Yub Nub

Note to regular readers: being short on time, I refer you to my Twitter feed for more of my thoughts on the death of Osama bin Laden.
From this:

To this:

Let joy be unconstrained! Justice has finally reched Osama bin Laden. Like Adolf Eichmann, bin Laden could run but he couldn’t hide forever. Whatever your politics, credit should be shared first and foremost between (1) the CIA and other intelligence operatives for tracking down bin Laden and (2) the Joint Special Operations Command troops for carrying out an extremely hazardous mission to take him out.
But moving on to the politics and the policymakers, bin Laden’s death will no doubt provide a political victory to Barack Obama, who gave the order to have him taken out (after passing up a chance in March to drop massive bombs on his compound – a recognition that bin Laden’s death is more important as a visible symbol than as an operational matter) – but make no mistake that it is also a policy victory for conservatives.

Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden’s most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.

More blow-by-blow here and here on how the initial interrogation strands developed during the Bush Administration led ultimately to yesterday’s raid (and reflect on Pakistan’s complicity – bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad was built in 2005). Also note the report that “One woman was also killed after one of the targeted men tried to use her as a human shield during the raid.” Bear in mind, bin Laden’s guards were presumably Al Qaeda’s most elite fighters. If your elite bodyguards’ go-to move in a firefight is hiding behind a woman, maybe you should dial back the bravado a wee bit. [UPDATE: Apparently it was bin Laden himself cowering behind a woman. Of course.]
Of course, conservatives have always argued that a viable intelligence-gathering apparatus requires not only interrogation of detainees but the full range of intelligence tools: electronic surveillance, covert operations, payoffs to seedy sources and defectors, occasional sub rosa cooperation with nasty regimes, and of course maximizing the information we get from having troops on the ground in foreign lands. The Left has spent the past decade deriding each of these sources. But if you celebrate the killing of bin Laden, bear in mind what had to be done to get him.
Two: the raid was carried out by a JSOC team that clearly had no compunction about shooting bin Laden twice in the head. You will remember when Seymour Hersh and Keith Olbermann breathlessly described JSOC as “a covert executive assassination ring that reported directly to Vice President Dick Cheney’s office”. You’re welcome.
Three: The Administration acted unilaterally in carrying out this mission. International institutions and alliances have their uses, but in the end, some things a nation has to do for itself.
Four: the reaction to bin Laden’s death has, predictably, smoked out the same nasty impulses among our enemies that led Saddam’s state-run media to laud the 9/11 attacks. Hamas and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood have both condemned bin Laden’s killing. No amount of whitewashing will change what these groups are. (More here on Hamas and the Palestinian Authority).

43 thoughts on “Yub Nub”

  1. No this is a victory for the Commander-in Chief, The CIA, and Seal Team 6. For a long time we were told Osama was hiding in cave somewhere, turn out he was hiding in plain sight since at least 2005. Secondly, we do not know what method was used to get the drop on the couriers. From initial reports sounds like good old fashion detective work not torture(Keep trying) found the shred of evidence needed to get the drop on Osama. President Obama had the stones twice with Somali pirates and now instead of cruise missiles he sent our best of the best to get the job done. The Intelligence community found tracked and verified where Osama was hiding. The way this thing is fleshing out it seems President Obama figured out early on that Bush and crew had no clue where to look and he ordered a new plan and well look what happened. No cluster like the out-sourcing at Tora Bora but our people getting it done from beginning to end. A true vicory for American resolve.

  2. Right on time with the “Bush did it!” nonsense. Somehow he wasn’t in any way responsible for 9/11 while he was president and is 100% responsible for this when he’s not president. Elsewhere in right-wing land there are no doubt folks who will fail to believe this story (“I didn’t get to examine the body and they buried it at sea” aka “Where’s the long form death certificate?”)

