What to Read on the Bin Laden Assassination

The Cost of Bin Laden: $3 Trillion Over 15 Years — Tim Fernholz & Jim Tankersley

What do we have to show for that tab? Two wars that continue to occupy 150,000 troops and tie up a quarter of our defense budget; a bloated homeland-security apparatus that has at times pushed the bounds of civil liberty; soaring oil prices partially attributable to the global war on bin Laden’s terrorist network; and a chunk of our mounting national debt, which threatens to hobble the economy unless lawmakers compromise on an unprecedented deficit-reduction deal.
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All of that has not given us, at least not yet, anything close to the social or economic advancements produced by the battles against America’s costliest past enemies.

What If Bin Laden Had Stood Trial? — Robert Lambert

[The] war on terror lost moral authority and became a gift to al-Qaida propagandists. The fact that the most effective counterterrorism is always closely focused on the prosecution of terrorist conspirators appeared to be of no concern in the Pentagon or Whitehall.

The Osama bin Laden Exception — Glenn Greenwald

The Allied powers could easily have taken every Nazi war criminal they found and summarily executed them without many people caring. But they didn’t do that, and the reason they didn’t is because how the Nazis were punished would determine not only the character of the punishing nations, but more importantly, would set the standards for how future punishment would be doled out.

Surveillance, Not Waterboarding, Led to Bin Laden — Spencer Ackerman

[Waterboarding] and other abusive techniques failed to get the name out of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libbi. A New York Times account has both men claiming not to know even the courier’s nom de guerre, which actually may have counted as a kind of confirmation by omission in this case. That says something about the limits of brute force in interrogation.

Torture May Have Slowed Hunt for Bin Laden, Not Hastened It — Dan Froomkin

It now appears likely that several detainees had information about a key al Qaeda courier — information that might have led authorities directly to bin Laden years ago. But subjected to physical and psychological brutality, “they gave us the bare minimum amount of information they could get away with to get the pain to stop, or to mislead us…”

We Do Not Excuse, But We Must Understand

I don’t give Robert Fisk enough praise. No other Western reporter even comes close to him in covering the Middle East.

The fact that Fisk interviewed Osama bin Laden on three separate occasions should be evidence enough that his is a voice to be listened to in the wake of the mass murderer’s death. As usual, he says what we need to hear, though not necessarily what we want to*:

A middle-aged nonentity, a political failure outstripped by history — by the millions of Arabs demanding freedom and democracy in the Middle East — died in Pakistan yesterday. And then the world went mad.   Continue reading “We Do Not Excuse, But We Must Understand”