American Elephants


Reactions: Pride, Dismay, Surprise, Vengeance, Confusion. by The Elephant's Child

President Barack Obama signed off on a daring pre-dawn raid on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, believed to be the hideout of Osama bin Laden. The raid by the Navy’s SEAL Team Six ended the long search for the al Qaeda leader and evoked a great sense of pride and gratitude from the American people.  It was, perhaps, President Obama’s finest moment. It was a courageous act on the part of the president.

Liberals have been overwhelmed. The president they were beginning to think would not properly stand up to the hated Republicans exhibited a daring that was a shock to the system of any card-carrying  leftist. E.J. Dionne Jr. expressed it in a column titled “After the Raid We Find Out Who Obama Is.”:

Barack Obama is not the man many Americans thought he was. This sudden realization has transformed American politics. The sheer audacity of the successful operation against Osama bin Laden has forced Obama’s friends and foes alike to reassess what they make of a chief executive who defies easy categorization and reveals less about himself than politicians are typically drawn to do.

Obama is hard to understand because he is many things and not just one thing. He has now proved that he can be bold at an operational level, even as he remains cautious at a philosophical level. …

The president’s rhetoric has often emphasized caring, compassion and community, the language one expects from a moderately liberal politician. Yet as one of his close aides told me long ago, there is inside a very cool, tough, even hard man.

The American people celebrated with emotions ranging from finality to euphoria to vengeance satisfied.  Long overdue, it was universally hailed as a very good thing. But the management of the aftermath began to fall apart. The raid was flawless, after a dramatic firefight, bin Laden was found cowering behind a woman, presumed to be one of his wives, and as he tried to get off a shot, he was killed with a double-tap to the head.

Then the story started changing.  No firefight, no returned fire, wasn’t hiding behind a woman. Everyone was unarmed.  Everyone was watching in real-time from the Situation Room in the White House.  We saw pictures of the President and his Security team watching. No, there was no real-time video.  Of course there was video. The body was evacuated on the helicopter, treated with all reverence and buried at sea with full Muslim ceremony. A daughter says Osama was shot right in front of the family. Some suggest that he was already dead.  The Pakistanis were surprised to find that bin Laden was there. The Pakistanis have known he was there since 2009.

Whew!  The raid may have been elegantly managed and executed by our very capable military. The management of the aftermath — explaining to the American people what happened — has been so incompetently bungled it is astonishing.

The indecision and dithering about releasing pictures of Osama have taken two days. They need to be released to prove to the world that he is dead. They are too gruesome to behold. Because they are disturbing they might provoke Muslim reaction.  We must beware a violent Muslim reaction.  Osama’s attacks on Muslims in Iraq were the last straw and he is no hero.

Hot Air had a wide-ranging column on liberal reactions to bin Laden’s death, and IowaHawk has a hysterical piece, as usual.

The Justice Department is still trying to investigate the CIA personnel who had anything to do with the enhanced interrogation (waterboarding) that produced the intelligence that led to the final location of bin Laden.

Obama will go to Ground Zero tomorrow to lay a wreath. President Clinton and President Bush declined to accompany him.



Shifting Sands in the Middle East by The Elephant's Child

Osama bin Laden has, according to some stories, been holed up in his compound in Abbottabad for six years.  His goal ,we were told, was a return to the seventh century Muslim Caliphate.  He fought with he mujahadeen in Afghanistan and with American help they drove the Russians out. When the Soviet Union collapsed, he came to believe that he had a big hand in the Soviet collapse.  The Soviet Union was a paper tiger, projecting far more strength than they actually possessed. Osama assumed that America was also a paper tiger and by attacking what he saw as the central symbol of American power — the World Trade Center, he believed he could bring down America.  How bringing down America would restore the Caliphate is unknown.

The sands are surely shifting across the Arab Middle East, but they are not shifting in the direction of al Qaeda. The demonstrators are energized by an opposition to the corruption and repression of their former leaders.  They want jobs, justice, modernity, and perhaps even democracy.  These desires would seem to be the very opposite of the aims of bin Laden and al Qaeda whose goals are even more restrictive, harsh, and narrow.

Yet these countries and these people have no experience of democracy. None. They have no experience of real freedom, of private property, of entrepreneurship, free markets, all those things that we take for granted that are part and parcel of modernity. They have known only corrupt police states or corrupt playboy monarchies.

Last week the Egyptian caretaker government brokered a deal between Iran-backed Hamas in Gaza, and Fatah in the West Bank.  Cairo didn’t bother to tell either Israel or the Americans. The agreement will be signed today and it empowers Hamas, which is a terrorist group. The Muslim Brotherhood is the best organized political group in Egypt.  It condemned the bin Laden killing.

Cairo also plans to establish diplomatic relations with Iran , and an Iranian destroyer was allowed to pass through the Suez Canal for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Not signs of a government deeply interested in democracy. Both the US and Israel will face some tough choices.  If Cairo wants closer ties with terrorists, America’s long support for the Egyptian military would have to be reconsidered. Have we delivered that blunt message?

We will come to regret our lack of support for the anti-Mubarak forces. Robert Kagan remarked that “It is not pragmatic to cling to the status quo in a revolutionary ers.” In Bahrain and Yemen, the outcome of uprising is far from certain.  Kagan warns that so-called pragmatism may not be the safest course.



Turning the Last Page on an Ugly Story. by The Elephant's Child

As usual, all the initial stories were not quite right. No cave.  Bin Laden was living in a large compound in Abbottabad, a town in northeastern Pakistan close to Islamabad.  The walled compound gave evidence of having been built especially for bin Laden, with barbed-wire topped walls and two security gates.  Secretary of State Clinton said they had help from Pakistan’s ISI , their security service.  Others said that many Pakistani army personnel and ISI personnel lived in the town, so his presence must have been an open secret.