  3. Java, what is clear is that Obama quickly figured out the Bush way was the best way. Gitmo is still open, troops are still in Iraq, troops are still in Afganistan and special forces are still on the front line of the war on terror.
    Kudos to all the military members and intelligence operatives involved in this operation and the ongoing hunt for OBL and other terrorists.
    Oh, and before I forget, torture works. Just ask John McCain. That is not intended as a slam to McCain or any other service member. It is just a fact that everyone cracks at some point. Those of us who have served remember the briefings and being told that our duty was to hold out as long as we were able.

  4. javaman – Your argument might be more persuasive if it had some facts to support it.
    jim – I understand why you want to reframe this as Bush vs Obama rather than looking at the actual policies that led to this day.
    And yes, people questioning the death reports are numbskulls.

  5. No Bush’s plan was not the best way. If you think that why did Obama order an entirely new plan of attack after taking office????????? Bush and crew told us Obma was hiding in caves and living on the lamb. Well, we now now that not to be true DON’T WE!!!!!! maddirish you can ignore facts and time lines if you like but so far the story is clear Obama changed course from Bush and company and went with a new game plan to gather and process information and look what happened in two years. So far all of the minds behind 9/11 have been caught in populated areas not in the never regions of Pakistan as Bush led us to believe. So the facts are getting in the way of your theory.

  6. So Crank, are you saying President Obama did not order the CIA to come up with a new plan to gather and process information to kill Bin Laden? Or maybe you mean to say it was not a ballsy move to use Seal Team 6 instead of cruise missiles? Maybe you mean to say old fashion detective work by the intelligence communities did not crack the case as every seasoned investigator said it would not torture? Would you like a link to each of the above facts or would you just like to ignore the facts to always say you are correct. In short Man up, give credit to President Obama for leadership in changing course and keeping everyone in line while that course was changed. But then again if you make a change in direction by 180 degrees and nobody complains it brings into the question the previous leader.

  7. Crank, you are looking at revisionist history. It is pretty clear that the Bush policies did not really get us to this day. If anything they likely delayed the result.

  8. The new guy always says “let’s review this and get me a new plan.” When Bush did that for Iraq, the Left shrieked that he was planning an invasion in advance. When Bush did that for Al Qaeda, the Left shrieked that memos summarizing the known intel were signs that “Bush knew!1!1!1!”
    And as I said, the Right’s attitude towards intelligence-gathering has always been “all of the above.” The core point here is simply that the original strands to work with here came from sources the Left would have denied us.
    And yes, I credit Obama for sending in a JSOC team and doing so without waiting for permission from the UN. That was pretty much my points #2 and 3. But again, those are the Right’s arguments, and I’m happy enough to see him accept them.

  9. I didn’t get this news until I was at work this morning thanks to an internet and TV outage at home. This is just awesome news, and it happened in the best possible way: a bullet to the head by US troops with his bodyguard hiding behind a woman. It simply doesn’t get any better than that. Message delivered: if you attack the US, we will hunt you, find you and kill you.
    Seeing how happy I am about this being from CT, I can only imagine what it feels like for you. And Crank – I agree – I love that he saw it coming. It wasn’t just a bomb falling from the sky. He must have heard the gunfire, the troops coming in. Perfect.

  10. He did not review he ordered a new plan. details you keep leaving out to appear to be correct along partisan lines. It was Bush’s original plan in Iraq to invade. A review is different from scrapping the entire plan. Once again President Obama’s changed the entire course of the plan to get Osama and not a peep from the intel community which speaks volumes of Bush’s leadership. But you tried to credit bush on the killing. SMH

  11. Obama somehow did this better or differently than Bush? Seriously?? More credit goes to the intel community and the military than either president, and both presidents I’m sure would agree. I mean, come on, do you think Bush would have done something different with the same intel information about bin Laden?

