The Common Good
August 2011

'Now that I've found you ...'

by Ed Spivey Jr. | August 2011

So now we know why over the past few years our Internet service would sometimes slow to a crawl: Osama bin Laden was tying up the circuits Googling himself. Repeatedly.

So now we know why over the past few years our Internet service would sometimes slow to a crawl: Osama bin Laden was tying up the circuits Googling himself. Repeatedly. We found this out from watching videos that one of his three wives apparently took of him sitting in a comfy chair, wrapped in an afghan (or would we call it a pakistan?), drinking a Coke, and generally chilling out in front of a computer screen.

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(Quick! What's the difference between Newt Gingrich and Osama bin Laden? Answer: Newt had his three wives one at a time. Hahaha. I kid.)

Personal videotapes were just some of the items found in bin Laden's home after U.S. Navy SEALs attempted to deliver a covered dish and some flowers celebrating their long-delayed reunion. The U.S. military also wanted to drop off several bags of returned mail -- for some reason bin Laden had left no forwarding address during his frequent moves -- as well as a wedding gift, which was a little a awkward since it was at least one wedding behind.

But you know how it is when old friends are reunited, particularly in a region where celebrations traditionally include firing weapons wildly into the air: Someone makes a culturally insensitive joke, somebody accidentally knocks off a visitor's night-vision goggles, and then somebody goes home mad. Or gets buried at sea. Whatever.

But the good news: In reuniting with the world's most wanted criminal mastermind -- sorry, alleged criminal mastermind -- a lot of interesting items were discovered during the clean up. As someone who makes a point of helping tidy up during parties, I appreciate the thoroughness with which the Navy SEALs did their part to straighten up things afterwards, to the extent of even taking some of the mess home with them. Now that's being a good neighbor.

Naturally, I'm assuming American officials will give back all the items, such as computers and data disks, as soon as they are examined and "cleaned," which I'm told is a technical term meaning they'll be returned in better shape than when they were removed. Again, a very nice gesture. (I only wish Navy SEALs would barge into my house and take the living room rug, which could use a good "cleaning.")

In the months since, intelligence officials have learned many things about bin Laden's habits and intentions over the past few years:

  • He hasn’t been hiding out in caves; he's been resting in the suburbs. Granted, he didn't venture outside much, but who can blame him, what with the region's notoriously hot summers and the fact that no sunscreen has an SPF high enough to protect your skin from Predator drones.
  • He dyed his beard. But hey, that's no crime. What, a man can't feel pretty sometimes? And let those who've never used beauty products cast the first stone. (Put down that rock, Donald Trump, and drop the volumizer too.)
  • He was storing pornographic videos for a friend. It's not what it looks like.
  • His home was not heavily guarded. In fact, when Navy SEALs dropped in, only one of bin Laden's trusted couriers was there to greet them (although the greeting might not have passed the Miss Manners test, due to the gunfire involved). The man had probably just returned from one of his trips delivering instructions for the next heinous act of global terrorism, and then picked up sodas and conditioner on the way back. A lot of pressure on one man, particularly when he has to explain the Dr. Pepper he bought for himself.
  • When he wasn't watching American Idol, bin Laden was still active as the top leader of al Qaeda. This has always annoyed second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri, not only because he is more educated than bin Laden but also because he considers himself to be a better spokesperson because of his movie-star looks. The fact that the movie star he looks like is an aging Bill Murray is beside the point.

Coincidentally, Navy SEALs are also hoping to visit al-Zawahiri, although they're not sure where he lives. They have, however, ruled out a cave. (SEALs are fast learners.) Personally, I'd check any address in Pakistan that gets Netflix.

Ed Spivey Jr. is art director of Sojourners.

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