by Tess Lawrence | Contributing editor-at-large
"Any man''s death diminishes me, because I am involved with Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” ~ John Donne, 1624.
When President Barack Obama laid that wreath on Ground Zero, I lit a votive, in my own mad lapsed Catholic way, and thought of these powerful words and of the inalienable if sometimes unpalatable truths they contain.
It doesn''t matter a displaced fig leaf that Johnny-been-there-and-Donne-that wrote these words centuries ago.
Johnny D was the Johnny Depp (as in handsome spunk) of his day. And of this day.
He''s dead in body, but not in spirit. Like Osama bin Laden.
What is Donne cannot be undone.
But what is done in our name needs to be undone to transparency; otherwise we need to place wreaths not only upon memorials for our dead, but also for the living, at the shrine of The Tomb of the Unknown Truth.
I will not rejoice in the death of Osama bin Laden.
Even if he had died of natural causes, of kidney and ideological failure, I would not have rejoiced but felt a sense of uneasy relief.
I never thought that Osama bin Laden initially had the degree of power and influence that George W Bush attributed to him. He didn''t.
Bush stupidly gave it to him.
In the form of an imprimatur when bin Laden''s personal jihad on the House of Saud, which ultimately manifested itself on American airspace and soil on 9/11, was not defined as a war crime against the United States and the human family, but instead was given legitimacy as an act of war.
And what''s more, it was Halal.
By doing so, Bush conferred holy orders upon bin Laden, giving sovereignty to Al Qaeda''s borderless state of mind and ministries of hate.
In effect, what Bush did was to turn Al Qaeda from the disparate and desperate groupings of wahabis and other wannabees, into a tangible entity – a deadly, albeit homeless, nation state – and he publicly anointed Osama bin Laden its monarch, thereby genuflecting to the terrorist''s status.
Bin Laden and AQ was to expeditiously grow into the designer branding promulgated by the Bush Administration, gaining international traction and a coherent strength partly through deed, partly through intimation, intimidation, implication and threat; the critical ''intangibles'' that are part of the terrorist''s formidable armoury.
BUSH AND BIN LADEN – BROTHERS IN ARMS
Both Bush and bin Laden were brothers in alms as well as brothers in arms. Monies for War. War for Monies. Done deal.
They needed one another. They were both feeding off the same plate. The rest of us were served the leftovers.
Those leftovers weren''t Halal. They weren''t Kosher. They weren''t even edible. You can''t eat lies but you can cook them.
You can''t force feed us with them. Even though we swallow them for a while. They were served up every which way. Lies overdone. Lies underdone. Lies easy over. Lies done over. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can''t fool all of the people all of the time; doesn’t stop our governments trying.
This bin Laden was a pigment of Dubya''s malevolent imagination and needy ego, crayoned by
the likes of The Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove, who gathered around steaming cauldrons of war, beating drums in time to the thoughtful piano playing of their beholden and strictly coiffed Whitehousekeeper, Condoleezza Rice.
Remember the Coalition of the Willing? What was all that about? Does anyone care?
DRAW BACK THE LACE CURTAINS ON JAY CARNEY''S "FOG OF WAR"
ANYONE THINKING OF POOR DR DAVID KELLY?I''ll tell you who I was thinking about last Sunday, as I drew back the laced curtains on the misted window of White House spokesman Jay Carney''s "fog of war" to look out upon this wonderful and paradoxical world that I hold so dear.
I thought of poor old harried Dr David Kelly as he went for the last walk of his life in the woodlands of Harrowdown Hill, not far from his country home in Oxfordshire.
I thought of the name of that hill and how it was probably named for Willy the Conqueror’s slash and burn policy. My, what that man could have done with WMDs, anthrax, drones, cluster bombs, landmines, IEDs, Alastair Campbell and Navy SEALs.
Sweet William, we have come such a long way since your barbarisms; you would be so proud of us and civilisation as you didn''t know it.
Although, in fairness, like the SEALs did bin Laden, Team Willy the Conqueror got King Harry in the eye with that pesky ''ol arrow at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Dr Kelly had everything to die for. Poor sod.
But he should have had more to live for.
