A Bin Laden Retrospective

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So, what can a legal-humor blog add to the national conversation about the end of Osama bin Laden? Nothing useful, that's for sure. But since Wolf goddamn Blitzer insists on talking about how many people have showed up at what place to celebrate instead of offering any actual facts about what happened, I might as well write something.

Since bin Laden (1) was not a lawyer and (2) never did anything I thought was funny, I never had too much to say about him. But his name did pop up here from time to time.

Back in 2006, I mentioned him after he was reportedly spotted walking along the highway south of Portland, Maine, which had not been high on the list of suspected hiding places. Police who responded to alert drivers' calls found not bin Laden, but a 49-year-old lawyer dressed as bin Laden for Halloween, or, possibly, as part of a protest of some kind. "I didn't expect to be arrested," he said at the time. You're lucky they didn't send Navy Seals after you, my friend.

In February 2007, the Patent and Trademark Office refused to register the trademark "OBAMA BIN LADEN," partly on the grounds that the record did not include written consent from either man to use his name on a T-shirt, let alone to use them together in this almost-comical way. The examiner said he was also concerned the mark tended to "falsely associate" one or both men with the T-shirt operation in the minds of consumers, which at the time might have been the lowest estimate of consumer intelligence yet.

At about the same time, police in Phoenix were "combing the desert," not for bin Laden but for somebody dressed as Batman who had been reported near a local middle school. They couldn't find him, either. That was my bin Laden connection, which gave me the chance to point out that the Homeland Security Advisor had recently denied we had "failed" to find bin Laden, instead saying it was "a success that hasn't occurred yet." I guess she was right.

Later that year, I posted a deposition transcript from 2003 in which a gentleman claimed to know bin Laden's whereabouts for a reason that had something to do with chickens. So far, no chicken has been linked to yesterday's raid, but probably Wolf Blitzer is looking into that right now. 

Finally, in early 2009 I noted the wide variety of Inauguration-Day stuff on which bookmakers were taking bets. These included which "cliche" Obama would use first during his address (10-1 in favor of "yes we can") and what celebrity in the crowd would be shown first on TV (7-4 on Oprah, 20-1 on P Diddy). At the time, they were giving much better odds (6-1) that bin Laden would be caught in the next couple of years. I said then I was willing to bet that P Diddy would be caught before bin Laden was, but I'm glad I was wrong about that.