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Sunday, May 01, 2011


Bin Laden got his. I can't truthfully say that I am glad, but I am very sure that I am not sorry.

President Yoda gets promoted to President Kick-Ass Yoda; I never liked his aggressiveness, but maybe he was right and I was wrong.

Note: According to multiple reports, information from Gitmo detainees gave the US the lead to the courier by whom Bin Laden was eventually found. NY Times:
As Obama administration officials described it, the real breakthrough came when they finally figured out the name and location of Bin Laden’s most trusted courier, whom the Qaeda chief appeared to rely on to maintain contacts with the outside world.

Detainees at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had given the courier’s pseudonym to American interrogators and said that the man was a protégé of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.
This is going to be very interesting indeed:
The compound in Abbottabad where Osama Bin Laden was killed was once used as a safe house by Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency ISI, Gulf News has learnt.

“This area had been used as ISI’s safe house, but it was not under their use any more because they keep on changing their locations,” a senior intelligence official confided to Gulf News.
My first reaction was that this was as if Dr. Mengele had been found by the Israelis tucked into a discreet house right by Quantico. We would have had some explaining to do.

Local reports at the time said Pakistani forces were also involved in the raid. Was there a head fake with painted copters and false signals?

I don't think Obama was any more aggressive than Bush in trying to get Osama Bin Laden. It just took a very long time to get enough intelligence to actually conduct a raid. Reading the news story, it was a very long string of intelligence that finally culminated in finding his location.

Other than as a propaganda victory, it doesn't seem like killing Bin Laden will change very much. The way he was found was via a trusted courier because there was no phone or internet in the compound. With limited communications, there was little planning he could do.

Like you, I am not sorry. It shows that there will be a penalty for attacking the US even if it takes ten years. Bid Laden deserved what he got.

On the other hand, Ghadfi is different. When Reagan attacked him, it was in retaliation for a night club bombing in Germany that killed US soldiers. In this case, though, we have some kind of pseudo war, (I know, "kinetic action"), where a "no fly" zone is turning into a a full out, continuing aerial attack scenario that seems way past any Congressional authorization or agreement with the country. Obama has made little to no effort to convince the country this is a valid effort. Are we seeing, in Libya, another "Wag the Dog" scenario?
Regarding Libya, I think Obama just went with Europe. That follows his general pattern.

Libya appalls me; I think it is ethically questionable. We have never fought a war for oil before; I have a hunch the Europeans will be different, and now we are basically following them.

I agree about the intelligence and Bin Laden, but I think following it up was worthwhile. The only way it will change things is that it will convey to our enemies that we are serious. Unfortunately, that is necessary. But it is one thing to follow a sustained campaign as a result of attacks on our soil, and another to potentially establish a puppet state in Libya. I do not see that the rebels in Libya have a chance on their own.
It's good to see him killed. I'm a bit skeptical about our current methods--drone strikes to kill, rather than attempt to capture--but it seems in this case they did it the hard way, and it was the right way.

Libya...man, what a mess. When Geraldo Rivera says giving the rebels serious arms is a bad idea, it's a bad idea. I feel for the Brit commandos on the ground trying to train them. Viewed with the long lens of history, Gadaffi isn't much different from the Plantagenet kings of England. They put down rebels and usurpers with equally bloody zeal.
"it seems that in this case they did it the hard way, and it was the right way."

Yes, and our president had to make this choice and he did. He deserves credit for that, although obviously finding Bin Laden and taking him out was the work of the intelligence agencies and then the special forces. They deserve most of the credit (and would under any president).

My takeaway from this is probably that it comes at an ideal moment. Attention in the Arab world is focused on mostly internal matters; the soft revolutions in perhaps Egypt and definitely Tunisia has focused imaginations on domestic events. That is good and was always bad for groups like A-Q, so Bin Laden's death coming on top of that is doubly good.

These countries have to work out their destinies for themselves. I find the militant Islamic groups to be mostly an externalization of problems. Regardless of what people think, the CIA and the Mossad aren't making Arabs poor, their governments corrupt, and their lives miserable.
Tactically, this doesn't mean much. Morally, I think this is an important object lesson for the world. We're politically divided, economically enfeebled, and led by a president who is perceived (whether true or not) to be ambivalent about using American military power in the service of American interests. Even so, a team of Americans stormed the fortified compound of our enemy, close to the capital of a nuclear-armed country that is touchy about its sovereignty, engaged the man in person and brought him out feet first.

That makes a statement, on a quite visceral level. The only way it could get better is if it was an American girl that actually shot him. (But I doubt there's women in these sorts of units.)
I'm in the Sailer camp. The US was being scammed.

IMO, we should have nailed the compound with a half dozen JDAMs followed by another couple MOABs for good measure. Hitting it in such a manner 100 yds from their military academy would have sent the very clear message we are not amused.
Allan - it is highly suspicious, but it need not have been the government at the top level. It could have been a sympathetic general or two.

Neil - it's reported to be Navy Seals, and no, they don't have a special Girl-Gets-Em squad.

There are tactical implications, all right. Read this in conjunction with the latest Kaddafi compound bombing. Obama is one of the most militarily aggressive presidents we've ever had. He is clearly establishing a "Shoot-a-cop" doctrine; it goes way past Bush.

