Schneier on Security
A blog covering security and security technology.
« Hijacking the Coreflood Botnet |
| Nikon Image Authentication System Cracked »
May 2, 2011
LiveBlogging the Bin Laden Assassination
"ReallyVirtual" tweeted the bin Laden assassination without realizing it.
Posted on May 2, 2011 at 9:09 AM
• 104 Comments
To receive these entries once a month by e-mail, sign up for the Crypto-Gram Newsletter.
Wow. There's a lot of Facebook chatter from some Pakistanis about this too. Looks like they're pissed it took place without their knowledge.
fbm: How pissed do you think I am that he was living all these years in the bosom of Pakistan's military community?
Glad you called it "assasination".
Rumour has it the killing took place _last_ Sunday, i.e. Easter and that they needed a week to confirm his DNA. This would directly contradict this story unless there were two incidents, one last week and one this week.
Time will tell, I guess.
It wouldn't take a week to confirm the DNA. A few hours for a high priority case like this.
Osama has been on ice for 9 years.
The question is, what disaster are they using V-O Day to squelch in the minds of sportsfan patriots.
Perhaps China will cut off our MasterCard this week.
So does the USS Carl Vinson carry a DNA lab or did they fly off a sample?
I have to wonder just how long it will take before there is a bang-bang-shoot-em-up reenactment on the tube... Certainly less than 6 months. Any takers on 3 months? One month? 2 weeks?
Over 27,000 articles on google news. Plenty to read and speculate about.
I really must question the validity of this "twitter" report. Would seem like a good way for some lonely guy to gain international attention with a well timed spoof.
Ok. Brains coming out now.
(I'm so sorry)
Wrong place, right time. I can't wait to see the intel used here. There's plenty of noise but not enough information.
I visited the blog after seeing the Facebook post to thank Bruce for accurately describing it as an assassination -- rather than using one of the many nationalistic euphemisms I keep hearing -- but I see janwo beat me to it.
"Please Don't Call It Justice" -- http://firedoglake.com/2011/05/02/...
@wiredog: "It wouldn't take a week to confirm the DNA. A few hours for a high priority case like this."
I don't know about that. They probably would have had to have collected DNA from relatives, who wouldn't be immediately available.
Then again, I really don't know. I did listen to the president last night and I don't doubt his outlining of the situation.
Justice as described by Jon Stewart as cloning OBL so that he can be ceremoniously killed each year at half-time of the Super Bowl?
OBL was buried at sea. Would justice have been to wrap his body in bacon (or stuff him full of pork) before heaving him overboard?
According to CNN, "The religious rites were conducted on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson in the Arabian Sea. 'The body was washed and placed in a white sheet. A military official read prepared remarks, which were then translated into Arabic by a native speaker. The body of Osama bin Laden was placed on a flat board, which was then tipped up, and allowed to slide into the sea,' the second official said."
And death kicked him in the groin.
Does this mean that I can fly again without cancer causing prono-scans or being molested, and that I can take my liquid/gels (shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, deodorant, toothpaste, ...) in carry-on again?
At what point will the insanity of irrational terrorist fear stop, and proper discussions on risk-value analysis resume?
For every million you spend fighting terrorists to save X amount of lives, you can likely save 1000000X or more by putting that same money into first responders, safety, health care, preventing obesity, etc. More than 1000000000X if we are talking about security theatre verses the alternatives.
On a side note, I hope that they dress up his corpse up in women's undergarments, photograph him, then place the body in a transparent tube permanently connected to the sewage system, for all to see.
That would be a very cost effective deterrent to terrorism, that many people would reconsider as a role model.
> I have to wonder just how long it will take
> before there is a bang-bang-shoot-em-up reenactment on the tube..
The real purpose of that space shuttle launch a few days ago was really to get the actors to the movie studio on Moonbase One to film this.
So far, the only people calling the hit on bin Laden an "assassination" are Bruce and the Muslim Brotherhood.
I see comments in the link, but no story. "It speaks for itself. A real time twitter event..."?
What speaks for itself? I don't know, but Twitter seems quite retarded to me...
"Assassination" is over the top.
Al Qaeda "declared war" on the United States. When a nation-state declares war on the U.S., the military is allowed to shoot back. As long as Congress agrees with the President.
You want to argue that Al Qaeda isn't legally competent to declare war? Fine. Al Qaeda isn't a nation-state.
Then Bin Ladin was just a common, confessed murderer shot while resisting capture.
Any way you slice it, not an "assassination".
Hmm, the word assassination does seem appropriate:
1. to kill suddenly or secretively, especially a politically prominent person; murder premeditatedly and treacherously.
As in: "That was a good assassination, guys!"
Assassinate: to kill suddenly or secretively, especially a politically prominent person; murder premeditatedly and treacherously.
An assassination is the *unprovoked* killing of a political leader for merely political reasons (i.e. you disagree with their policies). JFK was an assassination. Lincoln was an assassination. UBL's death was *not* an assassination any more than the executions of Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer. UBL was not a political leader; he was not a head of state, an elected official, a diplomat, ambassador, or in any way affiliated with any government (in any official capacity). He was the number one terrorist in the world and on pretty much every western country's "dead or alive" hit list (not just America here). UBL was no different than the leader of a drug cartel or violent street gang. He was the ultimate thug.
I know many of you hate America and have a political ax to grind -- that's fine -- but you can at least be honest with your choice of verbs and adjectives. Please stop calling this an "assassination."
And for those bitching about "due process," well what are authorities supposed to do? Wait around until all criminals feel like turning themselves in? UBL has made it clear to his followers over the years that he is never to be taken alive -- he ordered them to put a bullet in his head if American forces got too close.
Believe me, capturing him alive would have been the optimal scenario for intelligence and propaganda purposes. Ultimately, he refused to surrender, so he was shot in the eye with a high-powered rifle (after he hid behind his wife, of course).
>When a nation-state declares war on the U.S., the military is allowed to shoot back.
So with that logic it would not be an assassination if Al-Qaeda killed Bush in 2001?
>I don't know about that. They probably would have had to have collected DNA from relatives, who wouldn't be immediately available.
They probably acquired his or his relatives DNA several years ago, they knew that at some point in time they had to identify either a captive or a corpse.
This was not an assassination. UBL was ordered to surrender and he chose to fight. It's not as if he deserved American due process.
I'll make one clear statement about this and then shut up.
This is a scam to get Obama re-elected.
They track down the most wanted guy in history, an old guy on dialysis, who allegedly resists so they have to shoot him in the head - these Navy SEALS who can bust into a hostage room and neatly pick off the terrorists without killing any hostages - then instead of retrieving the body for proof and displaying it to the independent press - some of whom have met bin Laden - they allegedly do a DNA test (based on what samples?) then BURY HIM AT SEA WITH MUSLIM RITES?
Not buying it.
