Bomb or raid Osama bin Laden compound? Obama makes the choice
Credit where credit is due. After years of intelligence gathering – that may have started with enhanced interrogation techniques at Gitmo – reports this morning indicate President Obama was provided with an option to bomb the suspected bin Ladin compound in Pakistan. Obama wanted – and we needed – proof of death.
Jake Tapper writes this morning…
Sources tell ABC News that in March President Obama authorized the development of a plan for the U.S. to bomb Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound with two B2 stealth bombers dropping a few dozen 2,000-pound JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) on the compound.
But when the president heard the compound would be reduced to rubble he chose not to pursue that option. …
[I]nstead the president authorized this incredibly daring and difficult operation, scheduled for a time of “low loom” – little moon luminosity – so the US helicopters could enter into Pakistan low to the ground and undetected.
Gutsy move I would think, but we’ve already got commentators suggesting something does not smell right since the body has already been buried at sea even though DNA testing is not complete and we’re depending on intelligence and facial recognition.
The UK Guardian notes…
Although the swift burial complies with Islamic custom and should therefore avoid causing any offence in Muslim countries, the apparent haste could lead to claims that the person killed was not really Bin Laden – though the US authorities have taken DNA samples and appear to have no doubts.
I find the comments concerning Obama “getting the job done” while President Bush “failed” more than a bit disturbing. Those statements clearly imply the military and intelligence services were failing during the Bush administration. I won’t accept that garbage.
Again, props to the US Navy Seal Team and the pilots who were tasked with the mission to capture or kill bin Ladin and to the president who gave the order to proceed with the mission.
National Journal has a “timeline” piece giving some historical background concerning the lead-up to the raid. They also note…
The CIA developed its theory through leads from individuals in bin Laden’s inner circle and other captured fighters following 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 U.S. officials the courier’s nickname 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.)
Pajamas Media notes…
Piece all that together. KSM was captured in Pakistan in 2003. Al Libbi was captured in 2005. Both, and many other captured al Qaeda terrorists, have been held at Gitmo for years, where they have been interrogated, queried, quizzed and waterboarded. And the information they all have dribbled out has been patiently pieced together over years, finally giving US intel a name and an operational picture that was actionable. If we had simply killed them with drone aircraft, or made the decision early on not to find out what they knew, the raid to get Osama bin Laden would never have happened.
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