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Now What? The Dust Settles from Osama bin Laden’s Death

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By James Furbush on May 3, 2011


As the euphoria and fierce patriotism subsides from the news of Osama bin Laden’s death, there’s this underlying sense of “Now what?” It’s like that scene at the end of The Graduate, where Dustin Hoffman and that chick are sitting in the back of the bus and Hoffman has that weird smile on his face — he’s obviously excited about what just happened, but he’s scared shitless as to what may come.

Here’s the “Now what?” part of the equation that is Osama bin Laden’s death.

According to a report in Politico, the White House is already backing away from “key details” in the narrative of the operation. “Officials also retreated from claims that one of bin Laden’s wives was killed in the raid and that bin Laden was using her as a human shield before she was shot by U.S. forces.”

No weapon? No female human shield? Interesting. It sounds as if reporters are getting conflicting reports from multiple sources inside the White House. Some are still claiming bin Laden was armed before being shot.

We really won’t know for sure until video or photos of the raid are released, and even then you can be sure they’ll be heavily censored. The White House is, at the very least, debating the release of a post-assault bin Laden photo (White House officials say as of now there are no plans to release the photo). That photo would go a long way to appeasing the “deathers” movement, who don’t quite believe bin Laden’s dead and want to see the body.

That aside, the raid did lead to the U.S. military and intelligence gathering what they are calling “the mother lode of intelligence,” which may reveal the location of Ayman al-Zawahri, al Qaeda’s Egyptian deputy and bin Laden’s most likely successor. “That’s where we’re going next,” one U.S. official involved in planning the operation told The Washington Post.

Intelligence analysts are salivating at the possibility of prying open Osama bin Laden’s hard drive that was recovered from the raid. “Can you imagine what’s on Osama bin Laden’s hard drive?” asked an anonymous official. (So what’s on bin Laden’s hard drive? Tons and tons of porn, no? It’s lonely in those caves that mansion!)

And not to carp on the importance of Wikileaks, but if this Guardian report is to be believed, then it was a document released last week detailing a connection between a Gitmo interrogation to the bin Laden intelligence which may have forced the US to move the timetable up for the assault.

Glenn Greenwald asks the question that is on everyone’s mind: What are the consequences? What now? “A murderous religious extremist was killed. The U.S. has erupted in a collective orgy of national pride and renewed faith in the efficacy and righteousness of military force. Other than that, the repercussions are likely to be far greater in terms of domestic politics — it’s going to be a huge boost to Obama’s re-election prospects and will be exploited for that end — than anything else.”

That’s the question people should be asking: What will this event change? It’s unlikely to restore any of the civil liberties lost under the Patriot Act, or for that matter end either of the two wars still being fought. It’s absolutely going to further strain the U.S.-Pakistan relations, which if they had been better before might have led to intelligence suggesting bin Laden was chilling in a million dollar crib when he first moved into it six years ago.

Imagine how different things might be now if the U.S. had either apprehended or killed Osama bin Laden in 2005?

Donald Trump gets it. He personally congratulated President Obama and offered to set aside “party politics” for a few days. That’s the kind of thing politicians should do in a time like this.

Sarah Palin, on the other hand, doesn’t get it. It’s one thing to not acknowledge President Obama in any way — that’s her prerogative — it’s another thing entirely to praise President Bush instead, which is exactly what she did while speaking at Colorado Christian University. “We thank President (George W.) Bush for having made the right calls to set up this victory,” she said.

Or we can not thank him for starting two wars, crippling the economy and not doing the one thing he should have done as president, which is capture or kill Osama bin Laden.

Anyways, now that the serious stuff is out of the way, let’s get down to some of the other flotsam and jetsam from what is arguably the biggest news event since the economic collapse of 2008.

Here is the latest cover for Time Magazine, which will hit newsstands on Thursday. The cover is a not-so-subtle homage to a previous magazine cover. As several have previously noted, Hitler and bin Laden share at least one important similarity: The deaths of both were announced on the same day: May 1st.

Gary Weddle, a middle school science teacher from East Wenatchee, Washington, made a vow after 9/11 to never shave his beard until Osama bin Laden was captured or killed. Amazingly, the guy stuck to his promise. According to The Daily Astorian, Weddle was tending to his garden when he received the call informing him that bin Laden was dead.

He wasted no time cutting his beard off, which his wife says he now looks ten years younger. Judge for yourself.

And finally, yes, even Hollywood is getting into the bin Laden game. Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, the duo behind the 2009 Best Picture film The Hurt Locker, are making an al Qaeda film. And yes, that film is now being rewritten to incorporate the bin Laden assault.

For more on the raid that killed bin Laden:
Mission Truly Accomplished: Osama bin Laden Killed in U.S. Military Operation
PHOTOS: National Security Team in W.H. Situation Room
What a Country: Political Celeb Palin Praises Dubya, Snubs Obama on #OBL Mission
What Would Osama bin Laden Killing Be Without Absurd Taiwanese Animation?
Man in Abottabad Accidentally Live-Tweets Raid That Killed bin Laden
Firefighters React in Times Square: Easily the Best Photo of the Last Decade
VIDEO: Crowd at White House Reacts to bin Laden Death
Media outlets make typos: “OBAMA BIN LADEN DEAD?” is just one example
For Posterity’s Sake: Here’s What Monday’s New York Times Front Page Looks Like
How the Nation and the World Reacted to News of Osama bin Laden’s Death
CAPTION CONTEST: Osama bin Laden’s Eternal Hiding Spot
VIDEO: John Cena Tells WWE Audience About Osama bin Laden Raid
VIDEO Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart and Other Late-Night Comedians React to #OBL Killing

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