  12. First and foremost, can’t we just rejoice together that a total scumbag was erased from this planet, and that, as MVH, that he KNEW it was coming, giving him time to mutter an, “Oh Shit,” is just too sweet to pass up. Why worry about credit?
    That said, the Fox Comedy Hour, which, from day one, blamed Clinton for bin Laden, and gave no blame to Bush, was quick to thank Bush, with no credit to Obama. Showing the true colors of a network of jackasses and assholes. Period.
    Sending in a SEAL team was the right move; letting the world know he (Obama) didn’t give a damn what Pakistan thought was a righter move. It let’s AQ know that any rock they crawl under, anywhere, is fair game. India, which has an insane reason to despise Pakistan loves it, and any cred you get with that large, rather disheveled but vibrant democracy is a good one; Bush thanked Obama. Crank, stop claiming what is the right conservative move or not, it wasn’t and isn’t. But you all seem so hell bent to claim credit (it was Reagan, who kept saying don’t worry about credit): You claim victory in the cold war (Reagan, but it was more the post war Truman administration and every damn administration thereafter, even the silly one of Jimmy Carter); now you claim victory for bin Laden. If so, then you must accept the blame for tying Bill Clinton’s hands when he tried to take him out in the mid-90’s. How about republican blame for Iran, because of the engineered coup in Eisenhower’s day? You see, it’s easy to play the blame game. Harder, but much more adult, to simply say, “Good job everyone.”

  13. Oh I see – Obama came up with a different intelligence plan. Like Crank, I’ll await the evidence that Obama directed the CIA to Abbottabad.
    OBL was always going to be a moving chess piece on the Middle Eastern map, with his location at least partially in response to wherever the US would be looking/invading at the time. Iraq, Pakistan, Afganistan were all options for him.
    You guys are implying that Bush would have found OBL if he hadn’t invaded Iraq. This assumes that OBL wouldn’t have gone to Iraq if Bush, for example, focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan. You can’t assume that given an alternative history, Osama would have chosen the same place to hide.

  14. I was all for basking in the moment last night, and sick of the people trying to spoil it with politics.
    Today’s a new day, and as you can see we have people out in force claiming credit for Obama. I know you like the idea of telling only one side of the debate to sit it out, but it’s important to correct the record here.

  15. Clinton tried to take them out; Bush started hunting them down, and Obama found him. That’s why I said, “Good job everyone.”
    Crank, pandering should be beneath you, but clearly it’s not. When I said the Fox Comedy Hour gave full credit to Bush, and that was LAST NIGHT, you gave credence to that, instead of everyone being together. Shame on them, and now shame on you.
    Clinton tried to take them out; Bush started hunting them down, and Obama found him.

  16. I just saw this in the NYT:
    “He was killed along with a son and two other men who put up resistance during the raid, ending any hope of arrest and prosecution. . . . President Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, said that the raid had been intended to capture Mr. Bin Laden, though those who planned it assumed he would resist. “If we had the opportunity to take him alive, we would have done that,” he said.
    I, for one, would not have “hoped” he would be captured and prosecuted. Killing him would be the right call. If you prosecuted him, it would have given him a forum to keep doing as he was doing already, which was more of a figurehead role. A trial would have given him free media publicity. And God forbid a choice of NYC for the trial . . .

  17. It is pretty crazy that people would be giving credit to the current Commander in Chief. That’s wacky. Clearly this was an incredible job of military organization. I have no earthly idea how many pieces of our military had to be involved (Marines, Air Force, Seals and Army as well as special forces at the very least) so whoever was in charge of getting this incredibly detailed intel, putting together what was clearly a well thought out and unbelivably well prepared and trained for mission deserves a shit ton of credit. The sheer size of this operation had to be immense when you consider everything that had to go into it for it to work. It’s flat out bad ass is what it is and anyone mildly associated with it should get some serious decoration and politicians should attempt to take as little credit as possible.
    That being said someone had to green light this baby from the beginning and that wasn’t GWB.