If you could take down bin Laden, you could take him alive. And he should have been taken alive to stand trial or at least interrogation. Was killing one old guy instead of getting the latest intel on THE ENTIRE GROUP more important?
At least one person on the RaceforIran Web site has pointed out that bin Laden was allegedly in a house within half a mile of a major Pakistani military base, in a neighborhood of Pakistani military where you can't even take pictures without being questioned by Pakistani police. How likely is it that Obama would pick such a place to hide out?
Benazir Bhutto stated before her death that Mullah Omar had killed bin Laden in 2003.
I also remember when they fabricated the death of Saddam's sons in Iraq. That story stank to high hell.
I repeat: this never happened. It's a scam to get Obama re-elected.
I really don't care if anyone agrees with me or not, so you can save your insults. Obama has lied so many times, so blatantly, in the last two years that I can't credit anything he says on this matter.
>>When a nation-state declares war on the U.S., the
>> military is allowed to shoot back.
>So with that logic it would not be an assassination if
> Al-Qaeda killed Bush in 2001?
After the Congressional AUMF? The AUMF occupies an ambiguous place under both international and domestic law. Domestic law seems to be veering towards seeing the AUMF as a straightforward Congressional recognition of and authorization for a de-facto state of war.
How that fits in with the UN charter, and other sources of international law remains very murky.
I'l give you a different hypothetical... if Krushchev had dropped a nuke on DC durring the Cuban Missile crisis, we wouldn't be calling that incident "the Kennedy assassination".
Y'all listen up. I've been watching for one small example, the manipulations of the silver prices.
Something very interesting happened this weekend, depending on which, if any, tinfoil hat/conspiracy theory you wear (I try to avoid them and just watch -- and trade).
Seems a rather large bank might have covered some losses, or doubled down (moving the market) to then cover -- and it amounts to money stolen.
But that, as much money as it was...probably wasn't the occasion for the sudden success. To hide something in the news, that's using an elephant to swat a fly, and I'd think they were better at it (usually are).
Yes, it was an assassination. We've crossed that line, now in public. I'm ambivalent -- feel strong both ways about that one. That's not a precedent I'd like to set, despite apparent justification in this (and maybe some others) case. On the other hand, when and wherever it (probably) happened, the guy had it coming -- in my estimation, very much not lightly given.
Before he turned violent towards us, he had a slick line -- "you're corrupting our children in ways we can't stop". It's hard to argue, gives me some pause. But then -- the ends don't justify the means -- I lost all sympathy.
But there's so much circus to this it just raises the hair on the back of my neck. So many silly recent distractions (birther junk?)....hmm, usually means "look at the magicians assistant over here while I do something over there.
So, eyes peeled.
In an unconventional conflict, a charismatic leader can be a major strategic asset, a far greater force multiplier than tens of millions of $ worth of tanks or aircraft. Why wouldn't they be legitimate priority targets?
Incidentally, I'd certainly not mind were terrorists to take the same approach. Which would you prefer - heaps of dead politicians, or fatalities among actual human beings? :P
I think neither execution or assassination fit the picture here. I believe "termination" is the appropriate word for such operations. Perhaps even "suicide by SEAL" as he had made it very clear over the years that he would never allow himself to be captured alive.
This said, I guess we'll probably never know what really happened. Why did it take ten years to find him ? Why now ? Was this part of some deal with either Pak/Afghan Taliban or other parties ? The way the story has been told matches what I would have expected to be told.
From a political point of view, taking him alive would have proven a major liability and/or embarassment to many parties. Chances are that his trial would also have become that of US foreign policy of the last decades. Pakistani authorities were informed only last minute. Which makes sense for more than one reason. If they had known they could have tipped him off, plus in this scenario they can claim pausible deniability that they were not involved and so cannot be accused of having his blood on their hands.
Unless however all who were involved were fully convinced that OBL no longer had any role whatsoever in AQ operations, his shooting dead on-site from an intel angle was definitely not the smartest thing to do. I must admit that I'm feeling a bit uneasy with his speedy and most convenient watery grave, whether or not we get to see footage of it in the time to come. The logical thing to do for the CIA would have been to stage both killing and burial, then take the prisoner to an undisclosed location for full debriefing. With no questions asked because officially he would have been dead. Once all required information extracted, prisoner could still have been quietly disposed off or lobotomised.
Watch for ghost stories from high security detention facilities about a secret prisoner with an iron mask appearing on conspiracy sites very soon.
"You idiots! You killed his Stunt Double!"
(chuckles for dragging in a "SpaceBalls" reference)
In any case, dead now or dead for years doesn't matter since it changes *NOTHING*. The various militant fundamentalists never really _needed_ OBL but he was a convenient symbol to get this whole "terror" campaign going.
@dave_rel1k Dave Kennedy (ReL1K) tweeted this at 10:46 PM May 1
"Osama Bin Laden killed a week ago by a US bomb. DNA test confirms. Body is in US custody."
Obama and key advisors were in the situation room during the raid, watching some kind of live feed. They're being a bit cagey (obviously) about exactly what kind of info they can have available in realtime, but its hardly surprising. (Reminds me of that scene from Patriot Games where the spooks watch a live satellite feed as their troops take down a terrorist camp. Sheesh, that movie is almost 20 years old now!)
Fullsize version of the picture here (4096x2731):
There's a classified document on a laptop that has been obscured. The original pic is high-enough resolution to read the words "TOP SECRET CODEWORD NOFORN" off the top of the binder on Hillary Clinton's lap.
Now it's being reported that NSA intercepted the satellite phone communications from a bodyguard on the Bin Laden compound, which led them to becoming suspicious that OBL may actually be there.
Mr. Schneier or any other crypto expert: How do you feel about publicly known crypto algorithms now? It's rather obvious NSA is breaking this stuff all day long. Sat phones today are almost all encrypted with "strong" algorithms.
I used to be like a lot of other people, "Nah, NSA can't break AES, RSA, 3DES, etc. Only conspiracy theorists believe that." Now I am becoming very suspicious that it might actually be true.
Anyone else with me?
Also in that picture, if you look at the laptop directly in front of Hillary, you will see what appears to be a satellite photo of the compound. If you look at the logo on the top left of that photo you see what looks like the logo of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). That may be the only peek we ever get of an actual NRO sat photo. It looks to be about a 500 foot aerial shot, though I am sure those sats can pinpoint on someone's face. What confuses me is why that other photo appears to be redacted when it looks like just another aerial shot of the compound.
Also, just for some lulz, does anyone else think the guy in the blue shirt behind Hillary that is peeking his head over the guy's shoulder looks like Robert Downey, Jr.?
No kidding, me too.
Can't say that I was surprised to hear it, though.
Crypto algorithms protect ciphered bits. Packets, though - ay, there's the rub - packets never get completely ciphered.
In this case, just being able to identify origin and destination of the call might have been enough.
If the call went back into the regular telephone network (i.e. wasn't end-to-end encrypted) then there's another set of possibilities for a sufficiently determined snoop.
