May 2, 2011

They Got Him: RIH (Rot In Hell), Osama Bin Laden (Updates: Acting Unilaterally? Plus: With Gitmo Detainee Assistance, With ‘Advanced Interrogation’)

Filed under: Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 8:00 am

(Originally posted at 11:45 p.m. Sunday, with updates through about 2:30 a.m. on Monday.
Carried to the top throughout Monday for obvious reasons.)


He’s dead.

President Obama gave a very fine speech (Update: Transcripts — White House, and here), and deserves props for its content and delivery.

Topside contextual update, May 2, 6:00 p.m. (to be clear, though it’s a closer call than it should be, I don’t believe Obama is attempting to claim singular credit for Bin Laden’s death [GWB would rarely use the words "I," "me," or "my," which Obama can't/won't avoid]) from Melissa Rawls:

OBAMA did NOT kill Bin Laden. An American soldier, who Obama just a few weeks ago was debating on whether or not to PAY, did. Obama just happened to be the one in office when our soldiers finally found OBL and took him out. This is NOT an Obama victory, but an… AMERICAN victory!!

Okay, especially on the not paying part, which was particularly offensive, but it is nonetheless an American victory in which Obama played a necessary part.

Topside update, May 5, 11:00 a.m. — In the intervening 3-1/2 days, the narratives from the administration have changed so frequently and to such a degree that one doesn’t know what to believe any more. Go here for a montage of “Mother of All FUBARs” developments as of late Thursday morning.



8:45 a.m. — Hamas reacts, and sadly predictably, via Reuters:

The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas on Monday condemned the killing by U.S. forces of Osama bin Laden and mourned him as an “Arab holy warrior.”

“We regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood,” Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, told reporters.

And we expect anything from negotiating with these people?

Related: “Oh Americans … it is still legal for us to cut your necks.”

9:05 a.m. — Predictable NY Times BS alert, captioning a picture of young people celebrating in their cars in D.C at the paper’s home page: “As crowds gathered outside the White House, there was little question that Mr. Obama’s presidency had forever been changed.” Yours truly has more on this at NewsBusters. 2:45 p.m. – Jeff Zeleny at the Times apparently inspired the caption, writing: “But as Mr. Obama delivered his remarks and the crowds continued to gather outside the White House, there was little question that his presidency had forever been changed by snaring Bin Laden. The search for him has played out over Mr. Obama’s maturation as a national political figure in the last decade.”

9:15 a.m.In a brief 3:12 a.m. report (12:12 PT): “Osama bin Laden buried at sea”:

CNN is reporting Osama bin Laden has been buried at sea, citing a U.S. official. Without elaborating, the official told CNN his body was handled in the Islamic tradition.

More: “The official, who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive national security matters, did not immediately say where that occurred.”

12:05 p.m. — You had to know this was coming. The Washington Post’s Petula Dvorak doesn’t like the celebrating (“Complications after a night of jubilation”; HT Geoff Dickens at NewsBusters):

A generation of young Americans slammed the door Monday on the great, big boogeyman of their childhoods with an epic woot-woot and rounds and rounds of “U.S.A.!”

At the news of Osama bin Laden’s death, thousands of people – most of them college-aged and in requisite flip-floppy collegiate gear — whipped up a raucous celebration right outside the White House gates that was one part Mardi Gras and two parts Bon Jovi concert.

It felt a little crazy, a bit much. Almost vulgar.

Because meanwhile, across the river, at the Pentagon, in the ghostly quiet of lights at the Sept. 11, 2001, memorial, a military veteran silently wept.

And many others cried, too, sickened by the death toll, the enormity of almost 10 years of fear, death and terror.

… Folks who lost close friends or family in the Sept. 11 attacks orchestrated by bin Laden or the War on Terror that followed had a rush of new emotions and raw pain at the news of even more bloodshed.

… When I saw that folks were celebrating in the streets at the news of bin Laden’s death, my first reaction was a cringe. Remember how we all felt watching videos of those al-Qaeda guys dancing on Sept. 11?

Are we simply creating star-spangled recruitment tapes for a new generation of terrorists killing in the name of their new martyr?

Well, she’s been writing for the Washington Post since 2001, if not earlier, so that probably puts Ms. Dvorak at least in her mid-30s. At the risk of sounding overindulgent, I think it’s difficult to imagine the trauma the death and destruction of 9/11 placed on the children and adolescents who watched it unfold in real time. The only comparisons you could make if you happened to be in grade school or high school when they occurred are the assassination of JFK (but I don’t recall that any of us actually saw him get shot) and the Challenger explosion (tragic and traumatic, yes, but not an act of war carried out on your own country’s soil).