  18. Jim, I think we can all agree that the people who stayed with it year after year, lead after lead, deserve the usual awe and reverence they’ve merited. In some ways, it reminds me of the search for Son of Sam (who, uh, went to my high school, about the time I was there–gulp). It wasn’t flashes of insight or brilliance, it was, as Malcolm Gladwell likes to point out, the 10,000 hour rule: loads and loads of hard work and determination that led to the answers.
    To me, the most amazing part of this was that the White House had knowledge of this since September and NOBODY talked. Amazing, because somebody usually does. Leaks are older in Washington than plumbing. But in the end, the names of the members of what is clearly a gifted and brilliant team will be kept from the world, if only for their own safety.
    Next, the working heads of Al Qaeda. Can you imagine how great it would be if suddenly, the rocks THEY are hiding under (or the mansions they are luxuriating in) get tipped over? And the snakes start to crawl out.

  19. What was that noise?
    Just the belch of the wing nuts after eating a good helping of crow.
    The Obama Administration planned and caried out a thoughtful, precise, well-organized, superbly directed plan of operations. All of that is precisely the opposite of the lasting legacy of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld team, whihc would have rushed in with “half fast” operation.
    Thank goodness, we are now led by level-headed, calm adults.

  20. Nice try, Magrooder. Oh, the Bush Admin wouldn’t have been able to plan & execute the takedowns of Saddam, Uday & Qusay, Zarqawi & Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? Even you cannot believe that.
    For the record: I do give the Admin credit for planning & execution. I don’t really give Obama credit for greenlighting the mission, as with any other POTUS that would be a no-brainer. Hell, even Jimmy Carter OK’d Desert One. (Clinton pre-9/11 would have sent cruise missiles, but I give Clinton at least the credit that in the circumstances of 2011, he’d have done what Obama did.)

  21. SMH, you are becoming clownish Crank. The option was on the table to lob cruise missiles in to get him. President Obama made the tough decision to put OUR people in harms way to get he job done. But I think your failure to give the Commander in Chief his full and proper due says more about your character than his. It takes a man to admit when he is wrong or taking the high road requires courage. Why are you afraid to give the President his full and proper due?

  22. Are you seriously suggesting President Bush wouldn’t have sent in live troops? Really? I don’t know a living Republican who wouldn’t have.

  23. A no-brainer? Let’s see, if this goes wrong it is a DEVASTATING blow in every imaginable way. This incredibly complex, layered and dangerous mission had to have been scripted and rehearsed a million times over so that success was guaranteed. Does Obama get credit for that? No. But he made some damn difficult decisions. As far as I most folks could tell Bush was largely ignoring OBL (his words), attacking Iraq and playing footsie with Musharef. I don’t see the Bush Admin pulling this off because, well let’s see, they didn’t.
    It’s the difference between a Commander in Chief and a Commander Guy.

  24. Err, Crank will you agree Bush had the first crack at Osama at Tora Bora and he let a rag tag group attempt it and not our troops. I know you won’t answer, but we know the answer so your next lame rebuttal is just crazy talk. You can still hate President but at least sack up and give the man credit for leadership

  25. Anyone who reads what I write knows full well I am a dedicated, totally fervent slightly left of center middle of the roader, meaning we adults who see all sides of issues are NOT fervent. I ripped Bush apart for lots of things, and in hindsight, he did indeed downplay OBL. It’s a mindset we all had to lose: that an organization can be more dangerous than a country. So hold off a bit on what he knew and though could be done (Iraq is different, his total screwup in balancing what Iraq did to Iran in inexcusable on his part).
    Jim is right in this respect: He didn’t do it. Now it’s not necessarily fair because after all, once he slipped through in Tora Bora he was lost for years. Where Obama changed policies with Bush was to get tougher, something few right wingnuts give credit to. Because the army always stopped at the Pakistani border when chasing the Taliban. Obama crossed the border. With drones, yes. But Bush had the drones too.
    But now argument is getting crazy again. Back to my original points: shame on Fox Comedy for politicizing it ten minutes after it happened (CNN did some straight reporting, I know I went back and forth); great job to our fine Intelligence, support and SEAL teams. the most important part of our fight against global terror has been demonstrated: You can run but you can’t hide. Die scum.

