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The Ft. Sill Apache Tribe is mad at Obama…

1:30 PM EDT on May 5, 2011

Unless you live in cave or internet-free, heavily secured compound in Pakistan, you probably know that we killed some terrorist dude named Osama Bin Laden.  You also may know that his US special forces codename was "Geronimo."

Well, the Fort Sill Apache Tribe near Lawton is pretty happy that we killed the anti-Christ of the 21st century, but they are not so happy that we named him after their most notable and famous warrior.

Because of that, they want an apology from the President Obama.  Jeff Houser, chairman of the Fort Sill Apache Tribe, even faxed him a letter requesting it.  Here are some excerpts:

On Sunday, our Tribe like most of the country was ecstatic about your announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed in a military operation in Pakistan. The performance of our military and intelligence agencies in locating and taking action against Osama bin Laden made us all of proud to be Americans...

However, late yesterday as details of the operation came to light, our Tribe and many other Native Americans learned of a disturbing fact that tempered our positive feelings about this great accomplishment. Through various media reports our Tribe found out that the code name used for Osama bin Laden on this operation was Geronimo. As you may or may not know, Geronimo was a member of our Tribe. He is buried in the Fort Sill Apache Prisoner of War Cemetery on the Fort Sill Army Base in Lawton, Oklahoma where he died after almost 23 years of captivity.

We are quite certain that the use of the name Geronimo as a code for Osama bin Laden was based on misunderstood and misconceived historical perspectives of Geronimo and his armed struggle against the United States and Mexican governments. However to equate Geronimo or any other Native American figure with Osama bin Laden, a mass murderer and cowardly terrorist, is painful and offensive to our Tribe and to all native Americans.

What this action has done is forever link the name and memory of Geronimo to one of the most despicable enemies this Country has ever had...

Our Tribe and most Native Americans would hope that you would issue a formal apology to the Geronimo family members, the Fort Sill Apache Tribe and to all Native Americans for this action. Right now Native American children all over this Country are facing the reality of having one of their most revered figures being connected to a terrorist and murderer of thousands of innocent Americans...

I can kind of go both ways on this.

First, I think the tribe is overreacting a little bit.  It is just a code name.  And although Geronimo's acts were much different from Bin Laden's and took place under a different scenario, he still led guerrilla style warfare and raids against Mexican and American civilians that led to the deaths of hundreds of people.  He was also hard to catch.  It took a great military effort to track Geronimo and secure his surrender.

Also, I really doubt that from here on out people are going to forever associate Bin Laden with Geronimo or vice versa.  Sure, it may lead to an interesting trivia question down the road, but when people think of Geronimo they are still going to associate him with other less than flattering things.  You know, things like the name cartoon characters scream when falling off a cliff or the legend that the Skull and Bones have secret possession of his skull.

That being said, I can understand why the tribe is upset and wants an apology.  And I have no problem with them doing so.  Can you imagine the reaction here if the Justice Department launched an undercover investigation into bribery and corruption in the NCAA and the codename they gave to the operation was "Switzer."   In addition to David Boren writing a letter demanding an apology, the legislature would probably vote for secession.

Anyway, I actually think that some sort of carefully worded apology should be issued by the Executive branch. Maybe one of those, "I don't think we did anything wrong, but yeah, sorry you got upset" apologies.  Those seem to work.  In fact, we're pretty good at writing them around here, so if the President needs help, we're available.

* Update: Apparently the mission's codename - not Bin Ladens - was Geronimo.  Ooops.

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