“The dangerous trend in Pakistan,” he said, “is that there is far more hate for America now than there was ever love of Osama.” – Mission Unfinished, BY JILL ABRAMSON – In the twilight of America’s decade-long, multibillion-dollar intervention, Afghanistan remains highly unstable, the Pakistanis trust us less than ever, and it is not at all clear how “the big things are going to turn out.”
As the man who gave the order to kill Osama bin Laden fights for his reelection amidst horrific economic times, there can be only one conclusion. We blew it.
Osama bin Laden’s purpose in targeting the financial heart of the United States was to bring the body of our economic engine to its knees.
There’s little doubt, as Pres. Obama’s new SecDef decides troops should stay in Iraq, while Mr. Obama continues to make the case for endless engagement in Afghanistan, while our economic health is on life support, we’ve lost sight of creating our own destiny by looking forward instead of back.
Once the airlines opened after 9/11, I took a very long flight to a family wedding. We hopscotched across the country, we lonely 8 in the plane, after we each were searched within an inch of our lives, which began the unraveling of what America means, because fear had gripped our soul.
Then we did the unthinkable, the most un-American of acts: we tortured.
In “The Making of a Man,” which I wrote 11 years ago after Pres. Bush’s eloquent speech at the National Cathedral, I never suspected what his Administration would plot next.
Former Pres. George W. Bush and V.P. Dick Cheney have a lot for which they should be made to answer, however, instead they’ve both enjoyed a rehabilitation.
Preemptive war in Iraq on the wings of the new U.S. policy of regime change, while keeping the costs off the books, was one of the single worst economic wounds to be dealt to this country.
The drum beat to war singled the death of American journalism, with uncritical thinking, access and cowardice the media’s chosen path.
It allowed Afghanistan to weaken, with candidate Obama inspired to label Afghanistan the “good war” from which it seems we shall never be freed.
Today our economy is hobbled, with the response from Wall Street to 9/11 being greed and recklessness, while our politicians, no matter the party, looked the other way for fear their campaign coffers wouldn’t be filled.
All of this was laid on the ground of fear. The fear that terrorists would hit us again. That sacrificing civil liberties was the cost. That solidifying our future in the global, 21st century economy wasn’t the priority.
A grateful China kept busy.
Our leaders believed that keeping us safe had everything to do with militarism, but forgot the most important part of our national security strength is our economic prowess and the ability to build, compete and challenge nations whose armies are secondary, because the U.S. is the global policeman on which they can rely.
This is no longer F.D.R.’s America. It’s not even John F. Kennedy’s anymore.
Our economic weaknesses today were laid on the foundation from Pres. Bush, who said to go shopping, while he plotted to attack Iraq, a country that had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. It came after a decade of peace and prosperity that handed him a surplus which he blew through with the reckless abandon of a drunken teenager with an unlimited credit line.
…and Pres. Obama and the Democrats simply shrugged and said we need to move on, while ignoring the legacy of Bush-Cheney, which was an economy on its knees.
You can call this politics.
I call it truth.
He may be dead, but he drove our leaders to distraction that led to the collapse of our economy, which was his main goal 10 years ago today.
This is a fitting accompaniment to Sen. John McCain’s rebuttal on the Bushies torture rehabilitation tour.
Sometimes it comes down to a president making a risky decision that even his aides were against.
The war dog stories at Foreign Policy are always amazing, with Rebecca Frankel offering a truly remarkable piece on the canines that have become part of our military missions. The picture above one of many in her article, showing hero dogs doing their duty. Still waiting for the picture of the dog on the OBL raid.
As the New York Times reported, there were 79 extraordinary warriors on the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, but they were accompanied by a canine who had his own job to do, too.
Suzanne Belger, president of the American Belgian Malinois Club, said she was hoping the dog was one of her breed “and that it did its job and came home safe.” But Laura Gilbert, corresponding secretary for the German Shepherd Dog Club of America, said she was sure the dog was her breed “because we’re the best!” – A Bin Laden Hunter on Four Legs
(source: Taylor Marsh.com)
This is Barack Obama’s reset.