  26. Blaming Bush for Tora Bora? You must be joking. You can’t seriously blame Bush for that or even remotely make the comparison with this operation. Tora Bora was a complex series of mountain caves in a remote area of Afghanistan. There were plenty of avenues for OBL to escape, never mind the difficulties of getting a significant number of forces in that area.
    Meanwhile, OBL’s compound was in suburban Pakistan. You could examine it in detail through satellite photos, and it was walled in. Once invaded, OBL had nowhere to run or hide.

  27. I finally got to read your Twitter feed Crank, and honestly, it’s a disgrace. From your first comment, “POTUS is addressing the nation, this can’t be good,” to your complaint that he shouldn’t have announced it, just let us have all the good news at once, is simply immoral. Why?
    Because you celebrated a President who did the same thing, except, OK, except he was really stupid about it. You have momentous news as the POTUS, you address the nation from the White House, or Gettysburgh, or Ground Zero. You DON’T and I mean EVER fly in on a plane pretending to be an aviator, with a big mission accomplished sign in the background, and say THIS is a president. No it’s Waldo Pepper.
    To distill some of the comments I’ve read so far:
    1. The information on the courier was gotten by standard interrogation techniques, waterboarding having proven useless. But then Ray Kelly knows more about interrogation and policework, detection and finding stuff out in one toenail than all the contributors here, and he knows it’s useless.
    2. Obama is a smart cookie who knows history: He knows the failing history of Desert One; he knows bombing is safer for our troops and violates less foreign air space. He knows that feet on the ground is a tough call. He also knew that, if proven right, a quick victory here stops all complaints. Winning always does.
    3. He sat through the Correspondant’s Dinner, and frankly delivered a much better and funnier speech than Seth Meyer’s. Knowing he gave a kill order, with his troops, and frankly, his presidency on the line. It was compared to Michael Corleone settling all family grievances while at the christening. And in a way, it was. Donald Trump talks big, but really is a failure (who can bankrupt a casino?); Cheney and Bush played toy soldiers with other people’s lives, but what did they really have to lose?
    You did what the Fox ChuckeeCheese folks did: start on a wrong foot, a quick good, and back to the bad. Or as Gomer Pyle so aptly said, “Shame! Shame! Shame!”

  28. 1. Tora Bora was not a failure to authorize an operation. The failure, in retrospect – and as MVH notes, the nature of the cave complex made sealing off escape routes it a much more complex task than this raid – was in relying too heavily on local Muslim troops as part of the force structure, which worked elsewhere in the Afghan campaign but not for sealing off the avenues of escape. That was a lesson learned in Iraq, where US and Allied troops carried the heavy burden while we did the painstaking multi-year work of building a reasonably competent and trustworthy Iraqi Security Force from the ground up.
    2. Daryl, you obviously watch Fox a lot more than I do. I was watching the politically belligerent left-wingers on Twitter.
    3. My point about interrogation is primarily that if you listened to the Left, you’d have no secret CIA prisons, and nothing but Geneva Convention name-rank-serial number interrogations. And guys like KSM would be lawyered up and tried in civilian courts. And if all of that was the case, we’d never have had these leads.
    That said: if the bad guy confesses to the good cop after being with the bad cop, this is not proof that the bad cop was ineffective. The problem you guys have on interrogation is you’ve painted yourselves into the corner of insisting that it never, ever, ever under any circumstances provides anything useful to anybody, because you are unable to argue the concept of tradeoffs.
    4. I have no idea what your beef is with my instant Twitter reaction. Obviously my gut reaction – that an emergency, won’t-say-what speech by the POTUS at 1030 on a Sunday night would probably mean he was delivering bad news – turned out to be incorrect. I didn’t say he shouldn’t announce it, I said he should – instead of delaying the speech. When did I defend Bush for showing up an hour late for a scheduled speech? (Anyway, that was a minor gripe, Obama putting off the speech until it was stale news).
    5. “Pretending to be an aviator” – I see you’re still in the conspiracy-theory camp that thinks Bush faked the two full years he spent flying jets in the National Guard full-time? You need to see a birth certificate for that?

