Monday, May 2, 2011

Further Info



From the NY Times:

A trusted courier of Osama bin Laden’s whom American spies had been hunting for years was finally located in a compound 35 miles north of the Pakistani capital, close to one of the hubs of American counterterrorism operations. The property was so secure, so large, that American officials guessed it was built to hide someone far more important than a mere courier.

What followed was eight months of painstaking intelligence work, culminating in a helicopter assault by American military and intelligence operatives that ended in the death of Bin Laden on Sunday and concluded one of history’s most extensive and frustrating manhunts...

...Detainees at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had given the courier’s pseudonym to American interrogators and said that the man was a protégé of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks...

...Still, it was not until August that they tracked him to the compound in Abbottabad, a medium-sized city about an hour’s drive north of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

C.I.A. analysts spent the next several weeks examining satellite photos and intelligence reports to determine who might be living at the compound...

It was hardly the spartan cave in the mountains that many had envisioned as Bin Laden’s hiding place. Rather, it was a mansion on the outskirts of the town’s center, set on an imposing hilltop and ringed by 12-foot-high concrete walls topped with barbed wire....

...On March 14, Mr. Obama held the first of what would be five national security meetings in the course of the next six weeks to go over plans for the operation.

The meetings, attended by only the president’s closest national security aides, took place as other White House officials were scrambling to avert a possible government shutdown over the budget.

Four more similar meetings to discuss the plan would follow, until President Obama gathered his aides one final time last Friday...

...Even after the president signed the formal orders authorizing the raid, Mr. Obama chose to keep Pakistan’s government in the dark about the operation.

“We shared our intelligence on this compound with no other country, including Pakistan,” a senior administration official said.


More interesting stuff, from the LA Times:

"This wasn’t an execution," the official said."The assessment going in to it was that it’s highly unlikely that’s he’s going to be taken alive, but if he decided to lay down his arms, he would have been taken captive."...

...An option to bomb the compound was rejected in favor of a surgical raid, in part to make sure there was proof Bin Laden was there, and in part to spare the lives of more than a dozen non-combatants living in the compound.

The CIA and other agencies had been watching the compound since August, so they knew a lot about it, the official said. Mock-ups had been constructed and rehearsals of the raid held while senior officials watched...

...The National Security Agency, which has satellites that can eavesdrop on conversations, and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, which can map buildings and terrain via satellite and other technology, were both involved. The technology is such that the CIA was aware of where people were in the compound during the early morning hours when the raid occurred, the official said.



Several things are striking, not the least of which is that latter stuff about ability to hear conversations from satellites. No phone lines there. Cell phones? Or are they actually getting words out of people's mouths? If so, you're next...

Limbaugh's maybe-sarcasm notwithstanding, it does seem President Obama was actively involved in the planning and decision making. I wonder if that might affect the view of some that he's an inexperienced naif? Or, even, if it might reinforce the value of civilian control of the military; you know, just as the founding fathers envisioned it? In any case, it appears to have been a tightly-held, carefully planned, well-thought-out operation, the culmination of months and years of persistent intelligence-gathering on an impressive level.

And gutsy. Had the mission failed, or had OBL not been there, the repercussions could have been significantly bad. Our president made a tough call, and it turned out well. Which, for all but the aforementioned RWS™, is a good thing.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm looks a little like MY House....
except for the lack of Internet access, how the HELL do people live like that????

Frank

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