CODEPINK Locals Respond to the Killing of Osama Bin Laden

Posted by CODEPINK Staff

By Janet Weil

Since the news broke of the killing of Osama Bin Laden (OBL) by US Special Forces in Pakistan, local coordinators around the country have been having a national email conversation about what it means.

Some focused first on the Al-Qaeda paymaster and global spokesman:

Rebecca of Lawrenceville, IL managed to email although she is in a shelter due to flooding in her area (!): … speaking as a 9 year vet, with OIF/OEF experience: Am I glad OBL is dead, yup. Freaking overjoyed in fact. My joy that an evil man is gone, though, has been tempered by the fact that we've lost something like 50,000 US troops, and over a million civilians in what amounted to a political game.

Martha of Portland, OR started a long thread by writing her reaction to the public exultation in the news of OBL’s death:

I feel like I'm living in a loony bin. 6,000 US soldiers dead. Untold numbers of Afghans and Iraqis dead. Millions of people maimed, driven mad, made homeless. Ecosystems destroyed. Depleted uranium poisoning the ecosystem for God knows how many centuries.

And people all over the country--including some of my friends--are cheering because bin Laden has been killed, and saying now we can end the wars. As if we really went to war just to capture or kill one individual. And hurrah for Obama; now he's going to get re-elected.

Bin Laden caused 9/11. He didn't cause our wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. We could've sent the same Special Forces or whatever in years ago to kill him, but we didn't. Our government is responsible for mass murders and torture. Our economy has been wrecked and we'll be paying for these wars for another generation. Our civil liberties have been taken away, and we may never get them back.

I'm supposed to cheer, because one guy, whose message has long since been superseded by the democratic uprisings in the Arab world, is now dead.

Others joined in:

Desiree of Arlington, VA: We aren't the loonies, THEY ARE! We're just treated that way for thinking differently, thinking peacefully.

Karen of Bismarck, ND: My thoughts exactly, Martha. Thank you.

Lisa of Solon, ME: False dichotomies + personification of everything = central strategy employed by the Forces of Greed to confuse the masses while looting and pillaging the world.

Leslie of Dallas, TX: Really - waving flags & yelling "USA" because someone's dead - as if it will make everything okay? Except we'll still need to keep invading & occupying 'cause evidently it won't all be okay until we have control of all the world's resources. Sigh...

Madeleine of Houston, TX: I too find the public exhilaration over Bin Laden's death depressing. We've killed someone, adding another body to the thousands and thousands we have already killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. And just before that, the callous reports that Kaddafi’s son and two grandchildren had been killed in NATO attacks. Does it never end? Bin Laden was a terrorist. So is the American government.

Mary of Tucson, AZ got her perspective on the radio: Thanks for sharing reactions and validating my own. I have been crying, too. My heart breaks for my country.

I called into the local right wing radio station this morning as they were trumpeting the news of Obama's death and calling for yet more violence. When the host introduced me as Green Party Mary DeCamp, I corrected him and said I was Green Party, Code Pink, neighborhood activist, and regular ol' human being Mary DeCamp. … I told him I was scared because of all the uncertainty out there and with the increasing violence. I got in a bit on Julia Ward Howe as the founder of Mother's Day and the reason for its origination and how I am concerned with our greatest treasure, our children, and I thought we should bring troops home to plant gardens, weatherize our homes, teach our children, and tend our elders. I reminded everyone of our human connection and said when I was scared and uncertain what worked best for me was reaching out and sending love to those most different from me.

Elsa of Berlin, Germany gave an international perspective: Arab immigrants reading about the killing of Osama in the internet cafes of Paris and Berlin are saying, "Just like a Hollywood movie!" And the main peace networks in Europe concur with CODEPINK and Veterans for Peace and other US peace activists about the killing of Osama. People everywhere see through this -- "burial at sea" and the truth is supposed to disappear from public scrutiny...

What else might the US government have done?

Nancy H of Tucson, AZ blogged about it: I expected surgical strikes and undercover ops would take out the Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden within a year or so from the time of the attacks. I did not expect the vast constriction of our rights as Americans nor did I expect the blatant misdirection of our precious resources and lives in war toward a land, against a people, and despot who had absolutely nothing to do with the heinous attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001.

Several CODEPINKers said, in various ways: a Special Forces team could have killed OBL years ago, without the country getting into two wars.

The burial at sea seemed weird to many, and Lisa of Maine asked a Muslim friend about it:
From my friend who is Afghan-American and Muslim: Burial at sea is not Islamic, it is a deliberate humiliation, much like stacking naked men together at Abu Ghraib. As far as the rationale that by doing so the U.S. was preventing a shrine to Osama being established, Osama's Wahhabi sect is vehemently opposed to shrines. Shrines are part of Sufi-influenced Islam, such as is prevalent in Afghanistan.

My note: Burial at sea = destroying evidence. Also, since we've obviously learned so very little from occupying Afghanistan for ten years, can we come home now?

Martha again: But it sure looks weird that they buried bin Laden at sea at 2:30 am after "proving" by DNA analysis that it was him. They've lied to us about everything else (WMDs, Pat Tillman's death, the unemployment rate) that if they said the sun will rise in the morning, I'd check it out with an independent astronomer.

A few questioned the official narrative on the events of 9/11:

Stephania of Hayward, CA wrote: Sure, he [OBL] did some terrible things in the past. No one doubts that. But did he orchestrate 9/11?? I highly doubt that. He never even took credit for it, though lots of people have false memories of that. David Ray Griffen’s book “The New Pearl Harbor” is a stunning revelation. I wish more people would read it. I think that we need to wake up and figure out how our government is manipulating us and has done so for years. Don't fall in with the bloody cheerleaders. Open your eyes and see what is really there. Follow the $$$.”

Legal implications of this killing included:

Natalie of Davis, CA: “As a lawyer I cringe every time I hear that ‘justice has been served.’ What I learned in law school… this is NOT justice, and they are not fighting for our freedom, and freedom is just chaos without well-organized justice… I’m so glad I’m on the email list for codepinkers! It’s interesting being in such a minority.”

Nancy K of New York City gave the following information: Not that this will go far, but at least someone is making the gesture. RULE OF LAW: U.N. rights commissioner asks U.S. for facts on bin Laden killing via @reuters

Kathy of Martinez, CA pointed out: We’re in 2 and ½ wars now: Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. And there’s also Yemen and Pakistan. So really about 5 wars.

What to do next:
I’ll end with this statement by Eliz of The Farm in Tennessee:
We could hope this one death, after so many, would be the opportunity to stop and rethink our policies that have led to the ruin of so many lives and the loss of resources that cannot be replaced.
The intelligent action would start by the end of funding contractors to remove them from our bases and military operations. Bring our troops home and close the many bases around the world. Put the well-trained military back to work as civilian engineers and tradesmen to rebuild our infrastructures here at home, and where we are needed, in the countries we have occupied.


Cut all military foreign aid and extend real financial, technological and face to face assistance to end poverty and resource degradation all around the world. To do this will make us more secure than all the weapons we now have. Beating swords into plowshares can be profitable for the present weapons manufacturers and others who profit from war and occupation.

Bring everyone to the many tables needed to talk peace. Women, scientists, and labor must be present.
It will take time, but much better spent than how we are spending our time in this moment.

To survive with grace and prosperity, we must make intelligent changes. I try not to despair considering our history and the power that violence has over the minds of so many in leadership.

Janet: Thanks to all who have responded! I’ll be writing my own piece as a CODEPINKer and military family member tomorrow.

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