"Now it's being reported that NSA intercepted the satellite phone communications from a bodyguard on the Bin Laden compound, which led them to becoming suspicious that OBL may actually be there"
I wouldn't be drawing too many conclusions just yet. Most of this information is FUD and hearsay at best. Given the domestic sensitivity of the topic, Pakistani authorities and ISI are doing their very best to deny any form of involvement in OBL's termination or the events leading to it. Put simply: the purpose of these statements is plausible deniability, not informing the public.
BTW: you may wish to change your alias. This project was renamed to Facebook several years ago.
@Seal Team 6 (btw are you a tom clancy fan?)
Assassinate: to kill suddenly or secretively, especially a politically prominent person; murder premeditatedly and treacherously.
An assassination is the *unprovoked* killing of a political leader for merely political reasons (i.e. you disagree with their policies). "
I find it odd that you quote a dictionary reference and then redefine it to suit your personal preference. Unprovoked is not a requirement for an assassination to be called assassination.
While Bin Laden was not a head of state he most certainly was a "politically prominent person"...
"And for those bitching about "due process," well what are authorities supposed to do? "
Who is bitching about due process? Is this a rant you have cut and pasted on many sites across the internet?
The question is not whether this was an assassination or not. It clearly was. The question is whether it was a justified assassination, and here those unwilling to call it what it was already provide the answer, namely that it at best was gray area and at worst was a criminal act.
Now, don't get me wrong, I have zero sympathies for the target. But judgment whether something is criminal or not does not depend on the target, but on the perpetrator(s) and their perspective of the act. A government sending a kill-squad into the home of somebody in a foreign country looks very much like something only a rogue-nation would do. That worries me.
Side note: All this celebration in the US shows zero understanding of the problem. The problem will not go away. In fact, the problem got reheated just now. This looks like Goliath squashing David all over and the sympathy (except for Goliaths family perhaps) always goes to the underdog. The result is an increase in funding and support for the organization that nominally should have suffered a loss here. What I really wonder is whether the US decision makers actually know this and welcome a long-term external enemy as means to distract from domestic problems (a tried and true political move) or whether they are just incompetent on an astonishing level.
@Richard Steven Hack
None of that makes any sense, nor does it match the story given out. For one, they lost a helicopter when the tail clipped a wall. For another, they shot one of OBL's wives and a son as well as a few other people. And you're ignoring the fact that people can't help but notice it when helicopters raid a fortified house in the city.
Next, this will likely embarrass Pakistan, which if you remember, has nukes. They got caught playing both sides on this one by all appearances. If they were going to fake it, they would have done it in a cave somewhere.
And as much as I hate giving him funeral rites of any kind given that the bastard doesn't deserve it, better to give him a burial like that rather than have soldiers get killed due to some angry mob forming over the issue in the middle east. Dumping him into the sea isn't unreasonable. It's what happened to some of the executed Nazis and this was almost on the 66th anniversary of Hitler's death, so it seems fitting.
Finally, if it were an election stunt, they'd have waited until some time a lot closer to the election. Doing it now is a complete waste. Ideally, you would pull a stunt like that right before the election.
But facts don't matter, do they? I'm still waiting for people to discover the REAL conspiracy: Obama is actually a Martian invader using ESP to disemborgulate our brain waves and prevent us from learning the truth about the time cube.
It was an assassination.
1) It has been reported that he did not have a gun at the time of the killing so no case that he was resisting
2) Only Pakistani authorities can legally had arrested him. US does not have no authority there, let alone a commando.
Bin Laden has been inoperative for years already. It is only his brand what is operative.
The best result for me, is that now that Obama now can sell to Congress a rapid withdraw from Afghanistan during summer. Too many hundreds and hundreds of thousands innocents lives have died there already for the excuse of a couple hundred terrorists.
"What I really wonder is whether the US decision makers actually know this and welcome a long-term external enemy as means to distract from domestic problems (a tried and true political move) or whether they are just incompetent on an astonishing level."
I am not sure that being in possession of a gun matters. "Resisting Arrest" comes in many forms and once armed soldiers storm a building it takes very little to end up dead. Adrenaline is pumping and everybody is scared. The slightest movement can (and normally does) result in massive over-reaction.
I am intrigued about reports he died from a shot to the head - these are remarkably rare in battle....
In the previous thread about assassinations, I made the point that they are normally about 0% effective for anything other than leaving someone dead.
Despite the celebrations in the US (*) the death of OBL will change almost nothing. There will be no reduction in US spend on the WAR ON TERROR, and I would be amazed if it even meant a reduction in Afghanistan. The only thing one could expect to come out of this is public support for Obama at the next elections. Not really a justification for killing someone if you ask me. Again, this raises the issue about how do we tell the difference between a rogue nation that ignores international laws and the USA....
Having said all of this - I would rather assassinations like this were more common rather than full fledged wars. Conflict should be fought between global leaders, not the poor citizens who gain almost nothing but can lose everything.
(*) I find it interesting that the worlds superpower is *celebrating* the fact it took nearly 10 years to find and kill an old man who lived in the mountains. This is not something I would view as an "achievement".... but then I am old and cynical.
@Richard Steven Hack
"This is a scam to get Obama re-elected...Not buying it"
Do you and other conspiracy theorists ever stop to ponder how many people would really have to be involved if this was a complete fabrication, and how many people and organizations would have to be perfectly secretive, and how poorly governments (especially elected ones) have been at keeping secrets in the past, for this to be an actual conspiracy? Also, as others pointed out, it also would be poor timing on Obama's part. Really, sometimes a spade is just a spade.
"...reports he died from a shot to the head - these are remarkably rare..."
Actually, if you're in the same room with a highly trained individual that wants to kill you, a shot to the head (and chest)would be highly likely.
@Rookie wrote: "Actually, if you're in the same room with a highly trained individual that wants to kill you, a shot to the head (and chest)would be highly likely."
Likely enough. Wikipedia mentions this common CQB technique -- the Mozambique Drill.
"Sat phones today are almost all encrypted with "strong" algorithms."
Why would you believe that?
Assuming they used the Thuraya network and not one of their US-owned competitors, the encryption would have used 10 year old technology that is no better than GSM. On top of that, the calls have to land somewhere, and can be tapped just like any other call (with local government help).
Even if the calls were made with some extra form of encryption, all of the metadata would still be available (from, to, duration and probably GPS coordinates).
@edel "1) It has been reported that he did not have a gun ...
2) Only Pakistani authorities can legally had arrested ..."
It has also been reported that he DID have a gun. And I say one very apparently serious simulation of how the the helos landed the seals lined up and shot the 4 in a line.
Never treat a media report as REAL unless you're willing to give a value to the real.
re: lawful authority - while any country resists the principal of allowing extraordinary renditions on their territory they probably have in practice no problem executing it on someone elses.
If OBL was in US custody and taken to trial it would not get thrown out because he was 'kidnapped' and not extradited to stand trial.