  29. Daryl,
    Immoral?? You are basically saying that Crank is inconsistent in the way that he regards Bush and Obama. Whatever the merits, is immoral really the word you want to use to describe that?

  30. MVH, I literally do not even understand what Daryl is trying to say with that, or what kind of inconsistency he’s talking about.

  31. I agree with Daryl, the twitter feed is appalling, an example of “bittterly clinging” to revisionist history and a total lack of grace.
    The problem with Tora Bora is that Rumsfeld didn’t commit sufficient resources because he needed them to invade Iraq.
    And, yes, Crank, the record is perfectly clear that Bush was AWOL during much of his “service.” Just another chicken hawk.

  32. I’m just scratching my head here at what you guys are even miffed about.
    So, Magrooder takes the position that Bush never served a day in the TANG, didn’t spend two years flying jets. In the face of extensive evidence to the contrary. Wow. Talk about cuckooland.

  33. MVH, maybe you are right. Graceless would be a better term. Crank, when you as a President flies in a fighter, after having a carrier execute what proved to be an expensive and hazardous stunt so you can show how tough you are, you are a grandstander, and a fake. It’s the difference between John Wayne, who was all talk, and Jimmy Stewart, who, as was typical of those who really go into harms way, didn’t say much.
    No, I had no intent of revisiting Dubyas dubious military service, at least not without his drug test results. My comment was strictly limited to the cheap and stodgy staging of his Mission Accomplished bit of fakery. Lincoln did not swoop in on a stallion at Gettysburgh. He knew better.
    So what am I writing about? Your heavy handed political pandering. Not knowing when it’s simply appropriate to say Good Job all and shut up.

  34. The way I read it, you celebrated the way Bush handled the “mission accomplished” plane-flying announcement, which he is calling a stunt, yet criticized Obama, who made the announcement in a more traditional way.
    I think he misunderstood your tweets, as you point out, but I don’t know how he arrives at “immorality” from the above, particularly having read your tweets myself.
    As for Tora Bora, you are actually going to try to defend that analogy Magrooder? “The problem with Tora Bora is that Rumsfeld didn’t commit sufficient resources because he needed them to invade Iraq. ” There are so many problems with this – including a tenuous chain of causation – I don’t even know where to start.
    Apart from my previous post, I think I’ll ask you to explain, logistically and practically, how you would conduct a full-scale military manhunt in the remote mountains of Afghanistan – where OBL could have been hiding anywhere. Please mention how many troops this would have required and for how long, and please tell us how you would have intended to get them there and maintain a supply chain.

  35. Daryl’s answer just comes down to “I HATE HATE HATE GEORGE BUSH” and turns out to have nothing to do with anything I was writing. I mean, other than griping about him coming on an hour late, I hardly said anything knocking Obama on Sunday night, at least once we knew what the news was going to be. I spent most of the night making fun of bin Laden.

  36. No it isn’t. I was criticizing your I HATE OBAMA. I do hate Bush. No, I resent him, for so many reasons, most of all for his refusal to honor his one job, his oath of office, his repressing of honest dissent. No what I was criticizing was you and the right wing, for an absolute inability to say that Obama could do any job where you would say, “Good job, Mr. President. You served our country well.” No, you couldn’t. You had to ratchet it up.
    Tora Bora was a fiasco, but unless you were really willing to go in with hellburners (and we should have, but it IS hindsight), it was going to be difficult. But if Obama and Clinton had done that, boy would you still be clamoring over that one. Have you ever said, “Good job Mr. Clinton, for turning over an armed force that went through the impossible to invade Afghanistan?” No, didn’t think so. Keep Bush out of this one. It’s you this time.

