Monday, May 2, 2011

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

As sheerah noted, the Diabolical Mastermind of 9/11 sleeps with the fishes.I've been turning this over in my mind, and just wanted to jot down my thoughts in no particular order.

1. The eternal 14-year-old who lives in the top bunk inside my head is doing a manic little happy dance shouting "Ha! Last taps! Gotcha last, motherfucker! (I was a rude boy even at fourteen) How do you like that, bitch! Who's your daddy now, asshole?"

2. The Army sergeant down the hall hears the commotion but just shrugs, albeit with a certain grim satisfaction. While it's satisfying that the author of the current troubles bides safe in a ditch, after ten years and a mountain of corpses he seems...well, kind of an asterisk. Just another fucking body. Another day at the office. Oh, well.

3. The guy who thinks about geopolitics and strategy (a pipe-smokingish sort of pseudo-intellectual who occupies the flat below the other two and bangs irritably on the ceiling when they get loud up there) enjoys a certain moment of pleasure in the pure professionalism of the USN takedown team. In a decade of highly publicized gaffes and blunders this op went off like water off a cat's ass. Nice work, SEALS.

And he feels like wagging his professorial finger in the face of the neo-cons and the liberal interventionsts; THIS is how you do it, dumbfucks. John Paul Vann told you decades ago but you didn't want to listen. No drone strikes, no invasions, no smart bombs. A double-tap to the skull.

But then he thinks (because he's just that sort of a dick) that in a REALLY slick op ol' Osama would have been lured into the bed of a Karachi he-whore and found, shall we say, not leaving his boy's behind? The only long-term way to discredit a guru's teachings is to discredit the Guru. The Baghwan Rajneesh looks like an idiot today because he lived long enough to outlive his legend. J. Edgar Hoover isn't a laughingstock because he broke all kinds of domestic laws but because he's got a rep for prancing around in a dress.

This way the mook has what he wanted; martyrdom, with the entry wounds in the front, dying in the midst of the chaos he wanted to foment by a U.S. bullet. Seventy-virgins, here I come, baby!Instead of in bed shouting "drill, baby, drill!" with just one Pakistani man-whore.

And the other thought that occurs to him is that the location of the final day of OBL's life says something, and not anything particularly positive, about the so-called "Global War on Terror". Abbotabad is a Pakistani army cantonment, very close to the capital. It is impossible to believe that either the Army, or ISI, or both (and by inference the military players in Pakistani politics) didn't know the SOB was there. This kind of reinforces the theme that there really isn't much of a "global" war here, especially in the hunting grounds of SW Asia, but rather a JUSWOSKT: a "just-U.S.-war-on-some-kinds-of-terrorism".

And his other-other thought is; what does it say about our national mindset that we're all "USA! USA!" about this...that nobody (yet, at least) has publicly regretted that the fucker wasn't snatched to stand up in front of the ICC or a U.S. court with the rest of the dog-rapers? That by giving him a fully metal-jacketed 5.56 all-area pass to Hell means that the radio is playing his song, not ours; that this is a "war", that he was a "soldier" instead of a skeevy little bitch who struck from behind and never faced a U.S. troop in anger. Well, now he has and, yeah, this ain't the Special Olympics and there's no second prize. But, still...

4. The wanna-be comedian living in the cardboard box in the alley out back (hey, comedy doesn't pay all that well for most of its practitioners...) wishes he'd thought of jim's "long-form-death-certificate" joke; it definitely wins the prize for best comment. Because you KNOW that this will show up on FOX as "Bush's long-time goal finally attained!". Because among the Limbaugh/Beck Right the Kenyan Usurper will never get credit for his Great Commander-in-Chiefyness. Because...well, he's just a foreign Negro.So adios, Osama. I wish I thought your death would be the game-changer we thought it'd be when we were trying to slot you ten years ago. But right now, you just seem like one more dead guy reaped from a place which grows dead guys like a cash crop.

Update 5/2 p.m.: This article in the New Yorker makes a good point:
"The initial circumstantial evidence suggests 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. Outside the Justice Department, other sections of the United States government will probably underplay any evidence of culpability by the Pakistani state or sections of the state, such as its intelligence service, I.S.I., in sheltering bin Laden. As ever, there are many other fish to fry in Islamabad and at the Army headquarters, in nearby Rawalpindi: an exit strategy from Afghanistan, which requires the greatest possible degree of coöperation from Pakistan that can be attained at a reasonable price; nuclear stability; and so on."
Which sums up pretty concisely why U.S. policy in the Middle East is so tortuous. The friends of our enemies are our "friends"...or, at least, people and places we need for other, often more compelling reasons.

The Middle East has been a cockpit - and a snakepit - since the days when Ramses marched up out of the Nile Valley to Kadesh. The inhabitants cannot change their skies, but for outsiders like the U.S., it would seem that the way to win the Game of Thrones in this place is not to play.


  1. We may have killed him, but the injury to the US that he led us to self inflict has been and will continue to be profound:


  2. Yeah, Al; to me this seems like the Yamamoto shoot-down - pure vindictiveness - or sending a team to assassinate Stalin in 1952 to head off the Cold War. It gives me the same overall sense I had when the Mahdists turned off Saddam; enh. Same shit, different day.

    If we'd managed this in 2002, different story; it would have seemed more intimidating. Fuck with the tiger and get bit on the ass. Now? Not so much.

  3. Well, paint me surprised, but I didn't know this was a national fucking holiday...who won the world series?
    I, for the life of me, just cannot fathom that people lost their shit in the streets...wth?
    This mess isn't over.
    Hell, even Obama last night in his speech said this wasn't what are we celebrating?

    One of the people here at work wanted to know how I felt about Osama getting whacked.

    "Well, it closes the door on one part of our stupdity, but doesn't really address our real problem."

    She looked at me confused and asked for a better explanation.

    "Alright, you familiar with mustard gas?"

    She said yes.

    "Okay, it's like this...Osama was the artillery shell with the mustard gas in it...booyah, we found the spent shell in our trenches and disposed of it...nice...but we still have the cloud of mustard gas to contend with. there is not victory here...just more of the same."

    No, this isn't the end my no stretch of the imagination, Obama said as much last night.
    Fuck me, but a small part of my mind said, "Done, finished, pack this shit, and lets go home."
    I guess that is what we call wishful thinking.

  4. Well, I pretty much agree. I can still hope, however, that killing UBL will be a catalyst for changing our GWOT policies to something rational.

  5. Greenwald sums the likely "big picture" outcome rather well, I think:

    "But beyond the emotional fulfillment that comes from vengeance and retributive justice, there are two points worth considering. The first is the question of what, if anything, is going to change as a result of the two bullets in Osama bin Laden's head? Are we going to fight fewer wars or end the ones we've started? Are we going to see a restoration of some of the civil liberties which have been eroded at the alter of this scary Villain Mastermind? Is the War on Terror over? Are we Safer now?

    Those are rhetorical questions. None of those things will happen. If anything, I can much more easily envision the reverse. Whenever America uses violence in a way that makes its citizens cheer, beam with nationalistic pride, and rally around their leader, more violence is typically guaranteed. Futile decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may temporarily dampen the nationalistic enthusiasm for war, but two shots to the head of Osama bin Laden -- and the We are Great and Good proclamations it engenders -- can easily rejuvenate that war love. One can already detect the stench of that in how Pakistan is being talked about: did they harbor bin Laden as it seems and, if so, what price should they pay? We're feeling good and strong about ourselves again -- and righteous -- and that's often the fertile ground for more, not less, aggression."

    I think this becomes a Problem if we see it as the Happy Ending of the Mess-o-potamia. We lost a lot of good men in Korea because we read the end of WW2 as a validation of the Atomic Age, as a harbinger that old-fashioned soldiers with rifles were as obsolete as the musket, and proceeded to spend the next five years ignoring our infantry. If we end up seeing this as a validation of the way we responded to 9/11, well...then we ARE so fucked, in my opinion.

  6. This death means nothing. What is more interesting is the hysterical reaction and mindless chest thumping it has brought forth. Violence as a cure all for what ails us, but also as a distraction for unwanted questions. Anyone not cheering loud enough and waving the flag high enough will be considered suspect, an possible enemy. That's the attitude that we need to be aware of, since it will undoubtedly surface again.

    It has also been clear for some time that the Global War on Terror has been more the nature of an opportunity than a threat. That will remain the case no doubt.

    There was absolutely no thought in US government circles of taking him alive, of putting him on trail for mass murder. Instead we have a closed book and can feel all warm and fuzzy with ourselves . . . I don't recognize my own country.

  7. I have to agree Seydlitz, and Chief, this is not the way it should have been done, and I cannot help but think that the "double tap" was insurance that there was no way he couldn't have been remotely taken alive.
    For me..the travesty of loss is the fact that justice was not served by any sense of the word, but rather a convienent kill that silences the bothersome bot fly who has already laid her egg on our skin.

    I wish he had been taken alive...put on trial, even a show trial would have sufficed, but a trial nonetheless, and Americans, and non Americans allowed to confront the killer of their loved ones...but I have this nagging suspicion that our government wanted to avoid such a scene as it would force us to review our own actions post 9/11.
    Confront our own behaviour, our own murderous mentality that was birthed out of our victimhood.
    I still cannot fucking believe people chanting "USA, USA, USA!"
    We didn't win this...fuck me, we're barely surviving it as a nation.
    His death isn't going to be the precursor to us unassing Afghanistan, or, it's just closure on one aspect of a very long nightmare.

  8. To think that we decided to assassinate the man is pure hokum. The course of action approved was to capture him or kill him. Those Navy SEALs were under fire. Why should they risk their own life or limb in order to take the man alive? Did you want them to send an FBI negotiator over there to talk the guy out peacefully? Or maybe use tear gas to see if he would surrender? Perhaps you think we should have used one of the new supposedly non-lethal weapons - heat guns - high decibel sound waves - sticky glue balls that you see in Popular Science mags?? Or maybe take him in a net like an Albacore?

    I for one am glad that he is dead, as he will no longer kill innocent civilians, including women. He will no longer send child suicide bombers to their death. And he will no longer spew his ideology of hate and murder.

    I am glad that Obama-ji gave the order for his kill or capture. We all know that it would have never happened under the reign of the wanna-bee decider, Bush, who let him roam free and fucked over us all by going off on wild ass tangents that increased terrorism. Bush would have let the man slide or escape even if he had the same info that Obama had. I am glad that the fact of bin Laden's killing by this administration will improve our hopes of taking back the House in 2012. I am glad that bin Laden's killing may even ensure Obama's re-election and therefore get a better balance on the Supreme Court possibly.

    On the other hand, I too would have preferred that he be alive in US Custody, so that we could watch the worm squirm during a public execution.

    As for the people dancing in the streets, well the Munchkins did it when the witch was killed. It is human nature. Good on em I say.

  9. There is some puke of a Bush apologist congress-critter on CSPAN as I speak who is trying to claim that this process started four years ago under Bush's watch.

