May 02 2011
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: 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.