Osama bin Laden Is Dead

Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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147 Responses

  1. Katherine says:

    I’m thrilled, and would be even happier if the US took this as a reason to wind down the war in Afghanistan, but I would be surprised if that happens.Report

    • 62across in reply to Katherine says:

      I’ve always thought that we’d never leave Afghanistan with OBL alive. I hope you are right that this could be the opening to allow us to get out.Report

      • Katherine in reply to 62across says:

        If you read the Republican responses to the news (they’re already on the BBC) you’ll see that I was probably wrong, and that they want the War on Terror to be perpetual.Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Katherine says:

          They wanted the Cold War to be perpetual too. It was a bleak decade for them between the fall of the Berlin Wall and 9/11, with nothing besides blowjobs to stir up the base.Report

        • All the Republicans on Twitter are trying to give Bush-Cheney credit for the kill.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to Katherine says:

          Sadly, Katherine, we have been fighting this war with the likes of OBL, both openly and in the shadows since the first air hijackings and it will continue for centuries, if history is any guide to these things. We must pace ourselves. Pain seems to be a wonderful teacher: our intelligence operations are evolving in spite of their bureaucratic inertia.

          Let’s not dignify Bush’s ridiculous and tragic war with Iraq or his idiocy in Afghanistan. Bush screwed up his chance at OBL. If his mission statement had been to Piss Off Every Iraq and Afghan, he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

          Bush opened a Pandora’s Box of ethnic and religious war in Iraq. In the resulting chaos, AQ made considerable headway. When the chaos died down, AQ was expelled from the Sunni strongholds because they were murderous clowns and stank in the nostrils of even our enemies. The first country to take out a warrant on OBL was Libya.

          The great mistake is to call OBL anything but a criminal, or to dignify his followers with the title of warrior. OBL will become a martyr as he always wanted, to go out in a blaze of glory. We have not won a great victory, we have granted his fondest wish, his most earnest prayer.

          There was a day when OBL might have been our friend. OBL offered to kill Saddam Hussein for us. KSA and the Americans turned him down, preferring American muscle to their own. However outrageous and criminal his methods might have been, his complaints about America’s meddling in his back yard were entirely valid.

          History, it seems, is not without a sense of irony. OBL lived long enough to see the Arabs revolt against their overlords as he had long urged them to do. He must have been terribly disappointed to see them choose democracy and not his brand of fundamentalism.

          Take hope. America has always had enemies and we have always overcome. Our greatest enemy has always been ourselves.

          We must never give up. We have sent our armies to war at great expense in life and treasure, endured the spiritual corrosion of a meaningless fight with the wrong enemy. Those who give up in the face of a lifetime of struggle will never understand the rewards of a life of service to ideals worth preserving. Our children and grandchildren, if this great experiment in democracy continues into their times, will still be fighting the entirely meaningful fight for democracy and the rights of man, a fight our ancestors fought, a fight which must be fought if the experiment is to continue.Report

          • Mike in reply to BlaiseP says:

            I wouldn’t be so sure on the Arabs “choosing democracy over OBL’s brand of fundamentalism.”

            The Libyan “rebels” we’ve been helping against Gadhafi? They turned out to be mostly Al Qaeda-types.

            The Egyptian “rebels”? See also Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist group that’s even more fundamentalist than OBL.

            The Yemeni protesters? For a good long while they were hoisting banners with OBL’s face on them, until someone passed the memo that it “didn’t look good to the world” to do that.

            The “Democracy” the followers of that pedophile mohammed seem to be going for is the same one they’ve done for years – “One Man, One Vote, One Time” – that puts governments like Syria’s and Iran’s into office.Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Mike says:

              Don’t be so sure of that. This is a revolt of young people. MB is viewed as the fuddy-duddies of Egyptian life. They have a joke, translated it comes out like this: “If Islam is the answer, what was the question?”

              Don’t listen to the fearmongers. Islamism is a minority opinion. They may want a more-Islamic society, if that means less of the West-aping Strong Men, but MB is more like the Moral Majority over here, a bunch of oldsters. Half the Arabs are well under 30, they won’t stand for the MB.Report

              • Mike in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Funny thing about that:

                The Retardicans are the “party of old men” in the US. Somehow they manage to get elected.

                The Mullahs of Iran are the “party of old fuddy-duddies.” Somehow they keep holding on to power just fine.

                The list goes on. You say “Half the Arabs are well under 30, they won’t stand for the MB.” No, but they WILL stand for the Ree Tardy-style MB-subgroup that will pop up. They WILL stand for the “us vs them” politics the MB will doubtless employ.

                I will fight my brother until a cousin comes along.
                Then my brother and I will fight the cousin until a neighbor comes along.
                Then my family will fight the neighbor until a foreigner comes along.
                Then we will all fight the foreigner.

                If you don’t understand that simple premise on how Arab society works, you’ll never understand why Islamist governments come to power in the first place.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Mike says:

                Mike, I just don’t buy that line of argument. The GOP is many things, but they aren’t the MB Ikhwan al-Muslimun. The closest we can get to it in the USA is the Klan or the Masons. I’m serious. The Ikhwan are old-style Sunni in a world where most of the world’s Muslims are sliding into a nominal Islam where the old differences aren’t applicable. The Ikhwan really are a bunch of oldsters in a society which is very young.

                This is a generational shift, Mike. really, they’re not going to accept Ikhwan leadership and most of their enthusiasm for Islam was driven by by their rejection of the Strong Men. In Cairo, in Tahrir Square, these kids were holding up Qu’rans and Coptic Crosses together. Egypt is the bellwether nation here, the rest will follow suit.

                The MB had a big rally in Tahrir Square, with some trembly old gent come in from exile name of Yusuf al-Qaradawi. He tried to rally the folks to Islamism. They gave him some polite applause, but otherwise ignored him. Egypt is headed in a vastly different direction: these kids want jobs. That’s all they want, and they know this means adopting modernity in a big way, something the MB rejects.Report

              • dexter in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I am little confused by your statement that the Klan and the Masons are the same. Could you give me a short history lesson on why you believe that?Report

              • Mike in reply to BlaiseP says:

                “They’re not going to accept Ikhwan leadership…”

                Funny. The “young people” in every nation have to accept “old leadership” somehow. What’s going to happen is that the “Choice” the voters are presented with is going to come down to a “vote” between some MB stooge on the one hand, or that Iranian stooge ElBaradei on the other.

