Talk:Osama bin Laden

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 Definition Radical jihadist who, with Ayman al-Zawahiri, founded a group known as al-Qaeda, which is credited with a series of terrorist attacks. [d] [e]
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 Talk Archive none  English language variant American English

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He's usually given as Osama bin Laden, isn't he? (The 'bin' means 'son of' in Arabic, so I often see it lower-cased.)

You are absolutely correct about the "bin". Good catch.
"Usama Bin Laden" is the usual spelling used by the Department of Defense. I am not wedded to this spelling, over other spellings.
Cheers! George Swan 14:37, 4 May 2008 (CDT)
I did a quick Google, to see which was more common, and "Usama" gets 285K, "Osama" 10.8M. Is there a standard for the transliteration of Arabic names (I know Chinese and Japanese have these, but don't know so much about Arabic) that would prefer one or the other? If not, we should probably move it to comport with common usage. J. Noel Chiappa 15:08, 4 May 2008 (CDT)
PS: Restricting it to pages in English gives 344K for "Usama bin Laden" and 670K for "Osama". Less of a difference, but still significant. "Osama bin Ladin" ('i' instead of 'e') gets 179K, and "Usama" only 35K. J. Noel Chiappa 15:14, 4 May 2008 (CDT)

I have created a redirect from Osama and renamed this one, as I think we all agree on these naming issues. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 15:04, 4 May 2008 (CDT)

As I see it, this is a Romanization issue. We will want to have the article live at the proper transliteration of bin Laden's name, with redirects from all of the other common spellings. Until we get someone who does MSA, though, we'll just have to muddle through. Brian P. Long 15:21, 4 May 2008 (CDT)
What's an MSA? I took a quick look to see if there was a 'preferred' transliteration system, but don't seem to see that there is one (there are several, but none seems to be preferred). J. Noel Chiappa 15:29, 4 May 2008 (CDT)
Sorry-- MSA stands for Modern Standard Arabic, also known as Fusha. MSA is something akin to the BBC pronunciation of Arabic, although my understanding is that the differences between MSA and the regional dialects can be pretty stark. The pronunciation also varies depending on the region, so there may be a "proper" (MSA) way to say bin Laden's name, and also a Yemeni-Saudi pronunciation. We'll just have to wait for someone with the requisite experience. Brian P. Long 15:45, 4 May 2008 (CDT)

I don't think expertise is required in titling this entry. I think user expectations (as with the bizarrely named World War II, Holocaust article). Article names should be descriptive - and currently the vast majority of writers in the English language use "Osama", not "Usama". The Google statistics given by J. Noel Chiappa are only one part of this. The British Library's Integrated Catalogue lists 83 books if you search for "osama bin laden" and three books if you search for "usama bin laden". Google News returns 132 hits for "usama" and 11,795 for "osama" - and the latter includes results from major news agencies and publications including AFP, BBC, AP, Washington Post, the Telegraph of London, Time, Slate, ABC, the New York Times and the Economist. It is also the usage of publications from the British government, the United Nations and the various institutions of the European Union. Dictionaries and encyclopedias don't prescribe usage, nor do they try to formalize it. Thus, even if "Usama" is the more sensible way to Romanize the Arabic, we aren't deciding which is the most sensible, we are describing how it is. See this Slate article. Conclusion: Osama bin Laden as home for article on the al-Qaeda leader with Usama bin Laden as redirect. --Tom Morris 17:08, 4 May 2008 (CDT)

I disagree completely. THe article is redirected from the other more common spelling, so there is no difficulty in locating it. Our interest should be in providing an accurate transliteration of non-Latin names, such that they resemble the original pronunciation. The fact that people across the English speaking world thrive on incorrect spellings and wrong "facts" is not relevant. My non-expert understanding is that the Arabic is nowhere near the English open "O" sound and is closer to the unstressed "U" sound, thus making this a better transliteration. We use expert knowledge on CZ, not populist beliefs, so we do need expertise on this matter. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:56, 4 May 2008 (CDT)
I would have no problem leaving this here, with a redir from ObL, if this is the correct transliteration in whatever Romanization scheme we adopt for Arabic. CZ:Romanization/Arabic, anyone? J. Noel Chiappa 19:59, 4 May 2008 (CDT)
Until we get our own version of l'Académie française, English does get defined in a large part by usage not experts. Do we change the H. G. Wells article over to Herbert George Wells? I mean, the latter is far more objective, and no doubt on the man's birth certificate. Sadly, language is not an objective, rational thing. There is no piece of evidence of test we can do to determine the rightness of this. Until we formalize naming conventions, it would seem better to follow the overwhelming direction of current usage - both online, in the press, in books and in scholarship. Romanization schemes are fairly irrelevant - follow the usage. This is an encyclopedia, not a Spelling Reform Society newsletter. There is a reason we don't all speak Esperanto. --Tom Morris 20:29, 4 May 2008 (CDT)
Perhaps we could change the incorrect spelling of Jesus to Yeshua while we are at it. --Tom Morris 20:45, 4 May 2008 (CDT)

Unless we have a good reason not to, we should always prefer the most common correct spelling; this is what CZ:Naming Conventions states. I disagree that we must provide, as one person above puts it, "an accurate transliteration of non-Latin names." In an encyclopedia, the function of a title is to identify the topic in a way that is most recognizable to most of the people who use the encyclopedia, so that information is maximally findable. I haven't read the discussion above, so don't take this as The Word From The Top, but I think the article should live at Osama bin Laden.

Also, the first sentence here does not contain any information whatsoever about why there is an article about Osama bin Laden: he's the most famous terrorist in history, after Robespierre, perhaps. We should say so in the first sentence. Cf. CZ:Article Mechanics (long version) on the first sentence and paragraph of articles. --Larry Sanger 21:26, 4 May 2008 (CDT)

Well, the whole thing about a wiki is that unlike a printed encyclopedia we can choose what sort of transliteration is used for the main article and redirect from others. As there is no consensus, I really don't see why we should be dictated to by popular ignorance as disseminated on the internet and measured by the number of Googled pages. One of the external links cited above, notes that the person in question uses the Romanisation "Usama": does this count for nothing?
I agree about the opening sentence, though. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 21:46, 4 May 2008 (CDT)

Well, you're begging the question, Martin: you're assuming that "Osama" reflects "ignorance" (i.e., is incorrectly spelled). But I doubt you have made your case. At a certain point, popular usage trumps all considerations of orthographic/grammatical correctness; the correctness of such matters of usage is always established, ultimately, by popularity. In this case, "Osama" is quite frankly far more popular among English writers. I notice also that the BBC uses it, as does such diverse sources as the Anti-Defamation League, Information Please, CNN,, Time magazine, the London Times and Telegraph, and on and on. To dismiss such sources as "ignorant" is shrug-worthy. --Larry Sanger 10:40, 5 May 2008 (CDT)

CZ is educational. It should give the correct spelling, not the popular one. If the correct spelling is Usama, and we can redirect from 'Osama', then there isn't a problem in terms of locating this article. Denis Cavanagh 10:44, 5 May 2008 (CDT)

I agree 100% with all of that, Denis (including your conditional claim). But "Osama" is not incorrect; in fact, it is so much more common that our policies really demand that it be used, unless it can be firmly and clearly established that it is incorrect, which no one has done. --Larry Sanger 10:46, 5 May 2008 (CDT)

I am unsure, but is Usama not the direct translation? Denis Cavanagh 10:50, 5 May 2008 (CDT)

What does "direct translation" mean, here, Denis? The phrase is literally meaningless. I notice the FBI, CIA, Fox News, and al Jazeera use "Usama." — (The Constabulary has removed an initialism here. Please use plain English instead, for example, "for what it's worth" ) —. Seems that every other credible (?) source uses "Osama." Aha, including that other ignorant ;-) educational resource, Encyclopedia Britannica. --Larry Sanger 10:58, 5 May 2008 (CDT)

OK, point made :-) By the way, what does FWIW mean?? Denis Cavanagh 11:43, 5 May 2008 (CDT)
Unless there is a compelling technical reason for going with Osama bin Laden (such that readers of Citizendium will not find the information they're looking for) I disagree strongly that an imprecise transliteration, by its preponderant usage, somehow manages to become the right way to do things.
The fact of the matter is that there are are a number of consonants in Arabic that are not phonemes in English (they're usually represented ḥ, x, ṣ, ḍ, ṭ, and ğ, and two more I couldn't find in the little table at the bottom). The fact that most popular writers in English do not bother to write the diacritics does not make it right-- it's an arrogant thing to do. Not bothering to get names right is in the same league with travelling abroad and complaining when the signs aren't in English. It's wrong to acquiesce in such a practice when the remedy (proper transliteration) is technically feasible and relatively trivial. Furthermore, we can have all the redirects we like-- doing the right thing isn't going to hurt anyone.
The other fact of the matter is that we don't have any people who do Modern Standard Arabic on board, so that we might determine what the proper transliteration is (from what I can tell from Wikipedia-- and I find the unicode Arabic script impossible-- the proper transliteration is something like ’Usāma or ’Osāma, with a long vowel and an alif in front). Thanks, Brian P. Long 12:24, 5 May 2008 (CDT)
I share your view on this, Brian. It really is a form of arrogance [and ignorance] to anglicise other people's names not to facilitate the most accurate pronunciation but to suit oneself. The fact that there is a herd mentality of copying populist newspaper spellings is no reason for CZ to do so, especially when the US agencies usually adopt the spelling Usama. I don't know how to insert the diacritical marks, but it might be wise to confine them to the text and not use them in article titles. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 12:34, 5 May 2008 (CDT)

