Wow! We hardly had time to shake off the hangover from the royal wedding and then BANG. The week starts with the announcement that the United States had finally managed to kill Osama bin Laden. Really? Crikey! They got him? Must have been one of those drone things attacking a cave. What? They actually stormed a Pakistani mansion he’d been hiding in all this time? Blimey! Oh look, there’s a photo! Yup, that’s him alright. You can tell by his beard.
Hey wait! Now they’re saying the photo has been exposed as a fake. Well how do we know for sure he’s dead then? Because Barack Obama says so and DNA tests prove it? They threw his body in the sea because nobody else wanted it, but did so with careful regard for Muslim tradition? Osama bin Laden sleeps with Luca Brasi and the fishes? Phew!
But hang on, what’s this? A friend just posted this photo to my facebook wall, saying bin Laden is still alive.
Is that a fake too? I don’t know what to believe any more. I’m trapped in a David Lynch film. What happened to the royal wedding? On top of that my computer's picked up a virus because, dead or not, that bin Laden has branched out into cyber-terror.
They call it the fog of war.
For military strategists it’s the inevitable uncertainty of a fast-moving army operation. For cynics it’s nothing but a poetic-sounding smokescreen to spin lies and misinformation. Either way, whatever a unit of US Navy Seals – and a specially trained and equipped dog of war (they took a dog?) – did in the early hours of Monday morning, the facts were fuzzy to say the least. So fuzzy in fact that even US senators weren't able to get their stories straight as they scrambled around Washington trying to appear as ‘in-the-loop’ as they could.
Then it turns out there are real photos of the dead bin Laden but that Barack Obama has decided we’re not allowed to see them. We want the truth? We can’t handle the truth!
Too gory, says Obama. They’ll only make it worse.
Too gory? replied the Daily Show's Jon Stewart. We watch American TV shows, we can cope with gory. And besides, the photos are not going to make terrorists hate us any more than they already do.
Don’t be a pussy just show us the goddam photos, screamed a hysterical Sarah Palin via Twitter. They may not have been her exact words but it’s close enough. Anyway, fog of war and all that.
Even those at the Obama-friendly Huffington Post thought the White House should show us what an exit hole in bin Laden’s head looks like.
Some argued that making the photos public would shut the conspiracy theorists up. Really? Not likely. Show 9/11 footage to a die-hard ‘truther’ and he/she will insist that the video is crudely photoshopped and further irrefutable proof that the World Trade Centre attacks were an inside job planned and financed by the Bush administration and its Illuminati puppet-masters. A still photo of a ‘dead’ bin Laden doesn’t prove to the conspiracy theorist that he isn’t now packing meat in the same supermarket as Elvis.
As I write this, al-Qaeda has just confirmed bin Laden’s death on a jihadist website. That is according to what news agencies are calling a ‘monitoring service.’ Yeah, right. What next? Man really landed on the Moon? I trust no-one after the photo incident.
We all either enjoy conspiracy theories or enjoy de-bunking them. If you fall into the former category, have a look at what the Iranian press has been saying about Operation Kill OBL. You may already be familiar with Alex Jones’ truther site Infowars (“Because there is a war on for your mind”!) where it is claimed that “they” are “contriving this bin Laden fable” in order to boost Obama’s re-election chances. That is according to Paul Craig Roberts, “former head of policy at the Department of Treasury and father of Reaganomics.” After OsamaPhotoGate I trust no man, especially one who calls his child Reaganomics.
The New York Times is among those who do seem to be giving Obama the benefit of the doubt when it comes to what went on in Abbottabad. It explains here (for those who are subscribed) why the official story coming from Washington has changed since Monday. To begin with bin Laden was armed and using his wife as a human shield, a few days later he was unarmed and his wife rushed at the Navy Seals. It quotes a former Pentagon spokeswoman as saying that “First reports are always wrong. It’s a fundamental truth in military affairs.” There’s that fog of war again. And I won’t be rushing to read first reports of military operations any more.
While the fog sits it’s apparently humanly impossible to sniff out what’s really going on. Which is presumably why the Navy Seals took the dog.
By Mark Davis
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