                This is not unique to Egypt. Most “Democracies” in the world have this kind of thing going on. Look at the crapass two-party system the US is saddled with where the population gets to vote on vitriol between whichever candidates from the parties were getting “their turn” to run.

                Running as a group of “independent candidates” trying to fly under the radar, the Ikhwan regularly ran at around 20% of the old Egyptian parliament. Able to campaign and organize in the open as they are doing now, that’s not negligible, particularly since they can take claim to having been the resistance for years and can take over the anti-Western craziness that’s been fermenting in Egypt for quite a long while which Mubarak was actively trying to suppress.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                @Dexter: both were once in the big time, politically. The Masons were big in the time of the early years of the USA, the Klan came later, both were secret organizations but both were hyper-patriotic. I add the Klan because the MB is Very Sunni, preaching a particularly godawful strain of Sunnism which might have once had some credence long ago but not now.

                Which isn’t to say the Ikwan doesn’t have followers, but it’s unfashionable. The young people of Egypt are now coming of age. I cannot overemphasize the depth of anger and alienation of the young people of Egypt. Though I cannot say things will not slide off into the abyss, for many revolutions go from the frying pan into the fire despite the hopefulness and good will of the initial revolutionaries, the Ikhwan will be a minority party in Egyptian politics, representing the oldsters.

                I will say this about the Ikhwan , they went to jail for what they believed. Lenin said prison was the finishing school of the revolutionary. And I’ll go one step further: the Ikhwan murdered Sadat and they may do it again if they don’t like the way things are going in Egypt.Report

              • Mike in reply to BlaiseP says:

                When the Retardicans realized they were out of fashion, they came up with their front group – the Ree Tardy movement – and had a few guys like the Koch Brothers fund it behind the scenes.

                Watch for the MB to do the same thing very shortly.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                (rolls eyes to heaven) Hey, take that Retardican business off to some suitable echo chamber like dKos or to the nearest sanitary porcelain fixture.

                The GOP came to power in the last elections, not for what they were but for what they weren’t. All that Hopey Changey stuff didn’t pan out: people vote their wallets and their zip codes, not issues. The GOP is squandering its little bit of mandate, now they have to come up with some solutions and it’s just not happening. There’s only so long anyone can go on whipping up the mobs.

                Even my little flock of Tea Partistes are sick of it. I’m teaching these folks a scripture I just barely believe, John Stuart Mill, because Mill is the first step to understanding the power of the Individual in a working democracy. My next text will be The Crowd, by Gustave le Bon to show them how political operators work.

                There is no place for honest ackshul fackshul Conservatives in the GOP anymore, nor for Libruls in the Democratic Party. I’m hoping, trotzdem alles these folks will push back and make a difference. I am the child and grandchild of missionaries, I know how this sort of effort works and I’m making a difference by preaching the plain truth.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Mike says:


              • Pat Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

                Almost makes me want to adopt “Commie-dems”.Report

          • Scott in reply to BlaiseP says:


            Yes, yes, as usual it is all Bush’s fault. How convenient you you seem to overlook the 3-4 well documented chances Billy Clinton had to get OBL, however he was more interested in having his knob polished.Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Scott says:

              Bush sent us to war and he did not give us victory. That is the sad fact, here. Instead of bringing death to Al Qaeda and our enemies, he went after Saddam Hussein who was killing AQ as fast as he could find them in his own country.

              As for Clinton, STFU, Scott. When Clinton wanted to go after OBL, the Republican rose to their hind legs and bleated “Wag the Dog! Wag the Dog! Monica! Monica!” with one accord. Yes I do blame George Bush for fighting the wrong war.Report

              • Scott in reply to BlaiseP says:


                Why so touchy? Your lack of class really shows in moments such as these.

                Nothing was stopping Billy Clinton from going after OBL.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Scott says:

                He who refers to polished knobs must not apply too much torque to his tighty whities, Scott. There were not so many Americans in uniform who spoke Arabic in my time and I remember the name of Osama bin Ladin with exquisite clarity, for he nearly killed my parents in the Nairobi embassy bombing.

                Bill Clinton got the Blind Sheikh and Ramzi Yusuf, despite the fact he didn’t have political leeway to go after OBL in AfPak. Bush has as much leeway as he wanted and not only failed to get OBL but cuddled up to those maniacs in Pakistan. I should write a longer essay on what really went on during my time in Pakistan in the refugee camps, for I knew the Taliban while they were still the Good Guys. George Bush invaded Afghanistan without the foggiest clue of who his friends were and how to leverage that situation. The Haqqani clan was then in the employ of the CIA and we pissed off the people who are now murdering our troops.

                Of Iraq I shall say less, but I was in the north, when Operation Provide Comfort drove off the Iraqi Army in a series of bloodless pushes and if we hadn’t shot down a Blackhawk there would have been no American casualties at all. Shock ‘n Awe was Bush’s signature and there are thousands of American kids died because of his recklessness and idiocy.

                When they build George Bush’s statue in front of his Presidential Library, I hope they make it life sized. The pedestal should be made of 9,016 slabs of Vermont granite to the exact dimensions of a government-issue tombstone, build up in a massive cube, the number of American casualties on his watch. Perhaps we ought to add all the casualties of 9/11, for he was warned in black and white.Report

              • Robert Cheeks in reply to BlaiseP says:

                How many slabs of granite for Wilson, FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ’s tombstones? Commie-Dems are experts at getting Americans killed in foreign wars! The casualties of 9/11 belong to Sen. Fulbright’s nose-picking, boot lickng, butt boy.Report

              • RTod in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                Blaise and Bob:

                Classy. Especially today.Report

              • +1, RTod, beat me to it. Actually I was just going to address RC. Plenty of time to get back to normal, or what passes for normal these days.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                I wouldn’t mind the same treatment for LBJ. He knew the Gulf of Tonkin Crisis was a lie and went forward on that basis anyway.

                As for FDR, Wilson and Truman, those were somewhat different in my book, if not in yours. And a hearty middle finger for your reflexive spasm of Tourette’s Syndrome with your Commie-Dem bullshit.Report

              • Robert Cheeks in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                That’s nice!
                And, if your people had fought a little harder during the War of Northern Aggression we wouldn’t have this perverse, oppressive American Empire to deal with. This is what you’re supporting, it’s what you want, you consolidating Yankee epigone! And, you have the knuts to sit their and whine.Report

        • Scott in reply to Katherine says:


          Are you so naive as to believe that the death of OBL will stop some of these folks from hating us and wanting to harm us? Even the election of mister hope and change didn’t do it so why should this event.Report

          • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Scott says:

            She may believe that OBL’s death discourages such people.

