I don’t want to come across as a conspiracy theorist, but…

It seems awfully suspicious to me how quickly the US dumped bin Laden’s body.

Maybe it’s psychological. The 9/11 attacks happened when I was 12. Osama bin Laden has been our society’s cultural boogeyman for nearly half my life. For almost ten years, one of the most recognisable faces in the world – ghostly, demonic, more of a symbol than an actual man – has been infuriatingly beyond our grasp. Sketchy reports of his death surfaced at least once a year. He seemed to have disappeared entirely. His name became a by-word not just for evil, but for something that was impossible to find. It seemed like his ultimate fate in the history books would be uncertain, his name followed by a (1957 – ?), his legacy having trailed out somewhere on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

And then suddenly, when most of us had given up or forgotten or no longer cared, it was announced that he had been found and killed. And then, before we could even wrap our heads around this news, we were told that his body had been buried at sea.

The US says this was done to avoid creating a gravesite that would become a pilgrimage site for extremists (understandable), avoid the hassle of finding a country that would accept having bin Laden’s body buried on their soil (understandable), and to respect the Muslim tradition of not cremating bodies and disposing of them in a short timeframe. This last one is not so understandable. Why would we give a fuck about treating Osama bin Laden’s corpse with respect? Why would we prioritise that above other concerns, like independent verification?

How did this go down? Dust-off outside Abbotabad, helicopter flight to a US Navy vessel off Karachi, quick DNA sampling and dental extraction, and then tossed over the side like a Big Mac wrapper? How many people actually came into contact with that corpse? Who was the highest-ranking official who did?

I find it very… well, either “suspicious”‘ or perhaps merely “unsatisfying,” that a body we invested ten years of effort into locating – dead or alive – was so rapidly destroyed.

Maybe it’s because we had such stark images of Saddam Hussein’s capture, trial and execution in comparison, but bin Laden’s imageless death feels somehow wrong. This wasn’t how the story was supposed to go. I’m not saying he should have been taken back to the US and stuffed and put in a museum, but it couldn’t have hurt to have kept him in cold storage for a month or two. That would allow independent DNA verification (instead of whatever the CIA tells us), would allow high-ranking military figures and US government officials to inspect the body, and – most importantly – would go a long way towards discrediting exactly the kind of conspiracy theory that I’m sort-of-suggesting here.

Maybe more information will emerge in the coming weeks. I hope it does. I don’t want to go about accusing Obama of manufacturing some kind of fake emotional closure on the issue. Obama is a worse president than Bush and an appalling disappointment to any honest leftist, but he’s still above that. But if this rapid burial isn’t suspicious, it is, at the very least, sloppy and careless. Because now these conspiracy theories are going to start appearing like cockroaches in spring – and not without cause.

Update, May 5: Aaaand further details are released. Apparently it was less of a life-or-death firefight and more of a brutal massacre, and the US can’t release photos of bin Laden’s corpse because of that classic catch-all excuse, “national security.”

Obama also says: “There are going to be some folks who deny it. The fact of the matter is, you will not see Bin Laden walking on this earth again.” Um, we didn’t see him walking the earth before, either. That’s the whole point of wanting to see photo evidence of this event.

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