  10. Couple of thoughts:

    1. The death of the man is, as you point out, seydlitz, not such of a muchness. Whilst it might help cut some of his Saudi money connections, I think the props he will get from his peeps for going out with his boots on will offset that.

    OTOH, I think we missed a trick - not that I can figure out how we could have done it - by not discrediting the man in the "caught with a rent-boy in a flowery sundress" kind of way. The death of his that IS important. One of the big reasons the Enlightenment happens is because the religious leaders of all stripes make themselves intolerable to most Westerners by their rigidity and their eternal feuding. Osama made his bones by "fighting" the "godless, depraved" West. If he is in turn revealed as a grotesque he loses the respect of his peeps. I know, it's a long shot. But IMO it'd have been worth a try.

    2. I'm betting that there was at least an attempt to snatch him alive. We'd have been fools not to at least try (although we HAVE been fools about a lot of this PWOT) but in all honesty I think catching him asleep would have been even less likely than my put-him-in-a-leather-bustier-and-CFM-pumps plan. If nothing else, I'll bet he would have suicided. So I suspect that this went down as it has been described; the SEAL team took down his safehouse, he and his bodyguards resisted, and like any cop trying to make an arrest, when the perps start shooting about the only thing you can do is shoot back.

    3. That said, mike, I do tend to agree that the whole "USA! USA!" stuff makes us as a nation and Americans as sensible people look shallow and stupid. We didn't turn out in the streets to celebrate when we shot down Yamamoto's Betty or when Stonewall Jackson's death made the papers; it would have been silly and premature, among other things.

    I think it really points up the extent to which this entire "conflict" doesn't really touch the U.S. public except as a sort of bizarre third-person shooter game or the highlights on the Military Channel's "Game of the Week".

    4. As far as the politics, I think Bush just had other fish to fry. He wanted to use 9/11 as an excuse to implement his PNAC buddies' plans. I'm sure he wanted Osama's hide; he just was more busy with other schemes and needed the Pakis to play along more than he needed OBL dead.

    And I think that this will have ZERO impact on the 2012 election. Remember how we caught Saddam? Remember how that was supposed to seal the "Mission Accomplished" deal? No? Me neither. Waaaaayyyy too much time between now and then. At best, this might give Obama the political cover to wind down the Middle Eastern Adventure Games...except I don't think he really wants that all that much. I think he has been talking into the "leaving = losing" mindset that characterized the Bushies.

    So, like I said; I'm feeling a 1) sort of grim satisfaction that the fucker met a premature end, tempered by the realization that 2) he was a spent round AND 2) went out the way he would have wanted. And kind of disappointed because of the apparent widespread lack of understanding among the "serious" pundits of the potential downsides of numbers 2 and 3...

  11. mike-

    These are the words of the US Attorney General before Congress a year ago . . .

    "In testy exchanges with House Republicans, the attorney general compared bin Laden to mass murderer Charles Manson and predicted that events would ensure "we will be reading Miranda rights to the corpse of Osama bin Laden" not to the al-Qaida leader as a captive.

    Holder sternly rejected criticism from GOP members of a House Appropriations subcommittee, who contend it is too dangerous to put terror suspects on trial in federal civilian courts as Holder has proposed.

    The attorney general said it infuriates him to hear conservative critics complain that terrorists would get too many rights in the court system."

    You really think we couldn't have taken OBL alive? With this set up? Where was he going to run? And he obviously didn't wish to die. It would have given us the chance to see the real OBL . . . it wouldn't have been just another opporunity to re-enforce their myth . . . which is what it has become.

    Why exactly should I trust what I hear?

  12. @FDchief: "As far as the politics, I think Bush just had other fish to fry. He wanted to use 9/11 as an excuse to implement his PNAC buddies' plans. I'm sure he wanted Osama's hide; he just was more busy with other schemes and needed the Pakis to play along more than he needed OBL dead."

    You are correct. The CIA and military at the time could have done it at the time. But Bush and his team were too stupid and for some reason were convinced that Osama was just a figment of Billy Clinton's imagination.

    BTW; see the pic below. Who is the AF guy running the show and who is that standing in blue shirtsleeves between Admiral Mullin and Daley(?)?

  13. seydlitz: I wouldn't be so sure that Osama would have ever "given up". I think the only way to truly grab him alive would have been to catch his entire entourage sleeping, and I doubt if, even ten years on, they would ever do that.

    But, that said, there's certainly enough of a paper trail for a reasonable person to suspect, as you do, that this was designed from the jump as a hit pure and simple. I'd like to think not but there's the quote in plain English...

    mike: Dunno. I'm guessing that the AF guy is from the USAF SOCOM unit tasked with getting the strike team in and out. But other than the clearly recognizable faces like HRC I'm unsure of the rest...

  14. sheerahkahn:

    For me..the travesty of loss is the fact that justice was not served by any sense of the word

    I'm sure the inmates at Gitmo and the one at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, ( Bradley Manning ) are applauding this very minute.


  15. mike-

    Nice pix. No idea who those guys are.

  16. Justice? Justice?

    Hey, I got yer Justice right here!

    Apr 22, 3:25 PM EDT

    ElBaradei suggests war crimes probe of Bush team

    AP Special Correspondent

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Former chief U.N. nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei suggests in a new memoir that Bush administration officials should face international criminal investigation for the "shame of a needless war" in Iraq.

    Freer to speak now than he was as an international civil servant, the Nobel-winning Egyptian accuses U.S. leaders of "grotesque distortion" in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, when then-President George W. Bush and his lieutenants claimed Iraq possessed doomsday weapons despite contrary evidence collected by ElBaradei's and other arms inspectors inside the country.

    The Iraq war taught him that "deliberate deception was not limited to small countries ruled by ruthless dictators," ElBaradei writes in "The Age of Deception," being published Tuesday by Henry Holt and Company.

    Even worse than our economic woes, I think the biggest loss to America is the horrendous insult to American Justice dealt by her very own citizenry.


  17. Sheerah: rough justice, at best. But, again, I can't help but see this as Osama's "second-best" course of action. Obviously for him to stay alive making trouble would have been ideal (tho the description of his compound in Pakistan makes me think he wasn't very active in his own organization; no phones, no internet..?) but right after that would have been to have died fighting American troopers. And when the best you can do is help your enemy accomplish his "second-best" COA, well...

    GD: Some problem with your link; can you resend?

    basil: The fact that GWB & Co were reckless crooks doesn't make OBL any sweeter. Frankly, it would serve cosmic justice if Osama and Dick Cheney had to be cellmates at Joliet.

    And any polity is as or more likely to succumb to an excess of internal silver as the effects of external lead.

  18. "The first idea was to bomb the house using B2 stealth bombers dropping 2,000-pound JDAMs (joint direct attack munitions), according to ABC News. But Barack Obama rejected it, saying he wanted definitive proof that the Saudi was inside. "The helicopter raid was riskier," said one US official. "[But] he didn't just want to leave a pile of rubble."

    An air assault plan was formulated. The Seal Team Six, officially known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group and based in Virginia, held rehearsals on a specially constructed compound in early April."

    Smart, very Vann. Someone was thinking.

    Oh, and the same article says (based only on the SEAL team's AAR) that OBL chose to die fighting. So is appears that he DID "wish to die" rather than come out with his hands up.

    Mind you, we'll probably never know.

  19. Well, I for one am going to really miss my old friend UBL. Right. Yeah, I understand some folks' process objections, but you know what? The world won't miss this jamoke. Fuck him is what I say.

    I think it was likely a righteous shooting in the sense that they would have captured him if he hadn't resisted. Why do I think that? Too many witnesses.

    Will this change much? Actually, I think there is the potential for change, especially if our unfocused and naive president actually starts wondering just what COIN in Afghanistan is all about. I think Obama will break the COIN spear off in the generals' asses and, given the boost he'll get here, ain't too many of the usual cowards who'll challenge him. Petraeus will be a good boy and go to CIA; Panetta, who might be the best of the Obama squad, will have even more credibility to bust it off even further in the generals and admirals.

    Everybody does realize that it's been the generals and admirals who've kept pushing this hearts and minds horseshit, right? IMO, that particular Mafia lost some serious chops today. And speaking of Mafias, how about Sarah, Michelle, Eric and all of the rest of the insanes? Shit, even Rush said good things about his new BFF Barack.

    Don't be so cynical, folks. Played right, this could end up in seeing Obama reelected. Now, I'm no fan of Mr. Obama, but I do think he's sane. Can't say the same about the leaders of the other team. Yeah, the WOT will continue, and no, civil liberties ain't coming back any time soon. But I think it's absolutely essential to deny the White House to the bat shit crazy cohort in 2012. So cynical me wants Obama lookin' good.

    Sure it's all BS, but small steps, folks. As we saw by the inane street celebrations, our fellow citizens need to be handled very carefully. We also need to speak slowly and avoid the use of multi-syllabic words. America: it is what it is.

  20. Chief:

    Frankly, it would serve cosmic justice if Osama and Dick Cheney had to be cellmates at Joliet.

    "I saw two shades frozen in a single hole
    packed so close, one head hooded the other one;
    the way the starving devour their bread, the soul above had clenched the other with his teeth
    where the brain meets the nape."


  21. Here's the identity of everyone in the picture Mike posted:

    BG Webb is the Assistant Commanding General for JSOC.

    More comments later, probably tomorrow.

  22. Except for this. The courier, which was the key to this operation, was given up by Kalid Sheik Mohammed. From the article (link below):

    Mohammed did not reveal the names while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He identified them many months later under standard interrogation, they said, leaving it once again up for debate as to whether the harsh technique was a valuable tool or an unnecessarily violent tactic.

  23. Publius-

    Now you sound like me in regards to the Libyan intervention . . .

    I understand that OBL's wife and son were killed as well. Have yet to read how many were actually captured. Been watching Eliot Spitzer on CNN, not very subtle.

  24. Seydlitz - That Holder testimony is pretty slim evidence. May I never be charged in a jurisdiction where you are on the jury.

    Publius has it right, I think. I myself am cracking open a mason jar of home made cherry brandy to toast Obama-ji's national security team. And another toast to the demise of an certain former Saudi national who is now known as whale-scheisse. I will save the rest of that mason jar for the future to toast the deaths of Cheney and Junior. It really pi$$es me off that the media is falling all over themselves to spread some of the credit to Bush when he was the guy that as soon as he got in office called off the hunt for UBL started by Bill Clinton's security team. I hold Bush just as responsible for nine-eleven as UBL.

    I answered my own question BTW, the guy on Admiral Mullin's left is Tom Donilon, the current National Security Advisor. The photo does not show Panetta, but I am sure he was the busiest of that entire team. Quite a guy for a son of immigrants.

  25. oops - someone beat me to the pic IDs, thanks Andy.

  26. "I think Obama will break the COIN spear off in the generals' asses and, given the boost he'll get here, ain't too many of the usual cowards who'll challenge him."