            That seems reasonably non-naive, doesn’t it?Report

            • Scott in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:


              I can’t read her mind about what she “may” believe, can you? All I can do is respond to her statement that, “If you read the Republican responses to the news (they’re already on the BBC) you’ll see that I was probably wrong, and that they want the War on Terror to be perpetual.”Report

          • Katherine in reply to Scott says:

            I don’t think the death of bid Laden will stop anyone who strongly wants to attack the US from continuing to want to do so, though it may discourage them by showing that the US can be effective in small-scale manhunts and not merely in large-scale military campaigns, and that they cannot attack it with impunity.

            I think, more importantly, that it will significantly damage their capacity to attack the US, which is more the relevant point. Destroying the leader of an organization tends to reduce its power and throw it into some disarray.

            In addition, the killing of bin Laden shows that the US does not need large-scale military forces on the ground to attack and kill terrorists – it simply needs targeted, well-executed, small operations informed by good intelligence. This is how the fight against terrorism ought to have been handled in the first place. The success of the Obama Administration in killing bin Laden proves that the US doesn’t need hundreds of thousands of troops overseas in order to combat terrorism.

            Finally, the death of bin Laden also removes the strongest emotional inducement for the US to continue the war in Afghanistan, by achieving what was a central aim of the initial invasion.

            There will always be people who hate the US. Invading the country of anyone who hates you is not an effective way to make yourselves safer. Reducing the global support for those who hate you, and using targeted strikes against the leaders of terrorist organizations who target the US, is quite sufficient, without the need for a ‘global war on terror’.Report

  2. E.C. Gach says:

    I was in 8th grade when the towers came down 10 years. Then entire context of political discourse in this country has been oriented around those events, reflecting or reacting to them, in some way or another, since that time. A ten year war started that fall, and continues today. A second (and third) were launched after.

    I’m completely with you Jason. I hope this is the start in a shift back toward normalcy.Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to E.C. Gach says:

      I was in grad school on 9/11.

      My habit in those days was to read the newspapers online over breakfast and then go to class. The New York Times website was down that morning, which wasn’t too terribly strange, because it was Web 1.0 and everything sucked, so I drove in to Hopkins. I didn’t suspect anything unusual.

      I was in the car listening to NPR when I heard reports of the second WTC tower being hit — and knew then it wasn’t an accident. I remember looking at the faces of the other motorists, being weirdly unable to communicate with them, never wanting to before, but feeling like I needed to connect. Somehow.

      I remember classes being canceled that day, because — of course — the terrorists would pick Johns Hopkins next.

      I had an errand to do after class at the Anne Arundel County courthouse, as I recall. So I went there instead. That was closed too — next on the all-powerful Bin Laden’s hit list! I came home and started listening to C-SPAN. I listened for hours and hours, well into the night.

      I’ve been waiting for life to return to normal ever since then. I hope it will now.Report

      • I don’t think it will, sadly.Report

        • JohnR in reply to E.D. Kain says:

          History isn’t encouraging on this point, either. Inertia is one of the great forces, and greed is right up there as well. To paraphrase Dave Barry, a lot of people have become very wealthy helping the [fearful]. The ironic thing, of course, is that bin Laden succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Not only did he win (Global Jihad, everybody! Now in both Christian and Muslim flavors!), but now he’s a martyr as well. That he’s now properly dead satisfies the deep human need for revenge, and is one of those “Life Events” that insurance companies are so fond of, but I’m with ED on this one. I don’t anticipate any great changes in the reasonably near future. Never bet against the interests of the rich, the powerful and the hate-fuelled.Report

      • Mark in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        “I’ve been waiting for life to return to normal ever since then. I hope it will now.”

        It won’t. I guarantee it.Report

  3. RTod says:

    My prayers are that you are right Jason. My fears are that overwhelming demands for a show of force in Pakistan are about to start pressuring us into another front.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to RTod says:

      Ecch, there is no front to this war. Here’s how to consider the problem: it’s rather like police work against gangs. Police don’t eliminate gang crime, they just suppress it and they can’t eliminate the gangs. They collect intelligence, try to work out how to most efficiently solve crimes, but the gangsters end up in prison and end up running the prison. It’s a matter of containment.

      That’s terrorism. Every so often we get a few big fish but there are surprisingly few crooks and it’s the little fish are the best they can get most of the time. We don’t send the Marines into the heart of Oakland to shoot it out with the gangs.

      OBL was rounded up by competent intelligence operations and taken out in the way this war should have been fought all along, with knowledge, not mere power.Report

  4. Rufus F. says:

    Right, but has Obama released the death certificate?Report

  5. greginak says:

    Great news. I can’t wait for trumpy to take credit for it. I wonder if the Pakistanis gave the okay it or if we got around them.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to greginak says:

      Not sure about Trump. but it’s predictable that Woo and Thiessen will be insisting that we wouldn’t have found him without torture.Report

      • Katherine in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Republicans are already crediting it to Obama “following in Bush’s footsteps.”Report

        • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Katherine says:

          Incredible, as I’m sure you know. GWB was the one who said capturing or killing bin Laden was “not our priority.”

          One day we’re all going to wonder our country re-elected him. Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

            Because the D’s nominated Kerry instead of (not Kerry).Report

            • Mike in reply to Jaybird says:

              Welcome to the problem with US politics.

              It’s not who wins or that we get the best candidate.

              It’s that one party or the other nominates some douchebag on the basis of “it’s his turn”, then the douchebag proceeds to lose horribly.Report

            • From John Kerry:

              “The killing of Osama bin Laden closes an important chapter in our war against extremists who kill innocent people around the world. We are a nation of peace and laws, and people everywhere should understand that our ten-year manhunt was in search of justice not revenge. Terrorists everywhere must never doubt that the United States will hunt them down no matter where they are, no matter how long it takes.

              “We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the men and women of our intelligence agencies and our military for their tireless dedication and enormous sacrifice to bring justice to a man responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on September 11 and thousands more men, women, and children around the world.

              “I commend President Obama and his national security team for never forgetting the need to secure justice for those who lost their lives nearly 10 years ago and for those who have lost their lives in the war against extremism that continues today.