In case of any doubt about the meaning of my remarks above, the term "arrogance" refers to entire cultures or countries. I realise that it might look insulting, but it is merely a comment on cultural dominance and the exercise of power: this goes way beyond mere individuals, and was certainly not aimed at anyone on CZ. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 23:40, 5 May 2008 (CDT)

That's exactly how I interpreted them, Martin, and that meaning was immediate and very obvious to me. May I suggest you all not worry about this naming issue. Get a solid, meaty article up first.  :-) Stephen Ewen 03:25, 6 May 2008 (CDT)

Well, now that that's cleared up, let me say what I think of those large, international classes of people, which I am sure has absolutely no representatives on CZ, who are so pretentious and pedantic as to think they can replace perfectly good English usage with their own, new, more "correct" spellings of common words, phrases, and names...  ;-)

Seriously, and all pointless and unconvincing exchanges of epithets aside, here are a few notes about this issue:

  • As everybody knows, some names are spelled certain ways by convention. Indeed, some proper names are ignored altogether in favor of a local (e.g., English) name for something--even by people who obviously are not merely ignorant about what the name and spelling would be if the spelling followed "the rules"--they see nothing wrong with following the convention. The Citizendium has not yet adopted a rule that it shall reject all such spellings if they are inconsistent with whatever pedants insist is most rigorously correct. I would argue strongly against such a rule; I am strongly in favor of using the most commonly-accepted correct name and spelling, so that our articles can be most easily located.
  • There is nothing arrogant whatsoever about this practice. It is done in all countries and all languages, of course, not just by English-speaking journalists.
  • Given the above commonly-known facts about language, it is simply wrong to say that whatever linguists say are "correct transliterations" or "correct Romanizations" of names are always necessarily the correct spellings of the names.
  • If our articles live under a title they are not usually found under, and there is a redirect, the article will be indexed by the title under which it appears. This will make it harder for people to find using Google and other search engines.
  • CZ's Naming Conventions require us to use the most common correct name for a thing. Absolutely nothing anyone has said above goes the slightest way to show that "Osama bin Laden" is incorrect.

--Larry Sanger 09:00, 7 May 2008 (CDT)

Equally, there is nothing to show that "Usama bin Laden" is an incorrect name. Considering that this is the spelling used by the man himself, the FBI and other US agencies -- in other words, the people who actually know what is going on -- we have to ask ourselves the question: "Where does this spelling "Osama" come from? As far as I can tell, it is from the popular press and online blogs. If you want that to be CZ policy, Larry, then I suggest you make a proposal to the Editorial Council saying so. As far as I am concerned, the spellings and other information contained in newspapers are of minor relevance: we can simply redirect from their versions, if need be. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 10:48, 7 May 2008 (CDT)

I am not saying that "Usama bin Laden" is incorrect. I am saying the obvious--that there can two different correct spellings. If you want to argue based on usage, then please be complete and fair, Martin: not just "popular press," but almost every single English-speaking newspaper in the world, as well as Encyclopedia Britannica and many, many other very credible, well-edited sources. In short, if you are trying to make an argumentum ad expertum against the correctness of "Osama," you'll lose. Those sources should be able to identify a "correct" spelling for the name as well as U.S. government agencies. And since when, Martin, are you trusting the judgment of U.S. government agencies? :-) Anyway, there's no need for any resolution in this case. The naming convention already in place is clear enough in this case. --Larry Sanger 13:30, 7 May 2008 (CDT)

I am in no way trying to dispute the fact that there is a point at which the usage train has left the station. That is exactly the point I have made in my draft proposal at CZ:Romanization/Ancient Greek-- English-language writers have a choice between following convention and writing Achilles or being weird, basically, and writing (the technically more precise) Akhilleus. There have been a very small number of innovators who have written "Akhilleus," but the vast majority of Classicists write "Achilles;" the Oxford Classical Dictionary, the standard English-language reference work in the field, has its entry under "Achilles." English-language usage, for scholars and lay folk alike, has been decided in favor of "Achilles."
The point at issue here is when there is an active discrepancy in usage. Citizendium policy, as I read it, is that we should come down on the side of correctness. Correctness, to me, means following the usage of experts. The issue is not whether newspapers and Britannica are well-edited or generally credible; the issue is that that they are not scholarly, and they do not reflect correct, scholarly usage. The name of the last prophet of Islam is spelled "Muhammad" in the print media and Britannica. If this were the only current usage in English it would be one thing, but my impression (and I am not an expert) is that scholarly works split down the middle between "Muhammad" and "Muḥammad," a spelling which accurately reflects the pronunciation. (It's also worth bearing in mind that to some extent, imprecise common transliterations in English reflect technological constraints which no longer exist.)
I think it's clear from the style recommendations of the FBI and CIA that "Osama" is not the only current usage. At this point, this should be an issue for the folks who are experts in the field-- the rest of our opinions basically don't matter. Brian P. Long 17:16, 7 May 2008 (CDT)

While I sympathize with it, I can't entirely agree with your general principle, Brian. CZ is not an experts/scholars-only project. There are other projects that are by and for scholars; this one is by a broad range of people, led by scholars, for the general public. So the predilections of experts, while important and in need of a full airing in article contents, need not be strictly probative when it comes to every issue, such as titles. Suppose that all classicists, in their journals and monographs, used "Akhilleus" pretty consistently, while in most (non-specialist) encyclopedias, other reference works, newspapers, and textbooks, "Achilles" continued to be used. Then I would say that we should go with "Achilles." If you think there is such a thing as a precisely correct spelling or naming of a thing, or for that matter of grammar and usage, and that correctness is always determined by expert opinion to the exclusion of anyone else, I think you are wrong about the nature of human linguistic conventions: they often are completely independent of scholarship. Scholars, sometimes, follow rather than lead. In saying this, moreover, I am not engaging in any sort of subtle anti-intellectualism; I am merely recognizing a hard fact of life that scholars no doubt sometimes wish weren't so. --Larry Sanger 10:26, 9 May 2008 (CDT)

The example of Achilles is perhaps misleading, in that too much has been published for too long with that version of the name. We cannot undo more than a century of bowdlerisation. However, this is not the case with the name Osama bin Laden. There is every reason for scholars to resist populist beliefs and conventions when it comes to something very recent and very controversial. I simply do not subscribe to this idea that mass opinion rules, and I doubt that the majority of Editors do either. I am actually ambivalent about what the name of this article should be, but I am really resisting the general principle that a preference in the mass media for one form should dictate scholarly work. It shouldn't. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 15:50, 9 May 2008 (CDT)
It's perhaps interesting that while the current most-common spelling of bin Laden's name is usually Osama bin Laden, ten years ago it was Usama bin Ladin. The other day, I googled Foreign Affairs for a variety of different spellings; ten years ago it was Usama bin Ladin, now it's (usually) Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden is a recent spelling of the name, and we are not violating some long-hallowed tradition by transliterating it correctly. Brian P. Long 16:48, 9 May 2008 (CDT)
As I understand it, classical Arabic pronunciation had no vowels e & o at all. This is still followed in India, but modern Arabs use these sounds. Thus the prophet who called himself Muhammad is now called by his fellow-countrymen Mohammed. Peter Jackson 17:30, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

=Usability vs. transliteration

For the record, I spent several years working for the Library of Congress, working on, among other things, human interfaces for nonroman orthography and national naming conventions. The goal there was principally to have a designated name for an author, with appropriate redirects for transliterations. No one expected a single version to be accepted.

In the U.S. intelligence community biographic databases with which I am familiar, the most fundamental searches use systems based on the Soundex system, which could be thought of a hash coding systems for consonant sounds. A name would be entered, converted to Soundex (or the local variant), the database searched, and various options presented to the user.

Bluntly, the state of the artwith multilingual, multiple character set name retrieval expectations is to have something that is stable, whether ideal or not, and then various redirects/aliases/etc. for it. Is it reasonable to expect CZ to find a solution for which information scientists have searched for decades? Howard C. Berkowitz 18:10, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

al-Qaeda or al-Qaida?

Similarly the United States Department of Defense spells the group "al Qaida" whereas "al Qaeda" seems to be the more popular name in general usage... George Swan 17:49, 4 May 2008 (CDT)

It should be al-Qa'idah as a formal transliteration, and I can recall Tony Blair diligently pronouncing it as such [unlike Bush, who doesn;t appear to know how to pronounce anything]. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 18:01, 4 May 2008 (CDT)
Wrong place to discuss this name. J. Noel Chiappa 19:59, 4 May 2008 (CDT)

Move to Osama bin Laden?

