May 02 2011

The 4 Year Hunt For Bin Laden – With Apparent Revisionism

Published by at 8:04 am under All General Discussions,Bin Laden/GWOT

Updates Below Confirming My Suspicions

Finally, the story behind the hunt for Bin Laden begins to come clear – with some surprising twists and turns. It begins in GITMO, many years ago and probably involves extreme interrogation (e.g., water boarding, discomfort, etc):

Some time after Sept. 11, detainees held by the U.S. told interrogators about a man believed to work as a courier for bin Laden, senior administration officials said. The man was described by detainees as a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and “one of the few Al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin laden.”

Initially, intelligence officials only had the man’s nickname, but they discovered his real name four years ago.

Emphasis mine. Note the time period for the initial leads – under President Bush and is aggressive pursuit of justice. One must also recall that the Obama administration does not perform extreme interrogation, and in fact has a bad habit of giving terrorists their Miranda Rights within hours of capture. This happened with all the supposed ‘lone wolfs’ coordinate by Anwar al Aulaqi, an American traitor supposedly hold up in Yemen.

I was wondering why the President seemed so defensive last night in his victory speech. He went out of his way to note how HE retained Bin Laden as a top priority, and how HE followed leads from last year.

But HE also tried to shut down GITMO, the source of the initial thread that led to Bin Laden yesterday. HE also ended aggressive interrogations. One has to wonder how close team Obama came to almost missing Bin Laden in a fit of political correctness which took hold in 2008? Remember, the lead on the courier’s actual identity only came to light in 2007! Was he fighting against the intel community on this one?

More on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden:

Two years ago, intelligence officials began to identify areas of Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated, and the great security precautions the two men took aroused U.S. suspicions.

Last August, intelligence officials tracked the men to their residence in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a relatively wealthy town 35 miles north of Islamabad where many retired military officers live.

“When we saw the compound where the brothers lived, we were shocked by what we saw,” a senior administration official said.

Knowing the hesitancy inside the Obama White House, one has to wonder about the gut check that must of hit when they realized they were targeting a rich area of Pakistan. By 2009 they had taken the lead that began in 2007 and identified the individuals, by 2010 they had the address – a compound 35 miles outside the capitol of Pakistan. About the same distance as Leesburg, VA or Baltimore, MD from Washington DC. The pressure must have been huge. Keep this in mind as the Obama administration waffles on the initial attack opportunity in March:

The compound was eight times larger than any other home in the area. It was surrounded by walls measuring 12 feet to 18 feet that were topped with barbed wire. There were additional inner walls that sectioned off parts of the compound and entry was restricted by two security gates. And the residents burned their trash instead of leaving it outside for pickup. There was a three-story house on the site, with a 7-foot privacy wall on the top floor.

While the two brothers, the couriers, had no known source of income, the compound was built in 2005 and valued at $1 million. That led intelligence officials to conclude that it must have been built to hold a high-value member of Al Qaeda.

Well duh. Sort of sticks out anywhere. Apparently Bin Laden was living in a gilded cage, not a damp cave.

After exploring every angle for months, they concluded that all signs pointed to this being bin Laden’s residence.

President Obama was made aware of the compound when it was discovered last year. By mid-February, the intelligence was solid …

Nothing wrong with a bit of caution here, don’t want to destroy an innocent family hiding out in a fortress. But from August to February? Seems – as usual – team Obama wanted proof-perfect before acting. Anyway, I am not going to nit pick caution. My guess is the intel kept mounting and over came a lot of internal hesitation inside this hesitant White House.

Now to shift links since this next act in the story is not in the time line from the main article:

Sources tell ABC News that in March President Obama authorized a plan for the U.S. to bomb Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound with two B2 stealth bombers dropping a few dozen 2,000-pound JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) on the compound.

But when the president heard the compound would be reduced to rubble he changed his mind.

That would mean there would be no evidence bin Laden was dead to present to the world – no DNA evidence, as the administration anticipates it will have.

Plus all 22 people in the compound including women and children, plus likely many neighbors would be killed.

The President hesitated. Again, not to actually deem this wrong, but this hesitation was risky. This is how Bin Laden escaped numerous times under Clinton and Bush. One also has to remember, these people who raise their families next to this kind of mass murderer know the risks. I would not deem these families innocent bystanders.