I think it was great to see young people harmlessly, lawfully, and from all appearances apolitically release a decade of pent-up anxiety.

And if Dvorak can’t see the difference between celebrating the deliberate destruction of 3,000 lives (as Palestinians did after the 9/11 attacks) and celebratory relief at the death of the guy who orchestrated it, I’m not sure anyone can help her.

3:00 p.m. — Yes, we need to frequently remind the left that Gitmo detainees provided much of the needed information (HT Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler:

The CIA developed its theory through leads gained from individuals in bin Laden’s inner circle and from fighters captured after September 11. Intelligence officials were repeatedly told about one courier working for bin Laden as someone that America’s most-wanted man deeply trusted.

The detainees provided the courier’s nickname to U.S. officials and identified him as a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and a trusted assistant of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, once al-Qaida’s third-highest-ranking official (he was captured in 2005). Intelligence officials identified the courier’s name four years ago, but it took two more years to zero in on areas of Pakistan where he and his brother operated.

Now to be fair to the President, it may be that his change of stance on Gitmo is the result of a genuine learning experience arising from information that got the ball rolling on what ultimately became a successful mission to take out the 9/11 mastermind. Of course, he should have known better from the start, or at a minimum while he was getting security briefings in the final months of his presidential candidacy. The coming weeks and months will tell us if he’s really learned anything that he will apply long-term.

4:15 p.m.: Cue the leftist headbursts, via AP (in full, for fair use and discussion purposes; captured here in case it falls down the AP memory hole; HT Legal Insurrection) –

Officials: CIA interrogators at secret prisons developed first strands that led to bin Laden

Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden’s most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.

The news is sure to reignite debate over whether the now-closed interrogation and detention program was successful. Former president George W. Bush authorized the CIA to use the harshest interrogation tactics in U.S. history. President Barack Obama closed the prison system.

You ninnies. This news ends the debate. The program was successful; Bin Laden is dead. What other more meaningful metric is there?

MoreHeh (HT Instapundit): “They told me that if I voted for McCain, we’d get a continuation of Bush’s wartime policies.”

7:25 p.m.Wikipedia: “The sacred texts of Islam prefer burial on land.”

Predictable Islamic “scholarly” overreaction to Bin Laden’s burial at sea:

Islamic scholars criticize bin Laden’s sea burial

Muslim clerics said Monday that Osama bin Laden’s burial at sea was a violation of Islamic tradition that may further provoke militant calls for revenge attacks against American targets.

Although there appears to be some room for debate over the burial — as with many issues within the faith — a wide range of senior Islamic scholars interpreted it as a humiliating disregard for the standard Muslim practice of placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca.

Too bad, so sad, guys. The world’s smallest violin is playing.

Nice try, no sale. “Preference” doesn’t turn into a “violation” just because you don’t like the fact that our guys got Bin Laden.

More: All of this assumes that Bin Laden deserved to be treated as a devout Muslim. Really? Does that mean that you guys agree with his actions and outlook? If so, literally … go to hell.

8:05 p.m.Well:

U.S. team’s mission was to kill bin Laden, not capture

The U.S. special forces team that hunted down Osama bin Laden was under orders to kill the al Qaeda mastermind, not capture him, a U.S. national security official told Reuters.

“This was a kill operation,” the official said, making clear there was no desire to try to capture bin Laden alive in Pakistan.

I agree with the decision, but I’m having a hard time believing Democrats, the press, and peaceniks (but I repeat myself) would have given George W. Bush a pass for this — and some of them would be seeing a timing conspiracy in conducting the mission on May Day. Anniversaries should be interesting.



UPDATE: Congrats to the military and intelligence folks who pulled this off without loss of American life.

UPDATE 2: I’ve pushed this post into Monday so I can carry it forward with updates throughout the day if needed.

UPDATE 3: Michelle Malkin

Keep all our servicemen, servicewomen, and U.S. personnel in your thoughts and prayers tonight. Be safe and Godspeed.

Their work is far, far from over.

UPDATE 4: OBL is dead, as Toby Keith would say, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” (I hear this is a very popular song tonight) –

Update 4A, May 2, 10:25 a.m.: Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks — whose 2002 reaction to Keith’s song was “I hate it. It’s ignorant” — apparently doesn’t have a comment just yet.

UPDATE 5: As I watch the celebrations and the fired-up young people in Washington and New York, I appreciate even more how exhilarating it must be for them to have a sense of closure on September 11, 2001. Of course it was traumatic for all of us, but especially so for those who are now in their late teens and early- to mid-twenties, and saw 9/11 happen before their eyes as children and adolescents.