              “A single death does not end the threat from Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups. We must remain vigilant and committed to keeping the world safe and secure.”

              I don’t agree with everything he’s said, but this is quite well put!Report

              • WardSmith in reply to Christopher Carr says:

                @Christopher “I don’t agree with everything he’s said, but this is quite well put!”

                What makes you think he “said” what is attributed to him? I’m guessing speechwriters had that tome ready years ago, they just had to fill in some last minute blanks.

                Too bad I can’t link to the (ancient) Doonesbury cartoon about Kerry on campus (as a student) at Yale. I’ll try it here, no guarantees John Kerry 1971Report

            • Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird says:

              You know, I remember saying to my friend back when Kerry was running and they had Obama speaking at the convention something like, “They ought to run that guy. He’d probably win. ‘Cause there’s no chance Ol’ Chief Woodenhead is going to win this one.”Report

      • greginak in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        i’m sure you are correct they will claim torturing some 16 year dufus 7 years ago led to OBL’s capture.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to greginak says:


      CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh reports that Pakistani intelligence played a role in the operation against bin Laden. That’s probably the biggest news here today.Report

  6. I’d normally think it’d be important not to take a symbolic victory for a real one, but then again Af-Pak is an entirely symbolic war wrought from an emotional overreaction to a symbolic loss. Does this mean our symbol won?Report

  7. Your thoughts are mine too, Jason. The greatest crime that Osama bin Laden committed against the United States was to give us a pretext, and really a specific reason, to desperately abandon much of the sensibility which this country is at least nominally capable of. Here’s to hoping that with his death, we can get off the crazy train.Report

  8. A trillion dollars well spentReport

  9. Jaybird says:

    Let’s go home.Report

  10. Michael Drew says:

    Normalcy is an illusion. Events occur, the world changes; and in any case things were never what they seemed nor what they should have been. There wasn’t ever in fact any normal to which we can dream of going back. There were just various points in time in the past at which both the world and its logic differed from all the other points.

    The law has changed; all we can do is say how we want it to change again. The logic and work of ending wars is all but totally disconnected from the logic of starting them.

    We just have to keep saying what we think the right policy imperatives are and try to make our leaders follow them. There isn’t any normal that we can tell them to bring back.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Michael Drew says:

      Drill Sergeant McFarlane once told me, at the top of his lungs, that wars begin when the politicians stop doing their goddamn jobs and they end when the politicians start doing them again.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to BlaiseP says:

        That was my least confident point there. I really don’t know how or why wars end. From what I understands it’s quite a complicated question. But I’m pretty sure events like this have next to nothing to do with it.

        Normalcy, though, is what I’m really after here. I’m fine with illusions of normalcy; they’re important to all of us in order to have a regular sense of basic security in our lives. But they are illusions. And there’s no way for a nation of millions to coordinate their illusions enough for any actual meta-fact of ‘normalcy’ to emerge. There’s just lotsa different sh*t going on all the time, in patterns of relation and causation that are constantly shifting. That’s all there really is.Report

  11. Axel Edgren says:

    If Obama uses this as cover to withdraw, he’ll make his re-election a LOT easier, mark my words.

    Wow. WOW.Report

  12. Member548 says:

    Place me in the crowd of thinking the “war on terror” should have operated like OBLs death from day one.

    The US had the power and means to fight a limited war of containment using SpecOps and invasive stealth air power from day one.

    While it’s folly to predict “what if’s”, I still feel strongly this method would’ve been more cost effective when measuring blood and treasure VS results.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Member548 says:

      A lot of info on exactly how this came about will probably be forthcoming in the coming weeks and months. It will be very interesting to think carefully about just what geographically specific U.S. capabilities allowed this operation to be launched successfully, and then about what policy decisions enabled us to develop those capabilities in that part of the world.Report

      • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Agreed. This bit seems the most interesting so far: “The United States did not share any intelligence with foreign governments, including Pakistan’s, and only a “very small number” of people within the U.S. government knew about it, one official said.”Report

        • Chris in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

          It gets more interesting in that, at least according to reports, the ISI was on site with the U.S. (likely SEAL) team that conducted the operation. So they didn’t share intelligence with the Pakistanis, but they brought them along, or at least told them where to show up and when. How did that work?

          The way this went down is going to be very interesting, and I agree with Member: this sounds like it happened the way the “War on Terror” should have been happening all along. I suppose when you have a military with a budget larger than the rest of the world’s combined, you’re tempted to use as much of it as you can when you’ve got something to use it for.Report

        • E.C. Gach in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

          I think that will be the side story to come out of us. Just how far gone Pakistan is that the Admin couldn’t let them in prior to launching the operation.

          If anything, this just shows how delicate the situation in Pakistan is. I’ll be curious to see how the average Pakistani reacts to this news.Report

        • Wasn’t not sharing intelligence the secondary cause of 9/11?Report

          • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Christopher Carr says:

            Yes, but arguably sharing this intelligence with certain elements in the Pakistani military might have botched the whole effort.Report

            • The whole thing reeks of shadiness. Do you think they’ve had this information for a long time?Report

              • Chris in reply to Christopher Carr says:

                It sounds like the intelligence was gathered over a 4 year period, with the exact location being discovered sometime earlier this year. From what I can tell, they planned the raid over the last few weeks.

                They clearly notified Pakistani officials at least a few hours befor the raid, as they got approval for the incursion into Pakistani air space, and at least some reports include ISI members being at the location during (or maybe immediately after?) the raid. But as the ISI is notorious for its mixed loyalties, it would have been a particularly bad idea to give the Pakistanis too much information too early.

                Also, one can bet that the U.S. had eyes on that compound for weeks, if not months, so that when they finally got the go order, they knew damn well that whoever was supposed to be in there was in there (and hadn’t run off at the last minute, say).Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Christopher Carr says:

                All good intelligence reeks to high heaven, Christopher. With the obvious caveats that I’m not party to any current intelligence operations, here’s how I think it went down.

                The last time we had good intelligence on OBL was at Tora Bora. We knew where many of the Taliban leaders he’d paid were holed up but couldn’t reach them very well until we were able to put together a HUMINT operation.

                A HUMINT operation takes years to develop. This ain’t James Bond crapola. Good intelligence comes from horrible people. Plural. Everyone is lying to you all at once. Sorting through the lies is fairly easy, you can falsify some of it. But the happy horseshit, a-la Curveball is harder, because they’re telling you what you want to hear, whether or not they know anything, and they’re likely to lead you terribly astray.