OMG, KELLY TOLD THE TRUTH ABOUT WMD
Remember him? The bearded bespectacled United Nations corduroy and tweedy-type weapons inspector, a scientific expert on biological warfare who was adamant there were no weapons of mass destruction and who, to his own tragic peril, dissed on the ''sexed up'' dossier that led to Britain''s invasion of Iraq and exposed the awful truth that Britain, the US, and Australia and The Rest had invaded Iraq on the back of an oily lie.
What was he thinking as he prepared to take his own life on that fateful day on July 17, 2003.
What had the 59 year old David done to pitch himself against the Goliath of the mighty Blair Government and that Iago of Meister Spinsters Incorporated, Alastair Campbell?
OMG, he told the truth about WMD. There were none.
ALLEGEDLY SLICED HIS LEFT WRIST WITH HIS BOYHOOD POCKETKNIFE
AFTER AN OVERDOSE - KILLING HIMSELF SOFTLY
What were his last thoughts I wondered as he allegedly swallowed those 29 analgesics and allegedly sliced into his left wrist using the pocketknife he''d had since a boy, with which he may once have picked stones from the soles of his shoes or sliced an apple? Killing himself softly.
With his song. The one without a chorus. The one that no-one else had the courage to sing along to.
It''s David''s birthday next weekend. He would have been 67. Happy Deathday David. I''ll light a votive candle for him and for all of us, including the hundreds of thousands of human beings – civilian and military alike – who died on and since and because of 9/11, all around the world, including Bali.
Kelly thought that invading Iraq on the back of a lie was an obscenity. But he was one of the few people in the know with the courage to speak up and say so and to inform journalists of the truth.
WHY ARE LORD HUTTON''S FINDINGS SUPPRESSED FOR 70 YEARS?
What was it in the subsequent enquiry documents and findings that Lord Hutton ordered suppressed for not 30 — but 70 years? Is the Supression Order to protect The Guilty?
Not all of Dr Kelly''s colleagues and supporters believe he suicided.
We the people have the right to know why one of us allegedly suicided because they spoke the truth against our government(s). Why are we frightened of our governments? Why are they afraid of us? Why are they allowed to hurt us? The death of one of us diminishes us all.
When President Barack Obama informed the world of the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of the SEALs in a firefight in the bin Laden compound in Pakistan''s Abbottabad, he said that "justice is done".
It now transpires that vengeance was done. Not Justice.
BURDEN OF PROOF RESTS ON OBAMA
Since his announcement last weekend, there have been so many variants on the original version as proferred by the President, The White House spokespeople, the CIA and FBI, that you would be forgiven for thinking something quite shonky is going on. And these are changes emanating from the Administration itself! Something shonky IS going on.
The burden of proof now rests on The President to prove otherwise, since the Commander in Chief assumed authorship of ''Operation Geronimo E.KIA'' (Enemy Killed In Action).
I don''t know about you, but I cannot subscribe to state sanctioned Hit Squads and the ''taking out'' of foreign nationals on foreign soil, let alone the justification of violating the sovereignty of another country without its knowledge — if, indeed, that is the case.
And no, I''m not talking about Osama bin Laden''s hit on the US on September 11, 200l, I''m talking about the US hit on Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. I can see how we might be confused though.
BLOODY MURDER IN ONE CASE, ''JUSTICE'' IN ANOTHER
Why is it an outrage and bloody murder in one case — and ''justice'' in another. Is it because one Commander in Chief is wearing a Galibaya — and the other a suit?
Was Osama bin Laden armed? Did he use a woman as a shield? Did he have a weapon?
Was there a firefight? And if so, was it one-sided? Did all the firepower come from the US?
We were told there were no mobile phones and the like — now we''re told seized computer equipment and data is being analysed .
If the compound was being constantly monitored 24/7 on the ground and via satellite / Google Earth and had been for months, then presumably all comings and goings would not only be recorded, but each would be followed up and monitored.
You know, that John Donne really nails it in that quote. And it''s not as if he didn''t know a thing or two about religion and politics.
Sure, he was a fab poet and a wicked satirist, but he was an enthusiastic womaniser and fornicator, fathered numerous children, as well as being a priest and a politician. Recognise the symptoms?
He was a thoroughly modern man and clearly well ahead of his own times. He''d be quite at home in our houses of democracy. All that glass.