@Assassination vs combat death
"Assassinate: to kill suddenly or secretively, especially a politically prominent person; murder premeditatedly and treacherously. "
To kill sudden (yeah okay) and secretively (though I'm sure the residents of the compound knew about the minute the helicopers started hovering.) So secret? maybe/mabe not.
OBL IS a politically prominent person just not within a legitimized political structure. He is/was a leader.
How can your enemy, whom you have killed and tried to kill, using their troops and arms attacking you be called treacherous? A body guard killing the body they are guarding sure. But this? No.
re: Encryption and Intercepts
Leaving aside the discussion of cipher strength or putative back doors.
And as others here have pointed out - NSA gets a wealth of information out of device and encoding characteristics.
Unless the path from phone to phone is encrypted end to end the signal can be intercepted in the clear at the cell tower or satellite or processing center. If it IS encrypted end to end then the signal can still be intercepted at the end points.
Likely through one of those side channels Clive goes on about.
This way this is being described though is as a failure of the courier's opsec. Once the phone signal was established they had a beacon at the site. Though that might be disinformation to cover sources and methods.
@rookie and jggimi
head shots are rare on the grounds that the head is such a small target no one in their right mind aims for it.
The normal technique - and one people tend to fall back on during combat - is to aim for the centre of mass and fire a lot of bullets.
You are quite right that there are CQB drills which involve shooting at the head but this rarely works in situations where there are multiple combatants in a fast moving fight. When the soldier sees the target, the instinct is to point and shoot at centre of mass, in CQB, with professionals, this is nearly always going to hit and at that point the target is falling down. Taking a shot at the head is in 99% of circumstances a waste of critical time when all you want to be doing is moving on and eliminating other targets. If you want to fire a round at the head, there is no problem, it is just rare that this hits.
The well famed "double tap" is also surprisingly rare, with most professionals preferring to fire as much as their weapon system will allow.
Note: This is not a sop for conspiracy theories, it is simply an observation based on spending 22 years in the Army (including 2 years teaching CQB) and carrying out post-incident investigations on several battle scenes. Headshots, while rare, are not impossible. As BF Skinner says, the report that he was killed by a head shot is, at this time, as valid as saying aliens beamed a laser into his heart. We have no way of knowing and, given the total lack of evidence, I have no intention of forming an opinion one way or another.
At the risk of this degenerating into pedantry over words(*):
"To kill sudden (yeah okay) and secretively (though I'm sure the residents of the compound knew about the minute the helicopers started hovering.) So secret? maybe/mabe not."
Knowing it is happening once it has started cant be used as an example it is not a secret assault. Every assassination & attempt has a point at which it stops being secret. I am sure Archduke Ferdinand, and those around him, knew the attack was underway but not with enough time to prevent it. That was still an assassination.
"How can your enemy, whom you have killed and tried to kill, using their troops and arms attacking you be called treacherous? A body guard killing the body they are guarding sure. But this? No."
That was a second meaning - I am not sure it is needed as the first seems to apply pretty well.
(*) my favourite form of pedantry...
Was Yamamoto's death an "assassination"? I guess it depends on the definition you give the word, but in any case the circumstances are basically similar -- we're avowedly at war with the guy, after all.
In any case, I don't think it was a bad thing, but I do have a certain Pulp Fiction quote going through my head...
> Only Pakistani authorities can legally had
> arrested him. US does not have no authority
> there, let alone a commando.
There was a felony warrant out on Bin Ladin, issued by an Article III court (S.D.N.Y), following a Grand Jury indictment. And posse comitatus doesn't apply. That's good enough for United States authorities.
@GreenSquirrel "At the risk of this ..."
Better than degenerating into pederasty.
"Knowing it is happening once it has started cant be used . . ."
Fair enough. Let's back off and widen the scope a bit.
I blow up your barracks, embassy's, fail at one attempt to bring down WTC and succeed on the second, blow a mocking big hole in a naval vessel, some aircraft hijackings planned and attempted. All the while giving press conferences.
In the meantime YOU have become aware of me killing your civilians and figure I'm not gonna stop. You issue an executive kill order and launch cruise missles, invade the country I'm hiding out in, engage in significant combat to include dropping MOABs on my caves in Tora Bora.
I survive and you go off and pick a fight with some totally uninvolved 3rd party. over time some of my LT's and affiliates stop calling.
Would a reasonable terrorist conclude you've stopped looking for me and have changed your intent to make an end to me?
No secret here in intent - just the time and place.
Also, here's why I'm not buying any of the conspiracy theories:
1) If he's actually still alive and this is a hoax, he'd put out a videotape proving that he is, probably by quoting and mocking Obama's speech. We'd have our nation's second Presidential resignation. No way he'd pass that up.
2) If he's been dead for some time and this is a hoax, why do it now rather than, say, September 2012? As it is, the media cycle will be done with this long before the 2012 elections and the thing will be won or lost on the economy.
So, yeah, as usual the conspiracy theories make far less sense than the official story.
I think the DNA question is a very interesting one.
In planning this of course I would have to assume that the alledged corpse would be unrecognizable (ballistic projectiles aren't subtle - neither are hellfires) after the fact. DNA testing has come a long way in the last 10 years.
And the family samples would have been collected long ago in preparation for this ultimate use. Perhaps they even had a direct sample of OBL or one of his children.
But how long does it take? They said it like only hours after the assault didn't they? Is there a field kit the SEALs could use?
"Better than degenerating into pederasty."
Is that something to do with feet...?
The wider scope is a good example, but I still think that any definition which applies to other attacks applies here.
In 1979 Lord Mountbatten was assassinated by the PIRA, yet there was no secret in the fact that PIRA had the intent to kill members of the Royal family. The missing bit of the puzzle was the time and place.
I think pretty much any political figure (legitimate or otherwise) has a series of groups who make claims to want to kill them. If any were to succeed it would still be called an assassination.
Being an assassination, doesnt make it "wrong" BTW. I think its a fairly valid method of prosecuting warfare. I still think it is woefully ineffective though.
@ green squirrel: head shots are rare on the grounds that the head is such a small target no one in their right mind aims for it. The normal technique - and one people tend to fall back on during combat - is to aim for the centre of mass and fire a lot of bullets.
In general, yes. But these are not persons in their right minds. These are SEALs.
I fear you are right, "both" is really the most likely option.
> If he's been dead for some time and this is a hoax, why do it now rather than, say, September 2012?
That's the scary part. What do they have planned which is so important they are willing to play their extremely valuable Osama card?
It has to be something BIG, not bank losses, precious metal manipulations, or continuing Microsoft and GE's military contracts.
Perhaps China plans to suddenly dump the U.S. dollar before QE III devalues it even more, or the Israeli aircraft training at our bases in northern Iraq are going to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities and irradiate half of Asia.
Bookmark this page. Come back in a month and tell me if I was wrong.
