Osama Bin Laden Conspiracy Theories

Osama Bin Laden Conspiracy Theories

Just as laika.yaz predicted, a whole host of conspiracies has sprung up around the announcement of Osama Bin Laden's death. It's a pity they are all of such poor quality compared to the conspiracies that grew up around other major events like 9/11, the moon landing, the Kennedy assassination, and so forth.

Conspiracy Theory 1: Birther Distraction

Many people have noted the close timing between the release of Obama's long-form birth certificate and the timing of the assault on Bin Laden's compound. They feel that Bin Laden's death is just meant to distract us from the birth certificate question.

To quote Rachel Maddow on The Daily Show, "The idea that the birth certificate is the real story, and that Osama Bin Laden is the distraction from it, tells you everything you need to know about the people who are really invested in the birth certificate story."

The timing wasn't that close. There's clearly nothing that could distract the birthers anyway. And the birth certificate thing is only an issue to birthers, who clearly don't realize exactly how marginalized they are by society at large. The idea that Obama would do anything to distract the birthers - much less deploy a trump card as colossal as the capture and death of America's #1 enemy and one of the world's most wanted men - is ridiculous.

Eight years ago, a man named Steven Pieczenik claimed that Bin Laden was dead and on ice, and that the administration was hanging onto the body to use it as a trump card. For one thing, in order for this to work, you have to believe that Bush passed Bin Laden's dead body over to Obama after the last election instead of using it himself. (I find this… unlikely.) For another thing, you have to believe that the birther situation is worthy of using the ultimate trump card. Which it just plain isn't.

One interesting quirk of this particular conspiracy theory is that it performs the neat trick of bridging the vast chasm between left-wing conspiracists (who believed that Bush engineered 9/11) and right-wing conspiracists (who believe that Obama was born in Kenya). Bin Laden's body becomes the hockey puck being swapped between teams.

Conspiracy Theory 2: Where's the Body?

When I heard that Bin Laden's body had been dumped in the ocean, I groaned. "The conspiracy theorists are going to make hay out of that one," I thought.

But here's the thing: it doesn't really matter. You could ensconce Bin Laden's body (minus the top half of his face) in a climate controlled public viewing area like Lenin's body, and some people would claim it was a wax dummy. You could parade it across the country letting everyone give it a poke with a stick, and some people would claim it was just a dead body double.

There is a certain sub-set of people who are never going to believe something, despite all the facts. They are acting on faith, and it's as useless to try and shake that faith as it would be to argue someone out of being Catholic.

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