Opinion Brief

Is the 'bin Laden hunter' a hero or a 'loon'?

Did Gary Brooks Faulkner have a real shot to nab Osama bin Laden, after years of failure by the U.S. military and CIA?

Pakistani authorities say they'll conduct psychiatric tests on Gary Brooks Faulkner, the American arrested in a remote area of Pakistan while on a one-man hunt for Osama bin Laden. But friends and family say the ailing 52-year-old Colorado ex-con construction worker is "not crazy" — he's just a "man on a mission" to avenge 9/11 and bin Laden's trash-talking of the Christian "God of the Bible." Is this "Rocky Mountain Rambo" delusional, or does his quixotic quest to nab bin Laden make him a hero? (Watch an ABC report about Gary Brooks Faulkner's mission)

The man's clearly a nut: Faulkner had "a worthy cause for sure," says J. David McSwane in the Denver Westwood. But thinking he could kill bin Laden with a pistol, a samurai sword, some Christian books, and a bit of hash — especially after "a $25 million bounty and massive international manhunt has failed"? Sounds like another of Colorado's kooky "gun-toting xenophobes and religious fanatics." "Gary Brooks Faulkner makes Colorado's (anti) terrorist beat"

At least Faulkner's trying: Sure, his "quixotic" hunt may "cause a few chuckles," says Paul Wachter in Politics Daily. But "the real joke is not on a would-be Rambo like Faulkner but on the U.S. government," which has failed to take out bin Laden under both Bush and Obama. Nine years after 9/11, at least Faulkner, "unlike the U.S. government, gave the appearance of trying." "Gary Brooks Faulkner: Will it take a vigilante to get Osama bin Laden?"

His mission wasn't impossible: Unlike Faulkner, U.S. spy agencies "kind of don't do the kamikaze thing anymore," an unidentified former U.S. spy tells Esquire. But even without U.S. intel, "it's very likely that Faulkner was right in Osama's neighborhood," and "perversely, there's always the chance that a freelancer like Faulkner, traveling light, unaccompanied, unaffiliated, unknown ... has a better chance" than a government agent to stumble upon bin Laden. "Spy: Vigilante ninja 'was right in Osama's neighborhood'"

The media's already made up its mind: If you're still "unsure whether to consider Faulkner an American hero or a dangerous loon," says Nate Jones in Time, the media isn't. By using three names instead of two, the press has "tipped its hand" that — like Lee Harvey Oswald and Mark David Chapman, for instance — Gary Brooks Faulkner "is just a crazy person." "Meet the American vigilante hunting bin Laden."

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