    Normally I'd disagree with you, Publius. But the one thing about this story that caught my eye makes me wonder - the item specifying that Obama nixed the JDAM strike and insisted on an AASLT.

    IMO the thing that characterized the Bushies was their extreme terror of casualties forcing their hand. They took the damage that Desert One did to Carter and Mogadishu did to Clinton to heart and tried to automate our military operations to the highest level they could. Hence the drone strikes and the high number of foreign civilian casualties. I'll bet that aerial ordnance was the immediate and automatic recommendation of the Joint Staff. Don't send a man where you can send a know the drill.

    It took some sack, IMO, for Obama to insist on sending the men. Good on him, and good on ST6 for a hell of a slick air assault raid. I have been pretty critical of SEALs in the past, largely based on my assessment of Punta Patilla and some of their operations in Afghanistan. But they executed a difficult operation with great audacity, and helped make their commander-in-chief look pretty damn good to the U.S. public.

    mike: I don't think seydlitz is being unreasonable here. We will never know. But the present administration has been as bad or worse than the previous one about holding trials for the PWOT prisoners. I don't think that it's completely unreasonable to think that this op was a "hit" pure and simple. I just think that the intel value of the guy was so high that military common sense suggests that capture would have been option 1, assassination only option 2...

  27. Chief -

    Seydlitz has never been unreasonable. I have always enjoyed his perspectives and agree with 99% of them. But in this case I have to defer. You called it right when you said there were too many witnesses. In addition to the two dozen members of the SEAL team, there were at least 14 people in the White House Situation Room watching the helmet-cams. If the man was assassinated the word will leak out eventually. You cannot keep 38 people quiet for long. But not that I would mind.

    I do agree with you though that it would have been nice to do it with more finesse.

    But what was your beef on Punta Patilla, didn't the SEAL team there get their targets? How did they do during Grenada?

  28. mike: I think seydlitz's point is, rather, that this could have been as simple as briefing the point element "When you guys find OBL...make sure he goes for his weapon. And make sure he never gets a shot off. Hooah?" No "coverup" or conspiracy, a perfectly good shoot...but it's just not part of a capture-first plan.

    But I just think the intel value of a talkative bin Laden is just too huge. Not to mention the spectacle of the sorry bastard standing in front of a judge all hung-down and dogfaced. No, I think it happened just like it's being told; the guys were clearing the house, by the time they got to OBL he was forted up with his PKM at the ready. I mean, you COULD try a concussion grenade or something...but why? You've got 30-40 minutes before the Pakis arrive with the tails up. The man has to go out quick, feet first or otherwise. I think they made the right call. But I can understand why seydlitz is skeptical that the original plan was for a legal capture rather than straight-out execution.

    Re: Punta Patilla; they got ambushed in the open runway with a loss of four KIA and 13 WIA, and tho they managed to hit Pineapple Face's Lear with an AT-4 it was a ridiculously costly operation that could have been done better either by one of the APCs down the road or a quick pass by one of the AC130s. The story I've read most often is that the guys from ST4 were hinky about the mission from the get-go but were told to shut up and soldier because the SEAL brass wanted a piece of the action.

    Grenada was worse. Here's the Wiki entry; "The SEALs two primary missions were the extraction of Grenada's Governor-General and the capture of Grenada's only radio tower. Neither mission was well briefed or sufficiently supported with timely intelligence and the SEALs ran into trouble from the very beginning. One of their two transport planes missed its drop zone, and four SEALs drowned in a rain squall while making an airborne insertion with their boats off the island's coast. Their bodies were never recovered.

    After regrouping from their initial insertion the SEALs split into two teams and proceeded to their objectives. After digging in at the Governor's mansion, the SEALs realized they had forgotten their SATCOM gear on the helicopter. As Grenadian and Cuban troops surrounded the team, the SEALs' only radio ran out of battery power, and they used the mansion's land line telephone to call in AC-130 fire support. The SEALs were pinned in the mansion overnight and were relieved and extracted by a group of Force Recon Marines the following morning.

    The team sent to the radio station also ran into communication problems. As soon as the SEALs reached the radio facility they found themselves unable to raise their command post. After beating back several waves of Grenadian and Cuban troops supported by BTR-60s, the SEALs decided that their position at the radio tower was untenable. They destroyed the station and fought their way to the water where they hid from patrolling enemy forces. After the enemy had given up their search the SEALs, some wounded, swam into the open sea where they were extracted several hours later after being spotted by a reconnaissance plane."

    I've been critical in the past because I have felt that the USN and SEAL higher tends to put their guys into situations with poor intel and bad tactical positions because they worry more about the Army SF getting the "glory". I think that they're often reckless and careless of their operator's lives.

    But this operation was extremely well conducted, and I have to tip my kevlar hat to them. Well done, SEALs.

  29. Hey, I think a capture would have been the best outcome in terms of US interests for all the reasons Chief states. Holder's comments are simply background, there have been more direct statements from US officials:

    The military/intelligence services did their job on this one without a doubt, I question rather the political decisions made at the top in regards to the "kill mission".

    I also doubt if anyone "read on" to the operation had much of a problem with that. We've been engaged in the GWOT for almost 10 years now and it has left a mark on us and how we do/approach things . . .

  30. The celebrations seem to be dying very quickly, the stock market couldn't even stay positive for the entire day.

    I'm sure the Republican will be back to sniping mode by the end of today and everybody will have forgotten this by the end of the week.

    Sure hope Obama wasn't planning on using this for his re-election...

    FM has an interesting article on Obama's speech announcing OBL's death.

  31. mike,

    That GoP Congressman, like it or not, is basically correct. The courier that eventually unraveled UBL's location was first identified about 4 years ago, then last year the we got a lucky break when he used a phone at the wrong time and we were able to trace him to this compound in Abbottabad Pakistan.

    Secondly, despite what you may have read, Bush never abandoned the hunt for UBL. Much was made at the time of the CIA decision to roll the special CIA UBL unit into the CIA's new CT center after the 2004 intel reforms and that seems to be the basis of the accusations that Bush "abandoned" the hunt for him. That was simply a reorg however. The CIA and several other agencies continued to try to find UBL all through the Bush years. The problem was never a lack of resources or analysts, but lack of information owing to UBL's effective security efforts. The trail was cold until this courier popped up on the radar after KSM was interrogated. There was reportedly a similar JSOC raid into Pakistan in 2006 that obviously didn't get UBL. That's all been reported in the press and I can't vouch for it's accuracy, but I do know UBL remained at the top of the list of HVT's all during Bush's watch.

    From press reports that came out today, analysts pursued this courier lead for years trying to find out who he really was because KSM gave up his cover name. It wasn't the President or Leon Panetta or any of the political appointees that solved this thing - it was a lucky break combined with years (decades for some) of effort and toil by anonymous dedicated public servants working in windowless buildings.

    None of that should diminish any Kudo's to the President though. I agree completely with FDChief that he chose the riskiest option and that took some balls. A B-2 JDAM strike would have been the easy and "safe" solution by far. He would have been hammered if this thing had gone south, not to mention the Pakistani reaction. I don't think most people yet realize what a huge decision that was considering the consequences if UBL wasn't there or should something go wrong (say, some SEAL's get "detained" by the Pakistanis). Huge props to the President IMHO but even bigger props to those anonymous persons who solved this puzzle and put their lives on the line to carry out this mission.


    I don't know if the DevGru folks were told to arrest him if possible or not. I suspect we'll have to wait 25 years until the relevant documents are declassified. As for me, I'm not going stay up at night worrying about it. Frankly, over our history the US of A has done some pretty shitty and atrocious acts and if this potentially counts as one of those atrocities, then it is at or near the bottom of the list. We almost wiped out a continent of it's native peoples, we enslaved an entire race, we firebombed "kraut" and "jap" civilians and we even tried to kill UBL before in 1998 (which I remember distinctly because I was on the theater watch at the time). That doesn't excuse anything but the ideal solution to a problem is not always practicable or worth the risk.

  32. Andy: The funny thing is that I almost have to give Obama the bigger props because we've come to expect nerve and competence from our technical and tactical people. Since the tragicomic blunders of the Seventies we've managed to become the Germans of the 21st Century; incredibly adept at tactics, almost moron-grade incompetent at geopolitics and strategy.

    This is to take nothing away from the intel guys who put the pieces together and the combination of MI, aviation, and special operators who did the actual mission.

    But genuine political cojones - the willingness to accept that who dares often wins into the slippery, self-justifying arena of politics - often seems as rare as genuine humility and honesty within the Beltway.

  33. So here's what is, I guess, my final take on all of this.

    So much for Osama.

    Ironically, the way this all unfolded guarantees that a Perkin bin-Warbeck will pop up every couple of years or so. He will remain an icon to his little band of followers; we can't change that.

    The question is - what CAN we change? How can we make this all matter more than some fish food?

    If Publius is right, we could see in the coming months and years the gradual return of some sort of peacetime sanity and normal geopolitics to the United States.

    I mean, think about it; when in our nation's history have we EVER been this secure, this safe from geopolitical harm?

    Our closest peer foes are internal disasters and external weaklings, barely able to project power a hundred miles beyond their own borders. Our navies and domestic armies protect us from invasion to a degree we haven't seen since...well, never.

    Our worst "enemies" are a bunch of raggedy-ass fanatics whose spiritual leader we just snatched up like a dirty rag and wiped on our national ass.

    When you think about it. we should be enjoying the plummiest of global peaces; lazing about in a surplus of wealth and security, safe in all those Four Freedoms.

    So...will we?

    Will we slowly begin dismantling the fearful national security state we erected after Osama feared us up? Will we finally tear out the Cold War relics like the bases in Germany and the Far East and return our forces to the CONUS posts? Will we turn our energies to strengthening our domestic infrastructure and repairing our political house so badly damaged by our own internal divisions? Will we begin to regain some vision of the world that isn't seen through our Scary Terrorist Beer Goggles?

    We will see.

    If we do not, then I can't help but feel that Osama, and by inference all of our men and women who have died and will die, and those of theirs we have killed and will kill, in the wars his dark genius set into motion will have gone for absolutely nothing.

  34. Andy -

    I was speaking of 2001 when Junior Bush first took office. At that time he pooh-poohed the threat from al Qaeda and dismantled the search that Clinton had set up for UBL. That is not something that I read or heard on some liberal talk show. I was paying attention at the time.

    As for the alleged KSM data, maybe or maybe not, I have heard two differing stories on that. But even if there is a grain of truth in that, then why was nothing done with it for the remaining two years that Bush was in office. Hayden as DCI and McConnell as DNI never pushed it because Bush never gave any priority to finding UBL and was too wrapped up in using our national intel assets to try to justify his previous poor decisions.

  35. Mike: too wrapped up in using our national intel assets to try to justify his previous poor decisions.

    I think you hit the finger right on the nail. Once the "Big Lie" had been propagated and the desired events set in motion, massive energy was expended trying to prop it up. There in no doubt in my mind that focus was lost.

