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May 06, 2011

Peace Activists Rally to Protest bin Laden Killing


Add this one to the “Only in Burlington” file:

Two veteran peace activists called a news conference on Friday to condemn the killing of Osama bin Laden as an act of “murder” on the part of the Obama administration. The shooting of the unarmed Al Qaeda leader constitutes an assassination that violates standards of international justice as well as the founding principles of the United States, declared Burlington attorney Sandy Baird and Peace and Justice Center cofounder Robin Lloyd.

The two women acknowledged that very few Americans will share their view that bin Laden should have been arrested and put on trial rather than being, in Baird's words, “summarily executed.” But it's wrong to sacrifice principle for the sake of popularity, Baird and Lloyd argued.

“We are the only voices that don't seem entirely gleeful about the assassination of Osama bin Laden,” Baird said, likening the reaction to the killing to “crowds cheering as though it were a sports event.” She criticized Vermont's three congressional representatives for praising the action carried out by a U.S. Special Forces Team on May 1.

“These three men are moral beings,” Baird said in reference to senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch. “I'm shocked that they would view this murder as something to celebrate.”

Lloyd also denounced the U.S.-led bombing campaign that recently killed one of Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi's sons as well as three of his grandchildren. That attack is “as appalling as the attack on bin Laden,” Lloyd said.

Asked whether the elimination of a top terrorist can be viewed as a positive outcome, Baird suggested that bin Laden's death is unlikely to make any difference in world events or for U.S. foreign policy. She and Lloyd said there's no sign that bin Laden's death will lead President Obama or Congress to withdraw troops from Afghanistan or to reduce Pentagon spending, which, Baird said, is the main cause of the country's deficit.

Peace and Justice Center program manager Anna Guyton, who joined Baird and Lloyd at the news conference at CCTV's office on North Winooski Avenue, suggested that bin Laden's killing will likely incite violence, not deter it. “Terror breeds terror,” Guyton warned.

Mel Duncan, director of the Minneapolis-based Nonviolent Peaceforce, added at the press event that peaceful protesters in the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries “have done more to disempower Al Qaeda than our attack on bin Laden.”

Regardless of the legality and morality of the killing in Abbottabad, both bin Laden and Barack Obama apparently got what they wanted, Lloyd commented. Bin Laden “did not want to be captured alive, and the United States didn't want to capture him alive,” she said.


The US has a POLICY not to assassinate HEADS OF STATE. bin Laden wasn't even a head of state, nor is it even an official law? Obama ordered the assassination of an American, the first president to do so ever (at least officially on record) only a few months ago. Where were these loony toons then?

There's a new one. Hold a press conference to display your ignorance. Yes, file it only in Burlington.

There are people dribbling crap like this all over the world. The "only in Burlington" part is that they're being ignored everywhere else.

How is it a rally when two people were there?

Good for them. They have principles, and they're sticking with them, even though they're unpopular. All the mockery in the comments is predictable, but petty (at best).

Being principled just when it's easy isn't really being principled at all.

No it didn't have to happen. Greenwald today understands the feeling of revenge, but he also examines the ethical and moral considerations which Obama and his cronies are ignoring.

(However, I doubt bin Laden engaged in subtle debates over the morality of random murders of civilians.)

Thanks, ODUM.

"Being principled just when it's easy isn't really being principled at all."

Try holding a "rally" somewhere that you're not preaching to the choir - like a red state. You know, somewhere that there are actually heads that you might be able to turn, but you might get your ass kicked (or worse) in the process. THAT isn't easy. Saying "killing anyone is bad" in Burlington, Vermont is the definition of easy.

Oh give me a break Odum, principles? The woman made a statement that said it was illegal and violated law. That is entirely false. She is being mocked for her ignorance of the law when it is in actuality her profession, not for her belief. Believe it, you would be mocked if you couldn't write and insisted on telling everyone you were a journalist.

How disingenious to dismiss posters opinions and views by trying to blame it on a disagreement over principles.

But since you went there, yes. Absolutely, I personally believe there was plenty of justification to kill the man. Some people will disagree as is their right. That's the beauty of Democracy, each side has an opinion and a right to express it.

I am anti war and believe the rule of law should apply. But clearly it does not in the USA and never really has in war. Frankly I am less upset with the US killing bin Laden than with the daily killing of civilians often by unmanned drones. The kill ratio in the USA's war is 7 civilians to every soldier. No one is talking about those lives, they are simply collateral damage. Bin Laden is culpable he has taken responsibility for al Quaeda and the attacks on the US. So at least for a change a major participant in terrorism was killed instead of the the long list of school chlldren, women and wedding parties that are the daily fare of US wars.

couldn't agree more w/ the ladies. peace.

