Federal Government’s Amateur Hour
There’s an almost laughable difference between the professionalism displayed by Joint Special Operations Command, the CIA, the Navy Seals, and the President during operation Neptune’s Spear and the amateur hour special performance we have gotten from our government since the operation.
Before the United States knew, before the story even leaked, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson knew that Osama bin Laden had been killed. Go check his Twitter. Our military boys were so eager to tell someone that they told “The Rock”. As awesome as I think that is, that is a problem.
In the days that have followed, many things that we were initially told have been wrong. The press conference held by John Brennan, Deputy National Security Advisor, was littered with things that have been since proven wrong. There was no firefight. The only person who put up a fight was the Kuwati courier. Only in the killing of the courier was there gunfire directed at our troops.
In the killing of the men and Osama bin Laden inside the 3 story compound, none of them were armed. Two of the men were apparently physically threatening. In the statement that has come out since, Osama bin Laden was moving “towards” something but there were no guns near him. He also did not use his wife as a shield. She charged towards the Seals and was promptly shot in the leg.
This was not a mission to take Osama bin Laden. This was clearly a mission to kill Osama bin Laden. He had no idea they were coming. It was perfectly planned. It was flawlessly executed. They were out to kill Osama bin Laden, retrieve as much information as they could, and get out. All the talk of giving Osama a chance to surrender was a lie.
Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan’s press conference was a major mistake. You shouldn’t make definitive statements until you know. The fog of war excuse doesn’t work. There is a picture of our government watching a live feed of the action.
Then there’s the issue of Osama bin Laden’s death pictures. First, senior advisers were not sure if the pictures would be made public. Then Drudge Report and a bunch of other sources claimed that their sources said the pictures would definitely come out. Then the White House said the pictures wouldn’t be released.
I wanted to reserve judgment on this issue until after it played out, and this morning the news came out that al-Qaeda has publicly acknowledge the death of their leader. The terrorists now admit that he’s dead. The only people still questioning his death are conspiracy theorists.
I understand that not releasing the pictures falls into line with the statements about giving him Muslim treatment, and a proper burial. The White House has made strides not to upset Al-Qaeda and bin Laden sympathizers. At the same time, I understand why people want to so badly see the pictures. They felt like the Seals were sent in for the purpose of proving it. They felt like pictures would prove that he was dead beyond a reasonable doubt.
The problem is we’re dealing with unreasonable people. Terrorists by their very nature aren’t reasonable. Conspiracy theorists will always claim the pictures were doctored just like they question the American flag in the moon landing pictures (you can waste several hours reading about how the moon landing was fake).
I would have understood if the President released the pictures. I understand why now more clearly why he didn’t release the pictures. Personally, I want to see the pictures, but I don’t think it would enrich my life any. I don’t think it would make me more confident that bin Laden’s dead. I think it’s more of a morbid fascination to see the dead body of the man who has ruined the last decade.
Of all my dead friends and family, I didn’t feel like seeing their bodies confirmed their deaths for me. I’m pretty certain their deaths hit me straight in the face the moment I heard.
It was a real failure on the White House’s part not explaining why we sent in the Navy Seals. Yes, President Obama wanted a Navy Seal team to go in there despite the rest of his staff wanting to send drones. The problem is that the President and the White House have not fully explained why. They have assumed the public would understand.
We could have accomplished our goal of killing Osama bin Laden with drones, but we would lack the proof necessary to appease the Pakistani government for compromising their sovereignty by executing a mission on their soil near their capital. It’s one thing to send drones to the tribal areas. It’s another thing to send a drone within a short car ride of the capital.
The other goal is shown by the press releases since about the 10 hard drives and 100 other pieces of evidence including discs and thumb drives. We wanted to take whatever information we could from the compound instead of possibly destroying it or leaving in a giant pile of rubble. Information is power and speed is key in this day and age. You can’t take risks in the aftermath of bin Laden’s death.
The purpose that no one else has stated is that our government wanted to make sure that it was in fact Osama bin Laden so that we could stop exerting resources, power, man hours, etc. in pursuing him. The White House wanted to know for sure that it was Osama bin Laden not for the world but for our military and intelligence agencies. They wanted to make sure it was Osama as a service to the public not for the appeasement of public’s need of confirmation. There’s a difference.
As poorly handled as the situation was, this morning’s news of the acceptance of bin Laden’s death by al-Qaeda has justified President Obama’s decision not to release the photos. We’ll never know if it was the better decision, but at the very least we know it wasn’t a wrong decision. Furthermore, this is a decision that can change if the situation calls for it.
It’s senseless in my mind to poke an angry pitbull with a stick; either you learn how to handle it and see if it will reform or you put it down. When dealing with psychotic terrorists who might at any given point try to kill thousands of innocents, I’m ok with the thought process that wants to limit agitating them further.
Last but not least is our government’s continuing failure to appropriately handle Pakistan. In this morning’s news, bin Laden’s wife stated that they have lived on the compound for 5 years. Osama bin Laden has been in a military town near Pakistan’s capital for 5 years. More than half the time we have looked for him, he’s been in the same spot in a military garrison town.
In the President’s address he underlined the value of Pakistan’s role in the fight against terrorism. In John Brennan’s press conference he underlined the value of Pakistan’s role as well, but he made clear that they did not know about the operation. CIA Director Leon Panetta called Pakistan out in his briefing with Congress. Congress has come out guns a blazing against Pakistan.
We need Pakistan. The battle on terror is on their borders. They have the most intel. They have suffered the most casualties. They have killed and apprehended the most terrorists. We need the relationship to work, but we also need for them to weed out their leaks. They need to weed out the individuals who are still supporting terrorism within their own military and intelligence agency.
I think finding bin Laden so near the capital and his wife stating they had been there for 5 years has been embarrassing enough. This public humiliation of Pakistan by our federal government is short sighted and wrong. It’s one thing for me as a citizen to point the finger at Pakistan and get angry. It’s another for government to rub salt into the wounds.
This is very much like when you find out your friend is obviously cheating on his wife. You don’t go and tell all your other friends. You don’t publicly humiliate him, possibly destroy the friendship, and risk even more collateral damage. You pull him aside, tell him that it’s obvious what is going on, and that it needs to change.
Pakistan’s track record is more friend than enemy. In this day and age, you have to take what you can get. With the natural public humiliation of operation Neptune’s Spear to the press release about how long bin Laden lived there, there’s enough incentive for them to change.
I only hope that behind the scenes the White House is handling all the developments appropriately with the other heads of state. I only hope that we’re continuing in a positive direction with the other leaders in the world. From the outside looking in, the amateur and inconsistent public handling of bin Laden’s death is troubling.
On a more positive note, we’re better prepared for train attacks, a 9/11 anniversary attack, and have a deeper understanding of bin Laden’s operations and ideas. That’s good news we can all appreciate.