Bin Laden Death FAQ [UPDATED]

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Q: Was Osama Bin Laden really killed Sunday?
A: Yes.

Q: Wait, didn't you say it was last week?
A: I originally used an AP report that it was last week. I can't find a retraction of the report, but it's not been repeated anywhere since, so I'm going with Sunday.

Q: Are we certain it's him?
A: The U.S. government seems certain, and they likely have good reason to be. It causes me to ask two questions though: how did they verify his identity so quickly (well under 24 hours), and will they release evidence to others to verify for themselves that Bin Laden is really dead? The White House asserted they used DNA evidence; in a separate AP report, John Brennan recognized the concern and said they plan on sharing evidence "to make sure that nobody has any basis to try to deny that we got Osama bin Laden."

Q: Great! So ... are we leaving Afghanistan now?
A: Of course not. We are not in Afghanistan to get Bin Laden (except for the relatively small group that's been dedicated to finding him), but to help bring the nation under control. Whether you think that's a good, or even realistic, goal, it's had almost nothing to do with Bin Laden (except that his actions served as the catalyst, of couse). Remember, Bin Laden went to Afghanistan in the first place because that's where the fighting was: they were fighting before he got there and they won't stop until long after he's gone.

Q: Well, at least he's dead. So ... we should celebrate, yeah? We've been hunting him for almost ten years!
A: If you like. But actually, we've been hunting him for more than ten years, since Clinton was in office and Bin Laden attacked the USS Cole.

Q: Oh, I forgot about that.
A: Most people seem to.

Q: You don't sound too excited. Again: we've been hunting for him for a long time.
A: That's not a question.

Q: *rolls eyes* OK, fine: why don't you sound very excited?
A: I normally don't.

Q: I expected you might in this case. Er ... but why don't you sound excited in this particular case? He killed lots of people, we've been hunting him for more than ten years, and we finally got him.
A: I am a strong believer in justice, but I don't take joy in it. It's just something that happens in response to something else, not a cause for celebration, from where I sit. At best, I feel relief in knowing he can't harm others in the future, and I'm not even sure how much of a danger he remained to us. I've wondered for the better part of the last ten years -- about nine of them -- whether hunting him was worth the resources, when we'd basically cut him off from being effective anyway.

Q: Umm ... really?
A: Pretty much, yes. I'm satisfied that justice has been served, but I am unsure if it was worth the cost, and even if it was, I'd take no joy in it. Sorry to be a downer. Make no mistake, I prefer him dead or incarcerated, and I believe the world is likely much better off for it, all other things considered equal.

Q: OK, well, putting yourself in the shoes of normal people, don't we have cause to at least give huge credit to President Obama? MSNBC said this will be one of the most significant achievements of his presidency.
A: None of us know much of what happened, but from what we know so far, if this is one of the most significant achievements of his presidency -- saying "yes, please kill this bad guy you found" -- that's pretty sad. From all appearances he didn't do anything that Bush, McCain, Cheney, Biden, etc. wouldn't have done. I'm not trying to take anything away from Obama here; I just don't see how this reflects well on him, when it's something almost anyone -- including me, and probably you -- would have done too.

Q: OK, but if Bush had caught Osama, you'd be saying how it reflected on what a great leader he was, right?
A: You're new here, aren't you? I tend to not give credit to anyone, including people I like -- and I am not a huge Bush fan -- unless they really did something to deserve it. Doing your job competently doesn't win you extra points with me. Bluntly put, saying Obama did something great here isn't much less of a stretch than saying he did something to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.

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