Larry: I note that you have deleted the above redirect in preparation for moving this article. As far as many of us are concerned, we have not reached a conclusion on the correct title, and certainly many of us disagree with your reasoning. I suggest that this has to be covered adequately by the Romanisation proposal [which at this time, it is not]. It would be premature to retitle the article before we have a policy on transliterated names. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 12:42, 5 May 2008 (CDT)

I checked with a friend of mine who knows Modern Standard Arabic, and he would transliterate bin Laden's name ’Usāma bin Lādin. My friend happens to be German, and German romanization may be slightly different than the method used in America, but at the very least, this is a reasonably precise transliteration of his name. Thanks, Brian P. Long 16:33, 5 May 2008 (CDT)

Well, I don't agree that there should be any presumption in favor of "Usama" simply because the article was first created under that name. I'll be happy to engage your arguments, but I was hoping others would do so and not leave it all to me. --Larry Sanger 23:19, 5 May 2008 (CDT)

Why does this guy say he hates America so much?...and should we not include that in the article?

While I agree that the spelling of the guy's name is an important fact to get right, after reading the article I feel like perhaps we're having a "forest for the trees" type problem here...I'm not really partial to any particular spelling, but the article _did_ leave me with lingering questions like: What's with this guy anyway? and: Why does a guy that we (Americans) seem to have been supporting in the Afghan fight against the Russians decide to start having his minions fly planes into our buildings.

I know the answers are probably obvious to anyone who is familiar with the subject...but that's not me. It seems perhaps an important piece of information to include in the Yamakuchi 11:57, 15 June 2008 (CDT)


I've rewritten the first paragraph to reflect the fact that he is now a "was" instead of an "is". Someone else should do the same for the rest of the article. Hayford Peirce 15:58, 2 May 2011 (CDT)

Historical persons take the present tense; we do not say that "Churchill was historically important" but "Churchill is historically important". So I have corrected this in the lead. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 07:26, 4 May 2011 (CDT)
An up-to-date resource: Martin Baldwin-Edwards 05:05, 4 May 2011 (CDT)

Addition of political cartoon

Could you please review and evaluate the usage of this photo:

It is a political cartoon found through a social network site. The photo is tasteless as it is added to a page concerning the death of bin Laden.

Also, the copyright status is undetermined.

Hopefully this image will be removed from the article based on the above.

Mary Ash 14:37, 4 May 2011 (CDT)

It is rather crass, and not exactly encyclopedic. I've removed it. David Finn 00:58, 5 May 2011 (CDT)
Although, I note that the single remaining image, of Obama gloating over Osamas death, is in no better taste. David Finn 01:07, 5 May 2011 (CDT)
Returned the Navy SEAL photo as I am awaiting a Constable or Editorial ruling. As neither David, nor I, are Editors the photo should remain. As to the use og Obama's image: As stated in the forum this was the most appropriate public domain image I could find to add to the article. CZ requires either the source name of the photographer, or a public domain image, as I could find no public domain or Creative Commons photos freely available the public domain image of President Obama will have to suffice. Also, I do not consider ANY US President delivering a speech to his nation gloating.Mary Ash 18:22, 5 May 2011 (CDT)
Both pictures are inappropriate here and should be removed. They carry no useful information. The fact that you did not find a better photo is no excuse -- better no picture than an irrelevant one. --Peter Schmitt 19:51, 5 May 2011 (CDT)
Peter could you please explain why it's inappropriate to have a photo of President Obama telling the world that bin Laden was dead? It was mostly Americans who were killed on American soil on 9-11. It was American Navy SEALS who performed the military operation to kill bin Laden bringing a terrorist to justice. The American US president photo does belong in the article as Obama is one of the key figures in the article concerned. He announced to the US and the world bin Laden's death. BTW I did not vote for Obama but I do support him as he is my country's leader. Mary Ash 20:32, 5 May 2011 (CDT)
Mary, this is an encyclopedia, not a platform for political or patriotic beliefs.
I am re-removing the political cartoon - Mary, it is not necessary to get a Constable or Editor to give you permission to edit articles. The cartoon is inappropriate, all commenters have agreed to this. There is no purpose to maintaining an inappropriate picture while we wait for some official to "rule" on it. Please revise the rules of content and revision before again undoing any edits.
As to the Obama photo, its inclusion seems ridiculous in the extreme. Maybe we should have a picture of Lee Harvey Oswald gloating over at the article about JFK, and why not have a picture of Osama gloating in the 911 attack article? David Finn 22:52, 5 May 2011 (CDT)

{unindent}David: I did contact a Constable as the person who posted the photo has NOT agreed to its removal. Neither you nor I are Editors therefore we should allow the process to take place. I do not like the SEAL photo and have clearly stated that. I do believe in allowing Editors/Constables to evaluate the situation as they were selected for their professional judgment. Neither you nor I have those responsibilities. As to the politics of it: I would LOVE to have the SEAL image included but its not appropriate. I have contacted a Constable to review this matter since you clearly want to start an edit war. I do not. Mary Ash 23:46, 5 May 2011 (CDT)

"I do believe in allowing Editors/Constables to evaluate the situation as they were selected for their professional judgment." I agree: asking an editor for an opinion, or even a ruling, on content is fine. Or a constable for behavioural questions. You might also ask the ombudsman to mediate a controversy.
However, I take issue with "Neither you nor I have those responsibilities." This is a wiki, a collaborative effort. We all have some of the responsibility, though we should all be prepared to compromise or even to be overruled. Sandy Harris 00:05, 6 May 2011 (CDT)
Sandy I agree with you and that is the whole point of this issue. David took it upon himself to return the photo after I requested assistance from a Constable. A Constable nor Editor have ruled on it but David decided to revert the article. This is a wiki and anyone is free to edit, something I have written many times and believe; but no editing should be done after a Constable or Editor have been asked to rule. David chose to ignore that. Mary Ash 00:20, 6 May 2011 (CDT)
Mary, you seem a little confused, as I have not returned any photos at all. Why don't we just wait to see what said Constable/Editor has to say on the matter rather than wasting time with more discussion. David Finn 00:36, 6 May 2011 (CDT)
I am NOT confused as if you check the page history you clearly state rolling back the photos again. See: Page histories tell the tale including your comments. As to the images/photos they are now both removed from the article. I removed the President Obama photo as I found a better one to fit the article. Mary Ash 02:01, 6 May 2011 (CDT)
Ok, now you have confused yourself even more - when you should have just read your own previous comment.
David: "removing image per talk"
Mary Ash: "David took it upon himself to return the photo"
Is it just that you are confusing the terms "removing" and "return"? Really tho, let's wait for that Constable/Editor ruling. David Finn 02:17, 6 May 2011 (CDT)

{unindent} Just for jollies as after this I will be reporting David's comments as being unprofessional. Calling some "confused" is disparaging and unprofessional. David I filed a comment about the unprofessional and dubious copyright status on the discussion page (this page) but left the image in place and requested Constable assistance. You removed the image with comments while the image was awaiting action by a Constable or Editor. I returned the image. You returned the image. This should thoroughly clear up the "confusion" you so claim. I am now off to file a complaint of unprofessionalism with a Constable due to your comments. Mary Ash 10:16, 6 May 2011 (CDT)

There you go again. How can both you and I return the same image? Didn't one of us have to remove it? Anyway, I am sure the Constable will sort things out for you. David Finn 11:14, 6 May 2011 (CDT)
Actually it was a typo. You removed the image while waiting for a Constable or Editor to make a decision as the original contributor (who is a Constable by-the-way) has chosen not to get involved. I hope this is clear enough to understand. Mary Ash 11:18, 6 May 2011 (CDT)
Well, it is now that you are using the words you mean instead of other words with different meanings in their place. Surely you must see the confusion that can arise in such matters. Thanks for clearing that up. David Finn 11:23, 6 May 2011 (CDT)
Whether a certain picture belongs into an article is a matter of content, thus it is not Constable business.
We do not have to ask "the person who posted the photo" before removing it. And we do not need Editors here, either: It is not a question of special expertise, it is simply a matter of common sense that these two pictures were misplaced.
Since you ask: Barack Obama looks the same whatever he announces. His picture carries absolutely no information about bin Laden.
--Peter Schmitt 16:15, 6 May 2011 (CDT)

(undent) Constable comment: there is no reason for constable action here. Mary, I hope you see that David was trying to point out that there was an error in your message that caused confusion. D. Matt Innis 18:12, 6 May 2011 (CDT)

Thank you for letting me know that I can now remove text and images without any problems. I thought it was professional and appropriate to allow the original poster to take the lead or waiting for an Editor to make a ruling. There was no mistaking the message as the image which was a photo of Osama bin Laden posted by a contributor was removed by David after there was a clear statement by me that I waiting for Editorial guidance.Mary Ash 18:33, 6 May 2011 (CDT)
It is courteous and appropriate to allow the original poster to change their own edits, but not unprofessional to do it yourself. Attempting to find compromise using edits is certainly encouraged, but edit warring is an unprofessional behavior. D. Matt Innis 18:47, 6 May 2011 (CDT)
And if you read the message history you will see I contacted a Constable to avoid an edit war. Sigh... Mary Ash 19:24, 6 May 2011 (CDT)
Yes, you did. Thank you. D. Matt Innis 19:57, 6 May 2011 (CDT)

More accurately Usama Bin Ladin?

