Team Obama Delivers! Haters Sit Down and Take Note.
At 11:35 p.m. EST Sunday night, President Barack Obama addressed our nation and told us that, hours earlier, US forces had killed Osama Bin Laden and had taken his corpse into custody. Over the past 10 years, the US has spent considerable time and energy searching for Bin Laden. These efforts have been costly both in terms of lives lost and treasure spent. We have waged a deadly war in Afghanistan which, to date, has claimed the lives of 1461 American troops and over 8800 Afghan civilians, and which has been financed to the tune of $4.8 billion USD. While these sacrifices have been made in the name of preserving national security, it is hard to deny that most Americans have perceived this engagement to be little more than a hunting expedition for the world’s most notorious terrorist. Furthermore, many would argue that this hunt has cost us morally, that an “ends justifies the means” mentality has jeopardized our nation’s status as the standard bearer for human rights. Consider the numerous languishing GITMO detainees and the questionable “interrogation” of an untold number of unnamed detainees at various “black site” secret prisons around the world. The costs have been high, but the mission has arguably warranted them. Bin Laden’s lethal criminality was without measure. Over the years his acts of terrorism claimed the innocent lives of many all over the world. Six lives were lost in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, 100s perished in the 1998 simultaneous bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, 17 sailors perished as a result of the 2000 suicide attack against the USS Cole, and 2973 Americans lost their lives to Bin Laden’s 9/11 multi-pronged attack on New York and Washington D.C. and aboard hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 that went down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. At last, US forces got this scourge of a man.
Strangely, Bin Laden was neither found hunkered down in a dark cave, nor camped out on some mountain plateau on the Afghan-Pakistani border. No, he was evidently luxuriating in a fortress-like mansion, along with the youngest of his wives, in the super affluent suburban city of Abbottabad, only 30 miles from Islamabad. Shortly after learning this news, we were further informed that Al Qaeda’s number one man had been buried at sea, in accordance with the Islamic tradition that requires that the deceased be buried within 24 hours of death. The vastness of the sea as a burial site for Bin Laden was deemed appropriate by US authorities, who felt it would be hard to find a nation that was eager to give his notorious remains a home (we’re not so sure it would have been that hard- Syria and Libya may have been willing).
This historical set of events came about as the result of many months of “intelligence” style super sleuthing (that began back in August of last year) and impressively secret high-level military operations meetings. The final step was the President’s alone and, in many ways, the most risky: President Obama unilaterally authorized the sending of US military helicopters, stationed in Afghanistan, across the border into Pakistan (without the knowledge of Pakistani President Minister Zardari) to route out and eliminate Bin Laden. In doing so, the President made good on his 2008 promise to find Bin Laden and eliminate Al Qaeda, even if this required the sending of troops into Pakistan. He had aslo promised that such action would only be taken if he was convinced the supporting intelligence was good enough. At the time, these statements drew wide criticism from Republicans, who painted the then presidential nominee as a “political neophyte.”
No such words were heard last night. People around the US poured out into the streets to celebrate the end of a nightmare, one that drew to its most gruesome point almost 10 years ago, on September 11, 2001. Former President George W. Bush congratulated President Obama on capturing Bin Laden, as did Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty. Interestingly, Donald “Birther King” Trump and his crew did not pipe up with questions regarding the birthplace of President Obama, nor did they ask for his school report cards. I guess even they were able to realize that the man who had just delivered the FBI’s #1 most wanted criminal did not need a smiley face on an elementary school report to prove himself. Nor did I hear the President being repeatedly referred to as Barack “Hussain” OBama by Rush Limbaugh, various Fox News commentators and their ilk. Strange. Did they suddenly lose their passion for the man’s middle name? Or did they just realize that their less than subtle attempts to inflame the racist and bigoted of their followers would be inappropriate in light of Mr. Obama’s overwhelming success?
Maybe these folks have realized that, while they go around zealously fear-mongering and “investigating” non-issues, some folks are getting down to the real business of running and protecting this nation and are actually slaying real bogey men, not imaginary ones. Is it possible that they may actually be grateful that folks with cooler and more rational heads than their own will be the ones who now have to tackle the tough questions that are sure to arise in the days to come? Consider the already tenuous relations between the US and Pakistan and the inevitable questions: How is it possible that the Pakistanis didn’t know that Bin Laden was in their midst? The $1M dollar mansion compound, eight times the size of its average neighbor, surrounded by 8-12 foot walls, strangely without phone or Internet services, didn’t tip them off? How about the neighbors? Is it just coincidence that many of them were former Pakistani military brass? Given their military backgrounds, is it really plausible that none of them asked how a courier and his brother, the alleged owners of the mega mansion, could afford the place, and why the brothers insisted on burning all of their trash rather than putting it out on the sidewalk as the rest of the neighborhood residents did? Hmm. It seems like doves rather than hawks will be needed to navigate this diplomatic tight rope.
Thankfully we are in the hands of the convincingly capable Team Obama. A team that was able to execute a militarily and diplomatically risky mission perfectly, without a single word being leaked and without any civilian or US military casualties. These folks seems imminently qualified to handle what’s coming next. And for once, it seems as if everyone knows it!