On May 2nd, 2011, (May 1st in the USA) members of the elite SEAL Team 6, a highly trained and experienced counter-terrorism special operations group, with intelligence support from the CIA, executed a daring, and surgical operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that brought an end to the hypocritical, vulgar life of the psychotic thug Osama Bin Laden.
Abbottabad is a pleasant town, or hill station, named for a British Major James Abbott, that lies between the mountains and Rawalpindi, a garrison town for the Pakistani Army and, until 2003, the home of the infamous Khalid Sheik Muhammed.
It remains unclear what support Bin Laden was receiving from officials in Pakistan, however, while it would have been foolish for man with a $25 Million bounty on his head to trust anyone in the government of a country that had “helped” bring some of his “friends” to justice, we must not overlook the fact that a 6 foot 4inch irrational theocrat was living in a mansion, with no telephone or internet connection, just down the road from the Pakistan Military Academy. Time will tell whether the messiah complex gripped son of a Saudi billionaire was either lucky or was simply the highest bidder and, therefore, a guest of the Pakistan military and intelligence brass.
Since the death of Bin Laden, many, especially those who have never served in any armed forces or for any intelligence agency, have sought to heap praise or cast criticism, in equal measure, on President Obama; I believe he deserves praise. Regardless of political ideology, everyone must concede that it took courage to order an operation on the territory of a foreign, nuclear armed nation, ostensibly without the knowledge of that nation’s government. It would have been far too easy to drop a bomb or launch a missile risking no U.S. lives. Had that been done, however, there would have been significant risk to the nearby civilian population and no body left on which to perform facial recognition or DNA testing.
That being said, the highest praise must, and rightly should, be saved for those brave members of the armed forces and intelligence community who executed this mission with extreme professionalism and great personal courage.
There are several groups who deserve recognition. Firstly, the intelligence operatives who obtained, developed and verified the probable whereabouts of Bin Laden. Up to the last moment, I am sure, they were checking and re-checking their sources and assets. Utilizing advanced (rather than enhanced) interview, interrogation and analysis skills they would have to have determined whether they were certain enough to recommend an action, through channels, to the Commander-in-Chief. Had they been wrong, not only would the intelligence community, again, have been the scapegoat for angry politicians, but also lives of service personnel and civilians would have been put at risk based on “bad intelligence”.
Next, we must recognize the artful work of the pilots who brought in the SEALs. They utilized their intensive training and state of the art technology while flying, likely using visual reference while they engaged in nap of the earth flight. They did not know what to expect by way of air defenses, nor did they know what, if any, arms may be used against them when they arrived at the Abbottabad “mansion”.
Greatest credit, and our gratitude, must go to the members of SEAL Team 6, also known as the US Naval Special Warfare Development Group, involved in this daring mission. They should, in my opinion, receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for their actions. This is not hyperbole, they deserve it. They embarked on a flight into Pakistan knowing, as they did so, that Pakistani air defenses might well kill them on the way in, that members of al-Qaeda could open fire on them with any array of weapons, or engage in a suicidal attack on them in the compound or that Pakistani forces and air defenses could kill them on the way out.
Another reason why all of these brave individuals should be honored by us is that from now forward their lives, and the lives of their families, will forever be at risk should any of their identities ever become known. Should some charlatan like Julian Assange wish to pump their own ego by finding and releasing the names of those involved they will become marked men, and women forever. All those involved, I am sure, knew this was a risk they took as they embarked on their missions, yet they chose to put their lives at risk and serve their nation anyway. That is bravery!
Finally, I must add that there has also been much debate over whether pictures of a dead Bin Laden should be released in the press. They should not. We must listen to the advice of those who work in the intelligence and defense fields. While many, who have no concept of counter-terror, adorn their Facebook pages and write “letters to the editor” of their local rag with jingoistic quotes and demands for pictures, they should realize that releasing them would serve no purpose. It may inflame different groups around the world and provide a rallying symbol for those waiting in wings to take over the position of Bin Laden. While many, those who are often willing to seek wars as long as others do the fighting, may say they do not care about causing offense, those with some knowledge of the dynamics of terrorism know that publishing them would be a mistake.
So, we must give credit where credit is truly due and should call on the government to award the highest military honor to those who did their duty and brought justice to the victims of 9-11 while remembering that this fight is far from over. There are plenty of “Fuhrer” complex riddled individuals already jockeying for position. We must remain ever vigilant and be proud of those who protect us.