Osama bin Laden is dead.
And while most of the United States is rejoicing that fact, we weren’t.
Don’t get us wrong: Osama bin Laden deserved to die. But we weren’t rejoicing because as more detail emerged, we realized the entire operation was a failure. We can hear what you’re thinking: “How can the operation that succeeded in killing the most infamous terrorist in history be a failure?” Oh it was. And it’s all Barack Obama’s fault.
Let us begin by saying that it was no fault of the special ops guys, the SEALs, SOCOM, Delta Force, Det-1, and whoever was involved. Aside from one mission glitch (more on that later) the operation went down pretty much the way the White House wanted it to. And that, dear readers, is where the problems lie.
Failure #1: Killing bin Laden
As soon as the intelligence guys briefed the president that they had firm intel on bin Laden’s whereabouts, Osama’s clock was ticking. There was never any possibility of him being grabbed and returned to the United States. Why? Let’s look at what would have happened if we would have taken him alive. The options would have been:
- Send him to Guantanamo Bay for a military tribunal. Obama wouldn’t have done that because it would have infuriated his entire base of voters. They’re mad as hell as it is that Gitmo is still open after Obama swore to close it. They’re also mad as hell that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (the principle architect of the 9/11 attacks) was transferred back to Gitmo for a military tribunal after the idiocy of taking him out of Gitmo and sending him to New York City for a public trial was realized. So Obama couldn’t have sent bin Laden to Gitmo.
- Send him to a maximum security US prison to await trial. Obama couldn’t have done this, because the majority of independent voters and every conservative voter would have been crying for impeachment.
- Allow the CIA to “ghost” him. This would have been the best option, but also the one that would have require the most amount of guts to do, and Obama doesn’t have that kind of intestinal fortitude.
So, given that none of these options were available, the only option Obama had politically was to kill him. And why is this a bad thing? First, because Obama made the decision based on politics instead of national security. And second, because capturing bin Laden alive would have yielded much more intelligence information than what we got off his laptops and out of his compound. Which leads us to…
Failure #2: Blabbing about everything
About the only bit of information we don’t know about the operation is the names of the men who carried it out. The administration has blabbed about the unit (Seal Team Six, a.k.a. “DevGru”, although there were other spec ops operators involved, fortunately unnamed); the fact that bomb-sniffing dogs were used; that we captured lots of intelligence information; that bin Laden had money and two phone numbers on him when we killed him; that we were probably using HK416 rifles and that we wore helmet-mounted cameras; and on, and on, and on.
First off, revealing the information about who we sent in, what they were armed with, the fact that a dog was sent with them, and other operational aspects of the mission is tantamount to high treason. We are letting the world know how our spec ops guys work, their tactics and strategies, and everything about their operations. If someone in the military would have leaked this information, they would have been court martialed for treason, but since it makes Obama look good politically, then he’ll tell the world about it and that’s just perfectly fine in his book.
Second, announcing to the our enemies that “we have bin Laden’s laptop and all sorts of intelligence data, nya-nya-nya-nyaaaaaa!” would have been like telling Germany “we have one of your Enigma encryption machines and know how to use it” or telling Hirohito “we broke your radio codes, we’re going to shoot down Yamamoto by ambushing his airplane with a flight of P-38’s when he departs Rabaul on April 18th, 1943”. Again, if anyone would have leaked this information during World War II, they would have been tried for treason and likely executed. But since it might help his presidential approval ratings, Obama has no problems blabbing about the “treasure trove of intelligence” we got from bin Laden’s hideout.
Failure #3: Using human assets on a kill mission
If you know that you’re going to simply kill a target, you don’t risk the lives of US troops and top-secret aircraft. You send in a stealth aircraft or a Predator drone and blow up the target from miles away. Oh sure, the argument can be made that we sent in people so we could gather intelligence. But the intelligence is worthless if you tell everyone about it (see Failure #2). Of course, someone will say “well, we needed to be sure that we got him.” Valid point, but there are enough other means of doing after-action bomb damage assessments that we’d know we got him. Obama was more worried about potential civilian casualties than he was about our troops. Again, he was more concerned with politics than national security.