UPDATE 6: Seems like we may have “acted unilaterally.” I’m hearing that on Fox News, and it’s also noted here

A senior Pakistani intelligence official told NBC News that Pakistani special forces took part in the operation, but U.S. officials said the Pakistani government was not informed of the attack in advance.

Fox is reiterating that it was about 40 Navy Seals with no Pakistani involvement.

UPDATE 7: Cowards and monsters, with another confirmation of Pakistani non-involvement (NOTE: As seen at this May 3 post, this narrative is not holding together) –

President Obama personally gave the order Friday that sent a small U.S. team by helicopter to the compound near Islamabad where American operatives killed Osama bin Laden, his adult son and three others, including a woman used as a human shield during the firefight, US officials said this morning.

Pakistani officials were not told beforehand about the operation, which took less than 40 minutes Sunday, officials said. An American helicopter that malfunctioned had to be destroyed, but no Americans were harmed in the high-risk raid, officials said.

UPDATE 7A, May 2, 6:10 p.m.: From AP (HT Laura Ingraham) — “Slain terror chief Osama bin Laden used his own wife as a human shield in an apparent attempt to save himself as elite troops stormed his Pakistani compound, US officials revealed Monday.” (NOTE: Again, as seen at this May 3 post, this narrative is not holding up.)

UPDATE 8: Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion — “Islamofascism Delenda Est: Bin Laden Killed.”

UPDATE 9: A pic has gone up that may — emphasize MAY — be Bin Laden shortly after his death. Update 9A, May 2, 9:15 a.m.: AP has pulled their photo, which I believe was the same one to which I linked.

UPDATE 10: (go to last paragraph here) “In Philadelphia, at a game between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, chants of “USA! USA!” began in the top of the ninth inning at Citizens Bank Park.”

UPDATE 11: Michelle Malkin is chronicling the predictable instant leftist politicization. I’ll add this one, which though relatively even-handed, isn’t called for less than two hours after the announcement: “This makes Obama a shoo-in for ’12, right?” Update 11A: Except, as Michelle points out, for the fact that “much of the intelligence gathered that led to discovering bin Laden was developed by the detainees detained under the Bush administration at facilities like the one Obama wanted to shut down.” Specifically:

“From the time that we first recognized bin Laden as a threat, the U.S. gathered information on people in bin Laden’s circle, including his personal couriers,” a senior official in the Obama administration said in a background briefing from the White House.

After the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, “detainees gave us information on couriers. One courier in particular had our constant attention. Detainees gave us his nom de guerre, his pseudonym, and also identified this man as one of the few couriers trusted by bin Laden.”

In 2007, the U.S. learned the man’s name.

In 2009, “we identified areas in Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated. They were very careful, reinforcing belief we were on the right track.”

In August 2010, “we found their home in Abbottabad,” not in a cave, not right along the Afghanistan border, but in an affluent suburb less than 40 miles from the capital.

Update 11B, May 2, 10:10 a.m.” I posted on the detainee element of Bin Laden’s capture and the NYT’s premature e-celebration of Barack Obama’s supposedly “forever changed” presidency at NewsBusters this morning.



  1. One speech is just one speech. The Obama who spoke tonight is not the real Obama. It proves nothing. Let’s see how long his fine content and delivery last. Until then, sorry, no props.

    My props go to the military and others on the front lines.

    Comment by zf — May 1, 2011 @ 11:54 pm

  2. #1, of course the long-term is more important than the short-term, but I’ll savor the short-term for the moment.

    I share a palpable sense of relief and release, for personal as well as patriotic reasons (if you read my next column, you’ll see why). Of course there’s a possibility of reprisals in the short-term, but there’s also a chance of AQ leadership getting fragmented into ineffectiveness in the long-term.

    Comment by TBlumer — May 2, 2011 @ 12:08 am

  3. #2, If it was earlier in his presidency I would have given Obama much more of the benefit of the doubt. But he’s done and said so much crap since then that nothing he said tonight resonated with me. It’s just him saying what he is supposed to say, my opinion of him changes not one bit and one speech hardly proves that he is a decent man after all. I guess I overreacted to your praise of him because it set off knee-jerk fears that you might suddenly decide he isn’t a PUNK after all.

    And don’t get me wrong, I feel release too that bastard OBL is gone (although one can argue that his being killed deprived us of possible vital information and even some liberals probably wouldn’t have minded how enhanced the interrogations of him got) and I’m not at all worried about AQ reprisals since AQ has been pretty crippled for a long time even with OSB. My concerns are that the PR Obama will get from this will result in conservatives pulling back their criticisms of him and liberals using this to help him get re-elected. The fact that Osama was killed while Barack is in office in no way shape or form undoes or makes up for all the damage he has done and will continue to do, and I am just worried that Osamas death could hurt the U.S. in the end because it gives Obama new life. Again, seeing some conservatives laud the guy simply out me in mind of that sobering reality and I overreacted.