  36. Mike,

    At that time he pooh-poohed the threat from al Qaeda and dismantled the search that Clinton had set up for UBL. That is not something that I read or heard on some liberal talk show. I was paying attention at the time.

    Ok, then it should be easy to provide some evidence to back up that kind of claim.

    You can also consider what Richard Clarke, the CT Czar for Clinton and Bush, had to say on the topic:

    And the third point is the Bush administration decided then, you know, in late January [2001], to do two things. One, vigorously pursue the existing policy, including all of the lethal covert action findings, which we've now made public to some extent.

    And the point is, while this big review was going on, there were still in effect, the lethal findings were still in effect. The second thing the administration decided to do is to initiate a process to look at those issues which had been on the table for a couple of years and get them decided.

    So, point five, that process which was initiated in the first week in February, uh, decided in principle, uh in the spring to add to the existing Clinton strategy and to increase CIA resources, for example, for covert action, five-fold, to go after Al Qaeda.

    Read the whole thing. Secondly:

    As for the alleged KSM data, maybe or maybe not, I have heard two differing stories on that. But even if there is a grain of truth in that, then why was nothing done with it for the remaining two years that Bush was in office.

    The source is a senior administration official speaking on background a couple of days ago:

    Detainees also identified this man as one of the few al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin Laden. They indicated he might be living with and protecting bin Laden. But for years, we were unable to identify his true name or his location.

    Four years ago, we uncovered his identity, and for operational reasons, I can’t go into details about his name or how we identified him, but about two years ago, after months of persistent effort, we identified areas in Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated.

    Read the whole thing for the answer to your question.


    I think you make a good point regarding competence and you're right that it's nice to seem some at the top of the food chain.

  37. Andy-

    "As for me, I'm not going stay up at night worrying about it. Frankly, over our history the US of A has done some pretty shitty and atrocious acts and if this potentially counts as one of those atrocities, then it is at or near the bottom of the list. We almost wiped out a continent of it's native peoples . . ."


    You're a smart guy, and I really enjoy your input, but you don't understand my argument at all. I'm a classical realist, I've spoken only of US interests in regards to the killing of OBL . . . where have I referred to it as an "atrocity"?

    I also think you a bit confused in your history. The Civil War, WWII, Korea and Vietnam are all of a kind. Bush's invasion of Iraq is of a quite different nature. We are still suffering the effects of that debacle of lies and corruption and perhaps we would do well to consider the wider effects of that calamity . . .

    While OBL's killing gives most Americans that warm fuzzy feeling inside, in terms of international relations and political influence it was a self-inflicted defeat. Most of the Muslim world thinks that 9/11 was an inside job or that Israel helped carry it out . . . That will be at least the internal Pakistani argument, don't you think? Given that they would wish to distract as much investigation as possible?

    Lots of Europeans and Americans doubt the official 9/11 "conspiracy theory" with reason. Bringing OBL to trial and having him take claim publicly for what happened on 11 September 2001 would have been a US international political triumph. Would that alone, not have been worth whatever risk? And as the story develops it does look more and more like a "kill mission". As it is, the argument will be that we wanted more than anything to shut him up . . .


    Robert Fisk's view for something outside the box. No comment.

  38. Andy -

    So, you consider FOX news a good source on what Richard Clarke had to say?? That was all part of Cheney's smear campaign of Clarke. Some other references which I consider a tiny bit more impartial are:

    1] Clarke's testimony in front of the 9/11 Commission in which he stated the exact opposite of what your Fox news article claimed.

    2] Bush administration efforts to cloud the issue by refusing to release Clarke's pre-9/11 memos to the 9/11 Commission.

    3] Bob Woodward's book: "Bush at War"

    4] Clarke's book: "Against All Enemies"

    5&6&7] Clarke's interviews on 'Meet the Press', 'Good Morning America' and on '60 Minutes'.

  39. Andy -

    BTW, Clarke at the time was a registered Republican. And he was first appointed to government service by the Reagan Administration. And in his book he was also critical of the Clinton Administration, not just Bush.

  40. Oooops, I meant Nixon not Reagan. But he also served under Reagan in the State Department.

  41. Seydlitz,

    Sorry, I did not mean to imply anything about you by using the word "atrocity."

    As for the opinion of the Muslim world and the rest of the international community, I've come to the realization that, once established, there is nothing we can really do to disabuse people of these conspiracy theories. Just look at the President and the Birthers - he gave them what they wanted and they still aren't satisfied, much less convinced. I don't think there's anything the US can do at this point to convince a substantial number of truthers to change their view. Besides, UBL claimed credit a few years ago yet the truthers are still around in large numbers and the Islamic world still believes what it believes. For some reason, humans seem prone to conspiracies.

    BTW, Leon Panetta seems to have answered the kill or capture question:

    BRIAN WILLIAMS: Did the President's order read capture or kill or both or just one of those?
    LEON PANETTA: The authorities we have on Bin Laden are to kill him. And that was made clear. But it was also, as part of their rules of engagement, if he suddenly put up his hands and offered to be captured, then-- they would have the opportunity, obviously, to capture him. But that opportunity never developed.

  42. Al -

    Have you been reading the discussions at Defense Tech regarding the helos used on this mission? Some said there were a couple of MH-47s involved in addition to the Blackhawks. Rather a large radar cross section for Chinooks I would think. But maybe there was no concern for Pakistani air defense networks.

    But now they are saying that maybe the primary birds were not MH-60s, but were a highly modified version or perhaps a new stealth version.

    Any comments?

  43. Andy-

    As to Panetta's quote:

    "The authorities we have on Bin Laden are to kill him. And that was made clear. But it was also, as part of their rules of engagement, if he suddenly put up his hands and offered to be captured, then-- they would have the opportunity, obviously, to capture him. But that opportunity never developed."


    Hopeless, strategic confusion. Tactics/rules of engagement grown to monstrous proportions . . . is that really our argument? "Strategic corporals" run amok?

    I hope not.

  44. Just wondering gentlemen . . . are we essentially at war with Pakistan?

  45. Mike,

    Clarke's testimony in front of the 9/11 Commission in which he stated the exact opposite of what your Fox news article claimed.

    Obviously you didn't even read the title of the "article," the first word of which was "transcript." That's a transcript of what Clarke actually said. Clarke has not claimed that the transcript is inaccurate or some kind of forgery. There were other reporters present for this background briefing - none of them dispute the authenticity of this transcript. That it resides on the internet on a Fox News server is irrelevant to its authenticity and content.

    So when you say the "article" is "the exact opposite" of Clarke's testimony, what you're really saying is that what Clarke said on one day is "the exact opposite" of what he said on another day. That just tells me you haven't actually read either since his testimony and his anonymous press background aren't that inconsistent in terms of facts.

    Clarke's major complaint before the 9/11 commission is that the administration was too slow to get a principal's meeting in order to finalize the policy that had been decided in January. His complaint was that the delay "sent a message" to the bureaucracy that AQ wasn't important. He also complained that the CIA and DoD leadership were risk averse and didn't utilize all their capabilities against AQ as he would have liked them to. Of course the leadership of both of those were Clinton administration holdovers. He was specifically asked if 9/11 would have been avoided if the Bush administration had implemented all of the policy recommendations in his January memo - his answer was "no." He basic point was that we would have been more prepared to act in Afghanistan after 9/11 had the administration begun work earlier. I think he's probably right, but that's also Monday-morning quarterbacking.

    Bush administration efforts to cloud the issue by refusing to release Clarke's pre-9/11 memos to the 9/11 Commission.

    Well, the memo eventually got released (it's on the internet if you want to read it). Is there anything earth-shattering in it? No, it simply reinforces the point Clarke made in his testimony that he thought the administration wasn't acting quickly enough. That is, in hindsight, a valid criticism. But is that anything close to what you claimed, which is: "At that time he pooh-poohed the threat from al Qaeda and dismantled the search that Clinton had set up for UBL." What, precisely, did he dismantle? On Clarke's own recommendation the Bush administration planned to request an increase to CIA's anti-AQ efforts by five-fold and agreed to begin supporting the Northern alliance, etc. Secondly, the Bush administration didn't pooh-pooh the threat - they had already decided they were going to do all the things quoted in the Clarke transcript I linked to earlier, and Clarke never claimed the administration wasn't planning on taking those actions - his complaint was that the administration didn't act fast enough. A lack of sufficient urgency could be considered "pooh-poohing," so I guess you get partial credit on one thing you've said.

    Look Mike, I did all this research long ago and I've had this same argument with many people who believe the myth that Bush dismantled Clinton's CT efforts. You are hardly the first. I've read all the available primary source material and most of the secondary material. If you're going to argue this with me, you'd better come prepared with actual evidence to back up your claims. Easily falsifiable assertions just don't cut it.

    On the question of the helo wreckage, in my judgment this is something new. There is no known helicopter in the US inventory with that tail rotor configuration. I spent some time today looking through non-US helo's but so far found nothing.

  46. Seydlitz,

    Yeah, I think there is strategic confusion. This whole thing has been a kind of Frankenstein hybrid between warfare and law enforcement.

    On Pakistan, our actions are a clear casus belli IMO. Of course, the same could be said regarding Pakistani actions over the years. Same with the 1998 missile attacks against Sudan and Afghanistan.

    I'm kind of surprised at the relatively muted reaction from Pakistani's.

  47. I, for one, found no exultation in the news of OBL's assassination.

    OBL accomplished what he said he would, namely, sending America in a downward, paranoic spiral. It was as though he'd become an old horse out to pasture, sitting in a compound near a Pakistani military school, and his death may serve to resurrect his usefulness as recruitment tool (perhaps).

    9 yrs. on I feel no "justice", as Obama called it . . . just kind of a sad wistfulness as I realize how much my country has lost, and how little gained.

    When I think of our celebrants, I think also of Pakastanis rejoicing when Israeli citizens are killed. Understanding that OBL was no innocent, but still there's little joy in killing a man (as many have already mentioned.)

    FDC suggested correctly if OBL could have been discredited it would have been a coup (Osama made his bones by "fighting" the "godless, depraved" West. If he is in turn revealed as a grotesque he loses the respect of his peeps), but what if OBL was not a "grotesque" in that sense? What if he was in fact a pious man who lived in accordance with his beliefs? This a hard thing for us to swallow.

    If his piousness is true, we indict ourselves and our dark side (ala Jung) when we impute the tag of "pure evil" to this man. Moreover, if one fights from that position of righteousness, how much more powerful will be his his efforts than those of mere mercenaries?

  48. Mike-

    I've been away from things for a while, so there might have been a "stealthy" BlackHawk developed. The photos of the alleged tail rotor area are a bit unusual, and some depth perception factors make them look a bit wonky for a BlackHawk, or even a tail rotor.

