I was at the supermarket this afternoon and saw the latest issue of Time magazine on the rack there. The cover is white with a picture of Osama Bin Laden and the caption “Why can’t we catch him?” I think Time’s question is wrong and serves no purpose as far as the War on Terrorism goes. It is a handy question for Bush haters to breat the Administration about, but it is actually quite irrelevant.
Why should we catch Osama? What would it possibly do for us?
Well it might cut off some of the funding for Al-Queda and give us a trophy prisoner to display, but the funding would find other routes and displaying him raises its own problems. No, capturing Osama is useless. It could even be counterproductive.
If Osama were to be captured alive, the U.S. would have to give him a trial. A trial that would entail lawyers and the media. Even if he were to be tried by a military tribunal he would still get a lawyer and media coverage. What an opportunity for Osama, he gets a fair trial and gets his message out courtesy of CNN, Fox and the networks. What a deal.
What do we do with him then? It is kind of a hot potato issue. If we find him guilty and execute him, the “Arab Street” erupts and the EUnuchs huff and puff and glare in out direction. His supporters use his execution as a pretext for more violence. The countries of Europe, though secretly relieved, condemn the U.S. action so as to mollify their Muslim population and what have we solved? We still have the network, probably with some new recruits. We still have the EUnuchs glaring at us. And we still have a war.
Finding him “Not Guilty” is not even a consideration. The outcry over that in the U.S. would be overwhelming. It would be political suicide for any politician to support and possibly real suicide for the Judge and panel members, even in America.
I think the best thing that should happen if Osama were to be captured would be to interrogate him, “robustly” if need be, and summarily execute him. Of course we are going to be accused of executing him anyway if it is known he is in U.S. custody and he dies, regardless of whether it is natural or not. So just do it, maintain that it was natural, and ride it out. Put it in Oliver Stone, black helicopter fringe territory and ignore it. It may come back years later, but passions cool with time. There might be an uproar in thirty years when it comes out, but it will be as timely as the news of JFK’s affairs and will die quickly.
If it can be kept quiet, do all the above, keep some DNA samples and cremate the rest. Announce to the world that the remains were found in a tunnel in Tora Bora or somewhere.
Under no circumstances allow the body to be returned to his family. Just look at the funeral of the Pakistani who was executed for killing the two CIA employees. Osama’s would be a thousand times larger.
I think the answer to Time’s question “Why can’t we catch him?” should be “because we don’t really want to.”