    I definitely want to see your next article as I must admit the mention of personal reasons (I assume beyond how Osamas evil has so personally affected all Americans) is very intriguing.

    Comment by zf — May 2, 2011 @ 1:00 am

  4. Here’s what they should do with his body: send it around to every man, woman, and child in the U.S. so we can all spit on it.

    Comment by zf — May 2, 2011 @ 1:54 am

  5. Ok, not to take the Pakistanis side, but all these “confirmations” are coming from admin figures and sympathetic papers/sources, and they certainly have a political agenda to make it all look like President Obamas doing. So let’s not dismiss Pakistani involvement yet. Also, that LA Times story starting off that Obama “personally gave the order” smells more than a bit of propaganda. La Times is a liberal paper and them shouting out Obamas alleged personal involvement smacks of boosting and bias. It’s fairly obvious LA Times wants to give the impression that Obama deserves all the credit.

    Also, I bet you that if this happened under a Republican President they press would be all him or her for the human shield being killed.

    Comment by zf — May 2, 2011 @ 3:00 am

  6. So, wait, I’m confused, Obama isn’t blaming Bush for this one? >;o)

    Comment by Anon — May 2, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

  7. Humongous kudos to the CIA and to the Navy Seal team! They are the folks who deserve all the credit.

    The helicopter malfunction reminds me of the Navy Sea Stallion choppers that failed and crashed during the ill-fated attempt by the Carter regime to rescue the embassy hostages being held in Teheran by the Iranian theocracy thugs. It’s my understanding that the deplorable state of equipment maintenance caused by Carter’s slashing of the defense budget led to the chopper failures. Is that the case with the failed chopper in the Bin Laden mission? It wouldn’t surprise me. Among their many, many other failings, Democrats seem to abhor our unsurpassed armed forces and lose no opportunity to cut defense funds in favor of dishing out taxpayer monies to the social programs that buy the votes of their primary constituents.

    God bless our military folks…and our intelligence operatives, too!

    Comment by Excelsior — May 2, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

  8. Legal Insurrection is reporting that KSM gave up the info AFTER being WATER BOARDED! So Obama was against Water Boarding before he was for it? Another date sensitive position has past it’s expiration date.

    Score one for George and Dick, Obama gets honorable mention.

    Comment by dscott — May 2, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

  9. I have to retract an earlier statement, it’s pretty obvious the Pakistanis had little if any involvement in the action that led to UBL’s death which goes to show you that it’s “unilateralism” that gets results not the bureaucratic hemming and hawing called “multilateralism.”

    My language toward Obama may have been a bit harsh last night but considering how he has acted in the past it’s going to take a lot more than one decent speech to change my mind about him. And lets not forget that a lot of what led up to this was due to policies enacted long before Obama came along in 2009 and many of them are policies that Obama has repudiated publicly and attempted to curtail. I hope this irony is not lost on Mr. Obama as we move forward.

    Comment by zf — May 2, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

  10. OBL was coward to the end, reported by UK Telegraph:

    Bin Laden used his wife as a “human shield” before he was shot

    Comment by dscott — May 2, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

  11. Obama uses info gained from torture to unilaterally and successfully act in another country. To quote Colonel Nathan Jessep, why explain yourself to someone who rises and sleeps under the very blanket of freedom that you provide, then questions the way in which you provide it? I would rather he just said thank you, and went on his way.

    Comment by Jim — May 2, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

  12. “…American victory in which Obama played a necessary part.”

    Well, technically, the part he played was not actually “necessary”. The forces would have probably gotten in trouble for it but they could easily have decided to just plug UBL even without direct orders from Obama.

    Also, what Obama did was the easiest part and something any President could and would have done. Saying yes to “We got Bin Laden in our sights, do we have our orders to get him?” hardly is a stroke of genius. A lot of what led up to this moment was due to the hard work of his predecessors in office and our intelligence and military personnel. If anything, Obama has stood in their way of doing their job and has outwardly condemned the methods they used to get to Laden. Obama just happened to be in the right placer at the right time. Unless someone can convince me that without Obama this couldn’t/wouldn’t have happened I’m taking the stance that he deserves NO credit whatsoever. It occurred DESPITE him.

    So far, he has not explicitly claimed singular credit, but if you read between the lines he has insinuated that he somehow deserves the lion share of credit. The only thing that keeps him from outwardly taking sole credit is that he knows if he does so it will sink the good PR he is getting from this.

