Additional thoughts on our assassination of Osama bin Laden (with an additional eighth point at the bottom):
1. From the main Associated Press story:
Three adult males were also killed in the raid, including one of bin Laden’s sons, whom officials did not name. One of bin Laden’s sons, Hamza, is a senior member of al-Qaida. U.S. officials also said one woman was killed when she was used as a shield by a male combatant, and two other women were injured. (emphasis added)
Cowards, to the end.
2. From an AP story on the finer points of the raid itself:
Intelligence officials discovered the compound in August while monitoring an al-Qaida courier. The CIA had been hunting that courier for years, ever since detainees told interrogators that the courier was so trusted by bin Laden that he might very well be living with the al-Qaida leader. (emphasis added)
It will be very interesting to learn the specifics of “detainees told interrogators” and whether this story vindicates the highly criticized “enhanced interrogation techniques” used against such al Qaida heavyweights as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
3. Also from that second AP story:
Nestled in an affluent neighborhood, the compound was surrounded by walls as high as 18 feet, topped with barbed wire. Two security gates guarded the only way in. A third-floor terrace was shielded by a seven-foot privacy wall. No phone lines or Internet cables ran to the property. The residents burned their garbage rather than put it out for collection. Intelligence officials believed the million-dollar compound was built five years ago to protect a major terrorist figure. The question was, who? (emphasis added)
Are we to believe that U.S. intelligence officials knew this compound existed for five years, yet the Pakistan government was never able to pin down who exactly was living in it? The AP story later suggests that intelligence on the building’s occupants came from “multiple sources” but does not say which ones. It also reports that the raid was conducted “without collaboration with Pakistani intelligence.” Perhaps because advising Pakistani intelligence of the raid may have compromised the mission? It would seem that Islamabad has a lot to answer for this morning.
4. On the burial of bin Laden’s body at sea: I understand the desire not to create a shrine for terrorists and their sympathizers. But I sure hope we got lots of visual documentation of bin Laden’s death beforehand. We don’t need to live with conspiracy theories that bin Laden survives — or, rather, since we still live with conspiracy theories that Elvis and Tupac are still alive, we need to minimize them.
5. It is churlish to suggest George W. Bush didn’t really try to capture or kill bin Laden, and it is equally churlish not to give President Barack Obama his due for green-lighting Sunday’s raid. On the former, it is becoming clear that pieces of the intelligence puzzle that led to bin Laden’s killing have been several years in the making. And we have known since President Clinton’s attempted assassination of bin Laden in Sudan, and the terrorist’s later close-call escape from Tora Bora, that the window for seizing such opportunities can be very small.
Which is precisely why Obama should be congratulated for approving the raid and giving it the attention and resources it needed to succeed. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who of course had a personal interest in seeing bin Laden brought to justice, put it this way: “I admire the courage of the president to make a decision like this because if something had gone wrong everyone would be blaming him.”
6. This inadvertent live-tweeting of the raid is awesome.
7. I don’t watch a lot of TV news, so I don’t have a go-to network when a story like this breaks; I usually flip around among the networks and cable news channels. I ended up watching Geraldo Rivera break the news and didn’t know whether to laugh or cringe. Tell you what: I’ll report, you decide.
ADDED at 11:25 a.m. (meant to include it originally):
8. Hamas is condemning the killing and mourning bin Laden as a “holy warrior.” And this is a group Israel is supposed to make peace with?
– By Kyle Wingfield