                If we are to believe what we’re told, we followed one ant back to the nest. But as with an ant nest, a stranger can’t just walk into such a situation and get any good intel. Sun Tzu: nobody makes headway in enemy ground without a local guide. Now it’s just plain old gumshoe work, as with a drug lord, they run from place to place, sleeping somewhere different every night. And as with a drug lord, they have the local cops in their employ, so it gets even harder.

                The big obstacle was getting someone into that burg. ISI knew the ground rules: if we ever found OBL, we were going after him. Think about it like Mexico, the parallels are pretty good. Though the drug lords can corrupt lots of local yokels, they’re a lasting embarrassment to Mexico. AQ Pakistan, same-same.

                The Taliban is a different story. ISI deals with them, though they don’t like them, mostly because they’re a bulwark against India opening a second front in their back yard, Afghanistan, which they’ve been doing with considerable skill, up to and including offering scholarships to likely lads and lasses around Afghanistan.

                Though it took years to collect the information, it was probably took no more than a few days to act on it. They would have immediately constructed a walk through for the compound to train the operators, then get the logistics sorted out, get the operators out to the Carl Vinson.

                After Tora Bora, I don’t think we would have trusted the ISI with our OPLAN. No way. Anyone who says ISI was involved here is just nuts.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to Christopher Carr says:

            Heh. It might have just been the cause. The Dodgy Dossier made its way to the UN in Colin Powell’s briefcase, where we became the laughingstock of the world.Report

          • Scott in reply to Christopher Carr says:


            Well the Clinton admin’s lawyer Jamie Gorelick didn’t help with the memo she wrote trying to keep a wall between parts of the gov’t investigating terrorism. But as Blaise will tell you, it was all Bush’s fault.Report

            • Chris in reply to Scott says:

              Yeah, I don’t think that memo does what you think it does. But hey, this is a partisan game, right? It can’t be your side’s fault, so it must be the other side’s fault.

              The reality is that Bush screwed up, but there’s enough blame to go around when it comes to the intelligence failures.Report

              • Scott in reply to Chris says:

                I think Bush’s foray into Iraq was a mistake. I do not feel the same way about the hunt for OBL or the attempt to clean out Afghanistan. That being said there seem to be some here that want to blame Bush for everything.Report

  13. Robert Cheeks says:

    Yes, if Barry Hoover brings the boys home (all of ’em) and puts ’em on the border he might get re-elected, assuming there’s anybody working in America, or able to afford to drive to work. But, Barry and Bush, at least in terms of foreign policy, appear to be twins. Elect Barry and you elect Bush. Sadly, in domestic policy he’s much, much worse.
    By the time the election rolls around, the assassination of OBL will be, if not forgotten, merely background with the sleazy Barry trying to take credit for the actions of brave Americans.Report

    • JohnR in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

      “Sadly, in domestic policy he’s much, much worse.”

      I’m impressed – to see the world in this warped a fashion, your glasses must not only be dung-colored, but also way, way off-prescription. I’m sure there are some pharmaceuticals that could help you; here’s hoping that you find them.Report

    • “Barry and Bush, at least in terms of foreign policy, appear to be twins. Elect Barry and you elect Bush.”

      I agree they both generally share the same foreign policy goals (at least when compared to the wide spectrum of thought among the citizenry), but Bush finished his eight years in office with several own-goals on the international relations scoreboard, while Barry at least has one point now.Report

  14. BSK says:

    I love that the coverage started with 15 minutes left in “The Celebrity Apprentice” preempting last night’s firing. Take that, Trump!Report

  15. E.C. Gach says:

    Listening to Fox Radio while dropping my brother off at school today. Three callers, the first asking if there was any proof of what the President said, the second feeling like Obama made the speech about him and not the brave actions of service men/women, and the third wondering how the “left” would take this news.

    Sadly, I don’t think this “Kumbaya” moment will last long.Report

    • Mark in reply to E.C. Gach says:


      Does any of this really surprise you?Report

      • E.C. Gach in reply to Mark says:

        Because of my youthful naivete, perhaps.

        I suppose I thought there would be a prevailing feeling that insinuating anything partisan with regard to the original tragedy and its symbolic (though not acutal) resolution, would be completely off bounds, at least for a couple days.

        For instance, if 9/11 were to have occured during the Obama admin, would there have been similar unifying sentiment as under Bush? Or was the post-9/11 unified public a largely manufactured narrative?

        But I’m just surprised in general. A lot of last night’s late coverage of the POTUS speech and the cheering crowds at Ground Zero and outside the White House left me as conflicted as the Tuscon memorial event. The death of Osama brought me back in touch with the original tragedy and all of the war and death that has come about since, and I felt very torn between a sense of pride in my country and relief, and a renewed sense of grief and humility.

        The last 24 has been more surreal than anything else. And I am genuinely surprised that the first reactions are “America, FUCK YEA,” followed quickly by a clear attempt to remind the country of Bush’s contributions and a hesitancy to let this fall under the category of “approve of how the President is handeling…”

        I wonder now how long it will be before the POTUS is accused of trying to appease radical Islam by acknowledging in his speech that this is a victory for Muslims as well (as oppose to trying to claim this a singularly American moment as well as claims that the Admin made sure the buriel at sea did not conflict with any Islamic doctines.

        In short Mark: yes I’m surprised.Report

        • E.C., far from being naive, you’re strange views on sacredness stem from being far more thoughtful than others.

          Essentially, 9-11 was a tragedy; tragedy calls for restrained behavior and fraternity, lighters in the air and arms around one another. It’s a Sarah McLachlan concert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LuGzwNy2ws

          The death of bin Laden on the other hand is a jubilee; jubilee calls for drunken revelry, saturnalian triumph, and an orgy of fist-pumping. It’s a Plasmatics concert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBd26f1XoyYReport

        • Mark in reply to E.C. Gach says:

          “I wonder now how long it will be before the POTUS is accused of trying to appease radical Islam by acknowledging in his speech that this is a victory for Muslims as well (as oppose to trying to claim this a singularly American moment as well as claims that the Admin made sure the buriel at sea did not conflict with any Islamic doctines.”

          My bet is about 72-96 hours. I caught Psycho Levin and his Daddy, The Big Drug Addict, yesterday. Both were already heading in this direction. I figure Louie Gohmert, Steve King, or Michelle Bachmann will go full metal batsh*t by the end of the week along the lines that you described above.