Team Obama is lucky, but I still smell some historic revisionism and CYA here. This appears to be a classic government rewrite. First off, the B-2s with 24+ 2,000 lb JDAMS is overkill. You could attack a small city with that kind of ordnance. And I don;t know if a ‘few dozen’ is two or more. This is the proverbial M1 tank used against the gnat. This ridiculous application of ordnance against a single structure, which would be obliterated with a fraction of the number of JDAMS, indicates to me this story may be a plant from a political operative who has no clue about ordnance.

A single Mark 84 JDAM (2,000 lb) bomb can create a crater 50 ft wide, 36 ft deep and penetrate 11 ft of concrete. 24 of these in a circular pattern (possible using the JDAM retrofit guidance package) could therefore create a circular ring of destruction by spreading the missiles out 4-5 deep in all four directions from the center target. Assuming 200 ft spreads from center to center, that is circle of destruction that would span 800-1000 feet easily. Like I said – overkill.

So why create this false choice in the story – massive overkill or precision strike?

We had a tough choice. Use massive bombs (but not 24 of them) and risk collateral damage and no evidence of death, or send in a crack unit and risk American lives while operating on allied territory. Not an easy decision and not one I am willing to choose with any confidence from my desk chair. But the decision was made and the story continues (from the original article):

Intelligence officials worked with the U.S. military to plan the operation and a small team accepted the risk and began to train for it.

On April 29, this past Friday, Obama gave the final go ahead.

The U.S. team conducted a helicopter raid of the compound Sunday afternoon. It was described as a “surgical raid” that took less than 40 minutes, during which time the team did not encounter any local authorities.

All’s well that ends well. But I have to admit I have some suspicion as to the parameters leaked around the March indecision point. Something is just not right there.

Update: In all fairness, some reporting is calling the compound ‘huge’, but I still am not convinced it is big enough to absorb ‘a few dozen’ 2,000 lb JDAMS. This reporting notes the nearby children’s hospital and police station – which would have been a much better excuse for going with a strike team than a bombing. Still not buying the story around the March indecision.

Update: Reader WWS provides a google map view of the compound, which confirms my suspicion. This target by no means required a ‘few dozen’ 2,000 JDAMS. Someone fed the media a truly ‘false’ choice.

Update: OK, all my suspicions are now confirmed. A UK Guardian report notes the compound’s small size:

They realised immediately this was no normal residence. The walls of the 3,000 sq ft compound were 12-18ft high, topped with barbed wire.

OK folks, back to simple math. A 50 ft wide crater covers an area of 3.14*(25*25) = 1900 square feet. Therefore 24 2,000 lb JDAMS can cover an area of 47,100 square feet or larger. Complete exaggeration from the sources who claimed they were considering that much ordnance in March. Something is not right with this narrative.

Update: As usual, keep an eye on Hot Air for the latest details – let’s see how this all pans out.

13 responses so far

13 Responses to “The 4 Year Hunt For Bin Laden – With Apparent Revisionism”

  1. WWS says:

    good points – although I will give some credit to Obama for going with the option that gave us a body to ID. If we had just bombed it, the Paki’s would have said it was an “innocent wedding party” like they always do and we would never have known for sure.

    Google can do anything these days, and almost instantly people began trying to look for Bin Laden’s compound. First, here’s a satellite picture of the compound, in the middle of this map surrounded by 18′ walls. (someone liked their privacy, it looks like) (thanks go to Anthony Watts)

    http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=34.187107,73.242331&spn=0.006931,0.010182&t=h&z=17

    But that’s not the most fascinating map – look at this one, which shows where Bin Laden was living in relation to the Pakistani Military Academy – the Pakistani West Point:

    http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&rlz=&q=Pakistani+Military+Academy+Abbottabad,+Pakistan&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl

    Looks like the kind of housing you would give to a visiting professor – and the majority of Bin Laden’s neighbors were high ranking retired Pakistani military officers. Apparently he was living among friends, and didn’t need a lot of security because he knew it. Looks like the absolutely best move that the US made in this operation is that we didn’t breathe a word of it to the Paki’s until it was over.