    Harsh assessments? Sour grapes? Me being disingenuous? Maybe, but it’s the only factual assessment I can make based on who this guy is and what he has done and how.

    Comment by zf — May 2, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

  13. I don’t think they would have or should have gone in after OBL without BHO’s approval.

    It’s one thing to be at the Sandy Berger level in 1998 before the 9/11 attacks. It’s another thing after that. Of course BHO had to approve it, and his approval was necessary. It wasn’t as important as executing the mission well, which of course he didn’t design or carry out.

    Comment by TBlumer — May 2, 2011 @ 6:42 pm

  14. Intel was not given as a result of waterboarding, intelligent experts report. Sorry, guy, you just made that one completely up. Even the intel from Gitmo was given after waterboarded ceases, according to Rumsfeld.

    Comment by Modern Esquire — May 3, 2011 @ 8:11 pm

  15. Um, actually, it was the President’s decision to do a strike team as opposed to a missile or Predator drone strike. He’s the Commander In Chief, Tom.

    Comment by Modern Esquire — May 3, 2011 @ 8:13 pm

  16. Most of the relevant intel was obtained while Obama was President, too. Good job getting the courier’s nickame in 2007. Too bad, we got his ACTUAL NAME under Obama.

    Yes, the fact that Osama was in the same spot for the last six years and Bush, who ended the OBL search team and said he “doesn’t think about OBL anymore” did absolutely nothing but let OBL live in luxury for years

    Comment by Modern Esquire — May 3, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

  17. #14 – #16, I see mini-ME is riled tonight.

    #14, My post here does not assert that intel was obtained through waterboarding. A commenter does. Your beef is with him.

    Another post quotes someone else who asserts that “I guess we’ll never know for sure if waterboarding led to this first nugget of information, but you can bet that whatever it was it falls under the very adult notion of “enhanced interrogation” techniques.”

    As is so often the case with you, you accuse me of posting something I didn’t post. But while we’re here, I should note that the FEAR of being waterboarded again could be a motivation for spilling the beans even if it was never again actually employed — and, as the American Thinker author indicated, we’ll never totally know. But we DO know that enhanced interrogation techniques were relevant; even the AP couldn’t stay away from reporting it.

    UPDATE to #14, per the New York Times, of all places — “It wasn’t until after 2002, when the agency began rounding up Qaeda operatives — and subjecting them to hours of brutal interrogation sessions in secret overseas prisons — that they finally began filling in the gaps about the foot soldiers, couriers and money men Bin Laden relied on.”

    On #15, I have no idea why you’re beefing with me about the CIC thing. Of course Obama approved, but he based it on recommendations, and said recommendations would have leaned towards a strike force in the circumstances. I’ve reviewed my comments at this post and your beef seems to have no basis. Be specific, child.

    Update to #15, at the same link at the New York Times of all places — “A helicopter assault emerged as the favored option.” The military figured this out MONTHS BEFORE it got to Obama for serious consideration. When it got to Obama, it was go or no go on the helicopter assault, period.

    As to #16, that’s the most boring POS I’ve ever read. You obviously don’t understand the difference between what officials say in public and do in private in these circumstances. As such, I can’t help you, and you apparently can’t help yourself.

    Comment by TBlumer — May 3, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

  18. [...] it’s included in the evolving thread on the the OBL mission, I didn’t post separately at BizzyBlog on the Associated Press’s [...]

    Pingback by BizzyBlog — May 4, 2011 @ 10:43 am

  19. #13 & 16 Actually, General Petraeus was prepared to drop a bomb on OBL at his compound IF Obama refused again to send people to go get OBL.

    The puppet isn’t calling any shots, Valerie Jarrett is and when she is NOT it’s Daley, Hillary & Panetta. Obama is merely a poseur.

    Comment by dscott — May 4, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

  20. [...] I saw the handwringing admonishments coming, and was almost surprised that it took 12 hours for the first example to appear (see 12:05 p.m. May 2 update at [...]

    Pingback by BizzyBlog — May 6, 2011 @ 3:43 pm

  21. [...] predictable contributions from overseas, including someone who obviously wouldn’t have liked my immediate reaction to OBL’s death: (Martina Devlin on May 5 at the Irish Independent) [...]

    Pingback by BizzyBlog — May 8, 2011 @ 10:27 am

  22. [...] to cut President Obama some slack for his first-person rendering of the operation that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. In the intervening days, the administration’s failure to acknowledge the truth about how [...]

    Pingback by BizzyBlog — May 8, 2011 @ 11:04 am

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