I've removed this phrase for now. If it is more accurate to call Osama by a different name then the article should be called that name. If there is some reason why the article and the man have different names that needs to be made clear. David Finn 00:56, 5 May 2011 (CDT)

Romanising any non-European language can give variant spellings. The same Chinese character as a family name gives at least Ong, Wong, Wang, and Huang. Usama/Osama is that sort of variation. I'd say use Osama, since that seems to be the usual usage in media. Sandy Harris 01:22, 5 May 2011 (CDT)
Al Jazeera ( uses "Osama" and "bin Laden". To me, that seems decisive; the article title is correct and "more accurately" an overstatement. We may still need some text on alternate romanisations, though. Sandy Harris 01:26, 5 May 2011 (CDT)
No-one refuses that Osama Bin Laden is the most frequent form in English and this form has to be the first one in the article. But Usama Bin Ladin is the sole, accurate transcription from Arabic and this transcription is used in various publications (for instance, there and there). Therefore, I've restored this information, since it's an objective information. There isn't any serious, encyclopedic reason to censor such an information. We adopted the same policy for Muammar Gaddafi or Muammar Al Qadhdhafi.--Domergue Sumien 17:50, 5 May 2011 (CDT)
Domergue, you are missing my point, and the Gaddafi article is likewise uninformative. If you tell the reader that there is a more accurate version of an articles title than that which appears as the articles title, you need to explain why. Both I and Sandy suggested that the information must be presented in an encyclopedic way, not that it should not appear in the article. If one is the more accurate, and one is the more popular, then that is the encyclopedic part that is needed to make sense of your addition.
Excuse me if I seem dense, but the previous wording, before Ro Thorpe fixed the lede, gave me and the general reader no indication what was meant by "more accurate" and left me wondering why one is more accurate than the other. Now I know it is a problem of translating Arabic to English. Maybe the Gaddafi article could be altered to give the same information. David Finn 23:35, 5 May 2011 (CDT)

David, I don't want to argue. I just find the current introduction quite satisfactory (the most frequent form, followed by the most accurate transcription).--Domergue Sumien 05:20, 7 May 2011 (CDT)

Who's arguing? I am also satisfied with the introduction, now that Ro has made it encyclopedic. David Finn 05:56, 7 May 2011 (CDT)

Now that Martin is now longer here to throw his thunderbolts at us....

Would someone with more energy than I kindly restore all the past tenses in the places where they're needed. Thanks! (Please note, for instance, that in the case of Martin's illustrious countryman, Winston Churchill, the article is written in the past tense throughout -- one would have thought that he would have "corrected" this one also!) Hayford Peirce 22:29, 6 May 2011 (CDT)

legality of his killing

I think this could be discussed somewhere in the section regarding his death. I would have tried except the overly patriotic overtone of that section wouldn't fit with this subject. (Chunbum Park 12:41, 7 May 2011 (CDT))

Yes, this should be covered as responsible academic authorship dictates this be done. The flip side of this argument is the legality of bin Laden's support of killing almost 3,000 people on 9-11 and continued plans to do so. Mary Ash 13:30, 7 May 2011 (CDT)
That is not the "flip side", at least phrased in that manner, as would be seen by a court.
Both U.S. and international law are relevant here. Let me address the first. It has never been against the U.S. statutes for a President to order a killing; there has been an Executive Order to that effect, renewed by several Presidents. U.S. Presidential Findings to kill bin Laden, however, go back to the Clinton Administration.
Killing a leader in warfare is generally considered legal under international law; the question here is whether a state of war exists between the United States and al-Qaeda. There is no simple answer, as virtually all international law assumes that only nation-states will be in conflict. Increasingly, this is less true in the late 20th and early 21st century. Afghanistan's Taliban government, for example, was never recognized in more than three countries and it was not given Afghanistan's UN seat. Does it meet the full requirements for a nation, especially since there was at least some civil war at all times? The Taliban disavowed things such as the Geneva Convention.
The Taliban, however, did occupy land. Another organization with de facto command of a land area was the Liberation Tigers of Tiger Eelam. Were they a state? Hezbollah also has de facto control and acts as a government. Al-Qaeda, however, operates in many states but does not have a clear homeland. It has, however, declared war, and operates as a belligerent--a term I carefully use rather than lawful or unlawful combatant. A-Q fairly clearly doesn't meet the Third Common Article of the Geneva Conventions.
Pakistan is a sovereign state, but there is a general obligation, under the practice of international law (but often violated) not to harbor guerillas or terrorists -- see the Foreign Affairs article below.
In other words, it's not clear either way. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:14, 7 May 2011 (CDT)
Good article by Henry Porter about this: [1] Ro Thorpe 20:21, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
  • With regard to the legality of the raid on the Bin Laden compound, and the legality of shooting him, when he was unarmed, if he was unable to present an immediate threat to the SEALs who followed him into his bedroom... One can find commentators who state that the USA was entitled to shoot him without trying to capture him, because he wasn't protected by the Geneva Conventions.
    1. We all have some familiarity, from World War 2 movies, with the Third Geneva Convention, and its protection of lawful combatants, who qualify for the protections of Prisoner of War status. In 1949 a Fourth Geneva Convention was signed. It addressed weaknesses of earlier conventions, and defined everyone in a war zone as a "protected person". Since 1949 the Geneva Conventions no longer only protected lawful combatants from torture, from humiliation, from religious discrimination, from inadequate rations and inadequate medical treatment.
    2. I took a long look at the Geneva Conventions, a few years ago, and a long look at the relevant sections of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and at Army Regulation 190-8 -- which lays out how to treat prisoners. It seemed to me that all three of these documents were in concurrence. Summary battlefield executions are strictly prohibited. If an individual has been disarmed, and is not in a position to present resistance, all three of these documents assert the captor has a duty to protect a captive, any captive, even war criminals.
    3. I heard Mike Scheuer (sp?) a former CIA officer, who once headed the bin Laden desk, and has since written several books on al Qaeda, assert that the only circumstances under which he thought GIs should have taken bin Laden prisoner were if he not only had his hands up, but was also completely naked, so they could be sure he wasn't hiding any suicide bombs.
    4. Neil MacDonald, a senior CBC journalist who has served in Afghanistan, Israel, Washington, explained to viewers a few days after the killings that his sources had explained to him that those in special ops followed an unwritten rule. A "kill or capture mission" was different from a "capture or kill mission". When on a "capture or kill" mission soldiers were supposed to be ready to try to make the target a captive. But everyone involved understood that "kill or capture" missions were really intended to kill the target, and that no one at HQ wanted the soldiers to bring back captives. George Swan 14:14, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

"bin Laden's involvement"

In the second paragraph, "bin Laden's involvement" OUGHT to refer to something previously mentioned -- but doesn't. Also, the whole paragraph is one LONG sentence (I guess, the mind goes blank before reaching the end). Heaux Rheault, could you do something about this? Thanks! Hayford Peirce 12:53, 7 May 2011 (CDT)

Reviewing the bidding

May I suggest we stop and think, both about neutrality/objectivity, and whether things going into this article even belong in it -- other than as links to a more appropriate article, such as Obama Administration or al-Qaeda? We also need to expand asymmetrical warfare, so we address the 21st century warfare situation of nation-state against quasi-state, quasi-state aganist quasi-state, as well as quasi-states that either operate across national borders, or claim no territory.

Of course, you read this at your peril, since some insist I can have no expert opinions in politics and the military, or such silly things as history going back to Ibn Tamiyya.

Mary, do not get me wrong: as an American and as a citizen of the world, if the Joint Special Operations Command had taken my overweight and aging body on that mission, I believe I would have been willing to kill him. I've never shot anyone, but I have been at gun and knife point, and have defended myself in ways I know could have killed. Obviously, one never knows -- but let's get the emotion out of this. From the standpoint of international law, saying he killed 3,000 people on 9/11 is emotional. He's actually responsible for a lot more deaths -- but that isn't the way international law works. More below.

At this point, I think we will do best by posing questions. The media and White House explanations are often contradictory and change; I've heard, so far, at least two or three explanations of the helicopter crash, and, today, have corresponded with three military helicopter pilots who say they all are implausible to impossible. A fourth way was suggested: vortex turbulence.

