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Barlow Herget Commentary
Barlow Herget is a commentator and host on State Government Radio at Curtis Media. He has been a commentator on UNC public radio and an instructor in continuing education at Duke University. Herget was a Nieman Fellow ('70) at Harvard University, has worked for the Daily Press of Paragould, Ark., the Detroit Free Press, and the News & Observer of Raleigh. His articles have appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times and numerous other publications. Contact him by email.
Osama bin Laden meets justice
Monday - 5/9/2011, 4:49pm EDT
I was writing letters May 1 when CBS News cryptically announced that President Obama would make a statement at 10:30 p.m.
As a newsman, I knew it was a big story. It was late at night. It was unusual that the major networks interrupted programming. There was no major weather disaster; no big oil spill; no leaks on the Libyan rebellion. Osama bin Laden. It would be something about bin Laden.
It was, and we all know now that United States Navy Seals conducted a daring and successful attack on bin Laden's secret location in the Pakistan city of Abbottabad. Bin Laden had been killed, two shots to the head. And the Americans had taken the body with them.
The last point was not an afterthought. The United States would need photographs to verify that it was indeed Osama bin Laden who was killed to squelch al Qaeda terrorists elsewhere (and perhaps Donald Trump) from claiming it was an imposter and that bin Laden still lived. At some point, I expect the pictures will be leaked or released.
Reports indicated one of Osama's sons was killed in the firefight along with some poor woman who was try to shield Osama.
His death was justice delayed, but justice in the end.
The bravery of the military forces flying at night into a foreign country has been rightly commended. The secrecy and clockwork operation of the attack were amazing as was the fact that no Americans were lost.
So, too, President Obama should be credited with the high-risk decision to make the attempt. The nightmares of failed missions in Iran and Somali were hanging in the air. The President's stomach must have turned when he heard that the lead helicopter crashed.
One can imagine the criticism that the Fox Opinion network would have dumped on the President had the mission missed. It would have been a political disaster that would haunt him in the 2012 Election and increased the national gloom. But he succeeded.
We now are being cautioned about reprisals from al Qaeda and its sympathizers here and abroad. The cautions are well placed, but the fallout from bin Laden's death, at age 54, may well be the beginning of the end for his type of fundamentalist Muslim terror.
The Arab people have shown in revolutions and rebellions in the Middle East and North Africa that they, too, want more liberal, democratic governments. They have placed their lives on the line, facing armed police and in Syria, military snipers and tanks, with nothing but their beliefs.
They have underscored in blood that most people, Muslim or Christian, Confucian or whatever, want to be free and to govern themselves. That's not what Osama bin Laden was selling.
It is justice, too, that his death now will only feed the flowers of liberty and democracy that have so flourished in the Arab Spring.