Peggy, do you have any sources you would like to provide for those numbers?

"The kill ratio in the USA's war is 7 civilians to every soldier. No one is talking about those lives, they are simply collateral damage."

A.) Civilian deaths are not taken lightly and B.) they are the cost of war. It's why this country doesn't start a war everytime someone does something we don't like, it's why countries should think twice about their actions and who they are harboring.

Finally, what "rule of law" are you referring to? There was nothing illegal about killing bin Laden. As a terrorist bin Laden had no immunity under any international treaty or policy from targeted killing.

Here's some numbers

"In January, ISAF provided Science with a database of civilian casualties called CIVCAS. It is the military's internal record of the death and injury of Afghan civilians, broken down by month, region, weaponry, and perpetrator. By its reckoning, 2537 civilians were killed and 5594 were wounded over the past 2 years, with 12% of those casualties attributed to ISAF forces and the rest to insurgents. The death toll is 93% identical to that in the WikiLeaks data, revealing those raw field observations to be far more reliable than researchers had suspected."

Now, I'm no statistician, but as far as I can figure, the ISAF killed 305 civilians over the course of 2 years. If we are to believe that 7 civilians are killed for every soilder then we are even more successful then I, and I suspect most people, were aware of.

BTW, that is from the March 2011 issue of Science Magazine.

Anyone think 7D would cover a two-person "Rally" on support of our troops on such a momentous occasion?

To Jcarter,

I could quote you pages of different statistics but you clearly want to believe the military does good things. The military does not keep good statistics on civilians killed remember they don't do enemy body counts anymore. Its all just collateral damage.

The US goes to war anytime a president needs to show his manliness Reagan invaded Grenada for cris sake. And Bush led an invasion of Iraq completely based on lies.
And so a military hero (someone you might believe) General McChrystal said of Afghanistan; "We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force."

The 7 to 1 statistic is a general one for modern warfare. So while we weep and moan about soldiers, and I am sorry too for people economically coerced into this or dumb enough to believe they are doing something for democracy, the reality is tons of non combatants are killed in these wars for elite power interests.

Also re Science Magazine statistics. Ooh Science has no interest in the military take on things just because most research money comes via the military industrial complex.

Right, I'm sure this scientist sat down and decide to take numbers from an INTERNATIONAL Security force and then corroborate those so he could continue to get funding from DOD? You know, after his article entitled "Survey Says: War Is the Irrational Choice" he was probably on thin ice and needed to cozy up to DOD. Moreover, had you looked into it, you would have seen that these numbers have been corroborated by that other well know DOD leaks.

Finally, if you could quote multiple sources then do so. But your statement that 7 to 1 is a GENERAL one for modern warfare I suspect it is a talking point that has been perpetuated through the anti-war movement. Moreover, the knee jerk dismissal of other data that doesn't jive suggests you aren't into actually verifying numbers. But, please prove me wrong.

You know why these two ladies are able to have a 'rally' or protest in public like that? Because we kick ass all over the world and make things safe back at home. I'd like to see Sandy and Robin walk a day in the shoes of our nation's military in Iraq or any other hot spot in the world. Ignorance really is bliss, or should I say peace ladies?

Jen - "Kicking ass all over the world" doesn't make us safe - it's what got us into trouble in the first place. If we were to *gasp* mind our own business instead of playing the world's policeman/propping up authoritarian regimes (see: Saudi Arabia's suppression of the Arab spring both domestically and in Bahrain), the incentive to attack us would disappear. Read a little history before spewing your ignant jingoism out over the internet...

Matt, I agree, playing the world's police has caused problems for us, and that is a result of past actions. Had we made other countries actually participate in countries instead of always waiting for us to jump in we would be much better off. The unfortunate reality is however that someone has to be the world's cop, and it happens to be the US right now. To think if we simply left everyone alone that the world would become a place of peace and harmony is just plain stupid. Past experience has repeatedly indicated that's not the case. Maybe you could e-mail the PM of Canada and see if they will tow the line for a while hmm?

I will disagree with you that "kicking ass all over the world doesn't keep us safe." The best defense is a strong offense. Do you think that trigger happy deluded dictator over in N.Korea wouldn't have blasted S. Korea off the map if the US wasn't an ally or was an ally without a military? Do you think Ackhemdajihad would producing enriched uranium for "energy purposes" only if the US wasn't keeping them in check? Do you think bin laden would have refrained from bombing the WTC, not bomb our embassy, not bombed our ships, not flew planes into the WTC if we had no military. That's just nonsense. Pure and simple.