Former Pres. Bill Clinton tried and failed to get Osama bin Laden.
Pres. George W. Bush ignored Pres. Clinton’s warnings, then said he wanted him “dead or alive,” but when neither happened he declared “mission accomplished” anyway.
With Bin Laden’s death, the importance of little known aspects of America’s fighting capability–the paramilitary like forces of the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command may soon be as well known as mainstays like the Army and the Marines. In the wars of the 21st century, on the eve of this long-awaited moment, the lesser known legions in the American military are now under the spotlight. […] Now the CIA stands much taller. Its intelligence helped pinpoint Bin Laden, but so did its patience: the genesis of the operation began four years ago, based on a fragment of information received years earlier than that from detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Just as Leon Panetta readies to leave his tenure as director, Langley has cause for pride. – Marc Ambinder
This is an unqualified success for the Obama administration, for CIA’s Leon Panetta who heads to the Pentagon, and the man who captured the hearts of Americans from all political parties in 2008, but who has been struggling mightily to find a way to communicate emotionally and deeply with the American people since he came into office. Domestic policy compromises and capitulation, along with foreign policy expansion in areas that set him beside Pres. Bush, then a midterm collapse, with disgruntled supporters and voters losing interest in his presidency as 2012 revs up.
Pres. Obama gave a much deserved nod to our intelligence community and military ops, who crafted bin Laden’s demise.
… last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.
Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.
The intelligence and brave military prowess leading to the killing of Osama bin Laden shifts the political dynamic for Pres. Obama in a way no other single event could do. He’s the president at the helm when his team got the mastermind of 9/11. He’s the president who stood to say our intel and military teams had gotten even for a nation. After years of failing, the mission got done on his watch.
To the brave men and women at the C.I.A. who went through so very much, to the fighting men and women who joined up to fight after 9/11, to their families, to the people like Kristen Breitweiser who lost loved ones on that day, this is one moment we’ve all been waiting for, the moment where America was avenged.
How will Pres. Obama turn this victory of his team into something even greater?
Drawing down in Afghanistan earlier, quicker? Or will he see this as a validation of his foreign policy and take strength to continue his current path? Will this give him new energy to focus once again on an Israeli – Palestinian agreement?
Will he turn this moment into capital that can have lasting impact on U.S. foreign policy, as well as engagement across the Middle East, including Libya, where Gadhafi has to be thinking hard right now? What comes next all centers around Obama’s ability to follow through and capitalize on a moment in history he alone inhabits for all time, no matter what else is said about his first term or his presidency to date.
The intelligence coming out is extraordinary. From the briefing by senior administration officials last night on bin Laden’s killing:
[…] Then in August 2010, we found their residence, a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a town about 35 miles north of Islamabad. The area is relatively affluent, with lots of retired military. It’s also insolated from the natural disasters and terrorist attacks that have afflicted other parts of Pakistan. When we saw the compound where the brothers lived, we were shocked by what we saw — an extraordinarily unique compound. The compound sits on a large plot of land in an area that was relatively secluded when it was built. It is roughly eight times larger than the other homes in the area.
When the compound was built in 2005, it was on the outskirts of the town center, at the end of a narrow dirt road. In the last six years, some residential homes have been built nearby. The physical security measures of the compound are extraordinary. It has 12- to 18-foot walls topped with barbed wire. Internal wall sections — internal walls sectioned off different portions of the compound to provide extra privacy. Access to the compound is restricted by two security gates, and the residents of the compound burn their trash, unlike their neighbors, who put the trash out for collection.
The main structure, a three-story building, has few windows facing the outside of the compound. A terrace on the third floor has a seven-foot wall privacy — has a seven-foot privacy wall.
It’s also noteworthy that the property is valued at approximately $1 million but has no telephone or Internet service connected to it. The brothers had no explainable source of wealth.