  37. I guess I still am curious why you are so unwilling to give the President full credit for his leadership on killing Bin Laden? What we saw from this operation was our military from the very top to the very bottom get the job done right. Period no need to qualify your comments just give full credit for the man at the top of the chain of command for superior leadership. Why is that so hard for you to do???

  38. Because it is the calling card of the right. I listened to a couple of right-wing talkers/paper tigers on the radio yesterday and the appalling nature of the conversations aside the big point was that Obama had little to nothing to do with this, all credit is due to Bush, Bush would have done this anyway and it doesn’t mean anything because the economy is still bad. It was laughable in its utter patheticness. There was more “could haves and would haves” thrown around than you can imagine. It is incredible that Bush gets the credit for this 800+ days removed from office yet the whole TARP thing was Obama’s fault on Day 1.
    Can you imagine (and it is almost impossible to do so given the actual lack of trying to find OBL by the previous administration) if they had killed OBL and were questioned about how, who, why, etc? There would have been more use of the words “treasonous”, “un-patriotic” and “anti-American” over the past 24 hours than in the entire histroy of this country.
    Guess what? The guy you all think isn’t qualified for the job presided over one of the ballsiest military moves in history. Another radio host I cannot abide would sum it up this way; Scoreboard.
    If you would like to rant about his economic policies, abortion and whatnot have at it. On this you should probably just STFU and be glad that one of the most vile people on the planet was killed by our military in one bad-ass kind of way.

  39. From the very start we attributed far too much value to bin Laden as a leader and planner. His high profile, partly enhanced by our fixation on him as the focus of all evil, helped the terrorist cause until after Tora-Bora, following which he was heard only via taped broadcasts that many (including me) suspected were faked. In any case, once he ran out of money his utility to the terrorists became minimal. Therefore the tactical value of this operation will be slight unless the salvaged files turn out to be useful.
    As propaganda, however, it’s of major importance, since anything that discourages militant Muslims greatly assists our cause by reducing recruiting and enthusiasm. After Clinton refused to take out bin Laden and Dubya missed him, Obama finally scored. To the extent he was involved in planning (probably very little) Obama deserves credit, as he does for actually giving the order.
    The electoral value won’t amount to much unless this is followed by other successful high-visibility operations, preferably with a reversal of Obama’s apologetic pro-Islam attitude. It would be as if Reagan had freed Grenada but caved to the USSR in every other regard.
    More important is what it means with regard to Pakistani attitudes. They obviously were keeping ObL on ice for their own purposes, and lately decided he was of more use to them dead than alive. If this change in their strategy was somehow brought about by Obama and Hillary it would count as the biggest success of his Presidency and her Secretaryship, [Have I invented a new word?] and I would need to change my attitude with regard to their respective intelligences and realism.
    Time will give us more clues regarding Pakistan’s possibly improved standing as a useful ally. I imagine it’s going to be an interesting year.

  40. What it comes down to for our diplomatic efforts in that part of the world:
    1. If Pakistan did know (doh) that OBL was there, we had no choice but to take him out.
    2. If Pakistan didn’t know that OBL was there, we still had no choice but to take him out.
    3. So much of our military, economic and diplomatic might the last decade has been spent on hunting down OBL and his henchmen. Bush said it clearly, and in this, boy did I agree with him: You are either for us or against us. The Monroe Doctrine of the anti-terror American agenda.
    4. The Pakistanis are complaining now they don’t want this to be a precedent. Obama’s answer, really clear was no answer at all. Which is correct. Inside, he’s probably thinking, “Who give’s a shit what they think?”
    5. It boosts us with India, which has had its own troubles with what really should still be part of India (Crank, you are right: the partitioning of India, along with the forced revolution in the 1950s in Iran was among the two biggest long term post WWII disasters and we are STILL trying to deal with that.
    6. It hurts Al Qaeda and hurts them badly. Because the Arab uprisings everywhere else are happening without AQ, which used Arab oppression as a recruiting tool. Couple that with the intelligence taken from the OBL take down, you are dealing with some very real problems for AQ. Yeah, and my hear bleeds.

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