Good for these two expressing their opinions, and everyone else for expressing theirs in the comments. Disagree or not, they are free to say what they want and the press was free to attend and print a story about it. That's exactly what we should be celebrating - our freedoms in the US and especially Vermont. I think that's the entire point of their minimalist rally - though I, for one, was certainly not displeased to learn of Osama Bin Laden's death.

What amuses me are the people who were all over waterboarding under W. but who now have no problem with Bin Laden getting two in the face. It's not immoral or illegal when your guy does it.
Baird and Loyd have the courage of their convictions and they aren't afraid to speak up just because there's an alleged liberal in the White House.

"Anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn't deserve what he got needs to have their head examined." - Barack Obama

Video of the Press Conference available here:

@ Matt,

You take issue with Jen for "spewing [her] ignant (sic) jingoism out over the internet . . ." but your belief that if the US just stayed home everything in the world would be hunky dory is just as "ignant." The US not "minding its own business" didn't cause WWI or WWII, but our eventual involvement in those wars, particularly WWII, was necessary to prevent Hitler from controlling Europe. Nor did the US failure to "mind its own business" cause the horrific genocides in the former Yugoslavia, nor any of the several genocides that have taken place on the African continent in the last couple of decades. Should the US just sit back and let these genocides happen, in the interest of "minding our own business"? Or should we try to stop them? If we do the latter, that would involve us being on foreign soil, which you seem to not want us to do. And in order to work against those genocides, the US has to have foreign bases.

Your response to Jen is way too simplistic. Nice try.

Someone actually believes American troops conducting a military operation on foreign sovereign soil without permission was not illegal?? If you believe that's not revisionist, I have a big black helicopter tail to sell you. Slightly damaged.

Bin Laden's assassination was wrong on so many levels. Aren't we a country founded on the concept that justice is blind? Yet here we have a president masturbating over his new bin Laden centerfold photos. There's an irony to bin Laden's death occurring at the hands of the same country who made him who he was.


Please tell us all the levels this was illegal on?

Targeted killing is perfectly legal.

We do have permission to conduct military operations in Pakistan. And BTW, not one post on here said that it was or wasn't. You are the only one to bring that point up.

What are all these illegal things?

It isn't illegal if the Pakistan gives the US permission to pursue and kill Bin Laden on their sovereign soil:

"The US and Pakistan struck a secret deal almost a decade ago permitting a US operation against Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil similar to last week's raid that killed the al-Qaida leader, the Guardian has learned.

Um, so it's ok on this blog for a poster to make unsubstantiated accusations that "the kill ratio in the USA's war is 7 civilians to every soldier."

Um, so it's ok for the same poster to make the shameful statement that only Americans who are "economically coerced" or "dumb" would serve in the military.

Um, so it's ok for a poster to ignorantly call the US's action against Bin Laden "illegal" even though he's immediately proven wrong by the next two posts.

Um, so its ok for the same poster to accuse President Obama of "masturbating" over a centerfold?

And why are these people allowed to post this garbage but some responses are censored? Because apparently any ultra left-wing bomb-throwing nonsense gets published in Seven Days, no matter how harsh, outrageous, or shocking.

I'm fine with those statements not being censored. Shows the ignorance of some and keeps us from having to repeat the same thing over and over when the other peaceniks stop by to post identical talking points.

It's Free Speech, David.

Extreme views from different sides have been published here, without censorship. And I agree that allowing these extreme views to be aired exposes their absurdity.

Violence is rarely the best answer. The USA has made some huge mistakes by using force when none was warranted. Too many civilians have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. But sometimes violent force it is necessary. Sometimes, killing one man can save dozens of others.

"It's Free Speech, David."

I agree, but you missed my point. 7D censored my response to Luhrs and Strat.

Hey "the other david," the comment you claim was censored was taken down because it violated our commenting policy. No personal attacks on other posters. It's not some conspiracy to promote ultra-leftist revolutionary views. If you've got nothing to add except to be a jerk to other commenters, take it elsewhere.

Plus, you violated Godwin's law in the removed comment, which is just bad form.

I know you know the rules around here, other david, since I've had to take to take down comments of yours before (probably under one of your many other aliases, though). We let a lot slide around here and we let people express a pretty wide range of viewpoints. But we're not going to allow it if you're just going to be a jerk to other people. Quite simple, really.

Tyler Machado
Deputy Online Editor, Seven Days and the Ministry of Truth

Wait, isn't that a personal attack against the other David? Calling him a jerk? Tyler I think you need to remove your comment.