Failure #4: Not having a contingency plan
The only glitch in the mission (from the operator’s perspective) was the crashing of a specialized and previously top-secret stealth Blackhawk helicopter in the compound. While the SEALs used thermite grenades to blow up the helicopter, major pieces of it remained. These pieces were then carted off by Pakistan, and certainly have been thoroughly inspected by anyone with a big enough checkbook. (Russia, China, Iran…) A proper contingency plan would have been to have some stealth aircraft or Predators in orbit, so that if everything went to hell we could level the entire place. And if one of the top-secret Blackhawks crashes in the compound, you can fire in some missiles after everyone is out to ensure the Chinese and Russians don’t get their hands on anything of value.
Failure #5: Undermining our relationship with Pakistan
No doubt about it, Pakistan is pissed about our handling of the situation. Namely because it wasn’t discreet. Now we have Hillary Clinton wondering aloud to reporters about “how could Pakistan not have known that bin Laden was hiding there.” Of course they knew; everyone knows they knew. But proper diplomacy is to not say anything and embarrass them publicly, unless you want a war. Now we’ve called them on their blunder and they look bad internationally. And may we remind everyone that Pakistan has nukes that al Qaeda would love to get their hands on? If we push Pakistan too far, they might have an “oopsie” moment and “loose” one of their nukes to the back of an al Qaeda truck. “Sorry ’bout that” they’ll say as New York City gets vaporized.
Failure #6: Underplaying the role of Gitmo… and waterboarding
The intelligence that led us to bin Laden started under President Bush’s tenure. In 2007 we uncovered information that eventually led the CIA to bin Laden’s courier, and eventually his hideout. This information was received during the waterboarding of a prisoner at the Naval Detention Center at Guantanamo Bay… The same center and the same techniques criticized by Obama and the Democrats.
Obama the Chickenhawk
Obama and the Democrats spent years taking pot shots at President Bush and his policies on the War on Terror. They demonized Bush, Gitmo, and waterboarding. In 2009, they demonized the SEALs who captured Ahmed Hashim Abed, an al Qaeda terrorist mastermind working in Iraq, responsible for several brutal attacks. Abed claimed one of the SEALs punched him, and despite the lack of evidence, the Obama administration allowed the military to proceed with the court martial. Fortunately, all three sailors were acquitted. But now Obama is cozying up to Seal Team Six like he’s always been their biggest fan.
Further, lots of media talking heads are saying how much “guts” Obama had to make the decision to kill bin Laden. Guts? Really? No, Chris Matthews. No, Keith Olbermann. No, CNN. It didn’t take guts to do what he did. He took the easy road, the road that was a political victory, but a national security defeat.
Real guts — and a national security win — would have went like this:
The Mission (the way it should have been done)
In general, the operation is known as “ghosting” an HVT (High Value Target). For all intents and purposes, they disappear off the face of the earth.
Special operations forces enter Pakistan by truck or donkey in deep cover. (In other words: dressed as locals, with beards, et cetera.) They meet up with the CIA observers who were already in Abbottabad staking out Osama’s hideout. At about 3 a.m. on a moonless night, a sniper begins picking off sentries from a location over 1000 yards away as the operators quietly scale the wall of the compound and begin their assault. After securing bin Laden alive, a pair of stealth Blackhawks (a primary and a backup) — which had been waiting in a holding pattern out of earshot — come in to extract the team and bin Laden, his laptops, and any other intel. The Blackhawks fly off and a Predator drone fires Hellfire missiles into the compound, blowing it up completely.
Bin Laden is now a “ghost”…. and taken to an undisclosed location for months or years of interrogation. Our official story is that we fired Hellfire missiles from an attack helicopter at “a suspected terrorist location” and “the hunt for bin Laden continues.” The compound in ashes, the remaining members of al Qaeda believe that bin Laden — and all the intelligence data — is gone, and they conduct business as usual. We use the gathered intel to shut down numerous al Qaeda operations worldwide. Moreover, we know know that we cannot trust Pakistan, but they don’t know we know that.
Obama: no guts, fleeting glory
As opposed to Obama’s epic failure, this mission would have been an epic win. It’s not the stuff of Tom Clancy novels, it’s what special ops guys train for all the time. Everyone in the intelligence community knows that a live prisoner is a much better intelligence asset than a dead man’s laptop. But to order that mission would have taken more guts than Obama would ever have, because it would have required that Obama do the right thing for national security and not advance himself politically. It would mean doing the right thing for the country and the wrong thing for his re-election chances. And that’s something Obama doesn’t have the guts to do.
See our other pieces on Obama’s ineptitude as commander in chief – Editor