    I would be hard pressed to imagine that either the 60 or the 47 could be easily "modified" to use stealth composite materials, but perhaps some overlays or panels could be added.

    Evading Paki radar at low level would not be difficult, and these guys are terrain flight savvy.

    Will just have to see what emerges over time.

  49. Lisa: I would say that he WAS a "pious" man, by his lights, in the way that Torquemada and Arnulf-Amalric were pious men. They saw through the flesh to the soul, and felt that the torture and death of the former would purity the latter.

    Just as OBL saw the deaths of his enemies as the punishment of the enemies of God.

    I consider all the above to be dangerous lunatics, no better than a Charlie Manson. And since I consider the elimination of religion from politics a positive good, to my mind to have forged a prurient end for bin Laden would have been the Lesser Evil, if it had helped destroy his theocratic creed.

    The problem is, as you so deftly point out, that in responding to his "dark genius" we have turned to the Dark Side ourselves, and found quickly that hate does indeed lead to suffering and suffering to the Dark Side...

    I can't say I found any "joy" in OBL's fate, but I do have to admit to a certain grim satisfaction, like watching a man who has boasted of shaving with a broadsword cut his own head off. Told ya that was a bad idea.

  50. Andy:

    Cassus Belli, sheesh, I didn't know you took Latin in high school. Fat chance on that occuring, the NCA has to keep DoS playing let's pretend to be allies, since we do not have possesion of all of the packages of the Nukular Weapons.

    As far as "Assasination" is concerned, that word is bad JuJu according to one EO one two triple three. All Y'all huminters remember your homework on that one, right? You can use other words, of course.....self defense, Wogslaughter, Hell, I was jus' funnin,' Which one is the safety again? I thought the human shield was slappin' leather on me. Fill in the blanks with your favorite rationalization yourself, why doncha'.

    I heard one of the Washinnon' Press critters use the "A" word yesterday. Maybe I'm just a superannuated stick in the mud, on accounta' them Gumint types are gonna do what they're gonna do anyhow...Laws and EO's are for schmucks, and so yesterday.

  51. Looks like I have a couple comments in the spam filter again.

  52. Andy: Yep. Freed 'em.

    Lisa: And re-reading your comment I note that your first statement was about "exultation", and was reminded that the thing about this - from the operation to everything surrounding it - that most gets up my wick was the celebrations mike refers to (nice observations of the NYC version: that say a hell of a lot to me of what the hell we've become. This wasn't VJ-Day, when an entire country that had worked and fought to win celebrated the end of war. This was a bunch of people, the overwhelming majority of whom had done nothing more than buy a magnetic sticker or two, doing a ridiculous end-zone dance because one frigging guy got slotted.

    Of all the things that we have done to ourselves since the Tall Saudi conned us into doing his bidding, the intensification of "war as a spectator sport" and "recreational patriotism" trends are possibly the vilest. It's like many of us have become the political equivalent of 14-year-old-boys. America, fuck YEAH!

    I realize that for most of history most people have been like this. But, also for most of history, the actual adults shamed them into silence. From the this brainless nonsense to the birthers to the 9/11 Truthers to the Teatards with their fact-free politics...t's like we've sanctioned the kids to come out and run the country.

    What a fuckstory.

  53. Chief,

    Thanks for the spam help and I agree with you about UBL being "pious."

    Personally, I think the "celebrations" were blown out of proportion by the media. There were a couple of hundred idiots celebrating in NYC? And maybe a thousand at the White House (just guessing at the number based on a couple of pictures)? That doesn't impress me very much. If it hadn't been covered by the 24 hour newsies, I bet a lot less people than the already small number would have shown up.

  54. Chief,
    You are EXACTLY CORRECT in that UBL is exactly the same as Manson, but we didn't kill Manson. All Terrorism is criminal and must be addressed by US Code which is not delivered thru a rifle barrel.
    I know that you feel the same , nor am i trying to tar you.
    Just saying.
    How is shooting UBL 2 times in the head any different , morally than Gifford being shot in the head? Neither is a rational act.
    Why is 1 celebrated and the other mourned?

  55. To all,
    Why does this whole ball of crap remind me of the Jessica Lynch scenario???!!
    Todays news indicates that UBL wasn't armed, so is our Seal shooter guilty of violating ROE? Or ??? If true this just adds another layer of illegitimacy to the PWOT.
    Well that was in another country and besides the dude is dead.

  56. To all,
    This killing can cme under 3 headinds.
    - war fare. Under gc'S YOU DON'T SHOOT UNARMED ASS HOLES.
    -police /law enforcement. YOU DON'T SHOOT UNARMED ASS HOLES.
    Obviously i'm missing something here.
    In addition this is being proclaimed a heavy firefight.
    Was it like Son Tay?? Or was it like Jessica Lynch??
    A fire fight indicates it was a military event, hence GC's apply.
    IMO this was a simple shoot out between 2 groups of killers. A firefight implies the dignity of a military engagement.

  57. to all,
    IMO only an idiot would film/record an event such as this.
    As a gunman i wonder if the SEALS were using ammo in accordance with the GC's or even that of law enforcement.?
    To use the archaic word were dum dums used? I'll bet max shock Soldier of Fortune crap was fired down range, and of course this is acceptable b/c you might have to shoot thru women used as shields.

  58. To all,
    My last cmt.
    I loved the pic of all the pop corn eating ass holes watching the raid in real time.
    Not one of them ever had the balls to carry out a raid in real time,and of course the glory of it all is reflected in their beady non-combat beady eyes.
    I prefer being with real life killers, at least they know the reality of pulling a trigger.
    Now this is over and the glory is great- the next step will be domestic gun control to prevent citizens from having non sporting guns. Anybody wanna bet?
    And i'm not an NRA creep.

  59. jim: I must be out of the loop here; are the AARs or live feed from the raid now showing that Osama was NOT hit by return fire?

    My understanding is that he was putting live joes downrange. My conclusion that this was a "good shoot" was based on the law-enforcement paradigm that if you shoot at the coppers you have implicitly waived your right to a fair trial; they don't really have much in the way of options at that point.

    One thing that I think is going to come back to bite the U.S. in the ass about this is the secrecy; as always, the secrecy turns out to create more problems that it solves. If Osama was still outside some fish's gut we could paraffin-test his mitts and prove whether or not he was firing at least at SOME point.

    This may seem callous, but I hope the SOB was shooting.

    But...I'll bet you a full box of national match that this does nothing one way or another for "gun control". Can't see the link, and I'm usually pretty good at hearing the dog whistle.

  60. FDC says, "I would say that he WAS a "pious" man, by his lights, in the way that Torquemada and Arnulf-Amalric were pious men." Lunatics all, no doubt.

    I would never defend piousness over a rational decency (something that seems to elude so many). Christians (along with many other creeds) have managed an astonishing creativity in the realm of brutality over the millennia. My argument is small: When we get wrapped up in our "Bad man" rhetoric, we are lost, for by our own religious reckoning, all men are a combination of good and bad.

    We are saved only by recourse to certain equable absolutes, like laws and treaties (if we abide by those we deem correct.) Why we are are lost it seems is that we have abandoned our oaths, substituting some vague mish-mash of feelings.

    When Obama says at the end of his announcement on OBL's killing, "God Bless America", I feel I am watching a movie; what reverberates more strongly is his mentor Rev. Wright's pronouncement, "God damn America".

    I do not mean to condemn my country, whose founding principles were so great. I mean, we have lost our lodestar. Because others may have doesn't mean we should have. The U.S. should not follow Toby Keith lyrics.

    "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls" -- Proverbs 24:17

  61. Chief,

    I'm not sure at this point what happened with UBL - the stories are still changing. It's beginning to look like he wasn't armed, they are now saying he "resisted" in some way. Who knows what that means.

    One of UBL's relatives who was there during the assault is claiming that UBL was captured and then executed by the SEALs in front of the women and children. Kinda doubt that's the case.

    The SEALs certainly had good fire discipline because there were reportedly a lot of kids and several women at the compound - about 20 from what I've read. So they obviously weren't bursting into rooms and spraying the place up.

    So, not sure what the deal is with UBL, but it doesn't look good when the administration keeps changing the story on what happened. If Panetta's characterization is accurate, it sound to me like they were going to shoot him unless he specifically surrendered which he apparrently didn't do.

  62. Lisa/Chief - Someone a lot smarter than me (can't remember his name?) once said something along the lines of: "The more fantastic a theology or ideology, then the more fanatic and fiendish its adherents - thus you get the auto-da-fe and Soviet psychiatric prisons." We might add the twin towers and the birthers.

    Andy - Those comments were not part of Clarke's testimony during the 9/11 commission. They were from an early 2002 memo from Clarke which he was coerced into signing in order to keep his job. He recanted that memo.

  63. mike,

    Which comments and memo are you talking about? The three principle documents I've referenced so far are the classified January 2001 memo to Condi Rice, the transcript of Clarke providing background to reporters in 2002, and his 9/11 prepared and open testimony. They are all consistent as far as the basic facts go, though his characterizations changed over time.

  64. The whole thing's unraveling at this point . . . imo. After all Obama and crew were watching it in real time, right?, so why is the story constantly changing?

    The latest pix show three dead Pakistanis with no apparent connection to OBL.

    Europe has given up on it essentially. The view here now is that OBL was probably killed some time ago and this is all just another rather incompetent scam. "Yankee speak with forked tongue." "Another 9/11" . . . that's what I'm hearing . . .

    Amazing too how quickly the nihilists on ya'lls side of the pond try to connect this "success" with their torture policy . . . not that it isn't noticed as well . . . bad move.

    I smell Bush, actually the stench of Bush has been on this all along. Our credibility is very low to non-existent imo. Try arguing it as I have . . . no fun.

    It would be nice if the powers that be made it easier . . . but then I try to be nobody's chump.

    Sad days ahead.

  65. Andy: the double-tap to the head (assuming now that IS how OBL earned his virgins) also argues a reasonable degree of fire-discipline. does sort of head us back towards seydlitz's "This was an assassination pure-and-simple" theory. The fact that of the four males who got slotted two were bin Ladins? Hmmm...

    I guess at this point all I can do is throw my hands in the air and hope. Bin Laden dead is better than bin Laden alive and free but worse than bin Laden in prison orange. Bin Laden dead "by accident" is better than bin Laden alive and free but worse than bin Laden caught pantsless with a rent boy...and about the same degree of fucked-up-ness as bin Laden dying with his boots on fighting U.S. sailors. We'll have to see whether this manages to help kill his movement or whether it helps revitalize it.

    I think the truly ironic thing is that this really IS so yesterday's news. If Osama had two talking points it was 1) Israel and it's sugar daddy the U.S., and 2) the Arab dictators and THEIR sugar daddy, the U.S. Well, Israel is still there itching like mad, but you have to wonder what the lanky fucker was thinking as report after report came to the villa in Abbotabad of Arab peoples trying to overthrow those dictators...but not for Osama's fantasy caliphate but in the name of local nationalism. By the time he slipped under the waves he was almost a footnote to his own region's history.

