On March 20th 2003, America waged war on an alleged terrorist force which was said to be based upon the efforts of one man. His name was Osama Bin Laden and he became known as one of the most wanted fugitives in national history. The events that followed an attack on the country persisted for almost a decade, meaning that America spent close to ten years searching for the notorious fugitive.
The Iraq War claimed many lives on both sides, with estimates ranging from 100,000 to 150,000 fatalities. The Iraq Body Count project claims that approximately 80% of the deaths in Iraq were civilians who lost their lives in the crossfire. According to USA Today, 360,000 American veterans were sent home with traumatic brain injuries. By the time America began taking steps toward peace, $6 trillion US had been spent on war efforts. For many Americans, one of the most disheartening after facts was that the fugitive remained on the loose. Until 2011, the notorious Osama Bin Laden was presumably holed up in a cave somewhere, hidden from the sight of millions of armed soldiers.
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In a dramatic twist of events, American citizens tuned in across the country for a breaking news report. President Barack Obama made a theatrical entrance and sauntered down a red carpet to accentuate the urgency of his announcement. From a podium marked with the national emblem, the president of the United States declared, “The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama Bin Laden”.
The news in itself was quite startling, but the most astounding revelation was the lack of evidence to support the statement. According to US official reports, Osama Bin Laden was captured, murdered and buried at sea. Conspiracy theorists said the explanation was hard to believe. Due to the non public burial, Osama Bin Laden went down with the likes of Elvis Presley and TuPac Shakur, a controversial figure presumed by some to still be alive.
In a completely unrelated series of events that happened on the other side of the world, a physically intact Ohio citizen, born Donald Eugene Miller Jr. was declared legally dead and subsequently stripped of his name and social security number in lieu of his 19 year disappearance. The judge decreed that any person who goes missing for more than a seven year span in the state of Ohio and is pronounced dead is legally dead. By those standards, Osama Bin Laden was actually legally dead in 2010.
Faking Your Own Death: The Machiavelli Syndrome
Faking your own death is punishable by criminal law if you do so for tax evasion purposes. In order to be accused of faking your own death an individual must leave a trail of misleading evidence. Faking your own death with government assistance is something that happens during the witness protection process and is therefore permissible. While it would appear that instances of faked death are simply urban legends, there have been a number of real life scenarios including American author Ken Kesey in 1966 and a recent 2008 event involving hedge fund manager Samuel Israel.
Should Osama Bin Laden emerge from the mucks of the Pakistan waters injured, possibly even paralyzed, but not actually dead, would he be in need of a criminal lawyer? While this question might be better suited for an episode of The Twilight Zone, stranger things have happened.
About the Author:
Michael D. Leader is a criminal lawyer with Fort Lauderdale law firm Leader & Leader P.A. specializing in all forms of criminal law, Leader and partner George Leader offer years of legal experience and commitment to ethics.