Intelligence analysts concluded that this compound was custom built to hide someone of significance. We soon learned that more people were living at the compound than the two brothers and their families. A third family lived there — one whose size and whose makeup matched the bin Laden family members that we believed most likely to be with Osama bin Laden. Our best assessment, based on a large body of reporting from multiple sources, was that bin Laden was living there with several family members, including his youngest wife.
Everything we saw — the extremely elaborate operational security, the brothers’ background and their behavior, and the location and the design of the compound itself was perfectly consistent with what our experts expected bin Laden’s hideout to look like. Keep in mind that two of bin Laden’s gatekeepers, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libbi, were arrested in the settled areas of Pakistan.
Our analysts looked at this from every angle, considering carefully who other than bin Laden could be at the compound. We conducted red team exercises and other forms of alternative analysis to check our work. No other candidate fit the bill as well as bin Laden did.
So the final conclusion, from an intelligence standpoint, was twofold. We had high confidence that a high-value target was being harbored by the brothers on the compound, and we assessed that there was a strong probability that that person was Osama bin Laden. […]
A senior administration official warned of “heightened threat to the homeland and to U.S. citizens and facilities abroad,” with retaliation a possible reaction to bin Laden’s death.
Osama bin Laden was killed during a Democratic administration, no neoconservative near, with exacting revenge of bad guys, villains and murderers being quintessentially American. It’s John Wayne meets Jack Bauer, only this time the guy’s name at the top is Barack Hussein Obama. That’s the political reality, which you can bet matters to Democrats, since Republicans always use national security against the Left whenever they can.
AN INTERVIEW WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA in the Situation Room with Brian Williams on the bin Laden raid exploded over the weekend. It came just days before the OBL raid anniversary when the SEALS got their man, as well as the day that made George W. Bush a laughing stock.
Sen. John McCain is had a hissy fit, with the furor still not dying down.
Mitt Romney invoked Jimmy Carter for the occasion.
Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro is either the dumbest political writer on planet earth or is ignorant of presidential commander in chief powers. I’m guessing it’s both. He’s squealing like a little girl that Admiral McRaven was in charge of SEAL Team Six during the dangerous bin Laden raid, which in his mind means Pres. Obama is gutless, though how he comes to that conclusion takes a Olympic fete of intellectual fraudulence only someone from Breitbart could complete.
McRaven’s charge has been known since May 2011, written up by no less than Military.com, which also pointed to the thoroughness of the plan:
About 10 days before the raid, Obama was briefed on the plan. It included keeping two backup helicopters just outside Pakistani airspace in case something went wrong. But Obama felt that was risky. If the SEALs needed help, they couldn’t afford to wait for backup.
He said the operation needed a plan in case the SEALs had to fight their way out. So two Chinooks were sent into Pakistani airspace, loaded with backup teams, just in case. One of those Chinooks landed in the compound after the Black Hawk became inoperable.
Politically motivated and manufactured right wing reaction to the ad above revolves around a CIA memo obtained by TIME magazine, which proves absolutely nothing and raises no questions whatsoever, unless you’re a partisan hack.
Republicans actually believe the military is in charge of foreign policy and military actions. They have never understood our American republic is founded on the guiding principal of civilian leadership.
That Pres. Obama made the call and got the bastard of 9/11 galls them and they will do anythingto discredit a gallant act of pure presidential leadership that was heroic, risky and revealed Barack Obama’s complete and total respect and faith in our elite military forces to get the dangerous, from military aspects to international and political hazards, job done.
I, for one, am loving it and can only say…
At long last.
The ad I’ve been waiting to hit.
Having it narrated by former Pres. Bill Clinton is a stroke of political genius.
Unlike George W. Bush, who paraded himself around on an aircraft carrier, then took his place on a podium in front of a banner screaming “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED,” when it actually wasn’t and still isn’t in Iraq, Pres. Obama got the job done of getting Osama bin Laden.
Republicans are squealing bloody murder about an ad they would have tricked up and trotted out long before today. We would have been hearing about this every day since it happened, little doubt the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes, who fictionalized Dick Cheney’s nuclear fantasies ad nauseam, given access to whatever Republican hero who’d gotten the madman of 9/11.