    I wonder if he got that?

  66. And I have an entry #2 in the outstanding-off-the-cuff-comments-contest about this one, from The Rude Pundit:

    "Let's also not overstate bin Laden's importance or, for that matter, al-Qaeda's. At this point, it's sort of like killing Mr. Met and saying that you've defeated the whole team for the season."

  67. All I got to say is that there will be no living with SEAL Team 6 now.

  68. Yeah, I'll bet they give all the SFOD-Delta guys wedgies the next time they see them. And laugh.

    It's good to be the King...

  69. Andy -

    On this issue you may have been unknowingly drinking Cheney kool-aid. The transcript you are talking about is NOT a transcript from the 9/11 Commission. It is in fact an alleged transcript of a FOX News interview transcribed by Jim Angle, a FOX reporter. The interview, which was supposed to be a background briefing (not attributable) took place in Aug 2002 long before Clarke testified before the Commission. And the FOX News transcript is beside the point anyway. It does not address the Bush Administration's lackadaisical response to high threat levels regarding probable al-Quaeda attacks against America during the summer of 2001. That was Clarke's main beef and what his testimony before the Commission was really about.

    But if you do not want to believe Clarke, then here is a quote from General Donald Kerrick who was on the NSC team for both Bush and Clinton: "Clinton's advisors met nearly weekly on how to stop bin Laden ...
    I didn't detect that kind of focus from the Bush administration."

    Or read Tenet's book, he makes the basically the same case. Tenet and Cofer Black and one of Black's top agents brought high threat info to Bush's NSC in July 2001 but were ignored.

  70. mike,

    I'm aware of the background for the transcript. No one is disputing it as an authentic account of what Clarke actually said.

    Secondly, I've already said that Clarke's complaint was a lack of urgency by the Bush administration. Clarke himself explains why in that 2002 backgrounder - he wanted a principals meeting, but the principals didn't get confirmed until April and May and then scheduled July meeting was postponed until September. That is quite a bit different from what your originally alleged as well as the myth that Bush gutted Clinton's efforts to get UBL. Bush continued Clinton's policies, and he kept most of the principals from the Clinton administration. He planned to expand CT efforts substantially based on Clarke's recommendations - Clarke's criticism is that he didn't do it fast enough. That is a lack of urgency that certainly appears stark in hindsight, and is a legitimate criticism, but that's about it.

    Third, the threat in July 2001 was not ignored. I was working in the intel community at the time and a worldwide threat warning was issued. It was continuously updated and I briefed my unit every day about it. We had strategic warning the attack was coming and based on some intelligence and the historic record, we believed it would likely take place overseas though we had, so we thought, no tactical information on the exact timing, location and method of the attack. All that was extensively detailed in the 9/11 commission. Our facilities overseas increased their force protection measures substantially as a result of these warnings.

    Given all the problems in intelligence community at the time which prevented it from providing the necessary tactical warning, there was little more the President could do.

    And again, as Clarke testified to the 9/11 commission, had all the things been done in January 2001 on the timetable he wanted them done, he still said it would not have prevented 9/11, but would only have made the intervention into Afghanistan easier and quicker.

  71. seydlitz,
    Todays news is that the real time photo was posed AND THERE WAS 30 MINUTES OF DEAD AIR!!!!
    Thats scrambling to cya and deny that pics exist of an unarmed ubl being blasted into the next dimension. Let's hope that Obama's god is stronger than Osama's.
    How do you spell- erase the tapes.oops..
    Jessica Lynch was a practice opn for this action.
    Son tay this was not.
    Pls remember that JP Vann ended up seriously dead.
    My joke award has not arrived yet.

  72. Question to everyone: What is the difference between killing UBL in a compound with SEALs in 2011 and killing him with Marines or a JDAM in Tora Bora in 2001? If we got him at Tora Bora would that have been an assassination? What if we'd gotten him in the 1998 missile strike?

  73. @Andy: "the principals didn't get confirmed until April and May and then scheduled July meeting was postponed until September."

    What you say above is proof enough to me that Bush was oblivious and that he did in fact ignore the threats. He was too focused on ABMs and his neocon buddies fantasies.

    BTW, I never said that Junior 'gutted' Clinton's policies. However, he did reduce emphasis on terrorism from non-state actors as you well know. One of his comments during the election of 2000 when asked about racial profiling was that we needed to stop the profiling of Arab-Americans, ignoring the profiling of blacks, Mexicans, Puerto Riquenos and others.

    You say: "the threat in July 2001 was not ignored" Of course it was not ignored by the military. They took it seriously as I am sure you did also. Too bad that it was ignored by the white house. Clarke and Tenet and Black and many others have stated that the threat info they were getting was that another attack would take place in America.

    You say: ", he still said it would not have prevented 9/11, but would only have made the intervention into Afghanistan easier and quicker. " I call foul. That was a nice piece of wordsmithing. That particular testimony by Clarke was in response to questions by the Bush apologists on the Commission on whether or not we could have destroyed the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. It had nothing to do with responding to the intel on threats in this country.

  74. Andy -

    No difference. All were righteous imo. Too bad the earlier ones did not get him. But both were flawed in their implementation.

  75. A side note of oddity, and I saw it on Stewart's show last night. The similarity of Osama's and Obama's name, and also the 2 men do look alike.

    BTW, about Bush, he's refusing to attend a ceremony at Ground Zero.

    And the story of the raid changes, why?

    Now, I’ve seen two schools of thought on this. One questions the legality of shooting unarmed enemy belligerents in a sovereign country against which we are not at war. I maintain that Pakistan, if not inviting us in, at least turned their back while we entered. And in the past, Pakistani leaders like former President Pervez Musharraf made handshake deals with the United States to allow special ops forces inside Pakistan to target Al Qaeda leaders. As for the rest, under the AUMF and perhaps the laws of war, it’s plausible that the man who directed the 9-11 attacks was considered a legitimate military target. It’s likely that there was a Presidential finding allowing for a raid like this. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who was ranking member on the Intelligence Committee before becoming Democratic leader, said to me on a conference call yesterday that she was briefed on the intelligence that bin Laden was in Pakistan “at the end of last year,” but added that the Administration was clear that, if they had actionable intelligence, they would act. “This was public knowledge,” she said. This suggests that an additional Presidential finding was not needed, because of some executive order dating back to the Bush Administration authorizing missions to capture or kill terrorists.

    The other school of thought looks at the complete reversal of the narrative and wonders what else has been left out or embellished. I understand those who say that thisbears little resemblance to the Pat Tillman or Jessica Lynch cases, other examples of false military cover stories, but every misinterpretation or mistake saps at the credibility of a military which has proven with those other incidents the willingness to lie. It does the military and the Administration no favors to botch the telling of the tale so much on the first pass.

    What should be the third school of thought is a deeper examination of Seal Team 6 (aka Devgru) and their superiors, the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, the black-ops crew that is slowly circumventing our conventional military force. Whatever the legalities of this particular mission, there’s definitely been a tendency over the past decade toward these types of off-the-book covert operations. They have in particular expanded under Obama: Jeremy Scahill’s report is very good on this. This rise of undeclared covert ops warrants a debate in full public view.


  76. Andy-

    "What is the difference between killing UBL in a compound with SEALs in 2011 and killing him with Marines or a JDAM in Tora Bora in 2001?"

    In 2001 we chose the war narrative as a response to 9/11. Since that point in time, I for one have changed my view. I had got up before a group of a couple of hundred academics at a polisci conference here in Portugal in October 2001 and said that this was an act of war and war was thus our only credible response . . . got a standing ovation.

    I was wrong. War was not the proper response, rather it should have been dealt with as a criminal act and so pursued . . .

    Capturing OBL and turning him over to the ICC would have changed everything. It would have put in question all the wrong moves we've made since 9/11 and taken us back to where we were prior to that event. I would have also rejected all the blunders and crimes that have been committed as a response to 9/11 . . . and put a whole lot of corrupt folks on the spot.

    Let the chips fall as they may - we believe in justice, not vengeance. Let the GOP and the rest of the nihilist right howl to their hearts content. In the end, the better angels of our nature would have won out . . .

    Such was the situation of just less than a week ago. That no thought was given to the dramatic turnaround we could have made, that there is next to no mention of it now, speaks legions.

  77. "It would have also rejected", not "I" . . .

  78. "Question to everyone: What is the difference between killing UBL in a compound with SEALs in 2011 and killing him with Marines or a JDAM in Tora Bora in 2001? If we got him at Tora Bora would that have been an assassination? What if we'd gotten him in the 1998 missile strike?"

    The difference is that it would have been fatheaded then. Now it's just the ghost of a fatheaded idea past.

    As seydlitz points out, this guy was ALWAYS a criminal problem; a heavily-armed foreign criminal, sure, but the turbanned equivalent of a Pablo Escobar. If GWB had had less problems with his pecker size we could have relegated him to the back pages five years ago, saved ourselves and everyone else an assload of blood and treasure, and ended up somewhere else than hip-deep in the fuckstory that is central Asian politics.

    So, like I said; this guy should have been either arrested, or if there was no way to take him alive, then he needed to just quietly disappear.

    It's the juvenile need to take a public victory lap that points out how silly the entire notion of blowing this mouse up into an elephant-sized "war" was.

    And, as seydlitz also points out, you'll note that what this has NOT resulted in; any real discussion of driving a stake in the "GWOT", any chance of dismantling any of the National Security State, even a hope of repealing the goddamn AUMF.

    Nope. The caissons keep rolling along...

  79. jim-

    You didn't win the award. It was a tie. I voted for one of mine . . .

  80. Interesting perspective here:

    Afghan intel guys supposedly figured out that OBL was likely in Pakistan, likely in an urban setting, likely near the upper-middle-class settlements like Manshera or Abbotabad. Says that Musharraf went nuts when they suggested that to him.

  81. jim: You've got some tough competition from the blogger who goes by "The Rude Pundit", because I liked his take, too...

  82. Seydlitz,

    Treating it as a purely criminal matter is not so easy in practice, as the Clinton administration discovered. Plus, at the very least you would need military forces to even get to these guys in many cases. What legal constraints do you put on such military or other forces? That's something the Clinton administration had to deal with in the 1990's when the CIA developed a plan to raid his compound near Kandahar to capture him. It was eventually scrapped because of concerns over the legal and political implications should killing women and children in the compound.

    And there is Noreiga. Was that a criminal matter or a military matter? ~250 died in a huge military operation to arrest that guy and bring him back for trial.

    The Brits had similar issues with IRA and the use of the SAS.

    I think if you can get these guys and bring them back to trial that would be great and that should be the first option, but I don't think it should be the only option.