    The fact that we didn’t tell the Paki’s about this raid shows that we know without a shadow of doubt that the Pakistani govm’t has been protecting and sponsoring him and his organization. Our relations with the Pakistani’s our going to be quite “interesting” from now on, especially since the Paki’s are *still* protecting the new Al Qaeda leader, Zwahari, and all of the Taliban senior leadership.

    the funny part is that the US has just humiliated the Pakistani Govm’t in public, by carrying out a military operation
    just around the corner from their top military academy without telling them – but *now* they are going to have to pretend
    that they are overjoyed at what we did, because they don’t dare admit openly just how duplicitous they have been.

  2. Mike M. says:

    Much as I hate to do it, I have to give Obama a pass on this one.

    Blasting that compound to rubble was entirely possible (although it should be remembered that GPS-guided munitions are accurate enough to put two bombs into the same crater), but you don’t have proof positive. As in Bin Laden’s head.

    It’s just the sort of kick-in-the-door and Shoot-and-scoot mission that a Certain Naval Special Warfare organization lives for. And finally got to do. (Doubtless with Much Rejoicing…the shooters will be quaffing free beers for the rest of their lives)

    That being said, Obama was his usual graceless self. You know full well that President Bush would have made a point of giving all credit to the intelligence and SPECOPS teams.

  3. lurker9876 says:

    Mike M, I predict that Obama would NOT be treking his bike with the troops many years later like Bush just did….

    Now they say that OBL has already been buried at sea according to the Islam traditions?????

  4. Seal Team Six were the shooters, according to multple press accounts.

    The plan B was to capture OBL, not kill him.

  5. Highlander says:

    How can capturing him instead of killing him ever be a “Plan B”? Doesn’t make sense. If you can’t kill him, you sure as hell can’t capture him.

  6. WWS says:

    would have been fun to have packed him in pig fat before sending him off – but being able to say “now he sleeps wit’ da fishes” is also pretty good. And overall, that was a pretty slick move to get rid of the body in accordance with islamic law and yet make sure there will never be any shrine built on his grave. Never a good idea to mistreat the bodies of the dead, even when you’re a victor – just ask Achilles.

    (although our medieval ancestors did favor the sentence “to be Drawn and Quartered” for the people they really, really didn’t like. Now that was nasty, much worse than being burnt at the stake.)

  7. archtop says:

    I’m waiting to see the video of the shootout, since I’m sure the Seals had cameras everywhere recording the event…

  8. Mike M. says:

    Well, I personally would have liked to see some tasteless photos of Bin Laden…hanging by his feet, with the DEVGRU team posed in the Big Catch of the Day pose. Tacky – but proof positive of the kill.

    That being said, the best option would be to capture Bin Laden very quietly…and interrogate him. Roll up the entire organization. Followed by a drumhead court-martial and hanging.

  9. Redteam says:

    I’m glad Osama is sleeping with the fishes. and yes it sounds as if Obama did all he could do to not capture or kill him. He got boxed into a corner and had to act, against his wishes. Now all you’re gonna hear is I, I, I, I etc……

  10. kathie says:

    Oh no, how can Obama live with himself. Maybe he shouldn’t prosecute Bush after all.

    Officials: CIA interrogators at secret prisons developed first strands that led to bin Laden
    May 2, 2011 11:57:43 AM MDT · by SeekAndFind · 6 replies
    Star Tribune ^ | 05/02/2011 | Adam Goldman

    WASHINGTON – Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden’s most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.

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  12. KauaiBoy says:

    The sooner we see pictures of the body the better. We deserve to see him dead once and for all. It would also put to bed quickly any conspiracy theories that are sure to arise.

    Now if they continue this campaign there should be lots of others in the leadership chain getting whacked and we can only hope Zawahiri is soon. However, this could be Obama’s exit strategy for the area—-leave the savages to kill one another now that we got Osama—that plays well on Main Street.

  13. [...] Monday, the first full news day after the announcement we had brought Osama Bin Laden to justice, I noted an enormous inconsistency in one aspect of the story leading up to the raid on Bin Laden’s compound: Nothing wrong with [...]