Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden killed by CIA, U.S. "Special Ops" Navy Seals in Pakistan!!!

  Tonight, May 1, 2011, President Obama declared that Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 world trade center attacks on America and head of Al Quaeda worldwide, was killed in a "firefight" between CIA and NSA-directed U.S. "special ops" Navy Seals and Bin Laden security personal today at a privately-owned compound in Pakistan, see here, (NOTE: this is being published at just after midnight and technically May 2nd).  The news began circulating shortly before 10pm Eastern that the White House had informed national news media of a "big" news item to be released in a quickly arranged and highly unusual late Sunday evening news conference.

  According to news reports and President Obama's address to the nation on the meticulously and jointly-planned CIA-NSA Special forces assault early Sunday morning, the operation utilized Blackhawk Chinook attack helicopters which landed the highly-trained Navy Seals inside the compound upon exhaustively-confirmed human intelligence of Bin Laden's presence, (indeed, one might even say the cautious nature of our President which we have often criticized was on full display, thankfully to no ill effect here).  In the ensuing 40 minute gun battle in which residents of the sprawling compound resisted American forces, Osama Bin Laden was killed by gunshot wounds to the head and the chest by U.S. Navy Seals after being given a brief chance to surrender, and, according to at least some reports, after one American helicopter was shot down by pro-Osama snipers on the roof in the initial attack, though with no American casualties, (see below).  The Administration awaited the return of conclusive DNA tests on Bin Laden's body to release the information of the attack and his demise. 

   Bush Administration 'enhanced interrogation techniques' vindicated?

  The "human intelligence" information that led U.S. forces to the conclusion-- in conjunction with further and ongoing CIA investigations in recent years that narrowed suspicions re: the occupants of the million-dollar compound located in a private resort setting near military facilities often called the 'West Point' of Pakistan in the Abbottabad district-- was originally provided from joint CIA-military questioning of enemy combatants pursuant to policies of the Bush Administration which were heavily criticized by candidate Obama in 2008 and in large part banned under his Presidency, details here and here.

  The Bush-era 2003 capture and subsequent waterboarding of Al-Qaeda terror mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed revealed the "nick name" of a trusted "courier" to Osama Bin Ladem, (who had ceased using all modern technology in favor of human to human communications to avoid detection by U.S. intelligence authorities).  This alleged Al-Qaeda courier's area of operations in Pakistan, as well as real identity, was subsequently confirmed by further Bush-Administration-authorized enhanced interrogations-- now banned by the Obama Administration-- of Guantuanomo-held enemy combatant Abu Faraj al-Libbi in 2007.  It is the discovery of the true identity of this trusted associate of Bin Laden's, as well as his further tracking by U.S. intelligence subsequently over the last four years, that led the Obama Adminstration to the discovery of the compound in Pakistan where Bin Laden was found and killed.

 Thus, whatever role the Obama Administration played in following up on this Bush-era information vis a vis U.S. intelligence agencies, however "augmented" it may have been with more recent and extensive "on the ground" human intelligence and surveillance of the reclusive compound in Pakistan by CIA operatives over the last six months, there can be no doubt that the success of the Obama Administration's efforts to find (and kill) Osama Bin Laden was directly tied to information gathered by Bush Administration's interrogation policies, (the very policies that Obama has expressly banned and personally renounced as being 'unreliable' and 'against our principles.'  Of course, President Obama mentioned none of these facts in his evening news conference but only his re-affirmation of the Bush-era policy authorizing the assassination of Bin Laden as if it were his own).

  As for the mission itself to actually take down Bin Laden-- which to his credit Obama did authorize--  the President gave the final go-ahead on Friday April 29 at 8:20am before leaving to view Alabama's devastation from recent storms in the South.  Originally planned for Saturday night, the operation was moved to Sunday due to inclement weather in Pakistan.  But to deny the critical role, and indeed, contribution to the entire mission's success that the Bush era policies had played, was, we feel, dishonest in the least and pure partisan one-up-man-ship for the purposes of Obama's personal political gain in the worst, (more on this below).  

      On the compound in which Osama Bin Laden was hiding    

 The sprawling 16 acre compound, seen in video here burning from the crash of a U.S. helicopter into the compound, (see below), was said to be well-constructed and defended-- replete with eighteen foot barbed-wire-topped walls, more details here-- and was located geographically less than 40 miles from the capital city of Islamabad on the outskirts of affluent suburb Abbottabad, just 100 yards from a Pakistani army base, (sure to raise thorny questions of why the sprawling compound, built in 2005 and eight times bigger than any other structure in the area, was not noticed by the Pakistani military and/or government sooner, especially in light of the 3 billion in annual aid we provide Pakistan).  The total American military operation on the ground was made up of 24 Navy seals directly involved in the assault.

