The lies that won’t die

President Obama has some friends over to play video games.

I’m not sure what debt this administration feels to the previous one, but Obama is making good on a lot of their promises.

And when he’s not doing that, he’s handing out political pardons to beat the band.

The most insidious of these came yesterday, snuck into the details of the raid on bin Laden’s compound and designed to excuse the most grievous wrong of the 21st century so far.

We were told that the US learned the names of bin Laden’s couriers as a direct result of the methods used at Guantanamo Bay, the implication being that, without torture, they never would have got him.

This, of course, is nonsense. Fanciful rubbish designed to go some way towards repairing Obama’s failed promise to end the torture and close the base, and to excuse the horrendous crimes that were committed there.

This single snippet of information is supposed to be the proof that it was the right thing to do – to deprive simple farmers of their liberty, fly them halfway around the world and then half-drown them. To arrest people on trump-up charges and ritually humiliate and abuse them.

It wasn’t, and it isn’t.

But given the amount of information being released, it should come as no surprise that lies creep in, mostly because we or others desperately want to believe them.

The White House has now retracted the allegation that bin Laden used a woman as a human shield in the moments before his death, but it’s too late and well they know it.

The release of official White House pictures leant a huge gravitas to the event, as president Obama engaged in what amounted to a high-stakes online game of Counterstrike.

But aside from the craven, clumsy attempt to justify Guantanamo, surely the biggest lie of all is that Pakistan knew nothing of his whereabouts – despite the fact that he was living among their military when discovered. It’s like they and the Americans are competing for the biggest lie.

For despite their protestations, they knew full well where he was. bin Laden and his failed ideology still enjoy a good deal of support amongst the hard core in Pakistan, and the government and judiciary have been all to accommodating as they tried to keep the nuclear nation on an even keel.

It’s called realpolitik, and no matter how much we press them, they will still claim innocence.

Next up of course will be the pictures of the corpse of bin Laden, the man who became infamous on September 11 2001 and remained firmly stuck there.

The US will claim that the pictures of his broken face will bring closure to the rumours that he remains alive, but they will be more for the enjoyment of the American voters than the “Arab street”.

The “Arab street” (what an awful term, attempting as it does to assign a single consciousness to the Arab world) is too busy with its own – secular –  uprisings to be bothered by the death of someone who ceased to matter a long time ago.

The US administration would have been better served by sticking to the truth and not attempting to tie up all the loose ends in one fell swoop.

For if the events of September 11 and the subsequent ten years of turmoil have taught us anything, surely it is that the world is not black and white – no matter how much the likes of bin Laden or the Americans try to convince us of it.

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