>> What do they have planned which is so important they are willing to play their extremely valuable Osama card?
A news article that pointed out that one of the Wikileaks cables mentioned the courier that they were tracking; OBL would have noticed that eventually. They couldn't put off the raid any longer even if they wanted to, or they'd get caught with their pants down like Bush did at Tora Bora.
Or are you still going with your "they had him on ice for years" thing? I suspect that you picked that theory first and now are trying to find facts to match it, rather than the other way around.
@j "picked that theory first and now are trying to find facts to match it, "
He didn't. Alex Jones has been beating this particular drum for years. It 'explains' why we've never caught 1 guy in all the world and bush didn't dare use it because Alex & Co outed the conspiracy by citing some statements made by Albright that are conclusive proof after subjecting it to an analysis of WILD speculation passing as conclusion.
Ultimately it's a self-sealing premise like all conspiracy theories. Any hole poked in mere facts are sealed up by reference to fundamental principals. In this case though Jones does't often say it. . . the conspirators are literally Satanicly inspired and diabolically clever who work on time lines of centuries to millenium.
"it is simply an observation based on spending 22 years in the Army (including 2 years teaching CQB)"
You don't even need to be/have been in the military to target the centre of mass. When we go lasershooting, I always go for the high ground, try to move fast, have my tail covered and then shoot everything I've got the moment I spot someone of the other team. It proved to be a far more effective technique than hiding behind corners waiting for someone to come by and then going for one well-aimed killshot.
Thomas: "nor does it match the story given out."
Uhm, that's the point.
"For one, they lost a helicopter when the tail clipped a wall."
So what? Who said the SEALS were in on it? You ever read the so-called Northwood documents? The documents the Pentagon generated when they were trying to start a war with Cuba? One plan involved faking the hijacking and shootdown of a civilian airliner with a hundred fake "students" on board. Another involved the fake shootdown of a US Air Force jet on a mission with several other jets in the Gulf - in which ONLY the pilot of the actual jet would be in the loop.
"For another, they shot one of OBL's wives and a son as well as a few other people."
And you're ignoring the fact that people can't help but notice it when helicopters raid a fortified house in the city."
Again, so what? No one is saying they didn't conduct *A* raid and kill people. I'm saying they didn't kill bin Laden.
I like the "Stunt Double" line above. They might very well have.
"Next, this will likely embarrass Pakistan,"
Since Pakistan just kicked out a ton of US CIA agents and has been demanding the drone program end, that might well have been part of the purpose of this charade.
"which if you remember, has nukes."
And there are those who think this entire business of using drones to attack "militants" in Pakistan is intended to destabilize Pakistan and under the supposed threat of militants obtaining the nukes, seize the nukes (mostly for the benefit of India and Israel). I'm not sure about that one but Obama has definitely been screwing around with Pakistan.
"They got caught playing both sides on this one by all appearances."
Pakistan has been playing both sides for some time for good reasons on their part. As I've mentioned here before, it is apparently well known that certain ISI officials have long known where bin Laden is.
Which is not say he was "on ice" - merely that some Pakistani people knew and if the CIA WERE any good AND INTENDED to really find him, they would have known who those people were and how to get that information from them. It's not rocket science to compromise the security of some one who has people who know where he is, even if only approximately.
Name me one other person in the world who is as well known and as massively hunted as bin Laden who escaped ANY detection for ten years. And a bunch of ex-Nazis in South America who no one cared about for twenty years except the Israelis doesn't count.
"If they were going to fake it, they would have done it in a cave somewhere."
"better to give him a burial like that rather than have soldiers get killed due to some angry mob forming over the issue in the middle east. "
That's nonsense. You don't want soldiers killed in a Muslim country, get them out of the country - which is precisely what bin Laden always said was his problem with the US. Had that been done fifty years ago, none of this would be relevant.
"Dumping him into the sea isn't unreasonable."
It's very unreasonable. The poster above who suggests maybe he wasn't and instead was taken for interrogation makes more sense. If they put out a "conspiracy theory" like that, I might - might - buy it.
"Finally, if it were an election stunt, they'd have waited until some time a lot closer to the election. Doing it now is a complete waste. Ideally, you would pull a stunt like that right before the election."
Again, not necessarily. As someone above posted, it might not be directly related to the election. More likely, it doesn't matter about the media cycle in this case - Obama can claim this "victory" right up to the election and no other candidate can match it.
And as I said before, it might be more related to ongoing events in Pakistan.
"But facts don't matter, do they?"
Always. Which is why I don't buy anything Obama says, because he plays VERY loose with the facts. Before the Tehran Declaration, he sent a very explicit letter to the Brazilian President saying he would accept a deal where Tehran would swap LEU for nuclear fuel. When the Brazilians and Turks actually got a deal, he reversed course ninety degrees, whereupon Brazil published the letter. This established beyond all doubt that Obama was a straight-up liar.
As for a shot in the head, yes, the SEALS are good enough to do it - which is precisely why I don't buy it. They're also good enough not to need to do it.
Look, they did this raid (allegedly) a short distance from a Pakistani army base. They obviously had Pakistani political (if not ISI) compliance to do that. That reduced the threat they were facing considerably. They were able to take down the security forces around bin Laden with no casualties to themselves. Which in itself is suspicious since bin Laden used to travel with an entire Sudanese contingent with anti-aircraft missiles, I find it hard to believe he was living in a large compound with a handful of bodyguards.
My point is that if he was taken that easily, he could have been taken alive.
I don't think he was even there. Someone they could claim was bin Laden was there. A double, who knows? Maybe that whole part was faked. Who knows? The point is without a body no one can know for sure.
Anyone remember the whole Jessica Lynch story? Total garbage. Yes, it got exposed. This one would be much harder to expose because it would reduce to "he said, she said" because anything the Pakistanis say would be dismissed. And the Pakistanis, for various obvious reasons, might not be in a hurry to say anything - which again might have been the point of the raid, even in bin Laden wasn't there.
As for bin Laden now popping up to deny he's dead, Al Qaeda could still do that with some faked audio or video. Maybe the whole point of the raid is to stimulate him to do that - IF he's still alive.
But if bin Laden has been dead for some time, as MANY people, including Benazir Bhutto, believe, then he won't. Which makes the story much harder to refute. Again, anyone on the other side who claims as much will be dismissed as a "conspiracy theorist" or just an enemy liar.
And in the end, as others have pointed out, it doesn't matter. How many times have they killed the "Al Qaeda Number Two" or "Number Three" man in Iraq, in Pakistan, and elsewhere? That slot gets filled in five minutes. If bin Laden was as old and out of it as has been claimed, he isn't the main driver of Al Qaeda any more any way. As others have pointed out, all this will do is stimulate Al Qaeda further.
And in the end, that's the REAL goal of all of this - to keep the US fighting endless wars for the benefit of the military-industrial complex, the national security complex, the oil companies, the banks, the politicians, Israel, ad nauseum.
