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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted

The title is allegedly a phrase from Hassan i Sabbah, the leader of a sect of Ismaeli Muslims whose use of hashish and their intrigues give us the word "assassin".  William Burrough's fascination with this phrase is prescient.  What was Osama Bin Laden if not the contemporary Sabbah?  And if recent photographic evidence is any indication, truth is a rare commodity these days.  Everything permitted?  How about flying a pair of planes into a pair of buildings?  How about lying through one's teeth in order to justify not one but two wars, provoked by oil and geopolitical hegemony, but framed as justice and the defense of liberty, all the while playing on the bald-faced desire for vengeance?

When I began my post on my initial reaction to the killing of Osama Bin Laden, I immediately Googled "Osama Bin Laden death photo" and came across the rather gruesome image I included in that post and will include again here in a few variations.  So, in order to avoid grossing you out like I did to an unsuspecting friend of mine, you are hereby warned.  Even though this image has been proven a fake, it's still graphic.

When I Googled this on the morning of 2 May, Toulouse time, I found only one source for this photo on a partisan, "non-mainstream" website, which aroused my suspicions.  Furthermore, the beard looks weird.  I remember saying, "This looks like it was taken by a cell phone.  The US wants to convince us that they got OBL and this is all they've got?"

I guess in my eagerness to put something up, especially as it so neatly resembles both the pose in the Che Guevara post-mortem photo as well as the parcourse of Che's remains (photographed -- displayed to the world -- hidden), I neglected to air my suspicions, perhaps suppressing them a bit.

In subsequent discussions on this photo and the death of OBL, a facebook friend pointed me in the direction of a website called Bella Ciao, which presented evidence that this photo is in fact a photoshop fake.  Ever the skeptic's skeptic, I countered "Who's to say the second image is not the photoshop fake?"  But I knew this wasn't likely, especially given that my initial skepticism focused on that beard....

http://bellaciao.org/es/spip.php?article7871
 

So, it soon appeared in several mainstream news outlets that yes indeed, this photo was a fake.  The conspiracy rumblings  grew louder and the accusations were immediate.  The US has been caught in a ham-fisted attempt to bamboozle the world!  Obama's been dead for years.  This is all a scam!  The photo "proves" it.  By chance, I had said just the day before to someone that in this digital age, "proof" by photography no longer exists.  I meant that in the sense that a good artist can convincingly fake anything.

But the fake image had made the rounds, even appearing on such mainstream rags as The Daily Mirror (which has since removed the site).  In this version we see the image as it appeared on Pakistani television.  Maybe this channel wasn't the source of the image, but it does seem to have been responsible for first airing it as the real deal, whereupon it was subsequently picked up by media elsewhere.

Now, being the agnostic that I am about everything I read about in the media, I have not decided if this event is exactly as it's being presented.  The burial at sea is just weird to me.  But a lot of conspiracy-oriented minds have come up with a lot of possible theories.  That Obama's been dead for years and this is a masquerade, or that he was actually killed but had been under observation for a while, the US only now choosing to strike.  Several possible motives have been proposed but there is one which seems to be the most interesting (link to original):

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Pakistan "bluntly" told Afghanistan's president "to forget about allowing a long-term U.S. military presence in his country," and urged him instead "to look to Pakistan--and its Chinese ally--for help in striking a peace deal with the Taliban and rebuilding the economy." According to Afghan officials, at an April 16 meeting in Kabul in which the leaders of Pakistan's military and intelligence also participated, Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told Pres. Hamid Karzai that "the Americans had failed them both," and that it was time for Kabul to choose "alternative allies."

This article closes:

....Islamabad's renewed efforts to make deals with the Pakistani Taliban are clear signals that the Pakistani government has no intention to find a "common ground" with the U.S. in the war on terrorism. As Washington is planning to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan this summer, Pakistani officials are stepping up efforts to secure their own interests in the region at the expense of U.S. national-security interests.

Now, this article appeared 3 days before the killing of OBL and if true, would actually provide a good reason to fake this event.

First, occurring so close as it did to Pakistani military installations, it raises questions as to what the authorities there knew.  By embarrassing them in such way, it would have to force the government to answer difficult questions and pressure them to be more publicly, if not privately supportive of US interests.  If they did not, it would give an excuse to the US to exercise even more power within that country;

Secondly, it's not much of a veiled threat.  The US has proven itself willing to engage in covert operations within Pakistan and shown the capacity to act independently within a stone's throw of the military.

But if this were a complete fabrication, why would the US try to bolster it's story with what is in retrospect so obviously false image which proved so easily demonstrated?

