by Joe Shea
May 4, 2011
DEAD AND UNDEAD
BRADENTON, Fla., May 4, 2011 -- It's awfully disappointing to hear a new set of facts about the death of Osama bin Laden after the first set fit the drama so well. First we heard he grabbed a gun and his wife and went down firing away, his wife taking bullets meant for him and dying at his side.
Then we heard there was no gun; he was shot down unarmed, and all the intelligence value of his fertile and twisted brain, and any information about a nuclear weapon he was supposed to have buried somewhere in the event of his capture, went with him, lost in a pool of blood that seeped from his bedroom into a carpet.
And his wife was in another room; she was shot in the leg and survived. No one seems sure where she is.
Why did the brave work of 42 Navy SEALs have to be sullied by the black lies of a nameless fraud who wanted to spice up the story for the press - which grabbed it hook, line and sinker and set headlines ablaze with it?
A few days before the death of Bin Laden, I wrote a comment in the New York Times about how, when we honor our fighting men for their courage, competence and heroism, we often forget of the great sacrifice they make as human beings. War is a savage thing, I said in the comment, and men become savages in it.
They surrender the sense of themselves as good and decent human beings and become the war-making machines they must be to win wars. Then they come home and try to recapture some or all of the innocence they left with from home; sometimes they manage to capture enough, and sometimes, perhaps with awful results, they don't. I'm not saying this is wrong, mind you; I am saying this is their greatest sacrifice - their humanity.
So it was with a modicum of understanding that I listened carefully enough to the words of a national security advisor, John Brennan, when he told us about Osama's death. I immediately realized he did not know the facts, and that at the very least, they were not what was being reported.
Brennan would not say that Osama fired any shots, or that he used his wife, even while leaving that impression with tricky doubletalk that our national security establishment is so good at. It fell short of being a lie, though not by much.
The American Reporter was among the very first to report that Osama was unarmed and did not use his wife as a shield in an unsourced headline on the front page immediately below the news of his death. And we do not doubt that he deserved a brutal death, as he made sure so many innocents suffered 10 years ago at Ground Zero and the Pentagon.
It was more that - having the people who assaulted the compound and shot him within the military chain of command - there was no reason we could not have had the facts. That is the great sadness of the front page double-decker headline in The New York Times this morning: Bin Laden Was Unarmed When Killed.
It makes us all look like cowards, when we are not; it makes us look like fools, since we could have learned from him the entire structure of the world's terror movement with a single dose of scopolamine. There is no excuse that the raid was chaotic, because someone shot him and that man knew the circumstances and would have willingly reported them to his commanding officer in the form of the exact painstaking truth.
These men and women of the SEALs are not just heroes; they are people who live well-scrutinized lives honestly and always tell the truth to the men and women they work with. As I stood among them years ago on Coronado Island in a bar near their bivouac and talked with them, their integrity was as plain as day in every fiber of their bodies. They are trustworthy in the extreme, and extremely competent observers of their own actions. They did not hide the truth from anyone who commands them, I assure you.
The lies came from the people who had the most to gain from bin Laden's death, the people who stand for election and want the cameras to eat them alive. They made liars of our men because it made a better story for them to tell the press.
I am not ashamed that our men shot down Osama bin Laden in cold blood, because that is what they are trained and asked to do. I am ashamed that our elected officials are incapable of telling the truth when it matters so much. These elected men and women have stolen the shine from the medals of the brave.