Besides, being a priest wasn''t his fault. James I ordered him to become an Anglican priest.
And if you think the British Monarchy is bigoted against Catholics on this day, poor old John Donne couldn''t even graduate with a degree from Cambridge — because he was a Catholic. Plus ca change, plus c''est la meme chose.
I can''t understand why more leaders and organisations concerned with human rights and justice issues have remained mute about the fact that Osama bin Laden was assassinated and not brought before the courts.
MORAL COWARDICE IS GALLING
Surely such rough justice undermines any claims to moral authority or claim to democracy.
This moral cowardice is galling.
One of the lonely voices to speak up is the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Rowan Williams who said that the
"...killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling because it doesn''t look as if justice is seen to be done".
Obama should listen up. There should be no separation of powers in open discussion or matters of justice.
Like many of us, Archbishop Williams is confused about the sequence of events in the killing of bin Laden:
"I think it''s also true that the different versions of events that have emerged in recent days have not done a great deal to help."
"I don''t know the full details any more than anyone else does. But I do believe that in such circumstances when we are faced with someone who was manifestly a war criminal in terms of the atrocities inflicted it is important that justice is seen to be served."
HIS GRACE SPEAKS ABOUT THE CAMEL IN THE ROOM
Thank you, Your Grace, for speaking about the camel in the room.
Sadly, across the ecclesiastical road, his counterpart Archbishop Vincent Nichols – despite being head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales – gracelessly declined to comment on bin Laden''s death.
It''s such a pity that Australia''s Prime Minister Julia Gillard seems content to parrot America''s policy.
GILLARD PARROTS OBAMA
In a statement reminiscent of her notorious condemnation of Julian Assange''s activities as "illegal", when no-one has proved anything of the sort, she repeated President Obama''s well delivered line about bin Laden''s death. She said "Justice has been done".
But has it?
Never mind that President Obama thinks so much of British Prime Minister David Cameron that he woke him up at 3:30 am in the morning to personally tell him that Osama bin Laden was dead.
Never mind that our Prime Minister had to find out third hand.
What concerns me is this: was the information initially distributed by the President and White House to world leaders deliberately misleading? I''m just asking.
Was it deliberate that Osama bin Laden was portrayed as having resisted and was killed in a firefight and that he used a woman as a shield?
HAVE WE BEEN SET UP?
The United States would inevitably factor in a backlash over the nature of their killing of bin Laden — but it would make life marginally easier if he was depicted facing death as the cowardly terrorist he undoubtedly was in life.
And how better to have that message delivered by other leaders to their naive and native peoples? To be delivered in accents other than American?
I am also concerned that political leaders may have been deliberately deceived and manipulated and the truth withheld from them — and thus from us.
Have we been set up? Only asking.
One of the responsibilities of leadership, surely, is to speak out against the bending of rules, moral and legal codes and international conventions and laws; whether such transgressions come from Al Qaeda suicide bombers or US death squads. Both, presumably executing their missions at the behest of their leaders, in a belief of moral authority and apparently doing the bidding of their respective gods.
FAILURE OF OBAMA TO RELEASE PHOTOS OF DEAD BIN LADEN IS WEAK STRATEGY
The Obama Administration''s decision not to release photos of the dead bin Laden is weak strategy.
The whole matter has been handled with such incompetence that analysts and strategists are concerned at the calibre of advisors and crisis managers who have the big ears of the President.
Friday, at the London Royal Courts of Justice, Coroner Lady Justice Hallett delivered her conclusions to the heartbreaking 19 weeks evidence she''s heard into the 52 deaths caused by the horrifying 7/7 London bombings in 2005 and in which more than 700 people were injured.
Whilst her recommendations did not lay blame upon any single entity, she did identify matters for improvements by emergency services, Transport of London and MI5 that ought to be considered by Australia.
I note that Lady Justice Hallett recommended that MI5 must review its procedures on showing photographs to informants and make sure they see the best possible pictures.
FYI, here is a link to a BBC report of the Coroner''s findings.
The killing of bin Laden was always going to be problematic and it is appalling that no coherent tactical response plan was in place and ready to be deployed. Especially since bin Laden''s assassination was pre-meditated.
It is almost as if The White House is deliberately confusing the issue and encouraging doubt and speculation, not only about the circumstances of bin Laden''s death — but if he was indeed dead.
