Posts Tagged ‘Osama bin Laden’

I remember 1977 and then the early 1980s very vividly. Those were the years when I came of age. There were other men that are close to me in age that grew up then, also. Each of them changed the world, and I am sure each of them, at the time when these pictures were taken, had no idea who they would become and certainly they would not have expected that every person in the world would eventually know them.

Three Humans - Gates

Bill Gates – December 1977

Above is Bill Gates in a mug shot after he was arrested for a driving violation in New Mexico on December 13, 1977. If somebody had told him then that he would be the richest man in the world for at least half his life I am sure he would not have believed it then. Microsoft was just a couple of years old, with less than 10 people in a small shop in Albuquerque.

Three Humans - bin Laden

Osama bin Laden – circa early 1980s

I am a martial artist, and so was bin Laden in the early 1980s, when he was in his mid twenties. Martial artists usually exhibit discipline, a strong sense of honor, and deep respect for their fellow man. That’s what martial arts is all about. If somebody had told the Black Belt on the right that he would end up being one of the most recognized and iconic terrorists of all time, I am sure he would not have possibly believed it  then.

Three Humans - Obama

Barack Obama – circa 1977

Barack Obama was a teenager when this picture was taken, I estimate around 1977. He was a black boy in a white basketball team. I am sure he was probably the most unlikely person to become President of the United States in his entire high school. He had no idea where he was going to go in his life.

All three of these men are contemporaries to each other and to me. The circle of life took them into very different directions. Looking at these photos, and thinking about my own journey in parallel to theirs, I cannot help but realize that life is not what we are born as, and who we are when we are young.

Life is what we do with our time. We become what we think about.

Let’s choose our thoughts well.


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Michael Moore seems to think so in his – in my opinion – brilliant movie review for Zero Dark Thirty. Here is an excerpt:

And then, as the movie shows, the CIA abruptly shifts from torture porn to — are you sitting down? — detective work. Like cops do to find killers. Bin Laden was a killer — a mass killer — not a general of an army of soldiers, or the head of a country call Terrorstan. He was a crazed religious fanatic, a multi-millionaire, and a punk who was part of the anti-Soviet mujahideen whom we trained, armed and funded in Afghanistan back in the ’80s. But he was a godsend and a very useful tool to the Dick Cheneys and Don Rumsfields of the world. They could hold him up to a frightened American public and scare the bejesus out of everyone — and everyone (well, most everyone) would then get behind the effort to declare war on, um … well … Who exactly do we declare war against? Oh, right — terrorism! The War on Terrorism! So skilled were the men from Halliburton, et al. that they convinced the Congress and the public to go to war against a noun. Terrorism. People fell for it, and these rich men and their friends made billions of dollars from “contracting” and armaments and a Burger King on every Iraqi base. Billions more were made creating a massive internal spying apparatus called “Homeland Security.” Business was very, very good, and as long as the bogeyman (Osama) was alive, the citizenry would not complain one bit.

Dear god of movie reviewers – let me learn how to write like that.

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zerodarkthirtyAll these years since 2001 I could not understand how the might of the United States military, the CIA and all the other resources at our disposal were not enough to find a 6 foot 4 inch tall Arab on dialysis.

After watching Zero Dark Thirty, I understand. The film starts on September 11, 2001. We follow a team of CIA agents on the trail of bin Laden. The first third of the movie deals with interrogation techniques applied on detainees to press them for information. The United States “did not torture” but used enhanced interrogation techniques on prisoners. We witness some of those techniques, and I might warn they are not for the faint of heart.

The next third of the movie follows the CIA as they close in on bin Laden, against all odds, driven purely by the tenacious, stubborn, relentless CIA agent Maya (Jessica Chastain), who is obsessed with finding the target and has to strongarm her superiors over and over again for time and resources – until she wins out in the end.

When the CIA director asks her “who are you?” as she speaks from the back of the room, she answers: “I am the motherfucker who found him.”

The last third of the movie then shows the preparations of the SEAL team, and the political machinations in Washington that finally result in Obama giving the go-ahead for the mission. The stealth attack takes us into the compound. We follow floor by floor as the SEALs make their way up the stairs through the dumpy house all the way into bin Laden’s bedroom. The suspense is not about how it ends – we all know that going into the movie – but observing how justice is served, finally, after so many years of grieving.

It feels oddly satisfying when the movie is over. I am proud of our government, our CIA, and our military. We did the right thing – we took the son of a bitch out, we didn’t ask for permission, just like he didn’t ask for permission before he destroyed lower Manhattan, 3000 lives and the lives of tens or hundreds of thousands of loved ones, children who lost their parents, friends who lost their friends, workmates who lost their colleagues.

It wasn’t Obama who killed bin Laden, even though Obama made the risky and very gutsy decision to go into a sovereign country without permission and extract a terrorist.

It wasn’t the SEAL team who found bin Laden, even though they put their own lives on the line on a very risky mission, and even though they pulled the trigger and took out the most wanted man on earth.

It wasn’t the CIA who found bin Laden, it was Maya and her perseverance that kept the teams cunning and running, and never lost the trail.

It wasn’t Maya who found bin Laden, it was the people of the United States.

There are critics of Zero Dark Thirty that say it is not authentic, it wasn’t really like this, but I don’t care. It’s close enough for me. I know I will never get a closer look than this.

And I cannot understand why anyone, anyone at all would want to work for the CIA.

Rating: ****

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