Anywho, One_VTer... you hit the nail on the head. Target killings aren't ideal, war is not ideal, hindsight is always 20-20. However, as much as some people are adamant that violence is wrong no matter what, sometimes killing another person saves lives. Had the US killed Hussien 20 years ago there would likely be about million more kurds walking this earth. If we had killed bin laden after he bombed the WTC there would definitely have been 3000+ more Americans living in NYC right now. Most of the time inaction leads to more suffering then action.

Seems appropriate Tyler:

"In China, you can make money posting pro-government arguments in comment threads. Ai Weiwei has interviewed a man who says he's one of these online propagandists. "

"In fact, in a single forum you have to play three different roles. One is the leader. Another is the follower. The third is the observer, which is to say the masses ignorant of the facts. So first off is the leader. This is a speaker with relative authority. The leader generally steps into the debate later on, drawing out strong evidence with which to speak. The language from this character is relatively authoritative. Generally, the public will view this sort of person as credible. As to the second, the follower, there are basically two types, two types in opposition. These two characters are constantly debating and arguing, and even name calling, in opposition in the forum. This serves to draw the attention of observers. Then, in the end, the leader steps out, drawing on strong evidence. And ultimately, public opinion is drawn over to this third side [of the leader]. "

"Had the US killed Hussien 20 years ago there would likely be about million more kurds walking this earth."

That's possible. But it's also possible that it would have destabilized the region to such a degree that millions of other lives would have been destroyed. It could have emboldened Iran & Syria, thus provoking Israel into a massive war. It could have resulted in a major civil war in Iraq, leading the way for another group to slaughter the Kurds. Or Iran might have resumed their war with the weakened Iraqi state, killing countless numbers.

Hussein was a terrible killer. But it really isn't clear what would have happened if Bush #1 had taken him out in the 1990's.

Exactly, no one knows for sure what would have happened. But I think it's safe to say that by doing nothing we didn't help.

Not illegal? Are you people serious? Let's see, violation of sovereign territory, violation of rules of engagement, no notification to the host country of an operation against its citizens, an agreement passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by an illegal dictator in Pakistan....

JCARTER - It took you only one post to get my comments wrong. I said the assassination was WRONG on many levels, clearly implying a moral low-point for the U.S. You are welcome to cheer death to your heart's content - heck, Republicans have been doing it since Bush was appointed to office - but it doesn't mean every last person needs to go along with it.

The president considers himself judge, jury and executioner and is greeted with cheers. What an amazing irony for so many right wingers to condemn government intrusion but are brimming with glee when that same government performs assassinations citing classified evidence.

"The president considers himself judge, jury and executioner and is greeted with cheers. What an amazing irony for so many right wingers to condemn government intrusion but are brimming with glee when that same government performs assassinations citing classified evidence."

?? The president is judge jury and executioner during military operations. He is the commander in chief. That is his role. Congress gave him that power when the authorized the use of military force, which BTW gave him the LEGAL right to conduct military operations in Pakistan. Moreover, bin laden was a targeted kill, not an assassination. One is permited by international law, the other forbidden.


I don't understand your illegal argument, especially with the link you posted. The news link from ABC spells out all the reasons you are wrong. Moreover, ONE_VTer already posted where Pakistan gave the US permission. So if you are going to argue that it was illegal then you need to be a bit more specific. This blanket statement without source, reference, or reasoning isn't going to sway anyone that you are correct in your assessment. Actually the exact opposite, it only serves to strengthen the assessment that like Peggy you are simply perpetuating a talking point.

Secondly, what is your purpose bring in right wingers into. They don't want the gov't telling them what to do and violating their constitutional right to liberty and that somehow means they can't support the president as commander in chief in doing his constitutionally authorized job? I don't get the reference??

Frankly I wouldn't lose sleep if they use Osama's head to kick off the next Superbowl.
Between the war on drugs and the war on terror, our rights have shrunken significantly. I would hope that we can restore some of our freedoms now that Osama's dead, but I doubt it.

"Hey "the other david," the comment you claim was censored was taken down because it violated our commenting policy."

Ok, if my reaction to Luhrs and Strat123 was too strong, I'll accept that. But it's ok for a (coincidentally, left-wing) poster here to say that the President of the United States is "masturbating"? That doesn't violate your blog commenting policy? At the very least, it's highly offensive, indecent, and inappropriate.

Personally, I think one could make a case that the level of scrutiny 7D's applies to taking down blog comments does depend upon the political viewpoint expressed.

As I recall, our own legislature is looking at making some blog comments criminal. Perhaps we will see the infamous Ms. Luhrs put on trial for daring to suggest that Barack Obama commits the sin of Onan.