It was a pre-dawn raid by a dozen members of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six.  Helicopters dropped the SEALs behind the walls. The CIA and the White House monitored the situation in real time.  Bin Laden returned fire, using a woman as a human shield, but was shot in the head.

The news services have tried to gauge reactions from the Islamic world, which range all over the map. The Palestinian Authority welcomed the killing as “good for the cause of peace,” while Hamas said “We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior.” That more or less encapsulates the reactions, but only time will tell how it plays out.  The Arab world is engaged in popular revolt against oppressive rulers.  We don’t know how that will play out either.

There were big celebrations last night, and it was good to see the smiles on the faces of the New York Fire Department members. They lost so many of their friends and fellow firemen on 9/11, that it must bring some sense of closure.  That’s a term that has been flung around for years, and I never quite understood it, but it fits this event.  A sense of closure.  At least for me, there was no desire to celebrate, just the feeling of ending a story or turning the last page.



Osama bin Laden is Dead. by The Elephant's Child
May 1, 2011, 9:28 pm
Filed under: History, Islam, Military, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

Good. Killed in a covert operation by US special forces. America reportedly has his body, and DNA confirmation.

No celebration. Just a sense of satisfaction that the long search is over.  And congratulations to our splendid military who have tried for so long to locate him.

It’s more like checking a necessary task off the ledger. We don’t need to review his unfortunate life. That’s done, let’s get on to the next problem.

ADDENDUM: Here is the statement from President George W. Bush:

“Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda network that attacked America on September 11, 2001.  I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission.  They have our everlasting gratitude.  This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001.  The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message:  No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.”

President Barack Obama deserves credit as well, for maintaining the difficult battle in Afghanistan  and the pursuit of bin Laden, over the objections of many of his supporters. That wasn’t easy.

[ed: incorrectly reports initially claimed it was a bomb, since corrected.]



Exactly Why Democrats are Dead Wrong on Detainees by American Elephant

The Supreme Court’s repugnant, extra-constitutional 5-4 Boumediene decision last week conferred on illegal combatants more rights than were given to even Nazi’s during WWII. It gave foreign born terrorists, fighting in manners violating the Geneva Conventions, and captured on the battlefield access to American civil courts. The most egregious usurpation of constitutionally granted war powers by the courts in our nation’s history.

Democrats were overjoyed with the decision.

As if in response comes this story from Britain:

Abu Qatada, the radical Islamic cleric described as Osama bin Laden’s “right-hand man in Europe”, has been released from jail after a judge ruled that there were no grounds to keep him in prison.

The decision to allow him to return to his home in London – where he will receive around £1,000 per month in state benefits – made a mockery of the government’s promise to crack down on terror suspects, and embarrassed the Home Office, which had pledged to deport Qatada to Jordan to face terror charges.

Qatada is not only known as “Bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe,” but is wanted in Jordan for terrorist activity and has been accused of inspiring the attacks on America because videos of his sermons were found among the possessions of Mohammad Atta and other 9/11 hijackers.

The same court that released him previously described him as

“a truly dangerous individual” who was “heavily involved, indeed at the centre of terrorist activities associated with al-Qa’eda”.

In other words, everyone knows he’s a terrorist, everyone knows he is dangerous, but the courts refuse to allow him to be extradicted and have now set him free.

This is precisely why the courts have no business whatsoever involving themselves in the war on terror. It’s a war, not a legal matter. Precisely why the constitution granted sole war making powers to the president, and to a lesser degree congress.

As if to emphasize the risibility of the decision, the court also specifically stated that Qatada is prohibited from receiving visits from Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abu Hamza, and… Osama bin Laden!

Phew. That’s a relief!



ABC News Connects Saddam and Bin Laden — in 1999! by American Elephant

I am shocked to have just stumbled across this video for the first time. I’ve never seen it before in my life — and I should have! Every American should have. Have you?

In it, ABC News shows the clear and increasingly dangerous connections between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden… in 1999! Over two years before the 9/11 attacks!

Filmed and aired long before then Governor Bush ever ran for the White House to begin with, and over 2 years before he took office, this video proves several very important things:

  1. That President Bush’s rationale for removing Saddam Hussein from power was entirely justified and based on widely accepted facts.
  2. That the idea that Saddam and Bin Laden would never work together because Saddam was secular and Bin Laden fundamentalist was ridiculous from the get go, and…
  3. That the intelligence that justified removing Saddam existed and was understood long before the Bush administration was even in Washington to supposedly manipulate it.

The deranged left will never be convinced of anything remotely resembling the truth, but remember this video next time you wonder if the war in Iraq was justified…

This video makes it clear: following 9/11, there was no other responsible alternative.

Tom Joscelyn elaborates at Powerline:

In any event, Saddam’s response was telling. Just two days after Operation Desert Fox ended he dispatched one of his top intelligence operatives, Faruq Hijazi, to Afghanistan to meet with bin Laden. As I and others have written, Hijazi was no low-level flunky. He was one of Saddam’s most trusted goons and was responsible for overseeing a good deal of the regime’s terrorist and other covert activities. It was this meeting that led to widespread reporting on the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. I collected a bunch of these reports, including the ABC News report, in “The Four-Day War.” Another, earlier piece also discusses Saddam’s conspicuous response to Operation Desert Fox.

The consensus in the media then was that there was a relationship between the two and that Saddam’s regime was very willing to work with al Qaeda against their common foe: America. And vice versa. Indeed, the reporting indicated that they had been working together even long before Operation Desert Fox…. [Read the rest]

Has anyone noticed ABC airing this report since we invaded Iraq? And why the hell haven’t they!? Where the hell was this report during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings??

Unconscionable!

(h/t: Powerline via Vince P)




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