May 5, 2011

I’ll believe it when I see it

Marc Comtois

I’ll believe it when I see it. So starts the latest post by Seth Godin. It's apropos given the current controversy surrounding the bin Laden death photos.

We have to accept that once we start down the slippery slope of always (or never) believing, we end up in Alice-in-Wonderland territory. Do you have firsthand knowledge that the Earth is round (a sphere)? Really? Have you ever seen the tuberculosis bacteria? Perhaps it doesn’t exist, they might say it’s just a fraud invented by the pharmaceutical industry to get us to buy expensive drugs... Or consider the flip side, the Bernie Madoff too-good-to-be-true flipside of invisible riches that never appear. After all, if someone can't prove it's a fraud yet, it might be true!

Eight things you’ve probably never seen with your own eyes: Buzz Aldrin, the US debt, multi-generational evolution of mammals, an atom of hydrogen, Google’s search algorithm, the inside of a nuclear power plant, a whale and the way your body digests a cookie. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, nor does it mean you can’t find a way to make them useful.

Do governments and marketers lie to us? All the time. Does that mean that the powerful (reproducible, testable and yes, true) invisible forces of economics, history and science are a fraud? No way.

Once you go down that road, you’re on your own, no longer a productive member of a society built on rational thought. Be skeptical. Test and measure and see if the truth is a useful hypothesis to help move the discussion forward. Please do. But at some point, in order to move forward, we have to accept that truth can’t be a relative concept, something to use when it suits our agenda but be discarded when we're frightened or want to score a point....Merely because it's invisible doesn't mean it's true--or false.

I don't think it's that people are skeptical about the death of bin Laden. I think the attitude is more like the Reaganesque "trust but verify", right? But at some point, whether the photos are officially released or not, time will prove that bin Laden is really dead: when there are no more audio or visual releases from him, when his terrorist heirs continue to be silent...or when the photos eventually leak out.

ADDENDUM: Incidentally, don't take the above as giving the Obama Administration a pass on handling the after-action "messaging" or the like. In short, the military--as usual--did it's job. The politicians aren't.

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Well, the story of OBL's last moments does keep changing.

Then the "pictures" seem to be circulating in Congress (apparently along with fakes, according to Mr. Brown). How's that for "transparency"?

Posted by: Warrington Faust at May 5, 2011 9:42 AM

The constantly changing story is concerning. Simply release the video of what they were watching in the WH situation room, and then there's no question on the details.

Which direction are people unsure of what they're being told? That OBL is dead or that there was a raid last weekend and he was killed then? If it's simply the former, and he is still alive somewhere, then he will at some point make a video of him holding the NY Post and Obama will be done. If it's the latter, as some have suggested, I guess it's possible that he was already dead and the US got definite confirmation and then staged all this to make it look like "WE got him"

But for the release of the death photo, my suggestion was this: Put it behind glass in a room in the Smithsonian that is dedicated to only this photo, the room is well-marked, lots of disclaimers before entering and no cameras of any type are allowed in. Then, if you want to see the photo, go see it. If you don't want to see it, you never will.

Posted by: Patrick at May 5, 2011 10:18 AM

Just give it a few months, it will come out. Probably via wikileaks or something similar.

Posted by: Swazool at May 5, 2011 10:20 AM

Now it seems like Panetta and Gates pushed the operation and Valerie Jarrett(!!)tried to hold it back.
Exactly who the hell is she to be giving the President all this advice on national security?What are her qualifications?
Gates' background in national security is top level and Panetta has a long history of responsible governmental service at high level,albeit not much in national security until he headed the CIA.Of course,his job with Clinton probably gave him a prety good exposure to the field.
Valerie Jarrtt's expertise seems to be in the political campaigning field.
Why was she even in the conversation?

Posted by: joe bernstein at May 5, 2011 10:59 AM

The best scenario for the White House is for the photo to "leak." The public gets its proof and Obama gets to play dignified.

Posted by: Dan at May 5, 2011 7:09 PM

Lots of photos have "leaked" and they're all fake. Even if the real one leaks, how will we know it's not another fake?

Posted by: Patrick at May 5, 2011 9:11 PM

Patrick writes:

"Simply release the video of what they were watching in the WH situation room, and then there's no question on the details."

Now it seems there is no video for 25 minutes of the raid. Can we really be this incompetent? It seems so.

Did we epect an uprising of alcohol consumers when Dillinger's death photo was released?

I suppose in an era as "safety concious" as the present, every thing must be considered. As to inciting muslims with the picture, perhaps it is time to "cowboy up". When released mark it with the following message "Don't like this picture? Want to do something about it? Fine, we'll put you in the picture!"

Posted by: Warrington Faust at May 5, 2011 9:48 PM

Obama deserves some credit for the operation but he blew the message. In this day and age of high speed media, the one thing you can't get wrong is the post operation message. It's hard to believe that the administration didn't have their story straight before it hit the wire. While it didn't take away from the significance of the event, it certainly blurred it a little by providing irrelevant talking points.

Posted by: Max Diesel at May 6, 2011 2:47 PM

Dillinger was a bank robber.He was not remotely connected to bootlegging.
there is a theory that Dillinger was not the man killed at the Biograph.
A crime historian named Stephen Jay Nash was the main proponent of this idea.

Posted by: joe bernstein at May 10, 2011 1:38 PM

Sorry,it was Jay Robert Nash.
FWIW neither Al Qaeda nor OBL's surviving wives are disputing his death in any way.The scumbag is dead.Period.
Like most architects of mass murder he turns out to be a miserable grubby nothing personally.

Posted by: joe bernstein at May 10, 2011 1:43 PM
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