Oh, and as for the word "assassination": how many times have people suggested that Hitler should have been "assassinated"? If anyone deserved assassination, it was Hitler.
No one had a problem with the word then. Now we're going to quibble about it? Because it was some "raghead" with a funny religion, instead of a Christian European white guy?
Then people wonder "why they hate us". They hate us because "we" (this means YOU) are racist imperialist colonialist pricks, that's why.
@RSH it can be argued that Hitler was not a Christian beyond his upbringing and it's use in social control.
And you've left out a biggie. OBL was a CIA plant. Recruited during the Afghan wars against the Soviet and maintained. This operation and his 'killing' was a cover erasure. Just a way of bringing in an asset from the cold.
Look for a new, tall, clean shaven teacher in a cordory jacket with leather patches at Quantico.
BF Skinner: Given that Hitler was raised Christian and in fact spent a lot of time comparing himself to Jesus Christ, I'd call him a Christian. Given the behavior of Christians over the last thousand years, particularly against Jews, I'd say he fits the bill.
And I KNEW someone would pick up on my referring him as being a Christian.
Meanwhile, check this MSNBC story out:
1) bin laden was NOT armed, the White House now admits.
2) A female rushed the SEAL team and WAS SHOT IN THE LEG!
Oh, but no, they COULDN'T shoot bin Laden in the leg - even though he's an old man on dialysis and was not armed. But he "resisted"...right.
I mean, really...
Echelon: "If you look at the logo on the top left of that photo you see what looks like the logo of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)."
Actually Echelon, that's the seal of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
Also, the binder on Hillary's lap appears to say;
Top Secret Codeword NOFORN
For use in White House Situation room only.
Do you have any idea what we've done?
We dumped Bin Laden's moldering corpse into the ocean where
it will mix with oil and chemicals from the BP spill
and radiation from Fukushima nuclear plant meltdowns
we're going to have a radioactive zombie terrorist apocalypse.
I'm surprised we're hearing anything at all about what was found at that compound. If there was any actionable intelligence to be gleaned from it, you certainly wouldn't want to tip your hand. Maybe they figure all the bad guys will already know if they are compromised by this info, so there's no harm (and maybe some propaganda value) in telling the world about it.
@BF Skinner: Wow, some of the nuttier replies in this thread did not surprise me at all, but your "clean shaven teacher" comment sure did. Its more conspiracist than RSH even.
We might never know the truth, but I'm comfortable believing that this whole thing went down exactly how they said it did. The best lies are mostly truth, and if they felt the need to distort or FUD up some of the details for operational reasons, I can live with that. Of course lots of conspiracy theorists will claim that OBL is still somehow alive, and I fully expect the White House to release some video footage or something to try and boost the credibility of the story (which is pointless of course, pics or videos prove nothing, and everyone who is willing to believe the SEALs killed OBL in that raid, already believes it).
BTW, IF the story IS true, notice they did it pretty much the same way I would have: find a guy who knows where he is, follow him around until you do find bin Laden, then take him down with a raid.
For those who mocked my billion dollar offer to do this, guess what? That's exactly how I would have done it.
Except it wouldn't have taken me ten+ years and three hundred billion dollars. It would have taken ninety days and ONE billion dollars - and I would have retired on a nine hundred million dollar profit.
"I'm comfortable believing that this whole thing went down exactly how they said it did."
Which is why they tell the story that way. Obviously.
DBCooper: "radioactive zombie terrorist apocalypse." You win the thread. If Hollywood isn't already working on that script, I'm disappointed. Hayden Panettiere for one of the two leads, the other Milla Jovovich who has tons of experience.
Y'know, *if* his body was dumped into the ocean... or his ashes... or the output of a chipper-shredder... it makes it harder for anyone to build a shrine over his grave (though it can be argued that placing land-mines around his gravesite, say, in the US, might've been interesting).
Dave Lindorf says pretty much the same thing I've said - even if it's true, it stinks of nefarious purpose:
What were They Thinking? Suspicions will Inevitably Grow about the Extermination of Osama bin Laden
John Campbell: You take him alive, interrogate him, try him, execute him, cremate the body, scatter the ashes in the ocean.
Same result - much more effective in dispelling "conspiracy theories".
Unless of course you don't want him to talk about what he knows - about 9/11, about Pakistan, about his CIA connections, about whatever.
"I'm surprised we're hearing anything at all about what was found at that compound. If there was any actionable intelligence to be gleaned from it, you certainly wouldn't want to tip your hand. Maybe they figure all the bad guys will already know if they are compromised by this info, so there's no harm (and maybe some propaganda value) in telling the world about it."
But were they using Truecrypt? I would certainly think with OBL's paranoia about electronic communications, that if he did have important data on a non-networked computer that he would encrypt it. I guess we'll never know. If they break it (which I have no doubt they can) they wont admit it was encrypted, and if they can't break it, they will say the same thing.
"we're going to have a radioactive zombie terrorist apocalypse"
"But he resisted...right"
Perhaps he pulled a Kung Fu Panda-move that totally freaked out the frightened SEALs to the point that they had no other option than to double-tap him.
"If they break it (which I have no doubt they can) they wont admit it was encrypted, and if they can't break it, they will say the same thing"
The man must have known that sooner or later they would get to him. Such was the nature of his predicament. What I would have done in his place was leaving behind a huge pile of encrypted DVD's and other media carriers containing nothing but Texas pr0n, John Wayne westerns and Windows swap files. The proverbial finger from the grave.
Make that "Windows swap files from the kids' digital home entertainment systems".
Killing Bin Ladin could have been some warped sense of respect. If you can't control everyone in the military , if he was alive...
On the DNA test on Pop Mechanics...
"the more appropriate (though perhaps less dramatic) way to explain the results would be as such: It is about 1000 times more likely the dead man's DNA came from a sibling of bin Laden's sister than from a random person"
Also the conspiracy nuts need to give it a rest. No way Obama was going to annouce the killing on TV if he knew it to be untrue. He's almost 2 yrs away from re-election and if this statement is proved false in that time, he is a gonner.
And it's bloody unlikely that the team on the ground/ ship was compartmentalised enough to prevent a leak of the fact that Osama was captured alive/ earlier from the President and his staff.
Capturing Osama alive was probably never the mission objective, the burial at sea is understandable (no shrine) but what is not understandable is the speed with which this was done.
And what's happened to Trump? He should stick to 'The Apprentice'. If the US public actually elects him into any kind of office it will be the lowest point ever for US politics, even lower than Bush Jr..
The other good thing that came of this is we don't have coverage of the follow-up to the royal wedding, presumably with sneak pics from the Carribean.. Thank god for that!
I seriously doubt the story. How can the twitter and have a internet connecting if he doesn't have power and has to fire up his generator to make himself a cup of robusta...
Actually, DNA tests prove exactly nothing if you don't have a trusted and uninterrupted chain of custody for the sample.