          And if this trio doesn’t, you can be sure that Liz Cheney, Slick Willie Kristol, Dick Carlson’s Boy, John P. Normanson, Jennifer Rubin, and/or Marty Peretz will.

          Personally, E.C., I respect the maturity of your response post above. Trouble is, we’re not dealing with a mature electorate or a mature media/pundit class in Georgetown and on the Upper East Side.

          We’re dealing with an electorate full of Sharia Law screamers who believe the earth is 6,000 years old, Fred & Wilma walked with the dinosaurs, Bonzo never raised taxes, and the 2001 and 2003 Dubya tax cuts created jobs BEFORE the economy collapsed. Facts don’t exactly motivate this crowd.

          Meanwhile, you’ve got a whole host of talk radio types, cable yaks (yes, I’m talking Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell as much as Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity), and paid pundits who are making a fortune merely by feeding manure to the bobble-head masses. When you’ve got a country in which 18 percent believe they’re in the top 1 percent of all wage earners and another 19 percent are adamant that they’ll be in the top 1 percent in the next five years, you don’t have a problem with American Exceptionalism – you have a calamity involving basic mathematics.

          So color me cynical, damn cynical.Report

  16. North says:

    Good, can we leave Afghanistan now? Or better yet the middle east in general.Report

    • Robert Cheeks in reply to North says:

      Northie, that’s a great idea. The problem is where are these kids going to find work? Barry’s got the economy so screwed up there’s no work available for people skilled in the use of M-16’s, Beretta’s, mortars, and tanks no matter how well qualified they are in the use of this equipement. Maybe Barry and the commie-Dems can start a new program for them, if we only had the money? However, you gotta give Barry credit for continuing with Bush’s policies; including fighting two wars while courageously adding his own third war, and keeping GBay open, just to mention two.Report

  17. Andy Smith says:

    What exactly does this change? AQ long ago metastasized to the point where it was pretty much independent of bin Laden. Arguably, some of his top lieutenants that were assassinated earlier were more important to the network, but those deaths, too, hardly incapacitated the movement. Really, the kind of actions that have recently provided the greatest threats–the shoe bomber, the car bomb in NY, the Euro bombings, etc–presumably were designed and put into play without any guidance of bin Laden. Does anyone really think his death is even going to reduce the incidence of terrorism?

    Also, it doesn’t seem to me much of a victory to give a man in poor health a painless death ten years after his crime. Yes, we finally caught up with him, but only after the shock of 9/11 mostly wore off for anyone not related to its victims. This moment would have been far more powerful if he had been captured alive and could have been brought to trial in the U.S. Was there even any thought to taking him alive, or was it considered too risky?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Andy Smith says:

      My facebook was dotted with posts in a sotto voice explaining how tasteless it was to be taking this much pleasure in an old man’s death.

      There are two responses to this, I think.

      1) Given that Osama probably had not retired, this could easily be spun as self-defense as much as vengeance.

      2) There were two Osamas. The dude himself and the idea of the dude himself. The dude himself was pretty much neutralized… but the *IDEA* of the dude still had a great story. The idea of the dude now has a story with a significantly different ending that changes the tenor of the idea of him.Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to Jaybird says:

        There were two Osamas. The dude himself and the idea of the dude himself. The dude himself was pretty much neutralized… but the *IDEA* of the dude still had a great story. The idea of the dude now has a story with a significantly different ending that changes the tenor of the idea of him.

        This, basically. His very existence, even if only as a figurehead, was critical to the fundraising and recruiting of al Qaeda and the various organizations that exist because of it.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          Dubya said more than his fair share of dumb things but the dumbest thing that he said was that he was no longer particularly interested in Osama.

          While I can appreciate the argument that Osama’s funds were frozen and that his movement was restricted and that his communications were limited to audio tapes carried via donkey to a place that had cars which were then driven to a place that had internet… the *SYMBOL* was something that, one would think, even a dumb president would care about.Report

          • RTod in reply to Jaybird says:

            In Dubya’s defense (sort of) I don’t think he ever thought Osama wasn’t important. The comment so often quoted was a response to questions about why didn’t we have OBL yet when the administration was trying to focus on the the larger WOT issues at hand.

            Not saying I agreed with any of it; just saying that it never seemed to mean in context what it’s always presented to mean whenever I see it quoted.Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to RTod says:

              Well, in a sense Bush was right. But there was an element of Sour Grapes to that OBL Didn’t Matter trope. Aesop’s fable about the Fox and the Grapes is a little deeper than most might realize, because foxes don’t eat grapes unless they’re starving.

              There were never more than a few actual AQ operators, at most 200, in Afghanistan. AQ paid the Taliban for protection. When the Taliban fell back across the border to Pakistan, they heaped plenty of abuse on AQ for bringing down the wrath of Pakistan and the USA on their heads. Pashtunwali and all the cash AQ had paid in protection money worked for a while, but the Taliban quickly turned to their own leadership and away from AQ leadership in the war against the Americans. They follow their own mullahs, especially Mullah Omar.

              AQ limped along with Saudi money for a good long while, I presume it was Saudi money who built his compound. But I seriously doubt the Taliban bore him any affection after Tora Bora.Report

          • Mark Thompson in reply to Jaybird says:

            I actually don’t much mind Bush’s statement to the extent that in making it he was perhaps trying to diminish that symbolic importance. Whether this is in fact what he was trying to do with that statement, I have no idea.Report

            • Michael Drew in reply to Mark Thompson says:

              I tend to gove him this much credit as well. Capturing or killing him obious;y would have been just as a big a deal then as now. But everyone thought the trail had gone cold by that point; at that point downplaying the man’s importance was the sound policy statement. It doesn’t mean Bush didn’t still want him dead or alive. And it’s worth noting that Obama didn’t up the ante rhetorically significantly from where it was left when he took office (though he certainly did make some aspirational statements in his campaign). In fact, one of the impressive aspects of this operation was how quiet it was kept throughout the government back here stateside, where SOP is to leak like a sieve.Report

      • Robert Cheeks in reply to Jaybird says:

        Apparently OBL’s captured chief Lt., Sheik What’s-his-name was singing like a canary following one of those upside/down baths at GITMO and mentioned that if OBL were killed or captured by the Crusaders, our Islamic friends would happily light off a nuke hidden somewhere in the USA. Gee, I hope that’s internet bs.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

          That’s a stretch, to say it was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who sang. Intelligence doesn’t act on single fragments of evidence, usually it takes two or three to triangulate this sort of thing. It’s like panning for gold in a working cesspool. We’ve had a great many people come and go in Gitmo.Report

          • Robert Cheeks in reply to BlaiseP says:

            Bp, as the League expert on these things, do you think GITMO worked?Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

              Depends on how you look at Gitmo. On the plus side, they’re offshore. On the minus side, they’re offshore. Furthermore, I am not a JAG lawyer, the closest I ever came to JAG was an Article 15 (oh the shame) and being tangentially involved as a witness in a court-martial, so I don’t know if my recommendation would even be legal.