   On 'civilian' casualties and 'the 'burial' of Osama Bin Laden

  In addition to the death of Bin Laden, also killed in the attacks were personal members of Bin Laden's family and entourage, including his oldest son and one of his wives which Bin Laden allegedly used as a "human shield" in a cowardly effort to save his own life.   Bin Laden's body was then seized by U.S. forces, undoubtedly photographed, and treated in accord with "Islamic practices"-- i.e., wrapped in a white sheet and interred within 24 hours-- and being accorded a Muslim burial ceremony replete with attendant Imam off the U.S. aircraft carrier U.S.S. Carl Vinson, ostensibly to eliminate any chance of a "shrine" arising to the terrorist leader at any land-based burial site that could serve as a rallying point to foment further terrorist acts or martyrdom propaganda and "protests" from supporters of the 9/11 mastermind, (if there could be any?!)   In a Monday afternoon press conference split between White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and White House National security personnel, Obama Administration National Security adviser John Brennan refused to elaborate on what specific Muslim authorities were consulted on what constituted "proper" burial Muslim burial practices, but indicated that there was a Muslim "imam" present in response to a direct question on that point by Mara Liason of NPR and Fox News.

  Speculation leading up to the news conference was rampant before leaks of the substance of the impending news conference came out about half an hour before President Obama's speech, (somewhat surprising in light of the stellar success of the Administration keeping news of the highly sensitive operation under wraps).  News in the U.S. appears to have first been leaked by persons using the 'twitter' service, in "tweets" from Keith Urbhan, a former Chief of staff for Donald Rumsfeld at around 9:45pm May 1 and a Pakistani neighbor of Osama Bin Laden's who tweeted about the unusual affair of helicopters overhead in Abbottabad and "window shaking" bangs beginning at 1am local time (he subsequently connected the dots upon announcement of the U.S. President's news conference).

  Finally a note on our coverage of this issue overall.  While we here at the ACLP have often been critical of the Adminstration's policies, (especially pertaining to its views of constitutional authority, abuse of power and disregard for the rule of law), we are also duty-bound to give credit to the Administration where it is due, (even as we ask, if we can do this in Pakistan, why not in Libya and other places around the world when necessary?  Sure is cheaper in blood and treasure than full scale wars!)

  Even if Obama didn't give fill credit to an ever-gracious George W. Bush and his Administration's policies that produced the intelligence enabling the success of this operation, (see below and subsequent post), we still are grateful for Obama's decision, however belated, to go after Bin Laden.  (He could, after all, just have chosen to ignore the intelligence and let this killer continue to go free).  Of course, to what extent the President's doing so was motivated by the unpalatable thought of the political backlash in light of the rapidly approaching 2012 elections if potential inaction on his part was subsequently revealed, in much the same way as Clinton's failure to seize Bin Laden in 1996 was, we shall never know.  Even still, we are grateful for the capture of this terror mastermind regardless.  (NOTE: For whatever can be said of the downfalls of the American party system, it's moderating influence on partisan politicians is legendary and undoubtable in its desirable effects!)

    The ACLP rejoices with the American people over this victory in the war against terror!

  Accordingly, the ACLP welcomes the news of this blow to the Al Quaeda organization at the heart of terrorist attacks against America over the last 18 years, including the first world trade center attacks, the Yemen attacks against the U.S.S. Cole, and the bloody African embassy attacks, (now why couldn't we do this in Libya?)   However, and more ominously, the assault raises many questions for another day about the reliability of Pakistan as an ally in the war on terror, the Administration's inconsistencies and unwillingness to acknowledge the critical contribution of Bush-era policies and intelligence to the mission's success, and the obvious and frankly offensive political correctness of the President's actions regarding the religious 'niceties' provided Osama Bin Laden inherent in his U.S. taxpaid and Islam-approved 'sea burial,' (niceties which weren't offered to the American victims of the world trade center bombings on 9/11).

  For today however-- and mindful that the war on terror is bigger than any one Administration-- it is enough to rejoice with the American people at this wonderful victory of American against the forces of evil that would destroy our civilization.  Indeed, we think a quote from former Vice-President in reaction to these events is apt.
The death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of American forces is a victory for the United States and a tremendous achievement for the military and intelligence professionals who carried out this important mission.   Their tireless work since 9/11 has made this achievement possible, and enabled us to capture or kill thousands of al Qaeda terrorists and many of their leaders.  I also want to congratulate President Obama and the members of his national security team.  At this moment when bin Laden has been brought to justice, we especially remember the sacrifice of the young Americans who've paid the ultimate price in defense of the nation, as well as the nearly 3000 Americans who lost their lives on 9/11.  Al Qaeda remains a dangerous enemy.  Though bin Laden is dead, the war goes on.  We must remain vigilant, especially now, and we must continue to support our men and women in uniform who are fighting on the front lines of this war every day.  Today, the message our forces have sent is clear -- if you attack the United States, we will find you and bring you to justice.

