Much Ado About a Dead Terrorist

Osama bin Laden is dead, right?

The Navy SEALS took care of him.

Didn't they?

I'm asking only because conflicting accounts are emerging as to how bin Laden died. Not that any of this should matter because, after all, he is no longer alive. When President Obama strode down that long White House hallway on May 2, 2011 and delivered the news, that was all I needed to hear. I felt significantly more at ease the next time I boarded a plane. Ditto for all subsequent visits to New York City.

Okay, I did want more details of the mission, which is why I lapped up former SEAL Matt Bissonnette's book, No Easy Day. Writing under the pseudonym Mark Owen, (so much for the anonymity of pseudonyms by the way), Bissonnette reveals he was part of the team that stormed bin Laden's Abbottabad, Pakistan compound and found the terrorist already deceased when SEALs entered his bedroom.

So there. He's dead.

But then along comes journalist Phil Bronstein who, in the March edition of Esquire, introduced us to another SEAL who he calls "The Shooter." Bronstein says The Shooter is so named because he fired two bullets into bin Laden's head as he reached for a weapon.

Killing him. Repeat. Killing him.

But wait, don't put down your scorecard. Bronstein's account was immediately refuted by CNN reporter Peter Bergen, who said a THIRD Navy SEAL told him that Bissonnette's story was accurate and that bin Laden was indeed dead when the good guys arrived.

I'm waiting for another SEAL to step forward and say that all three accounts are erroneous; Colonel Mustard killed bin Laden. In the conservatory. With the lead pipe. Which would no doubt lead to another aggressive media scribe saying that no, actress Jessica Chastain killed him, which made her a shoo-in for the lead role in Zero Dark Thirty. A fifth SEAL confirmed that.

Suddenly SEALs are coming out of the woodwork, willing to give, at media prodding, varying accounts of the only thing we care about: that bin Laden remains toast.

I was barbecuing one recent evening and saw my neighbor approach. Turns out he just wanted to borrow a screwdriver but I half expected him to say, "Care to hear about the night bin Laden died? I was there."

I feel a bit guilty writing a humor column that contains any references to the Navy SEALS. We lost another one in a training exercise last week and, indeed, what they do is far from funny. I wouldn't have had the guts to be anywhere near that compound; on the contrary, I would have cowered behind the nearest sand dune, hillside, palm tree, rickshaw or whatever else was nearby with my hands over my ears, softly repeating, "Mommy, is it over yet?" I've never met a SEAL but, should I ever have the pleasure, rest assured I will open the conversation with, "You guys rock!"

But suddenly one of the most intricately planned, and wildly successful military missions in recent history is turning into an Amazing Race episode, complete with backstabbing and controversy. Does it really matter how bin Laden died? I wouldn't have cared if the SEALs had coaxed him into playing a fraternity drinking game and then slipped something into his beer when he wasn't looking. They put an end to the guy and nobody won a prize. As Bronstein pointed out, there was no monetary compensation for any SEAL involved in bin Laden's death, although others have capitalized on it.

So let's pull the plug on this "Who shot bin Laden?" episode so we can all get back to the business at hand, namely screaming at each other over the merits of gay marriage. Can we please agree that ALL the Navy SEALS had a hand in bin Laden's killing? That ALL of them made our world a safer place and allowed us to thump our American chests? Hug it out bitches and let's move along.

Before somebody claims they saw bin Laden working the night shift at a Burger King.