Not really, other david. There is a difference between saying another commenter has his/her head up his/her ass and saying that the president is "masturbating over his new bin Laden centerfold photos" — chiefly, that one is a direct attack on someone else in this community, and the other is an exaggerated over-the-top satirical statement of a public figure. These statements are simply not equal — has nothing to do with left- or right-wing.

And if it makes you feel any better, the only person I've banned (YET) from commenting during my tenure at 7D was on the left.

You're right, young Tyler. The Obama comment was far worse. In fact, I would call that quite "abusive."

Which part of the commenting policy, exactly, was violated wrt "other commenters" or "someone else in this community"? I see no explicit or implicit references to such a subgroup of the general populace.

A personal attack on another commenter is abusive and harassing. Not sure what I'd call the Obama comment...awkward, outrageous, and in bad taste are all possible answers, but it wasn't abusive.

Ok, Tyler was right to take down my comment.

Abusive language is that which is harsh and insulting. You don't think that characterizing Obama as "masturbating over his new bin Laden centerfold photos" rises to that standard? You called the comment satirical, as if this softens it - do you believe the suggestion that someone had their head up their ass was meant literally?

At least strive for consistency *within the same thread.*

Perhaps we need to ask Mistress Maeve what the suitable and polite euphemisms for wacking off are. I doubt Emily Post can help on this.

First of all, Jimmy, I'm taking down your response to Tim. It wasn't the worst thing I've read here, but it's a good working example. Try that again if you want, but this time, don't be disrespectful.

Anyway. I feel sorry for the dead horse we're beating.

You're too hung up on the words, Jimmy. It's not a black-or-white thing, this comment-moderation biz. If it was simple as coming up with a list of "abusive" words, then I could just set up a filter to block comments with those words, call it a day and spend my working hours watching cute cat videos on Youtube. But context matters too. One comment was directed at a public figure (arguably THE public figure) as an admittedly crude political expression. The other comment was an insult, directed at another commenter to tell him/her that he/she is stupid. Not the same thing.

Maybe this would make more sense if I framed it as philosophy rather than policy. We want our comments to be a place where people can express their views, but do so in a constructive and civil manner. If you disagree with each other, or us, that's fine -- but express that constructively, don't insult the other person. Tossing insults around has an effect on the community that an exaggerated figurative statement about an important political figure does not. All we're asking is that commenters express their disagreement in a nice, respectful, constructive way. If you can't disagree with someone without tossing an insult in there, then I suggest you...well, you know where I'm going with this.

"You're too hung up on the words, Jimmy."

Maybe that's because that's 100% of what we're talking about.

"Maybe this would make more sense if I framed it as philosophy rather than policy."

Then you should change your blog commenting policy, which is an actual, carefully worded document with legal disclaimers and so forth, to a blog commenting philosophy. Might I suggest: "we have a kid working here who will delete any comments he wants to."

Tyler, did you intend to be punny when you referred to "beating" a dead horse?

Anyway, at the risk of further beating it, I'll repeat that, upon reflection, I agree my comment was takedown-worthy. No issue there.

But, Jimmy has a point. Personally, I believe your continued attempts to rationalize a posting that accused the President of "masturbating over a centerfold" is, frankly, wearing a little thin. (Certainly, it's protected by the First Amendement, but that's not the issue here.) You wrote: "We want our comments to be a place where people can express their views, but do so in a constructive and civil manner." Fair enough. Strat had the right to express his disagreement with the President's action against Bin Laden. But you think that expressing his disagreement by characterizing the President as "masturbating" is "constructive and civil"? Gee, I guess I don't.

And maybe you'll at least consider the possibility that your total, complete, and unilateral discretion to decide what is abusive and what isn't -- reflecting your personal judgment -- is, well, just a little questionable? Sure, my response to Comrade Strat's comment was angry and pointed. But I was (and still am) outraged at what he said, and apparently I'm not the only one. He gets to say something outrageous and offensive, and I don't get to respond with my own outrage at him? Was I just supposed to say, "Gee, gentle poster, your pornographic reference to our President was a terrible thing to say and I'm offended"? If, instead of making a reference to his cranium and rectum (which was obviously figurative), I had told him that his posting was outrageous and stupid, wouldn't that ALSO have been an "attack on another poster"?

Anyway, I'll try to be nice, even when other posters are allowed to submit things that fall into the category of offensive, indecent, and inappropriate (my words) and also awkward, outrageous, and in bad taste (your words).

PS, I'll offically dispute, for the record, that my comment violated Godwin's Law, and I'll be happy to debate that particular point with you, if you want. I think you overreached on that indictment.

PPS, I'll echo JCarter's point that calling me a "jerk" (twice) was a personal attack that violated your own alleged policy. But, apology accepted.

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