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Osama’s Body

The BBC has a fairly thorough account of what was done with the body: Osama Bin Laden: What happened to his body?

Bottom line:

US officials have given two reasons why a sea burial was chosen. First, that they did not want his grave to become a shrine. Second, that there was no time to negotiate with other countries to arrange a possible burial on land.

I assume that the rush to burial was to avoid accusations of dishonoring Islamic traditions.  Of course, the downside is that the quick burial will help foster conspiracy theories about the events of May 1.  But by the same token, said conspiracy theorists would have spun their tales regardless of what had been done with the body, so the net positive of not offending large numbers of people is probably the right way to go.

The avoidance of physical grave makes a great deal of sense:

"US officials tell me [ABC's Jonathan Karl] the last thing they want is for his burial place to become a terrorist shrine.

"To avoid that, an informed source tells me, the intention is to bury his body at sea – leaving no definitive location for the final resting place of his body."

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Janis Gore says:

    From what I’ve read, it runs two ways. There are those who would like to venerate his remains and others who would like to desecrate them.

    To me, it seems a decent compromise. Go rail at the sea.

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  2. Tim says:

    I don’t know. A burial site on land might make pretty good bait.

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  3. Chris says:

    Uh, that’s what you’ve got? Would burying the body on the US base at Diego Garcia led to a burial site that followers could’ve accessed? (No.) And the body still would’ve been available for exhumation to answer future calls about conspiracy. You’re far to lenient about a potentially stupid decision. The reason why people are naturally skeptical about our government is that they give constantly give us reasons to be skeptical.

    So, as a result, we get the “Muslim burial” rationalization and the dithering about releasing photos/videos. From the government/DoD that brought us the Pat Tillman died while killing Taliban story, to the Jessica Lynch was captured while emptying her magazine to the Osama while firing a hail of bullets/human shield (all of which were later debunked/revised), pardon me if I question our government’s motives. We should demand photos/videos/proof. And those that do demand answers shouldn’t be denigrated by one word terminologies meant to insult their line of legitimate inquiry.

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  4. PJ says:

    @Chris:

    Uh, that’s what you’ve got? Would burying the body on the US base at Diego Garcia led to a burial site that followers could’ve accessed? (No.) And the body still would’ve been available for exhumation to answer future calls about conspiracy. You’re far to lenient about a potentially stupid decision. The reason why people are naturally skeptical about our government is that they give constantly give us reasons to be skeptical.

    There’s no need to have the body. there will always be skeptical people. If you don’t trust the government, then who would you want to do the autopsy? Perhaps then there are other people who wouldn’t trust that person, should they then get their autopsy? And so on.

    I’m not looking to win the hearts and minds of fundamental islamists. But I do think that not keeping the body on a us military base and giving it a proper burial, in the sea, will be good for us.

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  5. Yet another disillusioned pawn says:

    @Chris: I get it. You don’t trust the government. Now, take the next step and acknowledge that not believing the government is an article of faith in your political philosophy/religion. And since that is so, you will never believe that Osama is dead. I could respect that a lot more than the pseudo-reasonable “demand [evidence]” smoke and mirrors act you doing now.

    Deather, deather, deather, deather. Get used to it. You’ll be hearing it a lot.

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  6. PJ says:

    And the third autopsy of Osama will do as much to stop deathers as the release of Obama’s LFBC did to stop birthers…

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  7. HelloWorld! says:

    Feeding him to pigs also follows Islamic tradition and prevents a burial site from becoming a shrine. Thats what I think should have been done.

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  8. Franklin says:

    There was literally no answer that would have even come close to pleasing everybody. I think Chris’ idea to bury him on our own base is probably the worst idea yet, though. The area would require an extra security detail, FOREVER.

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  9. Ignacio says:

    It was a good trade-off.

    OBL’s mummy will haunt the seas though. :-)

    Where was Hitler buried at? Do Neo-Nazis visit his tomb? I have no idea.

    I’m of the opinion that OBL’s fate has had the best outcome.

    Ignorance is bliss.

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  10. Michael says:

    The avoidance of physical grave makes a great deal of sense

    It also follows Islamic burial guidelines, which allow for burial at sea if a burial on land would attract veneration (if it were an enemy) or desecration (if it were a friend).

    Would burying the body on the US base at Diego Garcia led to a burial site that followers could’ve accessed?

    No, but that would violate Islamic burial guidelines, which the US Government was obviously keen to follow.

    Feeding him to pigs also follows Islamic tradition

    I don’t think it does, can you provide a reference to that?