Anyway, some questions,

  1. The nature of war and international relations, including quasi-states and the limitations of the Geneva Conventions
  2. Legality of the raid. I believe a case can be made in international law, but I can also argue the other side. A starting point would be the doctrine of hot pursuit under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea; the doctrine has been used elsewhere. Review from Foreign Affairs, 2007
  3. Effect of the death of bin Laden on the jihadi-takfiri movement. How does this affect the 1998 Declaration of Jihad
  4. Effect of the death of bin Laden on the Arab Spring, and, although this might better belong in the al-Qaeda article, on their doctrine of the near enemy.
  5. Discrediting of bin Laden as a legitimate religious leader [ "The Serpent in Our Garden"
  6. Potential successors -- Anwar al-Aulaqi? Adam Gadahn? Ayman al-Zawahiri?
  7. Military/technical analysis of the raid
  8. Effect on Pakistani politics.
  9. European reaction, especially in the context of NATO
  10. Other international reaction
  11. Effect on American politics

Ten most wanted

Mary, please remove this picture immediately. This has to be an encyclopedic article on bin Laden, not a piece of political propaganda. (If you don't do it then someone else will do it.)--Peter Schmitt 15:22, 7 May 2011 (CDT)

The "Ten Most Wanted" is not a legal document in the US, but an advertising campaign of the FBI. At the very least, one could find US or even UN declarations of bin Laden as a suspected criminal. I'm also growing tired of the jingoism.
Tell me, was he not wanted in the UK? Kenya? Tanzania? Saudi Arabia? Spain? Howard C. Berkowitz 16:14, 7 May 2011 (CDT)
Unless ruled otherwise by an Editor I do believe the photo should remain. Bin Laden is a historical figure wanted by the FBI. The FBI is a US federal agency thereby making the photo public domain. There is no other public domain photo of bin Laden available for use on Citizendium. If I had taken a photo of bin Laden while working as a journalist I may have been able to share the photo but my employer would have first rights as I would have been an "employee for hire" according to US copyright law. There needs to be a photo of bin Laden, and I like I wrote, this photo offers historical context while fulfilling our copyright obligations. And I do agree with Howard as Bin Laden was wanted worldwide. Mary Ash 16:55, 7 May 2011 (CDT)
Do not use my statement, Mary, about worldwide desire to get him, as the slightest approval of your using the FBI picture. Until you succeed in getting me removed as a History, Politics and Military Editor, I find the FBI image quite inappropriate, as unrecognizable outside the US and giving a sense of gloating. If you wanted even to cite the UN or US wanted notices, then I would have less of a concern about sensationalism. On the other hand, I can live, quite easily, with not having pictures, as I assume our readers are literate. If this is the only PD picture, which I don't think is the case, I can live quite easily with not having a picture of bin Laden. I can think, however, of quite a few places where a moderately skilled researcher could find a picture -- even cropped in a Wanted Poster of him alone, just the face. Howard C. Berkowitz`
I agree with Mary on this. This is a historical document, not a piece of political propaganda. What makes you say *that*, Peter? I am truly baffled. It is surely not propaganda but simple fact that he was on the 10 most wanted list. If we had an article about Al Capone or John Dillinger, would it be political propaganda to have an image of the relevant FBI poster? If we had an article about Carlos the Jackal would you forbid a French wanted poster of him? If you, or anyone else removes this imagine, I will encourage Mary to ask the Editorial Council to make a formal ruling about the matter. Thanks. (I won't object if the image is moved within the article, but even that ought to be as the result of a consensus.) Hayford Peirce 17:16, 7 May 2011 (CDT)
(several edit conflicts)
Once more, Mary, and in full agreement with Howard: That you do not have a good picture of bin Laden is no excuse to insert an inadequate one. This is not a newspaper trying to be sensational and catch a reader's attention.
Hayford, the picture itself is a historical document, but the way how it is used is inadequate, in my view. (I do not insist on the word "propaganda".) --Peter Schmitt 17:25, 7 May 2011 (CDT)
Then move it elsewhere in the article, to Chasing bin Laden, or Killing bin Laden or whatever. Hayford Peirce 17:37, 7 May 2011 (CDT)

Mary, you said "Unless ruled otherwise by an Editor I do believe the photo should remain.". This is only two days, and five talkpage threads, since you complained to the Constabulary that I had removed a photo without your permission while you were waiting for another "Editor ruling", at which point both Constabulary and Editor told you that this was not policy and you were mistaken in thinking so. Only Editors can approve articles or parts thereof, even temporarily.

Hayford, you said "If you, or anyone else removes this imagine, I will encourage Mary to ask the Editorial Council to make a formal ruling about the matter. Thanks. (I won't object if the image is moved within the article, but even that ought to be as the result of a consensus.)"

I am baffled by this statement. Hayford, I checked and you are not an Editor in any subject, let alone this one. I can't see how you have any qualification or authority to demand that article content be retained, and threatening anyone who should contravene your non-Editorial ruling with a formal ruling by the EC seems, to my untrained eye, to be a misuse of the role of Secretary of the EC. I am also confused by your reasoning - you show that you accept that consensus can be reached in moving the photo, but you seem to suggest that if consensus should dictate its removal that you will encourage a formal EC ruling against that.

Consensus does not require unanimity, and Authors don't get to make Editorial rulings (even indirectly by threatening EC action). As to the "photo", it is computer screenshot of 11 people and a lot of text. The photo of Osama is miniscule. That alone would rule its use out, but it is obvious that its proponents are not advancing it as a photo of Osama but a photo of the FBI announcing his death. That its proponents do not recognise this as unencyclopedic propoganda shows why we need an actual Editor ruling, from a proficient Editor rather than a committee decision forced through by an Author. David Finn 01:56, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

David, I found your presentation of how the photo and edits in general should proceed to be persuasive. I have no idea what the purpose of the photo is, and strong-arm tactics don't seem an appropriate substitute for a discussion. John R. Brews 02:45, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

I moved the photo out of the lede, as Hayford suggested. IMHO it clearly does not belong there. It is probably fine in the context of the US gov't hunt for OBL, later in the article. That section needs a rewrite, but the photo isn't the problem. Sandy Harris 03:46, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

Organization(s) carrying out the raid

While the news media like to abbreviate the raiders to United States Navy SEALs, that clearly is inadequate. The raid was carried out under the operational command of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a multiservice organization. SEALs do not fly helicopters, but JSOC helicopters are flown by a detachment of the U.S. Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. I would venture to say that almost certainly, there were people on the ground from Air Force Special Operations Command, to bring in close air support if necessary, and possibly to control the airspace.

Components both from CIA, and the organization-that-isn't-called-the-Intelligence Support Activity any more, did prestrike surveillance. CIA, and quite possibly military intelligence personnel, were involved in searching for documents and computer media. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:44, 7 May 2011 (CDT)

Speaking of "Navy SEALs" cannot be too wrong even if it is not entirely precise. I heard an interview with a former SEAL (retired 3 months ago because he married) who confessed to be "jealous" that he was not among those of his former colleagues who finally succeeded.
In my view, the article should not go into details of this mission, in particular not with assumptions ("I would venture"). This is better done in a separate article. --Peter Schmitt 16:43, 7 May 2011 (CDT)
Source the CIA and other intelligence agencies as they did assist in the operation. When I added the SEAL information some of this information was just breaking. Also, it was getting near midnight and I needed to get some sleep. Also, the time line presented is historical and factual. No need for removal as it tells how bin Laden died. Mary Ash 17:02, 7 May 2011 (CDT)
If you need to go to sleep and the information isn't solid, don't include it. This is an encyclopedia, not CNN.
I fail to see how the timeline of an event less than a week old, with considerable uncertainty, can be "historical." It also has not been cross-confirmed as "factual"; both government and media reports are conflicting. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:11, 7 May 2011 (CDT)
Having a separate article on the raid makes sense. The political and related questions seem more relevant to a biographical article. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:13, 7 May 2011 (CDT)
Yes, but how many and with what titles? WP Has "Death of .."[2] and "reactions to the death of ..." [3]. I'd have two titles, Assassination of Osama bin Laden and US raid on Abbottabad, with one a redirect to the other and which is which depending on how that article is written. Sandy Harris 23:11, 7 May 2011 (CDT)

{unindent}Howard this is what I wrote. Notice I used two different terms to describe the people involved: navy SEALS and military. It was the brave navy SEALS who breached the walls and went into harms way so we may all be safe and they deserve the credit so richly due them. I also used the term navy SEALS as that's what was reported by several different mainline news agencies. I opted for the general terminology as anyone could click on the navy SEALS link too and find out more about how they operate within the US special forces. Now for you to read: Details of the raid on bin Laden's compound remain somewhat clouded but news sources state two Black Hawk helicopters carrying 25 military personnel were scheduled to enter a courtyard of bin Laden's compound. One of the helicopters developed mechanical difficulties, was later blown up to protect US assets, and the 25 personnel performed a "surgical raid" to limit collateral damage. During the raid three of the four compound walls were breached as the military personnel entered the compound. Mary Ash 23:51, 7 May 2011 (CDT)