Otherwise you can easily replace a sample taken from some random bearded arabic tall guy (you cannot expect the SEALs to know OBL well enough to actually identify him in person) with a sample taken from his cigarette butt when he was aimably chatting with a CIA operative in 80s (as Wikileaks reveals, surreptitiously taking DNA samples of political figures is pretty much SOP), PCR-ed and kept in a Dewar flask in some zekret storage - just in case.
My point is that the conspiracy could be pretty small - as small as two-three people with right access; the rest of the personnel involved could honestly believe they got the real OBL.
This would explain the need to dump the corpse ASAP - before anybody else got to repeat the test or identify it based on dental records, fingerprints & such.
We will know that this is likely the case if the whole issue of test sample custody will be hushed - any serious attempt to validate the kill would feature this question prominently. Who took the sample, where did he keep it, and what other people had or could have gained access to it - both inside and outside of the forensic lab?
@Echelon, it seems that Echelon is at 220.127.116.11-24---gblx-us-static-eschelon-telecom-inc.
I'm susprised they named it like that(it is on the first node into america though) , when china seems to beable to reroute traffic useing bgp pretty easyly
"No way Obama was going to annouce the killing on TV if he knew it to be untrue. He's almost 2 yrs away from re-election and if this statement is proved false in that time, he is a gonner."
That's the point. There's no way to prove one way or the other if there is no body. Anyone can say anything (and some people are already questioning the story based on one facet or another), but all that can be denied and dismissed (as it already is) as "conspiracy theory" with no body.
"And it's bloody unlikely that the team on the ground/ ship was compartmentalised enough to prevent a leak of the fact that Osama was captured alive/ earlier from the President and his staff."
First, how it can be done is an issue of 1) misdirection (see the Northwoods documents), and 2) a question of authority (ditto). The Pentagon thought they could fake the shootdown of a civilian airliner in the Northwoods case, and in the second example compartmentalized the pilots involved. In the first example, at least one hundred military personnel impersonating civilians would have had to be kept quiet, not to mention all the personnel involved in disguising the airliner and then reverting back after it landed.
In this case, the SEALS didn't have to know who they were raiding, or why, or who they shot. If the CIA thought a bin Laden double or someone they could finger as looking like bin Laden were in place, the entire raid would be "legit" - except it wasn't bin Laden.
The forensic identification of the body could be compartmentalized if it was CIA (or whoever) who did the analysis. As it stands, supposedly they used a technical device (Wired has an article on it) to read the body's fingerprints, retinal scans, and take the DNA sample to identify the body. But WHO confirmed that result? You only need one person in the loop for that.
In addition, if you fake the DNA SAMPLE to be that of the victim in advance, the whole thing fails to prove anything.
"Capturing Osama alive was probably never the mission objective"
That has been answered today by the White House. The SEALS were instructed to take him alive if he did not resist, but they are claiming now that he "made a threatening move" and since they were authorized to kill, they did so.
Now how often has the "threatening move" been used by police everywhere as an excuse to shoot when the intent was to shoot in the first place?
It's almost insulting to suggest that a team of SEALS armed to the teeth and in body armor were threatened by an unarmed old man whose value captured alive was almost incalculable. If the SEALS are that cowardly, we are in trouble.
They already demonstrated they could control their shots by NOT fatally shooting the woman who actually attacked them. Therefore the notion that they HAD to shoot bin Laden fatally is just not true especially since they admitted he was unarmed.
This is the sort of thing you see in police brutality reports all the time. A dozen or more beefy cops surround one black guy, and they "have to" beat him to a pulp with nightsticks, kicks and taser shots because he's "on amphetamines" or "he's a body builder" or just "he was resisting arrest". Bullcrap. The cops are ticked off that he's resisting at all or called them names and they beat the crap out of him.
Suggesting that the SEALS had a personal desire to kill bin Laden means they weren't obeying orders to save an extremely valuable intelliigence asset and the lot of them should be court martialed as a result.
"the burial at sea is understandable (no shrine) "
I've already dealt with that question. The body could have been brought back, displayed, analyzed, a proper death certification done, the body cremated and THEN dispersed at sea.
The whole idea of "no shrine" is ridiculous in the first place. Send the body back to his relatives. Who gives a flying rat's ass whether some terrorists think his burial place is a "shrine"? That can't possibly outweigh the value of a proper disposal.
It's an excuse, not a reason, and again it's insulting that the government trots that out. It's another demonstration of how they think the US public will by any crap they say. And Obama seems really addicted to that kind of BS, even more so than Bush was.
"but what is not understandable is the speed with which this was done."
True. The entire reason why this story is suspicious hinges on 1) no body, and 2) how fast that body was disposed of - if it existed in the first place.
The Register had a piece today suggesting that whatever hard drives and thumb drives they collected on the raid probably won't have much, and if they do, it's probably encrypted. However, the article goes on to say that the Muslim radicals have developed their own crypto software - and you know how good publicly untested crypto usually turns out to be.
But if I were an Al Qaeda operative now, I would be burning every connection I had and going even more underground until someone higher up figures out how to re-establish contact. Everyone needs new safehouses, new communication channels, drop kick all their phones/computers/cars, etc. Major shakeup for sure.
Even if it wasn't bin Laden, if it was any higher official in Al Qaeda, this would be necessary. But it's not something that will disrupt the organization for more than a few months if they do it right and if they planned for something like this. So a lot of the intel the raid divulged will prove worthless very quickly except for historical analysis purposes.
"In general, yes. But these are not persons in their right minds. These are SEALs. "
I agree, but this does mean they will have been taught, and drilled relentlessly, in empting a magazine at the center of mass each time a target appears...
As this is descending into conspiracy theory, and I dont want to get involved in that particular brand of madness, I will restate my clarification - head shots in a fast moving combat situation are *rare* but not impossible. If it is a single aimed shot to the head, then it is *not* in a firefight. If the head is hit, along with 29 rounds in the rest of the body, it probably was.
As with nearly everything we hear on the news, the initial details are clearly wrong. The self induced pressure from 24 hour news means that pretty much every "breaking headline" is total bullshit based on some random rumour. If the story is the same after four or five days it becomes a bit more believable. Anyone who jumps to a ranting conclusion on the initial rumours is going to be shown to be foolish in the long haul. (as an example, the outbursts about what a coward he was to have sheltered behind his wife....)
Today's news from the Whitehouse appears to have stated that Bin Laden was unarmed but resisting and his wife attacked the assault team. While I have no truck with any element of his ideology, I think we do a disservice to call an unarmed man in his 50s a coward for "resisting" a SEAL team; and it risks a backlash effect. Life is simpler if we just steer clear of needless judgements like that.
Like moo, I think we may well never know the exact truth but on balance of probabilities, I am happy to accept the big picture of the story. The minor details arent worth worrying about.