  83. Osama was assassinated, plain and simple. Its unConstitutional. Its against US Statutory Law. Its against at least 3 treaties the US is a party to. Its also against International Law. But of course, nothing will ever come of this. None in the Bush or Obama administrations will stand trial for this crime. There is also now chatter emerging that Osama was considered captured before he got offed. Isn't that considered a War Crime/Crime against Humanity to grease a prisoner?

    On another note, its interesting (in a way) that Osama was gotten with SpecOps small unit action (supposedly) though how a 40-man SEAL Platoon(?) is considered small...Anyway, we could have saved our nation an ass load of grief, deaths (ours/theirs), maimed (ours/theirs), treasure and (frankly) sanity had we done something OTHER than sending in our military. Funny, about that....

    H.R. 3076:

    September 11 Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001
    107th Congress

    September 11 Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001 - Authorizes and requests the President to issue letters of marque and reprisal to commission privately armed and equipped persons and entities to seize outside of the United States the person and property of Osama bin Laden, of any al Qaeda co-conspirator, and any conspirator with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda who are responsible for the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, including any similar planned acts against the United States in the future. Authorizes the President to place a bounty, from amounts appropriated on September 14, 2001, in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Recovery from and Response to Terrorists Attacks on the United States or from private sources, for the capture, dead or alive, of Osama bin Laden or any other al Qaeda conspirator responsible for the act of air piracy upon the United States on September 11, 2001."

    Ya know, from that 'wacky Teatard' Ron Paul. A Letter of Marque & Reprisal would have been consistent with the US Constitution, US Law, US Treaties (we are not a party to the treaty banning Privateers/Letter of Marque & Reprisal) nor International Law. I don't know about you, but I could have lived with a (Phony) War on Terror that cost us in the low billions instead of the now low trillions.

    Nothing will change, naturally. We're full steam ahead. Get ready for Checkpoints going into Grocery Stores. Get ready for Cavity Searches to board a plane when they catch the supposed Asshole Bomber. We're going off a cliff now and the Nation-State known as The United States will be relegated to the Dustin of History.

  84. Andy-

    In this case, and this is the one we're talking about, it does seem that it was possible to have captured him alive, but this was not seemingly considered if we look at the disclosed ROE. On the other hand . . .

    "As David Scheffer, of Northwestern University school of law, has pointed out, OBL was indicted in Manhattan US district court in 1998 for conspiracy to attack US defence installations. 'Normally when an individual is under indictment, the purpose is to capture that person to bring him to court to try him,' Scheffer said. 'The object is not to summarily execute him if he's under indictment.'

    My point in answering your question is that the differences were quite stark and the options and alternative paths very different. This action could have offered the country a new beginning . . . and a chance to right some of the wrongs made.

  85. seydlitz,
    If it were a tie , did you count the chads?
    Also i thought that i voted twice, so isn't that a winner??

  86. mike,

    What you say above is proof enough to me that Bush was oblivious and that he did in fact ignore the threats.

    The documentary evidence is pretty clear he didn't ignore the threats. I went back last night and read the relevant sections in Steve Coll's book as well as some of the testimony. The problem was that the threat reporting was all over the map and very vague. For example, here is a portion of Tenet's 9/11 testimony regarding use of airplanes:

    That said, there is a vast difference between being aware that a type of threat
    exists and having a specific warning of the date, time, and location of a planned attack.
    We did not have intelligence of that specificity on which we could warn or take action.

    Again, they had plenty of strategic warning and no tactical warning. The warnings we did have varied widely, were widely disseminated and based on them security and force protection was increased. The vast majority of analysts believed the attack would take place overseas and so the administration increased defensive efforts the most there. For Bush to have "ignored" a threat, he or his administration must have been given a warning upon which they could act and then failed to act. If you can demonstrate that, great, let's see the evidence.

    BTW, I never said that Junior 'gutted' Clinton's policies. However, he did reduce emphasis on terrorism from non-state actors as you well know.

    Ok, you didn't say "gutted" you said "dismantled" which I think is a distinction without a difference.

    Now you say he reduced emphasis on terrorism. How? Because if increasing funding for CIA CT efforts five fold, arming and deploying the predator UAV, covertly funding the Northern Alliance, covertly assisting Uzbekistan, and potentially taking military action to "destroy Al Qida command/control and infrastructure and Taliban military and command assets" is reducing emphasis then I guess the administration reduced emphasis. Bush didn't reduce anything Clinton did - what he failed to do was increase efforts above and beyond what Clinton did in a timely manner. The Bush team was developing a host of new national security policies and terrorism was one of those policies. It's true that implementation of other policies took priority in terms of getting them up and running but it's not true that the administration was not doing anything, nor is it true they stopped any of Clinton's efforts (except they did end the Clinton requirement to station a TLAM-equipped submarine in the Arabian sea 24/7), nor is it true that the Bush policy, once implemented, would be less than anything Clinton did.

    Again, it's a question of a lack of urgency in getting the new, increased, policy going. In hindsight it seems obvious that terrorism policy should have been at the front of the line. That would have put Clarke's strategy in place in May or June. That strategy planned to roll AQ back over a 3-5 year period. No one has claimed, that I'm aware of, that implementing that strategy sooner would have prevented 9/11. Indeed Clarke specifically says it wouldn't have. If you can dispute that, then please do and let's see the evidence.


  87. (cont from above)

    Clarke and Tenet and Black and many others have stated that the threat info they were getting was that another attack would take place in America.

    They were seeing info that attacks would take place all over, not just the US. The threat reporting wasn't just, or even primarily, regarding attacks on the US. Here's how Coll describes it in his book:

    The CIA's unremitting flow of threat information remained in many cases nonspecific, speculative, or based on sources known to be unreliable. The Counterterrorism Center circulated a classified threat report that summer titled "Threat of Impending Al Qaeda Attack to Continue Indefinitely." Tenet agreed that the CIA's reporting was "maddeningly short on actionable details," as he put it later. Worst of all, the most ominous reporting that summer, which hinted at a large attack, "was also the most vague."

    You said: That particular testimony by Clarke was in response to questions by the Bush apologists on the Commission on whether or not we could have destroyed the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.

    No, the question was about implementing Clarke's AQ strategy. Portions of that strategy were about going after terrorist training camps but not all of it. Much of the details are still classified, but it was characterized as a 3-5 year plan to roll AQ back similar to what was done to the Al Nidal group.

    To conclude all this, Bush can certainly be blamed for not getting his new terrorism policy implemented more quickly, and he shares responsibility for the fecklessness of our security services, but that's about it. The allegations that he "dismantled" Clinton's programs or planned to dismantle them are completely without merit.

    I think that's about all I have left to say on this topic.

  88. Andy -

    Well thanks at least for admitting that: "...Bush can certainly be blamed for not getting his new terrorism policy implemented more quickly,..."

    Sorry I can't go along with the rest of your thesis on this. Much of the info in Steve Coll's book depended a great deal on contacts within the Administration. And despite some of the cherrypicking done by the Bush apologists on the Commission, there is still creditable information in the '9/11 Report' that the White House was briefed on attacks on American soil.

    I will never convince you it seems, so I too will leave off on this topic. Except for one note: As I think you noted elsewhere, it is a shame that Bradley Manning's disclosures to WikiLeaks may return us to the stovepiping of threat data. Back in the old days that refusal of agencies to share data was one of the reasons that al Quaeda was successful in pulling off 9/11. Let's hope we do not return to that practice.

  89. "And there is Noreiga. Was that a criminal matter or a military matter? ~250 died in a huge military operation to arrest that guy and bring him back for trial."

    Was the trial and incarceration of Rudolf Hess and the rest of the Nazi brass a criminal matter or a military one?

    What's that? Both?

    Ding! That's the correct answer!

    This is nothing but a straw man, Andy. The difference was that both the Nazis and the Panamanian dictator were 1) rulers of sovereign states with 2) armies at their command. So the only possible way to take them into custody was first to defeat their militaries.

    But THEN they went to trial, were convicted, and sentenced.

    OBL was never a head of state and his "army" consisted of a bunch of raggedy-assed muj, little more competent than Columbian narco footsoldiers. We did them an incredible service treating them like soldiers in war, and that mistake has been coming back to bite us on the ass ever since.

    So, of course capture was never the "only option". But I'm starting to wonder, as I didn't when this news first broke, whether it was very far up the METL?

    Oh. And - having been stationed there whilst ol' Pineapple Face did his bidness - I always wondered; what WAS he convicted for? "Drug trafficking"? You mean the drug trafficking he was doing as he took cash from the CIA for helping us pimp for the Contras?

  90. mike,

    Well thanks at least for admitting that

    Well, that's what I've been saying all along....Clarke's major complaint before the 9/11 commission is that the administration was too slow to get a principal's meeting in order to finalize the policy that had been decided in January.

    And yes, I've never denied the administration was briefed about potential attacks on American soil. Some of those briefings have been declassified if you want to look at them yourself. However, those were merely a few of the hundreds of threat scenarios presented. It's easy now with hindsight bias to suggest they should have taken the few homeland scenarios more seriously and ignored the others. It's not so easy when almost all your analysts are saying the attack is probably going to take place overseas and it's even harder when these vague threat reports come without any actionable info.

    Finally, you've mentioned here your desire to see the Democrats take back the house, you've disparaged a transcript simply because it came from Fox News and you've complained about "Bush apologists" asking questions on the commission at least a couple of times. Let me just point out that if you start from a position where you only account for the biases of your political opponents - and only consider them negatively - then your conclusions will inevitably be hindered by confirmation bias. There certainly were Bush apologists, but there were also people who were out to get Bush plus a ton of people simply looking to divert blame and cover their own ass.

  91. Chief,

    Point taken regarding heads of state. I don't think that's a strawman, however, since you're using military force and you're killing a lot of people in order to serve an arrest warrant - and you're doing so inside another state without it's permission. If this is criminal matter, what makes it ok to kill a person's security element (whether it's Noreiga or Zarqawi, or UBL) but not ok to kill the actual person?

    My point here is about the use of force and ROE. Under law enforcement rules, you must always give the criminal the opportunity to surrender and can only kill in self defense or to protect life. Under the rules of war, you can kill them anytime as long as they are not hors de combat. So is it the case that we can apply the rules of war to everyone but the person with the indictment, who must be offered surrender? If that's the case, then I guess it sucks to be a minion!

    You say we did a disservice by treating his muj as an Army. Well, how do you get past those muj to get to UBL without some kind of Army? And I would also point out that AQ had organized units until they were destroyed in 2001 - google "055 Brigade" for example.

    I'm just struck by the fact that we've been killing the mid-level AQ leadership for years now and hardly anyone has batted an eyelash, but kill UBL and suddenly it's controversial that there wasn't a purposeful effort to try to arrest him.

    As for non-state organizations are you saying that only recognized states with armies get to fight wars?

    I'm playing a bit of devil's advocate here because I think the real question is how do you mix law enforcement with military action and keep everything on the up-and-up when going after large armed and organized groups in foreign countries? It seems to me there isn't an easy answer to that. Personally, I think we probably need a new and coherent legal regime that bridges the gap between law enforcement and war.