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  11. Michael says:

    Where was Hitler buried at? Do Neo-Nazis visit his tomb? I have no idea.

    Hitler was partially cremated by Nazis following his suicide. His remains were dug up by the invading Russian army and relocated to prevent it from becoming a shrice. It was then re-exhumed and re-buried multiple times, finally being completely destroyed by the Russians before last burial site was to be turned over to the East German government.

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  12. mattb says:

    Would burying the body on the US base at Diego Garcia led to a burial site that followers could’ve accessed? (No.) And the body still would’ve been available for exhumation to answer future calls about conspiracy.

    There is seriously no reason for retaining the body. Tissue samples were probably kept, I’d assume the corpse was imaged top-to-bottom, and beyond that, the sooner it was off of our hands and unrecoverable, the better.

    The idea of keeping a body for future exhumation makes no sense. The data was already collected.

    More so, given the recent Birther thing, whose request would be important enough to “produce the body?” or rather, how would you handle all of the spurious/nutter claims (or for that manner claims from his followers) to see the body?

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  13. Ian says:

    I like it. Welcomed to the afterlife by 72 sturgeons.

    Sorry.

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  14. rodney dill says:

    There shouldn’t be any question as to Osama’s identity. Didn’t they get his long form birth certificate with the other intel found at the compound?

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  15. Chris says:

    I trust the government when it provides the evidence that what it has done has been done.

    Instead of rushing all activities at once to get the news out on a Sunday night – what would be wrong with, instead, taking your time to get all of your advisors/agencies on the same page, releasing all photos and videos on line to be seen and providing the DNA report so that people who like facts (like me) wouldn’t have reason to think that there’s something amiss?

    That’s a question of management and co-ordination, something this administration has been lacking since it took office.

    Finally, the added cost for security at Diego Garcia is, quite simply, the stupidest argument I’ve ever heard. It’s a US military base. In the middle of the Indian Ocean. It’s the perfect place to bury a body and, if you ever need to get it at, exhume it. No one has convinced my why this is a worse idea than immediately shipping it out to sea after 12 hours because of some crazy religious ritual.

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  16. Kevin says:

    I think the decision of a sea burial for OBL is superb. See, it makes more sense now he is at the bottom of the sea than being kept ‘vigil’ over. Let America focus on other serious issues. Lest I forget, my ‘kudos’ to those guys who carried out the operation and also to President Obama.

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  17. Janis Gore says:

    I suppose we all got so stupid when the wen the Easterners started inbreeding. What can we say say?

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  18. Max Lybbert says:

    I’ll accept burial at sea. I believe treaties prevent the US from deliberately desecrating the body by slathering it with lard, burying him with pigs, etc.

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  19. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Making him shark bait was the 2nd best decision related to this operation; following making him dead, of course.

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  20. Mal says:

    I agree with you Chris. Would it have really been difficult to hang on to the body a little longer? While a government that’s compassionate about the rituals of others would be very nice, it still seems uncharacteristic that they’d dump the find of the century out to sea so swiftly where, conveniently, no one will retrieve it.
    I do believe Osama, or rather Usama, is dead. As it stands now, we’ll have to rely on the “leftovers” officials put on display – not satisfactory in my book.

    Who would’ve been outraged with America keeping the body longer? The Muslims or the Muslims in support of Usama? Which are we suggesting – that peaceful Muslims would be rioting right now or that extremist would be slightly more upset than they already are?

    A body would’ve made things so much easier. At the very least, many of those currently suggesting he’s still alive, would have no reason to suggest it.

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  21. Janis Gore says:

    Twit. Do you think that the US bopped the body without forensic evidence?

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  22. Southern Hoosier says:

    The White House went out of its way to make certain that Osama bin Laden received full traditional Muslim burial rites. Obama officials claimed they did so to honor the Islamic religion, but they were also honoring bin Laden. Such acts are unacceptable on behalf of America’s mortal enemy; no one suggested Adolf Hitler’s remains receive a Viking funeral.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/may/3/americas-muslim-precedent/

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  23. Janis Gore says:

    We call these ” outside agitators.”.

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  24. bills says:

    The body was dumped bc it wasn’t Osama. OBL has been gone from the scene since the fake videos started coming out. This is just another USGov operation to gin up the war on terror. Next up is a bogus “terrorist retaliation” attack, successfully demonstrating that the “terrorist problem” is both solvable by the USGov AND more effort is needed.

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  25. Ajmal farooq wani says:

    We want to see the body of osama

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