NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

BREAKING: Osama bin Laden is dead, officials say; President Obama addresses the nation

Details are sketchy as of this hour, but Amer­i­ca’s tele­vi­sion net­works, cit­ing mul­ti­ple sources, are report­ing that U.S. forces have killed Osama bin Laden in Abbot­tabad, Pak­istan, and have pos­ses­sion of his body.

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma is sched­uled to speak to the nation short­ly. The admin­is­tra­tion has not offi­cial­ly con­firmed the news, but the pres­i­dent is expect­ed to do so when he speaks from the East Room of the White House.

PRESIDENT NOW SPEAKING, 8:32 PM: Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s speech has begun. He has con­firmed the news reports: Osama bin Laden is dead, and the Unit­ed States is in pos­ses­sion of his body. Bin Laden was killed in a fire­fight cen­tered around a com­pound in a sub­ur­ban region of Pak­istan, which had been tar­get­ed by a small con­tin­gent of U.S. forces. (The Pres­i­dent did­n’t elab­o­rate on which branch(es) of the mil­i­tary con­tributed troops to the force).

PRESIDENT REVEALS MORE DETAILS, 8:44 PM: The oper­a­tion appar­ent­ly came to fruition after Amer­i­ca’s intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty began pur­su­ing a lead about bin Laden’s where­abouts last August, the Pres­i­dent said. He dis­closed that he recent­ly signed off on a plan to make use of the intel­li­gence that was gath­ered by fol­low­ing up on the lead. The plan was car­ried out, and it result­ed in a fire­fight.

The bat­tle at the com­pound was appar­ent­ly very one-sided, because the Pres­i­dent said no Amer­i­cans were killed, and care was tak­en to avoid loss of civil­ian lives. The only lives lost were those of al-Qae­da oper­a­tives, includ­ing Osama bin Laden him­self, and one woman used as a human shield by them.

WHAT THE PRESIDENT SAID, 9:25 PM: Here is the rel­e­vant, tran­scribed por­tion of the pres­i­den­t’s address, con­cern­ing the oper­a­tion.

[L]ast August, after years of painstak­ing work by our intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty, I was briefed on a pos­si­ble lead to bin Laden. It was far from cer­tain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeat­ed­ly with my nation­al secu­ri­ty team as we devel­oped more infor­ma­tion about the pos­si­bil­i­ty that we had locat­ed bin Laden hid­ing with­in a com­pound deep inside of Pak­istan. And final­ly, last week, I deter­mined that we had enough intel­li­gence to take action, and autho­rized an oper­a­tion to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to jus­tice.

Today, at my direc­tion, the Unit­ed States launched a tar­get­ed oper­a­tion against that com­pound in Abbot­tabad, Pak­istan.  A small team of Amer­i­cans car­ried out the oper­a­tion with extra­or­di­nary courage and capa­bil­i­ty. No Amer­i­cans were harmed. They took care to avoid civil­ian casu­al­ties. After a fire­fight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took cus­tody of his body.

MURRAY REACTS, 9:02 PM: Here’s Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray’s state­ment. Just came in. One of the first offi­cial respons­es from a mem­ber of Con­gress.

The Pres­i­den­t’s announce­ment tonight is tremen­dous news for all Amer­i­cans and for coun­tert­er­ror­ism efforts world­wide.

The superb work of our mil­i­tary and intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ties have led to the death of the mas­ter­mind of the worst attack in our nation’s his­to­ry.  It is indeed a great moment.

I applaud our troops, intel­li­gence oper­a­tives, and the Admin­is­tra­tion for nev­er waver­ing in this impor­tant goal in the broad­er war on ter­ror­ism.

This is a par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant day for the thou­sands of Amer­i­cans who lost a fam­i­ly mem­ber, friend or loved one near­ly ten years ago. And all of our thanks go to those who have been lost in our mil­i­tary efforts and to our vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies.

This is indeed a sig­nif­i­cant moment and one that will con­tin­ue to pro­pel our efforts to root out ter­ror­ists wher­ev­er they reside. We must con­tin­ue to remain vig­i­lant and focused on the pro­tec­tion of the Amer­i­can peo­ple.