              That said….

              If we scooped up a Bad Guy, I would have set up a camp in the USA, probably in a military brig to process them in, there’s no way around that, but then put them in a Supermax prison dedicated exclusively to that end. I believe such a prison was available in Illinois, but I’m not sure. I would charge them with felony murder if they’d killed an American and conspiracy to murder or accessory to murder if they hadn’t. I’d always apply that charge, regardless of whatever other crimes they’d committed if they had been captured in a firefight, which would be damned near always. Set bond on them and process them through as open a court as I could manage, which might not be very open, but they would have any sort of representation they could hire in or step forward to represent them, you know, some firebrand lawyer would step forward to defend ’em… yadda yadda. Let him ramble on like the Blind Sheikh’s trial, but the verdict will nearly always be the same, they really had been shooting at American citizens and they belong with the Murderin’ Class, in a Supermax. and there they’ll stay.

              See, the more flamboyant their lawyers, the better it is for us. It would be hugely entertaining, to watch these bloviators go on saying stupid things about why they’re killing Americans. The prosecution gets its turn at bat, too, play it out in the court of public opinion and give the next brave lad pause before he shoots an American. He’ll be treated like a common criminal and he’ll get to spend the rest of his life in a room about four times the size of a coffin.

              We might even execute a few of them. Suits me fine.

              But Gitmo? A bad idea, the rancid product of Rumsfeld’s fearful little mind. Do we have so little faith in our own system of justice that we will not thrust murderers in front of an American judge?Report

              • tom van dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Shoot him, dump the body in the ocean. Tony Soprano did Big Pussy like that, no muss no fuss.

                The word’s out that surrender was an option. I can’t swallow that unreservedly, but regardless, what a stinking political mess this would have become for Obama instead of a triumph.

                I’ve often wondered if under US laws of evidence, you could get bin Laden for much more than conspiracy. Even before a military tribunal—how big a hand he had in the actual planning has always been foggy.

                The shitstorm for Obama—and in no small part from his left flank—would have been the only story until 2012. Already he’s in trouble with his more principled critics on the left for “executing” bin Laden and violating Pakistan’s sovereignty and probably another half-dozen things too.

                But Tony Soprano would approve and Machiavelli would too. [Me, I’m OK with it, but not unconflictedly so. And yes, I admit I’m playing moral horseshoes here.]Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to tom van dyke says:

                See, I don’t know either, and I know enough about JAG law to know a normal civilian lawyer isn’t trained in its rules of evidence.

                This much I do know, if a soldier commits a crime off base, say if he’s stationed in Germany or Korea, he’s given over to their civilian authorities under certain circumstances. How we’d transfer someone from military custody to a civilian court is completely beyond my pay grade. I’m not sure it’s possible, but if it is, don’t burden our military with the task of trying them. They are set up to try other soldiers. These guys aren’t soldiers, ergo they route to civilian courts ASAP.

                OBL got whacked. As you say, he’s so manifestly guilty he qualified for summary justice, especially if he was armed.Report

              • Jason Kuznicki in reply to tom van dyke says:

                Already he’s in trouble with his more principled critics on the left for “executing” bin Laden and violating Pakistan’s sovereignty and probably another half-dozen things too.

                If a criminal suspect threatens deadly force, it’s okay for police to shoot him.

                Why in your view is it “principled” for bin Laden to get kinder treatment? (I’m not asking you necessarily to agree with the principle. I’m just wondering what you think is.)Report

              • Jason, I used “executing” in scare quotes because that’s what one of his critics from the left said.

                If surrender was not the option they’re saying it was, it would not be inaccurate. Since I/we have no way of knowing for sure, I’ll stay away from the issue. I cannot bring myself to swallow unreservedly that it was an option.

                However, my larger point, that if bin Laden had been captured rather than killed it would have been a shitstorm for Obama, stands.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to tom van dyke says:

                For once, can we just leave the Left and Right out of this OBL business? I’ll stipulate to the idiocy of the Partisan Lefties.

                But don’t make light of what’s happened here. Killing your enemy, however much he deserved it doesn’t make things better and it doesn’t set things to right. It just doesn’t. The dead remain dead. The living remain to remember and endure their lives.

                We count our dead, they count theirs. But nobody’s keeping score.Report

              • Robert Cheeks in reply to tom van dyke says:

                Another factor that may contribute to this discussion is the idea that, historically, assassination (or attempted assassination)has a nasty habit of coming back, directly or indirectly, to bite the assassins, without regard to the perceived justification for the assassination.
                The Dahlgren Raid, and the assassination of Pres. Diem (S. Vietnam, ’63) come to mind as two examples in American history.Report

              • Hmmm, Jason. “Appropriate action.” Just sayin’…

                “However, during a background, off-camera briefing for television reporters later Monday, a senior White House official said bin Laden was not armed when he was killed, apparently by the U.S. raid team.

                Another White House official familiar with the TV briefing confirmed the change to POLITICO, adding, “I’m not aware of him having a weapon.”

                “The bottom line is the team that entered that room was met with resistance and took appropriate action,” said a third American official.

                Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/54162.html#ixzz1LJqYreJAReport

              • “Jay Carney has just said that Osama bin Laden was unarmed at the time of his killing. He said he didn’t have the information to elaborate on how OBL then managed to resist capture in such a way that provoked the SEALs to open fire.”

                via NROReport

              • I’m unlikely to find any written account of the action to be authoritative. Already you see what happens when multiple officials, some speaking on and some off the record, are relaying multiple accounts of an event filtered through numerous intermediaries.

                It’s grown-up Telephone.