That this image first appeared on Pakistani TV is instructive  Is it not possible that this was in fact given to the station by Pakistani military or intelligence personnel and handed of as legitimate?  When the obvious fake was discovered this could then undermine the US goals.  Standard cloak and dagger stuff.

I've heard tell this image has been on the net for years which may or may not be true.  But it's clearly a fake, and I'm more inclined to believe this to be of Pakistani than US origin.

Unfortunately, the US has no body to show and they are apparently debating whether or not to release the real deal.  I'd like to see those and imagine at this point it would be in the US' interests to do so.

Thus the continuing undermining of faith in Pakistani reliability, a major theme in today's online version of the NYT and WP, for justifying a more aggressive role towards its erstwhile partner.  I think it's not unduly paranoid to ask if this incident is part of a larger series of behind the scenes games to reassert the US presence in Pakistan.  Remember the USS Maine?  The Gulf of Tonkin incident?  BLT's in Iraq?  How many dubious truths has the US used to justify its wars?  Bin Laden, Hussein, Noriega, the Taliban?  How many CIA-funded villains have become public enemy number one?  Set 'em up just to watch 'em fall.

As I was writing the previous post, another friend alerted me to the following "death photo" on live leak.  Given the quality, it's hard to verify whether or not it's real.  Reminds me of those alien autopsy images.  Makes me wonder where they got such a realistic puppet....Real Doll?  Actually, it's a flipped and photoshopped still from Black Hawk Down, as this site demonstrates (warning, the thread is started of with a very gruesome pictrue.)


This article is interesting.  It discusses whether or not media outlets will print or show the real pictures if and when they are released, as US media outlets usually avoid showing these things to their audience.  Personally, we at LoS think they should.  One the one hand, it will settle some of the doubts reasonable people have about the story.  Of course, no image will ever put this story to bed, but it would be a step in the right direction.  More importantly, I think seeing a disfigured man with his head blown apart might give some people pause, maybe not be so jubilant about what was at last an unarmed human being (however rotten), gunned down.  Not to be the squeamish pacifist, but to refer back to Burroughs, people should know exactly what it is they have on the end of their fork.

Well, things move fast.  Today, the White House says will not release the photos, because it won't mollify doubters.  In that at least, they are probaly right.

3 comments:

  1. Reuters has published photos of others killed at the scene:

    http://www.reuters.com/subjects/bin-laden-compound

    A Reuters photog also described how Obama's reaction speech photos were also staged. After he gave the speech in fron of one camera, he posed for shots pretending to speak:

    http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/als-morning-meeting/130913/reuters-ap-photojournalists-describe-staging-of-obama-photo-staged-after-announcement-of-bin-ladens-death/

    Don't rust photos, basically. Nothing is True.

    ReplyDelete
  2. More arguments for "regime change" from the same author, here - http://www.aei.org/article/103550 :
    "Q. Do you believe there are elements in Pakistan's government which are trusted allies of the Al Qaeda and Taliban? Or is that improbable? Would you say that there is only popular support among certain sections of the public?
    A. Supporting the Afghan Taliban is the official policy of Pakistan's army and intelligence service.
    While the Army has taken action against the Pakistani Taliban that fight the Pakistani government, it has given a free rein to the Afghan Taliban and terrorist groups in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas that are fighting against the Afghan and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
    The Pakistani Army treats the Haqqani Network, for example, as a 'strategic asset.' There has been no Pakistani operations against Mullah Omar's shura based in the city of Quetta.
    There are trusted allies of the al Qaeda and Taliban within the Pakistani government. Many former military generals and ex-ISI officials publicly defend the Taliban and despise the United States. Former ISI chief Gen. Hamid Gul, for example, freely and publicly campaigns for the cause of terrorists against the United States. "
    ===================================
    I think we'll see a wave of "popular momentum" generated for "regime change" in Pakistan based on discoveries and disclosures from the "hard drives and DVDs" allegedly seized from the "OBL hideout" near Abbottabad. Now, it's possible the government isn't lying about this and that there is really bad stuff going on - but I think the result will be the same, seizure of the Pakistani nuclear complex and establishment of US firebases on the Pakistani/Iranian border. AFAIC, I don't mind seizure of Pakistani nukes, which are part of a complex which destabilizes the region. I think the real target of this whole exercise lies elsewhere... just look at a map and figure it out.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very plausible reasons to use this as a pretext for "regime change" and drumming up support for it. I guess we'll have to wait and see what unfolds.

    ReplyDelete

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