use the information in the big game.
But that’s exactly what President Obama did. He raced to spill the beans. The man couldn’t even wait until morning. At just after 9:45 p.m., the White House communications director, Dan Pfeiffer, informed the media: “POTUS to address the nation tonight at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time.”
The announcement came less than three hours after Obama had been informed that there was a “high probability” that bin Laden was dead and that the Navy SEAL helicopters had returned to Afghanistan.
In other words, it seems that the White House planned to crow as soon as possible. Why? Nobody I’ve talked to can think of a reason that doesn’t have to do with politics or hubris.
I can’t, either.