BACKGROUND FROM THE ADMINISTRATION, 9:44 PM: NPI has just learned much more about the oper­a­tion from the White House. Here’s some of what we heard on a call with senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials:

  • The com­pound where bin Laden was hid­ing is locat­ed in an area that is “rel­a­tive­ly afflu­ent, with lots of retired mil­i­tary,” accord­ing to a senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial. “It’s also iso­lat­ed from the nat­ur­al dis­as­ters and ter­ror­ist attacks that have afflict­ed oth­er parts of Pak­istan,” the offi­cial said.
  • The com­pound was built with­in the last five years, and the U.S. sus­pects it may have been built explic­it­ly for the pur­pose of hid­ing the al-Qae­da leader. It was extreme­ly well secured, with high walls, barbed wire, mul­ti­ple gates, and few win­dows in the build­ings.
  • The intel­li­gence on this com­pound has been a close­ly-guard­ed secret until this evening. The infor­ma­tion was con­sid­ered incred­i­bly impor­tant and was shared with no oth­er coun­try.
  • The spe­cial team that took out Bin Laden was brought in using heli­copters. The admin­is­tra­tion won’t say (at least for now) which kind of heli­copters were used or what mix­ture of per­son­nel com­prised the team.
  • Bin Laden’s body is being han­dled in accor­dance with Islam­ic prac­tice and tra­di­tion. “This is some­thing that we take very seri­ous­ly.  And so there­fore this is being han­dled in an appro­pri­ate man­ner,” a senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial said.

CANTWELL REACTS, MONDAY MORNING, 10:05 AM: Here is Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell’s state­ment. We received it a few min­utes ago.

The long wait from 2001 is over. Osama Bin Laden’s death will be remem­bered as a major turn­ing point in our efforts to fight his ter­ror­ism net­work. The Amer­i­can peo­ple are grate­ful for the ser­vice of all our mil­i­tary and intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty.

Today, we remem­ber the lives of those who were lost on Sep­tem­ber 11, and we give our deep­est appre­ci­a­tion to those who defend our free­dom every day. The death of Osama Bin Laden is a major step for­ward in the fight against ter­ror­ism, but we must con­tin­ue our efforts to con­front the social and eco­nom­ic con­di­tions that give rise to vio­lent extrem­ism around the world.

By tar­get­ing and tak­ing out Osama bin Laden, U.S. spe­cial forces have neu­tral­ized a mass mur­der­er who direct­ed the slaugh­ter of thou­sands of inno­cent peo­ple.

Our world will unques­tion­ably safer, hap­pi­er, and more peace­ful with­out Osama bin Laden in it. It took near­ly ten years, but Osama bin Laden has been brought to jus­tice for his many heinous acts.

Mark Twain once wrote, I’ve nev­er wished a man dead, but I have read some obit­u­ar­ies with great plea­sure. This apho­rism has been grow­ing in pop­u­lar­i­ty on Twit­ter, and seems to be a fit­ting response to the news announced by the pres­i­dent.

Osama bin Laden’s death is more than just a mis­sion accom­plished. It is an oppor­tu­ni­ty. It is time for the “war on ter­ror” to be over. We can­not hope to win a war against a noun. We can­not be free if we live in fear.

As Franklin Delano Roo­sevelt once said:

This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will pros­per. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — name­less, unrea­son­ing, unjus­ti­fied ter­ror which par­a­lyzes need­ed efforts to con­vert retreat into advance.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. We are play­ing into the hands of those who want to take away our free­doms when we vol­un­tar­i­ly sur­ren­der our civ­il lib­er­ties in the name of secu­ri­ty. (Those who would give up Essen­tial Lib­er­ty to pur­chase a lit­tle Tem­po­rary Safe­ty, deserve nei­ther Lib­er­ty nor Safe­ty).

And we are play­ing into the hands of those who want to take away our free­doms by occu­py­ing lands that do not belong to us.

In the end, Amer­i­ca was made safe from Osama bin Laden by a covert raid… what amount­ed to a police action. The events of today just go to show that the occu­pa­tions begun by George W. Bush have not result­ed in a safer Amer­i­ca or a safer world. It is time for those occu­pa­tions to be end­ed.

And it is time for us to begin con­fronting the real threats human­i­ty faces… fear, prej­u­dice, hatred, and big­otry.

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2 Comments

  1. Bin Laden’s death will not end ter­ror­ism in the world and will not end al Qae­da, but this is a blow to those who seek to mur­der the inno­cent in a delu­sion­al effort to push forth a twist­ed ideological/religious stance on the world.

    # by Atlanta Roofer :: May 1st, 2011 at 11:17 PM
  2. Notic­ing that many con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tors are prais­ing “our brave men and women in uni­form” and going out of their way not to men­tion Oba­ma, and even to cred­it Bush.

    The basic fact is that our brave men and women in uni­form do did­dlysquat until some­one sets strate­gic pri­or­i­ties for them. Oba­ma want­ed to get bin Laden, but Cheney and Bush pre­ferred him as a live boogey­man to get pop­u­lar sup­port for putting two wars on our nation­al cred­it card.

    # by Martha Koester :: May 2nd, 2011 at 10:43 AM