This U.S. military success, under the commander in chief Barack Obama, forever obliterates any question that he doesn’t have the right stuff to lead this nation. Republicans campaign to deny him his moment of leadership is everything that’s wrong with our politics.
Anyone can disagree with Pres. Obama’s politics, I do often and strongly, but Pres. Obama earned and deserves credit for making the decision and okaying the risky SEAL Team Six op to get OBL. It’s long past time he received it and nothing Republicans say should rob him of it.
As for using Mitt Romney’s words against him on national security, don’t make me laugh. Republicans have defamed military veterans who are Democrats, tarnishing their military service, even lying about vaunted combat awards.
That team Obama is hitting Mitt Romney on national security and foreign policy is not only fair game, it would be dereliction of political duty not to. Because unlike on the economy and business, there is absolutely no case to be made for Mitt Romney as commander in chief.
Taylor Marsh is the author of The Hillary Effect, which is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, where it was 1 of only 4 books in their NOOK Featured Authors Selection launch. Marsh is a veteran political analyst and commentator.
“There has always been a special place in the common memory for people who deliberately, knowingly, certainly lay down their lives for other people to live. …” – Pres. Bill Clinton
Every time I hear the word “anniversary” invoked for 9/11 I cringe. There is nothing celebratory about the date, with it a commemoration of a horrific tragedy that now with the 9/11 memorials in place should take a new spot in our national dialogue. Revisiting the history of it that has an end, which came with Pres. Obama’s call to send Seal Team Six into Pakistan to risk it all to kill Osama bin Laden…
(videos of speeches at the link)
They’re sorry if the whole thing is “seen as offensive.”
Because of enormous public outcry of the story, Der Tzeitung, a Chareidi newspaper based out of Brooklyn, has issued
an excuse a statement, which is even more ridiculous than their original decision to crop women out of history in the first place. Here’s a snippet:
All Government employees are sworn into office, promising adherence to the Constitution, and our Constitution attests to our greatness as a nation that is a light beacon to the entire world. The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. That has precedence even to our cherished freedom of the press! In accord with our religious beliefs, we do not publish photos of women, which in no way relegates them to a lower status. Publishing a newspaper is a big responsibility, and our policies are guided by a Rabbinical Board. Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging to women, which is certainly never our intention. We apologize if this was seen as offensive.
Noted. Sec. Clinton and Director of Counterterrorism Audrey Tomason, both of whom worked their lives to be in this position in foreign policy are both too provocatively powerful for Der Tzeitung.
Then don’t use the photo.
Newspapers do have enormous responsibility. The first should be to truth. Whatever Rabbinical Board guidelines worked in the 20th century, giving grace that they did, have been proven not to work today, because it is unethical and dishonest to exclude two primary women on Pres. Obama’s national security team in order to make people more comfortable about a lie. They were in the Situation Room at a critical moment in United States history, with religious sensibilities having no place in journalism at this moment.
So, for Der Tzeitung, freedom of religion takes precedence over freedom of the press, which means that if some religious extremist wants to eradicate women from the historic hunting and killing of Osama bin Laden they can.
No amount of reason can compete with such immature rationalizations. That’s the problem with any fundamentalist religion.
Religious extremists are a curse to women.
source: Taylor Marsh
After reading the raid accounts from Marc Ambinder, Mike Allen, Brian Ross, as well as the White House briefing by senior administration officials late last night, it’s clear our mission against Al Qaeda hasn’t been in Afghanistan since Pres. Bush left office. The surgical raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, which could not be shared with the Pakistani military, whose training center was nearby, also proves that V.P. Joe Biden has always been right about Pakistan. (Some of you may remember this piece he shared with TM.com readers in 2007 when he was running for president. Few others bothered to cover Joe Biden at all.)
