The road to this point was a long one. Reportedly, the US found this place by tracking a courier, whose nickname first came to light in detainee interrogations years ago, and about whom more data slowly amassed until we had his whole name, area of operations, and finally residence, which turned out to be Osama Central. Congrats to President Obama, the operators, and the intelligence folks on a job very well done. I thought the President's speech afterwards could have been better, but it must have been a very strange moment for him; he gave the order for a specific human being to be killed, and a couple of days later, it was done. It was Osama bin Laden, but my impression of Obama is that he's the kind of guy who still would be a little bit freaked out by that. His presentation was always as a transformative figure; he's a natural inspirer, rather than a natural leader, and has never seemed comfortable with wrangling people, unlike Bill Clinton and LBJ, two presidents who *looooved* it. And the one time since his election that Obama says "Do this!" and it happens pretty much perfectly and it's something big that matters and that people will remember him forever for, it's killing a guy. That's got to be a little odd. The way he emphasized himself in his speech was a little odd, too: he insisted on it being a priority, he was briefed, he made the decision. That speech was his "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" banner; as we all know, the question is what comes after that.
Among all the news and commentary (my favorite being the guy from Lahore who went to Abottabad to get away from it all, who unknowingly became the first person to cover the story when he bitched about helicopters on his Twitter), I've been surprised to see a few commentators making discontented sounds about Americans being publicly happy that Osama bin Laden is dead. Some folks even thought it resembled people celebrating over 9/11 itself. I was reminded of those 9/11 celebrations, too, but purely for contrast: Americans got together to celebrate the death of one guy who deliberately murdered over 3,000 people in a single morning and was sorry it wasn't more. The people who danced in the streets on 9/11 were celebrating the murder of over 3,000 people, and wishing it had been more. There is not so much a moral difference between the two as a moral *gulf.* I haven't forgotten that people danced in the streets over 9/11, and I'm never going to.
The big implications over the next few days are for our relationship with Pakistan. President Obama made lip service to Pakistan's cooperation, but the administration didn't tell Pakistan about the intel or the raid, and that says volumes. What says more: Abbotabad is a bit of a tourist town. It looks like an interesting place to visit; here are some pics from Flickr, if you want to get an idea of what it's like. ABC News originally reported it was 40 miles from Islamabad, but it's actually closer to eighty, so it's about as far from Pakistan's capital as Front Royal, Virginia, is from DC -- a two or three hour drive. It's also a big military town; Pakistan's War College is there. Osama wasn't in the sticks; he was right in the center of everything. As somebody looking at real estate, I'm honestly jealous of his location. There was a bus stop on the corner. There were hospitals and a college nearby. He was in the middle of everything, in a huge house with a giant wall, valued at a million bucks. I don't know if the US will make a stink about this or not (I'm guessing not, though WE DAMN WELL SHOULD), but it's extremely clear that several very big somebodies inside Pakistan knew *exactly* where Osama bin Laden was, and were sitting on that knowledge.
(Incidentally, as long as President Obama is killing people in Pakistan, may I recommend Abdul Qadeer Khan? "House arrest," my ass.)
And on a completely unrelated note: I just watched a promo vid for HAWAII FIVE-O. How the hell do you folks tell McGarrett and Danno apart? Their faces are so similar that the only way I can distinguish them is if it's a long shot, because McGarrett is quite a bit taller.
Originally posted on my DW. | people have commented there. | Do so yourself, if you like.