Statement of former Vice-President Dick Cheney on the killing of Osama Bin Laden by U.S. forces in Pakistan.

  The President's news conference: An exercise in self-gratification and denial of credit where credit is due; Bush's policies and the amazing work of the U.S. intelligence community juxtaposed against the gracious reactions of Cheney and Bush.

  The President's Sunday news conference, originally scheduled for 10:30pm Eastern Time, was repeatedly delayed, reportedly as the President called U.S. political leaders to tell them the news and put American security forces and leaders around the world on high alert for any retaliatory attacks from Al Qaeda, (which in spite of the death of its well-known leader, still continues to pose a threat to U.S. national interests).

 The death of Bin Laden was a reminder to those who would harm our nation that although American justice may be slow, it is ultimately sure, and can only be a boon for the morale of a nation still reeling from economic recession and a divided body politic.

  Politically-- even though the action was taken in large part in response to a many-years-old directive of former President Bush that Bin Laden should be taken "dead or alive," a designation making legal all government agencies and armed forces to assassinate Bin Laden-- the death of Bin Laden follows reaffirmation by the Obama Administration of this national directive and is as likely to re-invigorate the political debate over the value of so called "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding, much criticized by the political left and banned by President Obama in 2009, as it is to provide a boost for the re-election prospects of Barack Obama, (especially in light of the fact the intelligence gathered which led to Bin Laden's courier was a direct result of the very Bush policies that Obama has eschewed!)   No civilians or U.S. forces were injured in the operation, (although one of the helicopters assigned to the mission experienced an unplanned "hard landing" or was shot down by Bin Laden security forces, depending on which account you believe).

  Jubilant and triumphant celebrations broke out among crowds who spontaneously gathered at Times Square and in Washington D.C. outside the White House singing patriotic songs and celebrating the news, singing such patriotic favorites as "the Star Spangled Banner" and the patriotic anthem "God Bless America."

  The location of the custom-built walled compound where Bin Laden was killed-- in a large city in which the Pakistani military retain a military base rather than in the mountainous border region with Afghanistan which had been popularly reported to be the locale where Bin Laden had been hiding in recent years-- also raises questions as to whether and how long the Pakistani government knew of Bin Laden's presence and Pakistani support of American aims in the region generally during a time of rising tensions between America and Pakistan over the war on terror.  Nevertheless, President Obama credited the support of the Pakistani government in the human intelligence pinpointing Bin Laden's location.

  The initial intel leading to the successful assault was allegedly received last August and came from CIA led interrogations of Gitmo detainees in Cuba, a factor sure to moot any continuing insistence from the political left that the military camp at Guantanamo Bay housing "enemy combatants" be closed, (long a campaign promise of President Obama opposed by many in both parties).  While the four military equipped Blackhawk Chinook helicopters involved in the assault on the Osama compound took off from American military bases in Afghanistan, the U.S. government did not give details of the planning or mission itself to Pakistan government or military forces prior to its execution, sure to cause some controversy among elements of the Pakistan populace and political parties there.

  Calling it a "testament to the greatness of the America" and even quoting the Pledge of Allegiance in his announcement to the nation, the President stated the successful mission was a testament to the fact that America "can achieve whatever we put our minds to" and the importance of "standing up for our values abroad."  The President also emphasized that America, while dedicated to protecting the interests of the free world, is not at war with the religion of Islam generally, (but only against those who choose terror against America and her citizens).  Politically correct assurances aside, this was undoubtedly a great victory for America and her allies in the global war against terrorism.

 President Bush, reached by President Obama by telephone with the news prior to his nationally-televised speech, expressed gratitude for our armed forces and condolences to the victims of 9/11, stating,

"This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done."

    The announcement of the Obama Administration must surely have been a bittersweet moment for the former President, as the failure to capture Bin Laden during George W. Bush's tenure as leader of the free world was seen by many as one of the most singularly embarrassing lapses of the Bush Administration, (which had made capture of Bin Laden and security of the nation an ongoing priority during the two terms of his Presidency).  The former President, ever gracious, also personally congratulated President Obama on the news.   Former President Clinton, criticized for allowing Osama Bin Laden to slip through his hands in Africa in 1996 due to distractions with his affair with Monica Lewinski, see here, was also personally notified by Obama.

Our hats are off to our intelligence community and the brave service men and woman involved in the planning and execution of this daring intra-Pakistan raid which resulted in achievement of one of the nation's number one security objectives!   jp

Updated May 2, 2011, 4:13pm
Updated May 3, 2011, 2:00pm, NOTE: Strikethroughs are matters of which the factual veracity, due to subsequent public statements of National Security Adviser John Brennan and other Obama Administration officials, are no longer trusted to be accurate.  SEE NEXT POST

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