We have a new addition to the list of “things you barely ever hear” which includes, with credit to Steve Martin, “it’s the Banjo player’s Porsche”. I like to imagine a member of Navy Seal Team 6 telling his pilot to “leave the chopper running”, as they lowered themselves into the compound of Osama Bin Laden. I also think we should have kept the body, sent it to a taxidermy shop, and had him stuffed…crouching behind an ottoman with a really surprised look on his face.
To give credit where credit is due, President Obama deserves kudos for making a tough call. It could have gone horribly wrong and been a political disaster for him, a deadly disaster for the Navy, and a psychological nightmare for the country when we need it least. Instead, a military maneuver straight out of Hollywood, and one for the history books, yielded a captured and killed Osama Bin Laden, mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attack on America. It has been a long time coming.
There will be plenty of time to discuss the details. The bounty of intelligence that is being culled from the “take” at the compound. Imagine the information we will garner from this haul. Already we know that indeed, OBL was still in charge, and actively involved in planning and dispensing terrorist attacks.
We also know that the Pakistan government is not our friend. It is possible that many officials didn’t know that OBL was living down the street for the past six years. It is implausible that nobody knew. This compound was only 300 yards from a major Pakistani military base. The compound was unique in the neighborhood, with high walls topped with barbed wire and no internet or telephone service. All household trash was burned on-site. It’s the old…”he was a quiet man…” neighborhood response. Particularly quiet in this case. He never left the building.
There will be time, because the media will be discussing this for weeks on end, to talk about the damage to our military secrets by having left behind large portions of a stealth helicopter. There was some technological leakage there, but a small price to pay for bringing in the world’s most wanted criminal.
One thing that can’t, or shouldn’t, wait, is to give credit to former President Bush and his team for the policies they put in place that allowed for the garnering of the information that led to the capture of OBL. It is a bit painful for some of us, able to remember how the Bush administration got hammered by the same Press that is now busy throwing rose petals on their President, when he tried to explain why we needed enhanced interrogation, wiretapping, and other forms of intelligence gathering that so rankled the Left. This is not to take away from Obama’s big moment, but without the adults who go to work, make money and pay the bills, there is no Christmas Tree for the kids to have their magic. It was the hard work, the ability to make unpopular decisions, and a more pragmatic view of our enemy, that was the Hallmark of the Bush administration…in other words…the War on Terror…that gave us the courier, that led us to Bin Laden.
Let’s not forget,also, all of the military, men and women, soldiers from all countries, that have fought this war for the last ten years…all with a common goal. All of those injured, those who died, the enormous cost of this justice. We are reminded, too, that there is no other military force on Earth the could have pulled this off. Truly, truly courageous and masterful beyond belief.
Finally, once located with a 99% assurance that they had their man…a decision had to be made. And how many choices were there? Drop a bomb? You lose the body and the intelligence in the compound. Not practical. Capture him and bring him out alive? Too much work for too little payoff and the political nightmare of where, when and how to bring him to trial. Uh-uh…no way. So it was a Special Ops mission almost without question, so in that sense, it must have been a bit easier for the President to make the call.
Let’s enjoy the moment, because when the euphoria wears off, there is unemployment, a tanking economy, foreclosures and four dollar-per-gallon gasoline waiting for us. Nonetheless…like dozing off on the couch…it was nice while it lasted.