Don Williams
Photo by Justin Williams

Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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Obama at Ground Zero--How Executing bin Laden Brutalized Us All
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   05/06/2011)

More and more the killing of Osama bin Laden resembles a gangland style execution.

And if we've come to this, applauding like chimps for acts of barbaric bloodletting that took place in front of the slaughtered man's 12-year-old daughter and others, then we are at ground zero on the evolutionary scale.

We shot the suspect in the heart and head, then threw his body in the sea. Tell me how this makes the past decade of needless war, lies, torture and waste any easier. To me it's just more of the same.

Go team go.

An eye for an eye.

A tooth for a tooth.

Nothing for the truth.

Let slayings born of bloody passion rule.

All the way to zero.

Evidence suggests we could've taken bin Laden alive. He was unarmed, his meager defenses rendered impotent. Neither was he hiding behind a woman.

Is this what we've come to? Is this what thousands of American soldiers gave their lives for? Is this why we fought (still fight) two wars? Is this what we dragged our country's good name through the slime of torture and lies for? Is this what we busted the defense budget for, hastening a recession? Is this why we wrecked two, possibly three, countries?

We could've captured or killed bin Laden long ago, without spending trillions of dollars, without killing hundreds of thousands by unleashing ethnic cleansing in Iraq, and without displacing nearly half of that nation's population.

The real tragedy is, none of this had to happen. We knew where Bin Laden was as early as December, 2001, and deliberately let him get away, according to esteemed journalist Seymour Hersh.

How convenient for so many that Bin Laden is sleeping with the fishes.

Convenient for Donald Rumsfeld, for one.

Now we'll never know just how bin Laden slipped the noose at Tora Bora in December, 2001, when the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, with help from American forces, had the Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives surrounded. Interviewing eyewitness accounts, Hersh reported that both Pakistani and American forces opened an escape route to Pakistan for Bin Laden and over a thousand of his allies--helping them evacuate on Pakistani airplanes. If true, it's damning, and suggests a tangled web of deception from those at the top of the Bush administration.

More importantly, just what was bin Laden's role in the attacks on 9/11?

We've been told for years that he was, variously, ringleader, financier, planner or spiritual head of the operation. Yet Bin Laden's infrequent statements on the subject are ambiguous. He's both said he was involved and that he was not. So what do we really know?

Well, we know that many of the mostly Saudi Arabian hijackers lived in Europe and America prior to 9/11 and that several received training in American flight schools. We know the Taliban tolerated bin Laden's presence in Afghanistan. We know President George W. Bush was handed a memo stating terrorists planned to hijack American planes and turn them on us.

What we likely will never know now is just what the relationship between Al-Qaeda and the Taliban running Afghanistan was. Did the Taliban tolerate al-Qaeda? Finance it? Mostly ignore its presence, as Bush allegedly did prior to 9/11?

Shooting bin Laden in the head and dumping the body is the oldest game in the world.

It eschews ideas of decorum, justice, history, democracy and, most damning of all, curiosity about history, so that we'll be forced to repeat this sort of prehistoric bloodletting again and again. What an example we've set for the new millennium that began with so much hope. Obama once promised to restore such hope. By continuing the Bush/Cheney wars, methods, and much else, he's dashed mine.

Let's face it. If Pakistan harbored war criminals, we in the United States harbor war criminals.

Nothing is clearer than the truth that the Bush/Cheney regime publicly based their bombing, invasion and occupation of Iraq on lies from a tortured man named Al-Libi, from a hired politico named Chalibi, and an admitted liar code named Curveball.

In speech after speech, our top leaders browbeat Americans and the world into bestowing legitimacy on igniting a war that would prove ruinous for Iraq and America.

Let me repeat, this war that resulted in so much bloodshed was based on lies from bribed and tortured sources. Our hands are far from clean.

This is the inconvenient truth buried at sea with Osama bin Laden. It gets further lost in loud cheering at his death. It'll almost certainly result in more money for future wars, and less opportunity for our beleaguered population at home.

That's how every empire falls.

Where do we get off?

Suppose some tortured souls whose families and homes were obliterated by bombs that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell rained down on that country, were to send trained killers to America, shoot our former leaders in the head and dump their bodies in the ocean?

How is this different from what we did?

Even Hitler's Nazi henchmen got trials, so that the truth about the Holocaust might roll like a tide through the ages. So that some semblance of justice might be served.

Here, in our time, truth and justice never got a chance.

Both lie bleeding at the bottom of the sea.