                I would not be surprised to find that the squad had cameras rolling, but that video record is undoubtedly locked in The Vault and is unlikely to see the light of day anytime soon, if ever.Report

              • Jason Kuznicki in reply to tom van dyke says:

                The fact is there will always be things neither of us will know about the raid. In going after the world’s most wanted fugitive — a man who has said repeatedly that he wanted to die fighting — was it unreasonable to presume he was armed?

                But anyway. You’re proposing that I jump down a rabbit hole, and you must really have a low opinion of me if you think I’d do it.

                At least you’ve backed off from the word “execution,” which is wise of you. An execution would presume that he was subdued beforehand, which he doesn’t appear to have been. As to surrender, bin Laden had many years to do that. He had the choice, and he didn’t take it.Report

              • I didn’t use “execution,” I quoted it, Jason. You called me out, sir, and it would be OK if you acknowledged on the back end that perhaps I was in the zone.

                And it certainly would have been a misery for Obama if bin Laden were in US custody right now, my main point.Report

              • Jason Kuznicki in reply to tom van dyke says:

                I didn’t use “execution,” I quoted it, Jason. You called me out, sir, and it would be OK if you acknowledged on the back end that perhaps I was in the zone.

                And all I am demanding of you is this: If you want to tempt me into using that term as well — so that you can pillory me for it later — you’ll have to do a whole lot better than this.Report

              • Call it whatever you want, Jason. Terminated with extreme prejudice?

                I wrote couldn’t swallow the initial story unreservedly, and indeed, differing accounts are trickling out. Maybe bin Laden’s guards shot him. So far the WH has been all over the map on this. What I wrote holds, is all, and since I gave you the courtesy of a reply, I thought the courtesy of an acknowledgement was in order.

                But yes, if he was wanted dead or dead, that presents complications for Greenwald types. But I trust you’ll be straight up on it as always, and won’t need any pillorying.



  18. Mark says:

    bin Laden’s dead. Never met him. Never wanted to. Won’t miss him in the least. Good-bye. Hit the road, Jack. Over and out.

    As someone who lost the most beautiful woman in the world to terrorism more than 12 years before most of you ever heard of or read about such, understand only one thing:

    Revenge is for fools. You never get it.Report

    • Pat Cahalan in reply to Mark says:

      > Revenge is for fools. You never get it.

      All too true. We’ve done a great job of convincing ourselves this ain’t the case, though. Popular culture has this as one of its lynchpins.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Mark says:

      My sincerest condolences. It’s not the sort of thing you can just get over. You never forget. It just leaves a hole in your life.

      And it’s sneaky, you think it’s a bygone thing, then something sparks a memory and it pushes you over and kicks you until you’re gasping and screaming for it to stop. Then it leaves as quickly as it came, leaving you shattered and afraid it might return.

      Revenge never makes it better. It just compounds the guilt. Believe me, I’ve tried it.Report

    • Scott in reply to Mark says:


      So now killing OBL is revenge and not justice?Report

      • Mark in reply to Scott says:

        Beam Me Up,

        Justice, yes.

        But revenge and justice are far different things. If you wish to equate justice and revenge, then I respectfully submit that you have a serious problem. I offer this not as some sort of snarky comment, but merely as a sincere, direct observation.

        Justice often hinges on removing vengeance from the equation; vengeance of and by itself makes a profitable Chuck Bronson or Steven Seagal flick and yet does nothing for the process of justice.

        I sincerely hope that you do not believe justice and revenge are the same. They are not. Never will they be.Report

  19. Mark says:

    The take of Buffalo Butt, the Obese Drug Addict, with Power on Loan from Big Pharma:

    1. Dubya’s started it.

    2. Dubya killed bin Laden.

    3. Obama’s self-serving and arrogant.

    4. The military has regained some respect.

    5. Special Ops are the best.Report

  20. BSK says:

    “Obama said neither Americans nor civilians were harmed in the raid on bin Laden’s compound. Three other adult males were killed — two were bin Laden’s couriers and a third was his adult son — according to a senior administration official. One woman was killed when she was “used as a shield by a male combatant” and two others were injured, the official said.”

    Are we simpy going to declare anyone with any affiliation to bin Laden to not be a civilian? What if the woman was a cleaning lady? Or a cook? Or was there against her will? Maybe there is more info as to her role but it does seem odd to say no civilians were hurt and then discuss three people in undescribed roles and the extent of their injuries.Report

    • Scott in reply to BSK says:


      So now OBL’s couriers are civilians? Are they still civilians to the bleeding heart left if they pick up weapons and shoot at US forces?Report

      • BSK in reply to Scott says:

        Not the couriers. But the women. The article mentioned 3 women, 1 killed and 2 injured, yet offered no explanation for their role or why they were not considered civilian. The couriers, as members of his criminal enterprise, do not deserve that distinction. And perhaps the women don’t either. But there must be evidence offered other than the fact that they were in the compound at the time.Report

    • Christopher Carr in reply to BSK says:

      It doesn’t matter, does it? Unless they’re U.S. citizens “Non-civilians/civilians” are just strange brown drops in the strange brown bucket.Report

      • BSK in reply to Christopher Carr says:

        Especially if you can blame their death on others. A lot of the reports emphasized the fact that the woman was apparently used as a human shield “…by a male… a male!” as one reporter put it. The implication was clear: the cowards hid behind women so we were justified in shooting through the women. An impressive amount of mysogony in such a small amount of words. Man or woman, there is something absurdly cowardly and evil about using human shields. I will not attempt to put myself in to the shoes of the soldiers involved in the firefight and comment on whether her death could have been avoided. Still, with no information offered as to why she should not be considered a civilian, it is a bit disingenuous for us to claim this as a clean shoot.Report

        • Christopher Carr in reply to BSK says:

          I might question the veracity of that actually. It seems far too scripted and consistent with American action movie generic tropes to have actually happened. Shooting the hostage is generally frowned upon unless your name is Officer Jack Traven.Report

          • WardSmith in reply to Christopher Carr says:

            Can’t speak for the Seals, but I’ve personally been through specialized firearms training used by an unnamed branch of the government associated with Homeland Security and indeed we were trained to shoot through the hostage in all cases. In fact if you go for the John Wayne head shot you lose points. That bad guy might have a suicide vest and will not only kill you but everyone around you if left alive, better to make sure he doesn’t succeed. The Israelis learned that lesson the hard way.Report

        • Pat Cahalan in reply to BSK says:

          It is also possible that the fatality of the woman in question was not caused by American shots.

          That is, there may have been civilian causalities, but they were the result of enemy fire.Report