I wonder what the Nobel peace prize committee is thinking?
M_O_M, yeah I'm re-thinking that "no tactical implications" remark with more information about the Abbottabad area, and the military facilities there. I was referring to OBL's lack of C&C these last several years--how much tactical control could he have had? But swooping in (effectively) onto a major Pak military installation to get him has strategic implications that will create tactical implications.

Exactly what depends on whether this was in cahoots with, or against opposition from the Pak military. Or maybe, which factions of the Pak military were in for/against. Not enough information yet. Possibly relevent: Pics of the compound, with parts of a destroyed helicopter being trucked away. Most intriguing.
Somebody in the neighborhood tweeted the operation, including a helicopter crash. Which confirms those pics. Hope the crew are OK. Apparently, it was SEAL Team 6 that did the job.
Neil - Seal Team Six is not officially a unit, so....

Neil and Allan - it will be very interesting to watch the news. My first thought this morning after looking at the location was "That's a Paki safe house!" I linked the Gulf News rumor in the post.

We will see, we will see. Reading around in some ME newspapers, it appeared as if the Pakis might be just a tad nervous.
Yeah, I've been surprised at the (admittedly small sample) blogs I've read, no one has suggested he wasn't in hiding, he was under house arrest.

If you believe we were being scammed, was it that Pakistan saw him as their golden goose and thus were holding him tightly to keep an eye on him? Had the drone attacks made it so that he was finally not worth the trouble?

Was he really given up by tracking down his messenger over the course of years from Gitmo interrogations? Any ISI agents or Paki generals driving around Islamabad in a new Porsche this week?

Have we known he was there all along, and his usefulness as a propaganda tool has expired in that Obama wants us out of Afghanistan by 2012?

As always, more questions than answers... but, I'd be quite happy to be out of Afghanistan.
Retry, I was edited... Was he really given up by tracking down his messenger over the course of years from Gitmo interrogations? <guffaw> Any ISI agents or Paki generals driving around Islamabad in a new Porsche this week?
Heh. Yes, the first rule of JSOC is that there is no JSOC. Just a bunch of good ol' boys who decided to invade Pakistani airspace one night to carry out a presidential finding. Hey, hold my beer and watch this!

All the "unofficial" news has been that the Pakistani government had no hand in this. That means one of two things: Either there is no faction of the Pakistani government that could be trusted to help on this; or whoever did help needed a really good cover story. Either way, somebody with a great deal of power inside Pakistan was protecting OBL.
Allan & Neil - no way was he there without official backing. My hunch is that he was essentially under house arrest with orders to do nothing, and that the last video both let US intel track the courier and caused too much heat for the Pakistanis to handle. I bet the US government made a deal with a nice friendly Pak general.

I do not believe for a moment that a forty minute firefight could ensue without military forces in this area showing up. I believe the reports that there were Pakistani forces involved.

My guess is that Bin Laden violated terms, and protection was "withdrawn", shall we say. That given the proclivities of many within the intelligence/police forces, the Pakistani army & gov did not want to do openly themselves, so they arranged with the Americans for a sponsored & escorted trip in and out. I am guessing part of the terms of the deal was that it was to be a dead OBL only. I would be much surprised if some Pakistanis weren't in on the incursion to verify that OBL did not leave there alive.

It will be very interesting to watch what occurs internally within the Pakistani government as a result of this.

I assume by the terms of the agreement the US government is not allowed to admit Pakistani cooperation, and I assume some money is going to change hands.

That's just a guess, but I think it has to be obvious that some Pakistani power had OBL on ice.

"My takeaway from this is probably that it comes at an ideal moment."

That's true in more ways than one. I don't mean to belittle the moment, but my girlfriend got a text from a friend during Obama's speech.

Her friend felt it was poetic justice that Trump's Celebrity Apprentice was pre-empted.

News knocks Donald Trump out of spotlight

There's a part of me that thinks it might not be a coincidence. Every single aspect of a Royal Wedding is planned. I have no reason to suspect that the White House is any less capable.

As a side note, I do not find myself in the "best thing since Mardis Gras" camp (which is what it looked like outside the White House as people celebrated) but I'm also not sorry we got Bin Laden.
All interesting comments. I suspect it will be some years before the true story comes out. Maybe not even then. There are already quite a number of conjectures out there. One is that OBL died several years ago and this was a "Wag the Dog" scenario. Another is that Obama did not want to take the risk that the operation might fail, but was finally browbeaten into acting by his Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, and Hillary. All fodder for the rumour machines.

All I know is that it's good news. It shows we are willing to be patient and relentless in pursuing those barbarians. They can run and hide, but they can never stop looking over their shoulders. That said, this mis the equivalent of a home run by the home team in the fourth or fifth inning. We have more innings to go.

I'm inclined to think it went more along the lines of your last comment. Sounds a lot more mundane and a lot less super-hero which is the way life always is.

At some point - even for the people who wanted to protect him - bin Laden became more trouble than he was worth. I daresay he even retired from his own movement.

The Middle East will always have a few people who hate Jews with such passion that they're willing to go kamikaze to take a few down with them, but for the most part that's all it will ever amount to.

The sad part is it was easier to kill bin Laden than it will be to kill bureaucratic nightmares like the TSA and the Patriot Act.
Jimmy J - it can only be bad news for jihadists, so it must be good news for the rest of us.
Charles - well, regardless of the circumstances, the special forces that went in were taking the risk, and it was a very real risk. So this does not denigrate their accomplishment.
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