Archive for the ‘terrorism’ Category

Quick Thoughts on Bin Laden Killing

Sunday, May 8th, 2011


Any morally calibrated person felt a sense of justice delievered upon hearing that mass murder Osama Bin Laden had been killed by US Special Forces. An important measure of justice comes from the realization that Bin Laden was not killed instantly from a cruise missile attack. Rather he must of had time to realize that the Americans had found him and his last sight was of an American SEAL.

I was a little surprised to see the street celebrations in Washington and New York City. At first glance, there was a superficial resemblance to the celebrations in the Islamic world after the 9/11 attacks. It does not take too much thought to see the difference. Americans were celebrating killing a mass murderer, the radical Islamists were celebrating mass murder of the innocent. Americans were waving their own flags, radical Islamists were burning the American flag. Americans chanted “USA’’ into the evening air, radical Islamists shot AK-47’s into air. I am not personally given to such street demonstrations, but for anyone upset at these rather modest celebrations after the killing Bin Laden — live with it.

Kill or Capture

In old westerns and cop shows there were many times when the criminal had been captured, but has not been shot by the heroic protagonist. It would not be morally right for the “good guy’’ to shoot the “bad guy’’ in cold blood. However, writers sometimes used the convention that the bad guy would start to shoot at the good guy and be killed in self-defense. The plot device maintained more clarity.

Perhaps in keeping with this sort of narrative, early this week spokesmen in the Obama Administration suggested that Bin Laden had gone down fighting Americans. Later he was said to be reaching for a gun. This effort only served to undermine the Administration’s credibility and competence after it had executed the extremely competent mission to get Bin Laden.

The attempts to construct a story missed the point. The mission to get Bin Laden was not a criminal enforcement with the primary goal of apprehension, it was an tactical strike in a war Bin Laden had declared. The goal was to kill the enemy. The only way that Bin Laden would not be shot is if he immediately and conspicuously surrendered. In war, an enemy combatant are typically shot on sight.

Enhanced Interrogation

During in the Bush Administration, arguments about “enhanced interrogation’’ techniques, the claim by some was it doesn’t work. In turns out that one of the threads that began to unravel from the pull of “enhanced interrogation’’ led to information about Bin Laden’s couriers and ultimately to Bin Laden himself. One can argue against enhanced interrogation from a variety of stand points, but one can no longer make the argument that such techniques don’t at times work. This does not make enhanced interrogation legal or moral, but does suggest that there may be a moral dilemma associated with their use. Perhaps the arguments about enhanced interrogation now can be made with more intelligence and less righteous bluster.


The Obama Administration has correctly decided not to release photos of a dead Bin Laden. The photos are surely gruesome and need not be released. Americans should not display vulgar trophies of victory. If there are people who believe Bin Laden is still alive, they would not be convinced by photos which a skeptic could dismiss as easily as other evidence. If there are some people foolish enough to believe Bin Laden is still alive, let them.

Thoughts on the Mosque Near “Ground Zero”

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

The controversy surrounding the decision build a mosque 600 feet from where Islamic terrorists flew planes into and destroyed the World Trade Center Towers killing over 2,000 people on September 11, 2001 calls for a few observations:

  1. It is unlikely that those building the mosque are simply moderate Muslims who just happened to need a mosque and community center in this area. It is more likely that those behind this particular mosque at this particular place view it as a political statement.
  2. However, political statements, beautiful and ugly, are protected. It is probably not possible or even desirable for an intervention by the state to block construction of the facility. The most appropriate response is for community pressure — legal and open pressure — to dissuade construction.
  3. There is more than a little idiocy involved in the defense of the decision to allow the mosque’s construction.


From a distance, it is impossible to determine with certainty the motivations of those who are building the mosque. However, there are several negative indications.While Fiesal Abdul Rauf, the inman behind the he construction of the mosque, is reputed to be a moderate devoted to reconciliation, he can’t quite get himself to concede that Hamas is a terrorist organization and holds the United States an “accessory” by its foreign policy to the attacks of 9/11.Rauf has not revealed the sources of funding for mosque construction. While not required to do so, his refusal suggests a lack of openness that would be consistent with reconciliation.

Ayann Hirsi Ali, was a Somali woman, who escaped what she considers the tyranny of Islam over women as Islam is traditionally practiced. She escaped her planned marriage to a Canadian, and managed to get elected to the House of Representatives of the Dutch parliament after receiving asylum. She has since moved to the United States, but is still under death threat from Islamic zealots. She published the books Infidel and Nomad, based on her experiences. She has earned credibility on issues regarding the relationship between Islam and the West.

On a recent Washington area radio show Ali explained how Muslims have traditionally built mosques at the scenes of its conquests and victories. She believes the proposed mosque near ground zero is one such trophy.

It is possible that despite the above evidence, that the Muslims building the mosque are really well-intentioned and misunderstood. If that is the case, the should consider building the mosque elsewhere out of an abundance of goodwill.

An appropriate analogy is the case in the 1980s where a group of Carmelite nuns moved into a unused building near Auschwitz, where over a million Jews where killed by the Nazis. No one doubted the good will of the nuns, but many Jews considered their presence so close to Auschwitz to be hurtful.  Pope John Paul II, after consultation and thoughtful prayer, decided to ask the Carmelite nuns to move. Catholic-Jewish reconciliation would not be served, if Catholics pursued an unnecessary course of action hurtful to Jews, even if no bad intent was involvedA large number of the relatives of victims of 9/11 have expressed such hurt, and Inman Rauf could demonstrate his good will by honoring and respecting those feelings.

State Intervention

It appears that the construction of the mosque as passed all the local zoning restrictions. There was an attempt to use landmark preservation laws to preserve a building at the proposed site of the mosque as a means to prevent the mosque’s construction.Conservatives should be a little reticent about the use of such tactics, usually abused by the Left. Although local zoning boards many times make reasonable decisions based upon the evidence, the broad discretion allowed these authorities are invitations to petty politically-based decisions. Conservative should not encourage such a use.

The state and city of New York, probably have no legitimate recourse but to allow construction of the mosque. It is, however, in the power of individuals to dissuade construction. Among other things, they can stage protests at the construction sites. Local unions and contractors could refuse to participate in the construction. If the feelings against the perceived insult to the victims of 9/11 is strong enough, such approaches might prevail.  Of course, care should be taken to make it extremely clear that it is the symbolism of this particular mosque in this particular place less than a decade after 9/11, and not mosques and Muslims in general, that are at issue.

Idiots (Useful or Not)

There is a difference between conceding that the local government is prohibited from stopping the construction of this particular facility in this particular place, and trying to make smugly self-aggrandizing boasts about it.New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a case and point. He boasted about tolerance and openness in allowing the placement of a mosque so close to ground zero, neglecting to acknowledge that the people who suffered loses on 9/11 could legitimately feel pain from such losses. Such feelings were not important.

Perhaps Bloomberg should be forgiven. His ability to make judgements in times of stress has not been well vindicated. In the immediate aftermath of the attempted bombing of New York Times Square when no one knew the motivations of the bomber, Bloomberg volunteered  that the culprit could have been “somebody with a political agenda who doesn’t like the health care bill or something. It could be anything.” Ultimately Islamic extremist Faisal Shahzad, who wanted to “plead guilty 100 times over,” is believed to be the guilty party. Fortunately, we know now from where Bloomberg sees the real threats arising.