What is the urgency of putting preliminary information into an encyclopedia article? Your italicized quote is simply wrong, no matter who said it.
Incidentally, do you know how to breach a wall, and the weight of explosives required to do so? I do. If that were on the H-60's -- which were probably a Nighthawk variant, not a Blackhawk, in the MH-60 series -- would have been even more overloaded. The raid, with 40 people on the ground, physically could not have been carried out by two H-60 helicopters. Other reports, far more plausible, say two H-60 and two H-47.
Rather than discuss where the preliminary reports might be wrong, you insist on justifying what you put in. Collaboration includes listening to facts, expert opinions, and even suggestions of pacing and style. Incidentally, I do know several special operators from various services, and they'd all cringe on being called "brave". If anything, I suspect they would prefer "honorable", because it is their honor and bond to do what they do. One Army Special Forces soldier repeated an oft-said line: "We do what no one should have to do, but has to be done." A good friend, who retired as a Senior Master Sergeant parajumper, told me that he totally focused on the job at hand, and kept emotion out of it. Emotion gets you killed. One of Murphy's Laws of Combat is "never share a foxhole with anyone braver than you are."
Coming back to helicopters, the US Special Operations people have learned not to use too few. Delta successfully retrieved Kurt Muse in Operation ACID GAMBIT, but the overloaded MH-6 crashed; everyone was retrieved. We know what happened in the attempted Iranian hostage rescue -- failed because not enough helicopters were available. Both backup helicopters in Operation GOTHIC SERPENT went down, and the helicopters became the focus of the operation. Howard C. Berkowitz 05:04, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

Added back President George W. Bush with historical context

Added back the quote from President George W. Bush with historical context. Bush was responsible for implementing the hunt for bin Laden and the war on terrorism. His quote is appropriate as it shows the president who started the hunt and his reaction and ends with President Obama's announcement giving closure to the hunt for bin Laden.Mary Ash 19:43, 7 May 2011 (CDT)

That is incorrect on several levels. The first serious hunt for Bin Laden was under Bill Clinton; see Richard Clarke. Indeed, BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired at Al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan during the Clinton Administration. Please consult the Afghanistan War (2001-) and Afghanistan War (2001-), major combat phase for information on what actually took place under President Bush.

Second, this is an article about bin Laden, not counterterrorism details, which probably belong in a different article.

Third, we generally try to avoid the term "war on terror". As Francis Fukuyama put it, "war on terror", a tactic, has approximately the meaning of "war on submarines."

Fourth, George W. Bush is no longer in the line of command, and his pronouncements are not terribly important. If the article is to deal with important issues, try changes in world politics, in the possible successors to bin Laden, on changes in ideology, etc. Rah-rah-USA really does get boring. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:03, 7 May 2011 (CDT)

Clinton may have started hunting for bin Laden but it was Bush and the seated Congress who implemented the hunt for bin Laden after 9-11. They also implemented Homeland Security and the current national alert system. Bush's comments are appropriate as if I remember right Bush stood at Ground Zero and said he was going to hunt down bin Laden. He is the Alpha while Obama, much to the Democrat's credit, is the Omega concerning the hunt for bin Laden.

As to the navy SEALs, as written previously the information is brief and gives a chronology of how bin Laden was tracked down and killed. You need to know how he died as that is part of the historical record. Feel free to add another article concerning the SEAL's efforts, as well everyone else, as there is plenty to write about. I am sure more information will be forthcoming. For now though a brief overview of how bin Laden was killed belongs in the article as it provides factual and historical perspective. In other words, it would be strange to write he died leaving the reader wondering how he was killed. Mary Ash 20:55, 7 May 2011 (CDT)

Details remain a good deal more than clouded.

Again, Peter's suggestion that the raid details belong in another article, in my opinion, is a good one.

There is an excellent demonstration of how news reports are misleading or wrong, and simply cannot be taken as factual by people unfamiliar with the nuances. "Details of the raid on bin Laden's compound remain somewhat clouded but news sources state two Black Hawk helicopters carrying 25 military personnel were scheduled to enter a courtyard of bin Laden's compound. "

What might be odd here? Well, the basic UH-60 troop-carrying helicopter, without special operations equipment, is rated to be able to carry 11 soldiers. In general, the higher the altitude, the poorer the performance of a helicopter. Abbotabad is at 1,260 meters (4,134 ft).

Numerous reports, some technical in nature, have said there were approximately 40 US personnel in the compound. Since SEALs train as tactical units of 8 men, there were probably 24 SEALs, although there also was reported to be an interpreter.

Two UH-60 or equivalent Blackhawks could never handle this weight, even at sea level. In fact, most of the reports I have seen indicate there were two Blackhawks of a specialized stealth configuration, plus two MH-47 Chinook medium-lift special operations helicopters.

I'm afraid I can't compete with a steady stream of unvetted news reports. It would be appreciated if no one were to say but "this is a wiki", because I am entirely capable of quickly posting inaccurate data without collaboration. I simply refrain from doing so, and try to get my facts straight before saying anything. The major news media are notoriously inaccurate on details of military operations. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:55, 7 May 2011 (CDT)


Why is it that this paragraph is all about celebration and vengeance, and no mention is made of a number of more sober assessments? The Vatican released a statement saying the event called for "reflection, not rejoicing." See also this article. John R. Brews 22:52, 7 May 2011 (CDT)

Please edit it to improve it -- that's what we're here for. Hayford Peirce 22:55, 7 May 2011 (CDT)
I've tried for a bit of balance in this section. John R. Brews 02:40, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
I have inserted a brief account of the essential facts.
I strongly suggest to remove the section containing quotes of comments on bin Laden's death unless it is extended to a balanced and well-organized selection of quotes from all over the world, including some from the Arabic world.
I suggest to use the section on the raid as starting point for Operation Geronimo (or similar).
The section on future plans would better fit into the al-Qaeda article and should not be written until more confirmed facts are known.
--Peter Schmitt 07:26, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
I agree that the future plans doesn't belong here, and indeed is a rather sweeping claim on the basis of a single news report.
We can work together on this. There's no question that we should have more quotes from not only Arabs, but other Muslim countries, including the Turkish/Central Asian areas, Iran, Southeast Asia, etc. I simply haven't had time to find them as yet
While I've only seen preliminary reports, there are a good many mentions that a shakeup is happening in Iran -- it may be coincidental.
Would anyone suggest splitting up regions of the world so we can look for quotes? Howard C. Berkowitz 12:18, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
My suggestion is that we will want articles both on the raid itself, and on the legalities of the killing. It's too much detail here, for example, to get into the launching of the raid from Bagram. We also might break out the reactions into a separate article, dealing with such things as possible successors. 12:21, 8 May 2011 (CDT)


Anyone know why the two column reflist isn't working? Howard C. Berkowitz 05:37, 8 May 2011 (CDT)


Is it al Qaeda or al-Qaeda? Isn't it usual to write 9/11 instead of 9-11? --Peter Schmitt 07:27, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

Usually al-Qaeda and 9/11---thanks for that (I've revised English spellings accordingly). Ro Thorpe 08:31, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
Is there a consensus to standardise?
This is a tough one, Ro. Two very widely read sources, the Associated Press and the New York Times, differ. I have in front of me today's Arizona Daily Star, which has an AP story in it. The AP refers to al-Qaida, with a hyphen and an i and a small a in al. Today's New York Times, however, refers to Al Qaeda, with a capital A, no hyphen, and an e. Up to you to sort it out, my dear chap! Hayford Peirce 11:59, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
To make it even more complicated, another authoritative source, Reuters, uses al Qaeda, the same as the Times, but with a small a. At least that's how it shows up on my Yahoo news page. Hayford Peirce 12:04, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
Yes, there are lots of versions, but there should be only one per article; "al-Qaeda" is what I most often see. I'll add another sentence to the English spellings list. Ro Thorpe 12:54, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
Yes, we have to have only one spelling, not only per article, but across CZ as a whole, in all the articles. Which spelling is used for the A Q article itself? Hayford Peirce 12:59, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
I think it's a bit much to hope for a universal CZ spelling at this stage. Recently I had to standardise 'mujahideen' in an article, and I think that was the spelling I chose, but the CZ article thereon has another spelling, a less common one, I think. These things can take decades to settle, if they ever do... Ro Thorpe 13:27, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
One reason for avoiding the actual common spelling of 9/11 is that CZ article names will only work with a hyphen.
Standardization is good, if arbitrary. I certainly can't write Arabic, although I can say some pleasantries. Nevertheless, while I understand the details of some groups, I can't even remember the spelling...there's no accident that the common military usage is to refer to the "Muj". I'm perfectly willing to go with whatever is standardized. There is a name authority system at the Library of Congress that might be consulted. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:48, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
9/11 is already being used in piped links. 'Mujahideen' I like because it emphasises the stress on the final syllable, which -din spellings do not. Ro Thorpe 15:03, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

Probably needs sourcing; additional articles

First, I suggest that

Several comments were also accompanied by critical remarks observing that the US raid inPakistan may have violated international law, and that it would have been better to put bin Laden before an international court. Not knowing for sure whether the death of bin Laden was the explicit purpose of the raid they also pointed out that "killing missions" are against human rights.

needs sourcing. There are arguments for and against that "killing missions" may be within international law and human rights. I've given information from al-Jazeera, a statement from Amnesty International, and will be adding additional material.