The initial circumstantial evidence suggests the opposite is more likely—that bin Laden was effectively being housed under Pakistani state control. Pakistan will deny this, it seems safe to predict, and perhaps no convincing evidence will ever surface to prove the case. If I were a prosecutor at the United States Department of Justice, however, I would be tempted to call a grand jury. – Steve Coll
What the raid on bin Laden’s compound also illustrates is that Pres. Obama’s actions to bomb Libya are not only incomprehensible, as well as lacking enough intelligence to justify it, but a throw back foreign policy decision that looks incompatible with what was done in the surgical Pakistan raid. There is no through line thinking at all; conventional war ineffective, expensive and a throw back to the 20th century. SecDef Gates wasn’t keen on bombing Libya, a mission he characterized as “on the fly,” neither were other seasoned veterans, which I’d bet includes Joe Biden. Considering the paucity of intelligence about the amateur status of the Libyan rebels, it’s not hard to say that we went in prematurely and without anything close to the knowledge of DevGru of JSOC and CIA teams had in Pakistan to kill bin Laden.
Osama bin Laden’s body will be buried at sea and following Muslim laws, but the ramifications of his killing now are quite different than if he’d been apprehended at Tora Bora, an opportunity missed by Pres. Bush and Gen. Tommy Franks, with men on the ground long ago offering eye witness testifying of the blunder.
Politically speaking, Pres. Obama and the Democrats are doing exactly what Republicans and the Right would be doing, which is hailing the killing of Osama bin Laden as a huge victory for the Obama administration’s team work, but particularly focusing on the military and intelligence aspects, even if we’ll never know the men and women who made it all possible. Anyone thinking Obama and Democrats shouldn’t be declaring a win has gone done the memory hole of how Republicans beat Democrats over the head with national security. At least Obama didn’t appear on an air craft carrier after a mission had not been accomplished.
Republicans and the Right are congratulating Pres. Obama, with Rush Limbaugh offering the talking points you’ll hear everywhere. That Obama continued the policies of Bush-Cheney, so “victory,” as Rush put it today, should be declared. Limbaugh also stating that the Gitmo policy produced these results.
The problem with these talking points is that it was detective work that got the job done, the very opposite of what was done in Libya, but also Afghanistan, since CIA Director Panetta said long ago there were only 50 or so Al Qaeda in that country.
In time, both Democratic and Republican talking points will meld into indecipherable mush, with the one symbol remaining being Pres. Obama, the man who was in charge when the legendary SEAL Team Six, CIA, National Security Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency got Osama bin Laden.
Domestically speaking, Pres. Obama and his team are very likely to become more entrenched, the usual hubris from the Obama administration calcifying into a surety that progressives will not be able to budge, which Obama’s team will believe has been earned.
Some people will never give Pres. Obama an inch, which is the reality of our politics today, because our economic challenges have become so entrenched, with only the Republican economic model being represented, because Pres. Obama won’t offer a Democratic solution. Just one email I’ve received today, this from “Craig W.”:
“The most important thing is for us to find Osama Bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.” – George W. Bush, 9/13/01
“I don’t know where he is. I have no idea, and I really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority.” – George W. Bush, 3/13/02
Alright, then. After eight months of careful planning, President Obama authorized a ground assault on Osama Bin Laden’s compound. Our troops engaged him in gun battle, rather than mail it in from the sky like a bunch of Nancies. Good going. So how about President Obama show up and support families whose homes are being foreclosed in record numbers, or stand with teachers and public employees who find themselves under attack by Republicans in every corner of the country? Or call out Republican congressmen bent on slashing every government program designed to help poor and working people? Those tasks require much more Presidential courage and leadership than killing Osama Bin Laden.
Osama bin Laden became a symbol a long time ago. Our biggest threats today are not Al Qaeda, but begin with our politicians thinking austerity is more important than trade, investment and job growth, all issues that continue to follow Pres. Obama, no matter Osama’s killing.
White House official photo by Pete Souza.
NBC’s David Gregory is now reporting that Pres. Obama will speak about a “significant development” regarding Osama bin Laden, due to a “development” in Pakistan, through a “grave, serious, CIA operation overseas,” which is now being reported as bin Laden is dead. A remarkable moment for the CIA, as well as Director Panetta, soon to be SecDef, and all the military, special ops and everyone involved.