The Barack Obama 2008 ascendency to President touched off a backlash among a small minority. What started as a sleazy campaign trick to question his citizenship turned into a conspiracy theory among his haters. No matter what evidence was presented, there would be no convincing these people that he actually was (is) a U.S. citizen. The publicity of it had died off until Donald Trump breathed new life into it. Several days before the Navy SEAL operation that took out Osama bin Laden, President Obama released his long-form birth certificate to help put the matter to rest.
That dovetailed nicely with the joint military/CIA action in Pakistan. As the Birther issue was dying the Deather issue was being born, in a curious "circle of life" coincidence.
For those not in the know, "Deathers" are those who question the official story of the operation. In a mirroring of the Birthers, most are people on the left side of the political spectrum, and most are people who subscribe to every political conspiracy theory that comes along. In their minds, everything the government says or does is a lie to cover up some nefarious "truth" that They (with a capital "T") are trying to hide. It's a complex web of intrigue worthy of Hollywood, and impossible to believe if you notice just how often the government screws up the simplest of things (oh wait - that's just part of the act so that you won't believe what they're really capable of, blah blah blah...
see my previous post on conspiracy theories here
The problem with the Deather conspiracy theory is how much evidence there is that goes against the theory. Let's look at the most popular one:Theory:
Osama bin Laden has been dead for years, and this was staged so the government can
. Some say he was captured and killed in 2002
, while others believe he died in the caves of Afghanistan from kidney failure
. I certainly thought the latter was a distinct possibility prior to this action, since he had been able to elude capture for so long.Reality:
This doesn't make sense, since bin Laden was more valuable to fear-based military action if the American people thought he was still alive. The risks of failure - loss of life to our most elite fighting force, expensive stealth helicopters, the embarrasment of another Somalia-type failure - would greatly outweight the benefits for pretending to capture someone that didn't exist anymore.
Besides all the rationales for why it wouldn't make sense to fake it, there's the actual evidence:
- Why would al-Qaeda vow revenge if they knew he was already dead? It would make more sense for them to embarrass the US by revealing that he had been dead all along.
- A Pakistani resident tweeted the whole thing in real time.
- Osama bin Laden's family members (that were living at the compound are in custody
- Numerous Pakistani citizens have given eyewitness accounts
This mountain of evidence is even giving Glenn Greenwald pause, as he is now criticizing the action
as if it occurred as reported, not as he has previously theorized. At this point, one would have to believe that the Pakistani police, Osama bin Laden's family, and the al-Jazeera news network were all "in on it". Ludicrous...Theory:
The raid went as planned, but Osama bin Laden was actually taken alive - OR - it was not Osama bin Laden that was taken (dead). Reality:
Considering the negative flak that Gitmo (and how to try the prisoners there) has raised, capturing him alive would be of limited value, once any information had been gleaned. There's also the fact that Osama bin Laden's daughter has said that her father was unarmed and in custody when the SEALs shot him
. That is certainly a black eye for the U.S. and the SEALs, and will likely spark an investigation, and is cause for valid outrage. If one is going to be outraged by this, however, then it completely renders the Deather conspiracy theories moot. You can't be outraged that he was "murdered" after being captured alive and still believe he was dead all along, taken to a secret prison, or that someone else's body was retrieved. Even if you doubt the girl's story, there's still the other evidence previously mentioned.
The Deathers are the same ones that subscribe to the MIHOP 9/11 theory, that the massive bird deaths of months past are not just a natural phenomenon that occurs all the time, and that the Japan earthquake was man-made. There is no story too absurd that they will not believe it, rather than the more mundane (and logical) "official" explanation. Are their lives so empty and meaningless that they feel the need to fight to expose some "truth"? They are mostly good people who also fight for economic justice and equal rights, so I can't dismiss them out of hand. It's discouraging, though, when they fight against the people that are helping to slowly move things in the right direction again.
On the positive side, I don't see the Deathers sticking around as long as the Birthers have. In a few more weeks, there will be some fresh outrage for them to mainline, and the Deather issue will be tossed aside like an empty crack vial. Such are the actions of those addicted to conspiracy theory.
Bonus Click: Here's another take
on the Deather conspiracies.