In the interest of full disclosure, my initial personal reaction is that it was legal, but I will do my best to stay neutral on this.

My suggestion is that the main discussion of these issues take place in an article called killing of Osama bin Laden. I chose the word "killing" carefully, since no one disputes he was killed by U.S. forces. The article can discuss the legalities. It may be convenient to have a separate article on the raid itself. "Operation GERONIMO" would be an unusual but possible U.S. military code name, which are standardized as two words. CIA does use one-word names. Howard C. Berkowitz 08:01, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

The sentence I wrote and you cite is written to state the problems/questions connected with the mission without taking position or, at least, this is what I wanted to do. There can be no doubt that these questions were raised more than once and selecting specific ones as "source" would be misleading. If there is a representative collection of quotes it should, of course, contain such statements, too. I don't think that that discussing the legalities needs a separate article -- it would certainly fit well into the article on the mission.
The news reports explicitly mentioned the codename "Geronimo" -- I do not know if "operation" was added. It was also reported that native Americans already protested against the use of this name -- but that is not a matter for the bin Laden article.
--Peter Schmitt 11:48, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
I think this or a similar sentence belongs to the reactions as a summary of what was said. The sentence about "killing" however is a comment that is not motivated there. If you think that it has to be said explicitly that Americans were the killers then this can be easily done with two words ... --Peter Schmitt 11:59, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
Peter, I just don't understand what you are suggesting as a sentence, or what you mean by "killings" not being motivated. Howard C. Berkowitz 12:13, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
President Obama just stated on 60 Minutes that "Geronimo" was the code name for bin Laden. He noted that, once 'they' returned to the helicopter, "They said Geronimo has been killed."
Also stated that "blowing up some walls" was plan B because the helicopter went down.
D. Matt Innis 18:32, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

Services Office

I do not understand the meaning of the header Services Office. Can that be clarified in the text under this header? John R. Brews 08:39, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

Sure. Briefly, the Services Office was the predecessor of al-Qaeda, still focused on getting the Soviets out of Afghanistan, and indirectly getting US funding through ISI. It may be clearer in the A-Q article. Let me look at it.
There are always flow questions as to what should be in the A-Q article vs. the bin Laden article, and, for that matter, broken into articles of its own. Howard C. Berkowitz 08:58, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

Light copy edits added back the blowing up the helicopter to protect US assets

Added back the info about the blowing up of the military helicopter to protect military assets, which was removed, did some light copy edits. Removed sexist language as in modern parlance we have military personnel. Both men and women serve in the armed forces it's not all men. Mary Ash 09:21, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

To be accurate, women are not admitted to most special operations units, including the SEALs. There is an organization with a frequently changing classified name, which was once the Intelligence Support Activity, which did have women, and there are rumors of a support "funny platoon" for Delta Force, which includes women and is focused on pre-strike surveillance and raid support. CIA has female operators.
Yes, the incomplete destruction of the helicopter should be noted, and we should be sure to mention that it was a previously unknown variant of an MH-60; see the Aviation Week article. Howard C. Berkowitz 09:51, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
Non sexist writing is preferred writing. The correct terms for the military could be military personnel or troops. Mary Ash 10:55, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
If troops consisted only of men (I do not know if this was the case) then telling this by using the word "men" is only reasonable and sexist language. Deliberately hiding the facts is nonsense. --Peter Schmitt 12:10, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
Peter I am impressed with your command of the English language and I truly am. I only know one language and that's American English. American English has lots of twists and turns and one of my favorite examples is this: Reed, read, red, read. All sound the same but they mean different things. As to military writing the generic terms for the military include: Troops, military personnel, soldiers, Marines, Navy personnel, Air Force personnel, Coast Guard personnel or Army personnel. In each case the term is generic and non-sexist. When writing about a military operation it's preferred to use the plural form meaning troops (usually used for the Army) or military personnel. I like military personnel as it's non-specific as to what branch of the armed services is participating. As to the bin Laden article we are reasonably sure US Navy SEALS were involved so it's safe to specify that. Other military personnel could have been involved which is why that term was used to introduce the military operation (generic) to the US Navy SEALS (specific). Hope this helps. Mary Ash 12:53, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
"Reed, read, red, read. All sound the same..." What dialect of American English do you speak, Mary? Ro Thorpe 15:13, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
Well at one time I had a lovely southern accent but I probably speak with more of a Midwestern accent now. As to dialects I communicate with American English versus British English which is a whole different critter. And yes all the stuff I wrote about reed, read, red and read are true. In order: Reed (a flute reed or water reed); Read (as to read a book); Red (the color red); Read (past tense of reading said book). I am sure British English has similar quirks what do you think?Mary Ash 17:33, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
But you said they all sounded the same. I know of no version of English in which those four all sound the same. Ro Thorpe 17:44, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

{unindent} They do sound the same depending on which read/red. Perhaps I should have had similar I don't brain is tired after trying to get the Osama/Usama stuff straightened around. Mary Ash 17:56, 8 May 2011 (CDT)


Someone has added:

Western legal experts and human rights advocates have also expressed concern, arguing that bin Ladin's killing would set a dangerous precedent for "a global assassination policy for those who are perceived to cause trouble." It is possible the US violated international law by conducting the raid without Pakistan's consent, although it could be excused under the doctrine of necessity if it involved an "overriding threat to national security."

Unless these quotations are sourced, then the whole section should be removed as being personal opinion. Hayford Peirce 12:44, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

Why are there two sections "Legality" and "Legality of the ataack"? (Chunbum Park 13:42, 8 May 2011 (CDT))
You got me, I hadn't noticed. People aren't paying attention, I guess. They should be merged. Hayford Peirce 14:05, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
Yes, they should be merged, or possibly put in another article.
While I didn't write the paragraph in question, I can, I think, come up with sources -- as well as alternate views. There was an interesting article by the Council of Foreign Relations, in 2007, about hot pursuit from Iraq into Syria. "Military necessity" itself has a huge body of arguments in the law of war, and, of course, there's the question if this is a war. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:52, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
I have absolutely nothing against alternative views, I just want them sourced with reputable sources. Simply saying "Some Western experts" means nothing. It could be the head of the ACLU making an official statement or it could be a CZ author and his circle of friends expressing their own feelings.... Hayford Peirce 15:00, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
Why was the legality section that I wrote removed? I added the source ( I think what we have now is inferior to what I had written. (Chunbum Park 17:28, 8 May 2011 (CDT))

{unindent}I combined the two sections, left comments in the page history, after discovering there were two similar sections submitted. I copied and pasted your text and placed it under the section called Legality of the Attack. Your text was later removed as it needed better sourcing I guess.Mary Ash 17:43, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

Chunbun, in general, media sources such as the BBC are not considered authoritative for law. Consider law reviews; organizations such as the International Red Cross, Amnesty International, International Crisis Group, etc.; the United Nations or International Criminal Court, etc. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:06, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
Hello, yes I'd think so to, except the article is based on the opinions of experts giving actual quotes. Benjamin Ferencz, and British law professor Philippe Sands Philip Bobbitt. None of the quotes seemed to contradict with what I know as well. I don't think anyone's going to write a journal article discussing the issue of legality of bin Ladin's killing, and I myself not being an expert can't apply my own conclusions from reading generic articles by UN, IRC, etc. and original texts of the treaties. (Chunbum Park 18:58, 8 May 2011 (CDT))
Well, if you're going to quote two legal experts, then you have to actually cite them, not simply give us a *long* BBC article that *includes* their quotes. You have to write, "Paul Smith, professor of international law at Yale, said that 'blah-blah'" and then give a reference that goes directly to his quotation, or at least *close* to it. I myself am *always* citing the New York Times as a source -- but I *always* give the exact article reference, I don't just say, "NYT, August 13, 2008". That's why I removed your paragraph -- it was just a general paragraph that gave *opinions*, without telling us *whose* opinions they were. Sorry, but that's the way we've gotta write CZ. Hayford Peirce 19:16, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
Ok that helps a bit. But that seems to me like an arbitrarily tight and really unnecessary standard. Why can't we talk generally about the situation and provide the opposing points of view? What is to be gained by linking certain statements or arguments to a certain expert? It feels too awkward to specifically cite a random international law scholar, even if he's an expert and happened to be quoted in the article, if his opinions can be sought from pretty much a thousand other such experts. CNN, BBC, etc. didn't turn toward these experts the first thing when bin Ladin's killing became news. I'm more interested in making the article read and flow well. (Chunbum Park 22:56, 8 May 2011 (CDT))
Chunbum, if this were about the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton in 1803 or whatever, or about the death of, oh, Ernst Roehm in 1934 I would agree with you completely. But this is about a *very* contemporary subject, and a *very* controversial one -- we simply CANNOT have anything in this article this looks as if it might be personal opinion. I agree about "flow" and "readability", since those are the ways *I* try to structure my own articles, BUT here we have to adapt them to reliability and sourcing -- you simply cannot make generalizations. Already we have had people saying that aspects of the article are too "pro-American" -- it cuts both ways, however, we can't have anything that is "anti-American". Balance is what we need! Hayford Peirce 23:37, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
Hayford (other than having Roehm killed a year early) makes sense. We aren't under time pressure to match media reports. While I may or may not have time to write extensively on legality, I will try to provide links here and in External Links. There's a challenge in writing "generally" for an encyclopedia -- it's risky if you don't know the nuances that underlie the general statements often offered by news media. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:32, 9 May 2011 (CDT)