    The counterargument to Scheffer would be that the AUMF superseded the indictment. Both Bush and Obama have drawn their legal authority to go after AQ based on the AUMF. I think part of the problem, though, is that they've tried to have it both ways. They want to use the law enforcement tools when it's advantageous and the military tools when that's advantageous. I suppose that makes the policymaker's job easier, but it sure makes a mess of things otherwise.

  92. Andy: For all that AQ had some formed "units", they appear to have fought with the Talib infantry rather than as an independent force. So they we no more an "army" than, say, the Zetas or the Columbian drug cartels, and we've never conflated those organizations with armies. Yes, we send troops to fight them, but whenever possible we arrest the leaders rather than assassinate them; Escobar was an outlier in that respect.

    The missile-assassinations are also a mistake, I think, both because of 1) the way they look; using multimillion-dollar equipment to blow away one guy, 2) the usual civilian deaths associated with them, and 3) again, the blurring of the line between war and law enforcement, between criminals and soldiers.

    So AQ isn't Hezbollah, and I think it was a mistake, in retrospect, to treat them as such; it made them look stronger and more dangerous than they were. In the war of the flea appearance is 6/10ths of the battle. Make your enemies out to be criminals and bandits, and you have a better chance that neutrals will see them as criminals and bandits. Even better, as happened with the PIRA, you have an outside chance that they WILL become bandits!

    The thing with these powerful non-state actors is that you HAVE to be able to mix law enforcement with military action. You need the grunts to take down their grunts (and, yes, it does suck to be a grunt, as anyone who had marched with a rucksack from Cannae to Can Tho would have observed...) but then you need to be able to at least attempt to use lawfare on their leaders; it makes you look stronger and more confident, makes them look weaker and more criminal...and that's crucial.

    There isn't an easy answer. But I think it's easier than we're making it by reflexively pushing everything towards the "warmaking" side of the argument. I think it's not so much an issue of a coherent legal regime but having a big military hammer and using it on our enemies, whether genuinely military threats or not, as nails.

  93. Andy -

    I thought we agreed to table this disagreement?

    Yes, I may have exaggerated the case when I used the term 'dismantle'. But Bush and his Crew had their sights set on bigger game than al Quaeda. Their primary emphasis on terrorism was to go after state sponsored terrorists, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the like. They downplayed the al Quaeda threat. Say what you want about the lack of actionable intel at the time. They could have put more emphasis on Customs and INS at the borders; Bush could have demanded more cooperation between Tenant and Ashcroft. Speaking of whom, you are right that there was an inundation of hundreds of threat alerts regarding al Quaeda, so much so that Ashcroft told the FBI he no longer wanted to be briefed on them.

    Yes I am biased against Junior Bush as are many other Americans. And it is also true that many Americans are biased for him and want to give him sainthood. But go easy on the charges of political bias. I have never been a lockstep liberal. Ike was my boyhood hero. I registered as a Republican on my 21st b-day in Jacksonville NC where I was stationed at Camp Lejeune. The clerk sneered and said he thought that only colored and carpetbaggers were Republicans. I voted for Goldwater in 64, he was a real conservative unlike those who claim the name now. I also voted for Nixon (to my shame), Ford, Reagan, and Bush's Daddy. I eventually went fro (R) to (I), then to blue dog (D) so I could vote in the primaries, but am for the time being a yellow dog (D). I will remain so until my Republicans start controlling the fringe and whacko elements and stop incorporating those ideas into their mainstream.

  94. "Yes I am biased against Junior Bush as are many other Americans."

    Count me as one of them. I have nothing but contempt for that . . .

  95. Andy,
    We don't need any new laws, we just need to follow those that we have. How can we possibly define our actions in terrorism counter action as warfare.? WE ALL KNOW THE DEFINITION OF WARFARE AND THE PWOT AIN'T IT.The entire 9-11 scenario was a criminal event and we had our heads up our asses and called it a military attack. It wasn't.
    B/c we are too cowardly or incompetant to define terms that does not justify our ignorant actions. How can you /anybody define terrorism as warfare unless it's a spectrum of war event when a movement developes and grows. This is not our template. How do military instructors ignore this fact?
    Do we no longer understand LIC?
    The killing of UBL was NOT WARFARE AND IT WAS NOT LAW ENFORCEMENT,it was a retribution and vengeance killing. I cite the treatment of KSM, forget Manning, why hasn't KSM been tried if he's a criminal.? That's what he is, he wasn't captured on a battlefield and he wasn't a soldier. EVER. He's a killer, plain and simple. Does our present law permit water boarding a POW or a criminal defendant? Assasination, kidnap, secret holding tanks da da da....How did we treat Walker LIndh? Was this legal , or even civilized?
    The fact is that these men knew what they were doing and we had the JV playing against their pro team. If they ain't captured on the battlefield they ain't pow's.
    So how would you rewrite the laws.?!
    Back in the DOD course on TC/A we used to have a class called LEGAL ASPECTS OF TC/A and we seem to forget the legal questions that our actions beg.
    Our entire pwot was an illegal goat screw. No new description needed.

  96. Andy - speaking of Ashcroft:

  97. mike, Seydlitz,

    Ok, last word for me, for real this time. I often find myself in the uncomfortable position of defending Bush and the reason is that I try to value the truth and I try to do my research to cut through the partisan bullshit and agendas to find it. Bush was, IMO, a terrible President who did a ton of damage to this country. I would think that given his actual record people would not feel the need to either exaggerate or make stuff up or blame him for things he shouldn't legitimately be blamed for. The truth works just fine for Bush as it is damning enough.


    If people are organizing and training men to carry out organized violence for political purposes then that's close enough for me. In 2001 I think AQ met that definition, whether they do now is questionable.

    Ok, so you need grunts to take down their grunts. I still don't get how taking down grunts is "law enforcement." If you need to engage in military action and use military ROE to kill people in order to get the opportunity to arrest one guy, then that is something different than law enforcement. And the problem is that is exactly what you'd probably have to do. What I don't understand how it is justified to kill people who aren't even considered criminals (ie. the minions, guards, grunts or whomever) in order to "arrest" someone, yet if you kill the leader instead of arrest him, it's an unlawful assassination.


    I'm still thinking through this whole thing, so please bear with me. Except for the one-off actions (Panama), it seems that historically bad things happen in hybrid LE/war conflicts. You may be right that we just need to do better with what we have.

  98. Andy,
    Panama was not a 1 off, nor was Grenada . These were test invasions, feel good violations of international law, and aggressive in toto.
    The American people swallowed the bullshit and viola elective wars are wonderful so full steam ahead.
    Look at the progression. Grenada, Panama, Afgh, Irq, all Republican ventures. Now with Libya Obomba is raking in his share of the pie.
    Which war conflict that we turned into a LE function?
    Is nation building war? Is Terrorism war?Remember LIC.
    All i'm saying to you is -THINK ABOUT IT, AND DON'T USE THEIR LOGIC.

  99. Andy,
    Correct your terminology.
    This hit sqd sent illegally into PAK DID NOT HAVE ANY ARREST AUTHORITY.They were killers not police.
    ONLY POLICE CAN ARREST . Soldiers do not have arrest authority, even if we ignore the jurisdictional thing. The best this team could do was to kidnap his sorry ass.
    The other option was to capture him as a POW ala Noriega, which was another crap scenario.
    Where do you get the belief that our soldiers can run around the world arresting people??!!

  100. Whilst I've been skeptical about the larger geopolitical impact of the death of bin Laden, if this ( is accurate the "positives" from this raid go well up.

    If the Talib/AQ axis can be weakened enough to bring the Talibs into the tent...well, that IS a game-changer. But, as always in central Asia, there are wheels within wheels. We'll see. But this is not bad news, not bad at all...

  101. Andy: simple enough; even in a declared war, even in combat between uniformed soldiers, if it's one-on-one, I shoot at you and you kill me, it's legal under the laws of war.

    If I'm standing in a room unarmed and you throw a grenade in, it's closer to a LOW violation.

    If you burst in and double tap me, especially if I'm raising my hands to surrender? Pretty damn close call.

    Happens all the time in war, tho, no?

    That's why I believe it was a mistake to CALL this a war and push things this way. Assuming that this GWOT is all we've been telling people it is, why didn't we coordinate with the Paki Ministry of Justice and show up at midnight with a Paki tactical squad, an arrest warrant, and an extradition order?

    You know why; because our "ally" is untrustworthy, because, in part, we've chosen to make this "us against you" because our "allies" distrust our military incursions into their 'hood.

    Hell, I don't know if there IS a better way to have done this. And I sure as hell hope (as the Cole piece above suggests) that this will work out in the end. But I honestly believe that if we had gone the way the Brits did with the PIRA - cooperated with the Pakis from the jump as the Brits did with Eire (and that would have included emphasizing that our client in Kabul would have leaned towards Pakistan rather than India, as the Pakis now fear), used a criminal/lawfare approach backed up with local troops stiffened with SOF (as the Brits did with their SAS) - we would be less stretched and less strained in the Middle East right now.

  102. Andy-

    "I often find myself in the uncomfortable position of defending Bush and the reason is that I try to value the truth and I try to do my research to cut through the partisan bullshit and agendas to find it."

    Sometimes I think you cut "too far" and miss the essence of what is going on. Also I think perhaps you try to be "too objective" and miss the enormity of the offense . . . much the same as what I see in the media.

    I'm essentially a small town Southern conservative who has been in Europe for a very long time, so call me suspect, but while I follow a rationalist perspective and believe in strategic theory, I have no problem with following my instincts/observations and calling "shiz" when I see it . . . Simply put imo "objectivity" in the face of blatant criminality is to be avoided . . . not something to be fostered . . .

  103. Actually, a Letter of Marque & Reprisal would have been a legal and Constitutional method of dealing with Usama.

    "Letters of Marque and Reprisal

    Letters of marque and reprisal are commissions or warrants issued to someone to commit what would otherwise be acts of piracy. They will normally contain the following first three elements, unless they imply or refer to a declaration of war to define the enemies, and may optionally contain the remainder:

    Names person, authorizes him to pass beyond borders with forces under his command.
    Specifies nationality of targets for action.
    Authorizes seizure or destruction of assets or personnel of target nationality.
    Describes offense for which commission is issued as reprisal.
    Restriction on time, manner, place, or amount of reprisal."

    U.S. Constitution, Article I, Sec. 8 cl. 11:

    The Congress shall have Power ... To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water

    A fucking Letter of Marque & Reprisal naming Usama bin Laden and criterion under which he can be brought back (dead or alive) would be valid. Sending in goddamn US Military assassins to invade a neutral country to pop him a new asshole in his forehead is illegal as well as an act of aggressive war.

    Mercs hired under a Letter could have apprehended him and brought his ass back to the US to stand trial. Of course, he wasn't even wanted in connection with 9/11....

  104. Remember how Korea was termed a "police action"?