Tuesday, May 10, 2011

More details emerge on the search for Bin Laden

Joan McCarter has a very good roundup of commentary on the Bin Laden search and eventual kill, plus worthwhile comments of her own: Congratulations, Mr. President. Now bring the troops home Daily Kos 05/08/2011.

A couple of good recent descriptions of the hunt are Marc Ambinder,
The Secret Team That Killed bin Laden National Journal 05/02-03/2011 and Peter Finn, Ian Shapira and Marc Fisher, The Hunt: A different sort of search requires a new set of tactics Washington Post 05/06/2011. Joan comments:

For all its frightening implications for potential domestic surveillance, the point is that this successful raid should be described as an intelligence and police operation, as a "surgical" special forces operation that relied on good intelligence, careful cooperation, and not brute military force. Despite the valiant efforts and sacrifice of the 100,000 troops we've got in Afghanistan, this operation wasn't a success because of their boots on the ground. ...

Osama bin Laden wasn't found and killed because we still have tens of thousands of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, or because we are at war. This successful operation provides the justification and the opportunity for President Obama to end both the fighting wars (the mission really has been accomplished) and the false war, the war on terror.

End them both and let America be America again, without the constant fear, the ongoing erosion of civil liberties, the construct as America as victim.

And bring the troops home. [emphasis in original]
Ambinder makes an informative observation about Special Forces missions; "DevGru" refers to Naval Special Warfare Development Group, better known after the final Bin Laden mission as SEAL Team Six:

DevGru belongs to the Joint Special Operations Command, an extraordinary and unusual collection of classified standing task forces and special-missions units. They report to the president and operate worldwide based on the legal (or extra-legal) premises of classified presidential directives. Though the general public knows about the special SEALs and their brothers in Delta Force, most JSOC missions never leak. We only hear about JSOC when something goes bad (a British aid worker is accidentally killed) or when something really big happens (a merchant marine captain is rescued at sea), and even then, the military remains especially sensitive about their existence. Several dozen JSOC operatives have died in Pakistan over the past several years. Their names are released by the Defense Department in the usual manner, but with a cover story -- generally, they were killed in training accidents in eastern Afghanistan. That's the code.
And another sign of the decline of military accountability:

JSOC costs the country more than $1 billion annually. The command has its critics, but it has escaped significant congressional scrutiny and has operated largely with impunity since 9/11. Some of its interrogators and operators were involved in torture and rendition, and the line between its intelligence-gathering activities and the CIA's has been blurred.
How many media outlets have you seen or heard highlighting that aspect of the story during the understandable praise and gushing over the team that finally got Bin Laden?

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