One source: [4] One of the Nuremburg prosecutors says the killing was wrong. Sandy Harris 23:58, 9 May 2011 (CDT)

  • To return to Hayford's concern over how well we could document concerns over the legality of "kill or capture" missions... A year or two ago Der Speigel covered concerns in Germany over how some individuals had been added to the "Joint Prioritized Effects List". This innocuous sounding list was called, by those in the know, as the "kill or capture list". My recollection of the Der Speigel article was that some Germans complained that the list had ended up being essentially a "kill list". I can't remember now what triggered the German attention. It might have been that individuals with ties to Germany had been added to the list, or that German forces had added names to the list.
  • Guantanamo is now recognized by almost everyone as a huge embarrassment. Only twenty men have been transferred there, since 2004 -- and fourteen of them were transferred there after spending years in secret CIA interrogations camps. I think even the most patriotic enthusiasts for the Bush detainee policy tacitly acknowledge that most of the captives were not terrorists. Many of the captives were never enemies of the USA; were innocent bystanders; were denounced solely to collect a bounty; or to settle a local feud.
  • One of the side effects of the recognition that bad intelligence in the field had lead to lots of innocent bystanders being sent to Guantanamo seems to be that while they are no longer sent to Guantanamo, the same kind of bad intelligence now has them put on the "kill or capture list" -- and they are killed by a missile shot from predator drone, or they are killed by a special forces team that has no intention of taking prisoners.
  • I am afraid that killing, with no willingness to try to take the target captive, didn't start with bin Laden. I am afraid this has been routine. The distinguishing element of the bin Laden killing was how prominent bin Laden was, not how he was killed.
I'll look for my notes on the JPEL and the Der Speigel article. George Swan 15:50, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

Reference toolmaker down

The reference tool maker page is down so I had to use an online APA reference maker. It worked pretty good except it did not add the reference tags to the article which I added manually. Thought I did pretty good considering. If you wish to clean up the reference links, as they are not tidy at the bottom of the page, feel free to do so. Thanks! Mary Ash 17:48, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

Hyphenated Navy-SEAL

I am curious why the name Navy-SEAL is hyphenated. I checked my AP Stylebook, and the United States Navy SEAL web site [5], and neither suggest hyphenating the term Navy-SEAL. I'd change this but then it would ruin the linking between articles. Mary Ash 18:43, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

Your wish is my command. RoBot Thorpe 19:42, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
I am puzzled. The main article is United States Navy SEAL. There doesn't seem to be a "Navy SEAL" article. What would break?
Perhaps it is not a hyphen, but a fish being thrown to a lower-case seal? The latter are a problem around here. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:50, 8 May 2011 (CDT)
I am sure it's something wonky with the wiki code. Here's a sample from the article: US Navy-SEALS. Learned something new today. Mary Ash 20:21, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

spelling of bin Laden and Bin Laden within the article

While munching my dinner tonight I studied the Sunday New York Times approach to the name. It is, I think, the same as they have always taken towards someone like Charles de Gaulle. Ie, they have a sentence like: "The youngest man in his class was Osama bin Laden" -- where they write bin WITHOUT CAPS. But then, when they have a sentence like, "The SEALS found Bin Laden in his bedroom", they put CAPS ON Bin.

Exactly the way they used to write: "A leading French politician was Charles de Gaulle." But then later in the same article they would write, "It was in 1939 that DeGaulle became well-known as blah-blah...."

I think that we ought to take the same approach here.

This is, of course, one of those minor issues that the Editorial Council ought to make decisions about if we every got together a REAL Manual of CZ Style.... Hayford Peirce 23:47, 8 May 2011 (CDT)

I haven't gone through all the page history but it looks like I used bin Laden in reference to the bedroom. If I missed once it was an inadvertent typo. My question is this: Should use the lower case b at the start of a sentence. Example: bin Laden was buried at sea. Or should it be: Bin Laden was buried at sea. Please tell me your preference. Thanks! Mary Ash 00:31, 9 May 2011 (CDT)
Absolutely NEVER lower case at the start of a sentence. "DeGaulle was a French army general, and later in later Charles deGaulle became the President of France." Two different things. Hayford Peirce 00:48, 9 May 2011 (CDT)
Actually, there are some exceptions in computer writing; to a dumb machine "fred" and "Fred" are different names so it is important to use exactly the one you mean. One might write, for example, "chmod(1) is the command to change file permissions in Unix." Capitalising "chmod" would be an error, since the command the reader needs to type has no capital.
Many computer people, including me, would rewrite most such sentences to something like "To change file permissions in Unix, use chmod(1)." to avoid having a non-capitalised word at the beginning. None would capitalise chmod.
For normal English, though, Hayford is correct. Sandy Harris 04:53, 9 May 2011 (CDT)

Computer game compound

A model of the bin Laden compound is now available as part of the computer game Counterstrike. [6] I am not sure where this fits in. Sandy Harris 05:04, 9 May 2011 (CDT)

Comment/suggestions on ref name

Mary, is it the reference generator that you use that produces ref names in the form "urlU.S. revises story on bin Ladens raid, offers more details -"? I can see how it might do that.

These are hard to cite elsewhere, and sometimes even to find. My general convention for naming is to give a short source name, the date, and if, there are multiple items on the same day, A/B/C...

Example: CNN-2011-05-03

If these are automatically generated, please consider manually substituting a shorter format if they are likely to be cited elsewhere in the article. Howard C. Berkowitz 06:40, 9 May 2011 (CDT)

Thanks Howard I will give that a try. I was making sure all the "t's" were crossed correctly. I used another downloaded citation tool and I'll see if I can find that again. As of today the online citation maker is still down. Mary Ash 15:11, 9 May 2011 (CDT)
I really don't mind redoing them, if that helps. While I haven't figured out why the {{reflist|2}} stopped working in 2-column format, I wouldn't be surprised if it's the number of unusual citation formats in use in this article. By no means did you do them all. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:23, 9 May 2011 (CDT)

Returned historical context concerning Bush

I returned the historical context concerning the Bush presidency found in the Quotes and Comments section. The information shows the importance of Bush's actions and how their are affects are still felt today. Also, explains the importance of Bush acknowledging the capture of bin Laden during the Obama administration. Finally, contextualization is offered concerning Clinton and removing it from Bush would not offer an objective view point. Mary Ash 20:38, 11 May 2011 (CDT)

It does not contextualize it. There is no direct relationship between Osama bin Laden and the color-coded homeland security alerts. If you wanted to discuss the alerts in U.S. Department of Homeland Security, it would be an appropriate matter -- but you still cannot establish a causal relationship between Osama bin Laden, the subject of this article, and that security response. Might I observe that I remain a Military Editor? Howard C. Berkowitz 21:58, 11 May 2011 (CDT)
Both Clinton and Bush vowed to hunt down bin Laden. Bush along with the U.S. Congress enacted legislation to help with the hunting for terrorists, including bin Laden, while working to increase nationwide security. Both men contributed much to prevent terrorism and both deserve credit. The Bush legacy continues today through the creation of Homeland Security. BTW neither president was perfect in their approach but they tired to do what's best for America. Mary Ash 22:26, 11 May 2011 (CDT)
I didn't say that Bush did not want to neutralize bin Laden. I said that the color-coded security alerts cannot be directly tied to bin Laden. They had nothing to do with either the Hunt for Bin Laden or the Hunt for Red October.
It is the bin Laden legacy, not the Bush legacy, that is the subject of this article. There are more appropriate places to discuss what George W. Bush did, or did not, do for national security. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:56, 11 May 2011 (CDT)
Both Clinton and Bush are part of his legacy and history as both attempted to hunt down and capture bin Laden. It was President Obama's administration that OKed the capture and finally caught bin Laden. All are needed as they all are part of bin Laden's legacy or history.Mary Ash 23:01, 11 May 2011 (CDT)

Files released

Apparently Osama did not encrypt his files so the US raiders got a huge collection of material from his compound. Some has now been publicly released.[7] Sandy Harris 00:39, 4 May 2012 (UTC)