The White House just wrapped up a 30-minute webinar directed at middle and high school students, and their teachers, about the death of Osama bin Laden.
Hosting it was Ben Rhodes, the deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for strategic communications and speechwriting, who walked the nearly 2,000 webinar watchers from the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to the manhunt for bin Laden and, finally, to the raid that led to his death.
The final 15 minutes were reserved for students’ questions. And they were good ones, certainly ones that are on the minds of many adults. [Update 5/6]: The webinar was hosted by Discovery Education, in partnership with the White House. And you can watch the entire thing here.
Q. Why not capture bin Laden and put him on trial, like was done with Saddam Hussein?
A. He did not surrender, and the U.S. servicemen were met with “resistance”.
Q. Why was he buried at sea?
A. “Best and simplest thing to do,” given the 24-hour burial requirements of his religion, Islam, Rhodes said.
Q. What DNA do we have to compare his with, to make sure we really got him?
A. The DNA from multiple family members, Rhodes said, plus the CIA confirmed bin Laden’s identity through photographs taken at the scene, and his wives also positively identified him.
Q. Why aren’t you showing pictures of his body?
A. “The photos were somewhat unpleasant, and we did not want to offend people,” Rhodes said.
Students also wanted to know about what steps are being taken to prevent retaliatory strikes, how bin Laden’s death may change this nation’s international focus in Libya, and how the death affects the threat of terrorism in the United States.
So for all of you depressed about the sorry state of civics knowledge among U.S. students, perhaps these smart questions should give us reason for hope.