This so-called ''fog of war'' (preposterous under the circumstances) is at odds with the deft operational skill of the Navy SEALs – whatever their instructions – and whether they were under presidential decree to kill bin Laden and not take him prisoner.
The White House stated they would release photos of the dead bin Laden as proof; and then rescinded that decision. They did so knowing full well it would fuel wild speculation including amongst Islamist extremists/jihadists and that it would most certainly fuel the funeral pyres of propaganda.
Their own as well.
That decision and the conflicting reports from The White House not only caused doubt amongst extremists and fuelled all manner of conspiracy theories — they also caused doubt and uncertainty in some sectors in the West who – like Archbishop Williams and others – were beginning to feel uncomfortable and confused.
WHITE HOUSE NOT CONTRITE
FACE AS STRAIGHT AS ''MICKEY'' MOUSSA IBRAHIM
This aspect of the bin Laden killing reveals an appalling and inexplicable lacklustre performance from The White House and little contrition about the misinformation it was distributing — delivered with a face as straight as Gaddafi Government spokesman, ''Mickey'' Moussa Ibrahim.
The irony is, pro al Qaeda confirmed Osama bin Laden''s death; ironically, their word is more credible than that of President Obama on this issue. Maybe that''s just what The White House was trying to provoke — al Qaeda saying the Sheikh is dead, long live the many aspiring Sheikhs.
They did so around the same time that President Obama went to Fort Campbell in Kentucky to personally thank the Navy SEALs who conducted the Abbottabad hit on bin Laden.
There is no question that it was a breathtaking and courageous mission and consummately executed.
But I cannot haul my conscience over the barbed wire encased fact that they shot dead an unarmed human being.
Around the world there are large and smaller protests against the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of the US, as well as protests by Pakistanis at the invasion of their sovereignty and airspace.
Given that both Pakistani and United States Governments have issued duplicitous and contradictory statements about one another and about themselves, it is little wonder that some people are starting to write their own scripts.
Next time Obama needs to take anyone out he should ditch the performing SEALs, economise on the hardware and call in Sarah Palin. She''s a crack shot.
She can kill Christian-slaying murderous marauding moose (who are all secret Muslims without birth certificates and think they''re God''s gift) even when the silly short-sighted cloven-hooved devil terrorists are standing still and acting as majestic monarchs of the glenfiddick, pretending to be trees with their showy antlers or whatever you call those things sticking out the side of their big heads that are really suicide belts.
I mean wearing horns is fine if you''re a reindeer and it''s Christmas — but all year round? Really naff.
And what''s more, Sarah is so upfront about her trophies of the dead. She''s always got the photos to prove it. And what''s more, she puts it all out there. There''s no mucking about with Sarah. She''s a better man than you Obama, or Osama bin.
There''s no wastage either. Crikey, that Davy Crockette can skin, gut, chop, slice and dice a Moose in nano-seconds. There would have been no need for any burial at sea. You would have saved on the white sheets.
Also, Osama would have been well-shamed, being taken out by a woman. And not just any woman — a frontier-woman. How good is that? She would have taken Osama out with a single shot through both eyes without leaving a single drop of blood on his salt and pepper beard and removed his cranium with laser-like precision.
As well as giving Sarah a citation on behalf of the nation, you could name another recoilless gun for firing nuclear projectiles in her name, as it coincidentally happened with that other frontier person Davy Crockett during that very cold war with the Soviet Union.
And there is a link. It was meant to be. Sarah can still see Russia out of her window, if she pulls back those fogs of war lace curtains.
And while I''m in the zone, what about doing a posthumous ''Who do you think you are?'' reality TV show, using Osama bin Laden''s DNA, called ''Who do you think you were?'' or in view of his execution without trial, called ''Who do we think we are?''
Hey, what if we found out that he was related to the Prez? Or you? Or me? Or all of us?
What if the manner of his death diminished us all because we are all involved with mankind?
In the end, Obama will have to bite the bullet that was pumped into Osama''s head.
The first part of John Donne''s metaphysical and reflective poem, that he wrote whilst recovering from illness and dedicated to King Charles I, points out that "No man is an Island, entire of itself…"
Johnny, I''m so with you babe.