"The Pentagon thought they could fake the shootdown of a civilian airliner in the Northwoods case"
Yet obviously they couldnt. History is full of examples where secret plans like this become public so my general belief is that once you get more than four or five people involved you will never keep it secret. Even with monstrous compartmentalisation this is the case and it only takes one person with an axe to grind against the president to go public and blow everything.
If a conspiracy plan involves lots of people all doing things and not telling anyone, it is likely to be wrong.
I actually sort of agree with your summary on the SEALs actions (and totally agree over the police similarities). Whatever their verbal or written orders, the SEALs will have gone into the building fired up to "Kill America's Number 1 Enemy." The rhetoric over the last 10 years pretty much made sure that any American with a gun in the presence of Bin Laden was going to kill him. While it may have been a formal mission objective to capture him, anyone who thought that was going to happen is a retard.
One disagreement, I think the wounding of his wife was more of an accident than control. Once you point your weapon at someone with the intention to shoot the goal is fatalities.
Sadly, I think the long term effect of this assassination will be nothing positive. There will be no drawdown on the war on terror and no westerner will be told "you can sleep safe tonight." To me, that moves this into the territory of pointless vengeance.
Man please re-read Wilsons Illuminatus! I think you missed the point.
Here's the thing. Northwoods is only probably real. Even if it was a real plan offered by a general, who never admitted to it to his dying breath, it was never accepted as policy by the president.
If some crazed person on the street offered you this plan would you accept it as evidence of wide spread government sanctioned and supported opinion manipulation and social control over generations of administrations?
But because some crazed 4 star puts it forward it's legit?
Contingency planners using scenarios beyond 'loss of asset, loss of access to asset' can enter weird reality tunnels. Not any of which are likely. When there are millions of dots connecting them in any pattern is something the brain does naturally. Go outside and look at the clouds. . .see the ducky, see the horsey?
When the war planners accepted an existential threat as a premise, infernal devices sufficient to eliminate life on the planet AND had to deal with strategies like MAD and estimates like 30 to 100 million dead being acceptable loses. . .
OF COURSE their answers are going to be crazy. You don't have to be crazy to act crazy. Garbage in Garbage out.
"To me, that moves this into the territory of pointless vengeance."
I wouldn't call it pointless. If nothing else, his termination in the first place is an emotional victory for the US that can bring closure for the relatives of the thousands of victims he has made. His was the fate of a violent idealist who had outlived his usefulness. Contrary to popular belief, OBL and AQ over the last years have lost a lot of credibility and respect with moderate muslims all over the world when it became clear that at the end of the day their actions were killing more muslims than non-believers, in the process demonising their faith and subverting everything Islam stands for.
The Arab Awakening in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain et all is the best proof for that: none of these revolutions are being spearheaded by religious fundamentalists, but by ordinary people longing for freedom, work and democracy instead. This is a much more significant blow to AQ than the death of OBL. What remains today is a scattered and loosely-knit collection of mostly incompetent bigmouths together with gangs of armed thugs and only a few potentially dangerous throne pretenders operating out of failed states such as Anwar Al Awlaki.
Although OBL was unable to achieve his primary goals or gain widespread adoption of his model among the general muslim community, his legacy today is undeniable: the rise and public acceptance of the surveillance state. I bet the likes of Cheney, Rove and Wolfowitz must have toasted to his death for more than one reason.
If his death brings "closure" to the relatives of his victims, then there may be some element of value to it - but to me that is a hollow excuse and one that is (at best) inconsistently applied for victims of all types. Even then, the emotional victory is fairly hollow in that it has taken the US over a decade to catch the FBI's "most wanted criminal." Add to all this, the fact that the people who actually killed on Sept 11 are already dead themselves and it seems that if emotional closure is needed, then a lot more people have to die.
Bin Laden's death will not bring anyone back to life and will not save the lives of anyone else in the future.
This act of vengeance is the traditional "eye for an eye" with no "point" other than to make people feel a bit better that they have got their own back. To me, this is pretty much the definition of "Pointless Vengeance."
I agree with you 100% that the arabic uprisings are much more effective at spreading freedom and fighting fundamentalism.
However, I think there is a risk (although, I can accept this is probably low) that OBL's death at the hands of the White Christians, "invading" a sovereign nation to kill a leader of the "uprising" can be spun into a manner which may well rally others to the banner. I hope this is not the case.
@AC2: but what is not understandable is the speed with which [UBL's at sea burial] was done.
Actually, it's easily understood. Islamic law requires a person to be buried within 24 hrs of his death.
You can move a body a long way in 24 hours.
Re: They shot a woman non-lethally but were "incapable" of subduing Osama non-lethally.
The SEALs were probably confident that either she did not have any explosive devices on her person or that she would be incapacitated at a distance outside the range of whatever device she may have had.
OBL, however, could have had a suicide vest or other explosive device which easily has a 15m or larger kill radius, which body armor is not exceptionally protective against. The "threatening gesture" may have been him reach with two hands towards something on a belt or vest.
Re: Burying the body at sea so quickly.
What I heard was that this has to do with the speed with which Muslim burial rites are to be performed. Though I don't know any specifics for this, this is just what I heard.
"and it seems that if emotional closure is needed, then a lot more people have to die"
I think the odds of SEAL-teams dropping by at Cheney, Rove and Wolfowitz can be considered rather low 8-) I also don't believe his termination will cause scores of new recruits to follow his footsteps that otherwise wouldn't have done so. Even Robert Fisk - who interviewed OBL several times - for all practical purposes considered him politically dead since quite a while.
"I think the odds of SEAL-teams dropping by at Cheney, Rove and Wolfowitz can be considered rather low 8-)"
+1 internet for the giggles that gave me.
Re your more serious point - again, I agree totally. Bin Laden has been at best nothing more than bogey man people use to frighten each other. I very much doubt he had even the slightest operational control over the activity of AQ. Given that it is a worldwide, cell-based organisation, there is no value in killing a single figurehead, but I can accept it is better than trying to kill all the tentacles.
Watching the news this morning, with reports about an "intelligence bonanza" from Bin Laden's documents, I think the earlier comments about this causing a panic cascade as AQ tries to work out how much network damage has been caused are spot on.
Unless, of course, AQ have sidelined Bin Laden for a good few years and they already know he has nothing of operational value....
(this is heading into the circles within circles territory...)
@ Harry: "Islamic law requires a person to be buried within 24 hrs of his death."
Except that it does not require anything of that sort. And it is very specific about NOT tossing corpses into the sea if it can be avoided.
Read for yourself: http://www.al-islam.org/laws/burial.html
The very first sentence: "It is obligatory to bury a dead body in the ground...".
So much B.S. is emanating from the authoritah lately, it started to smell like a nest of capybaras.
Green Squirrel/B.F. Skinner: "History is full of examples where secret plans like this become public "
And yet the whole point of the Northwoods documents is that NO ONE knew about these plans until a journalist researching the NSA dug up the only remaining copies in the National Archives.
Yes, the plan was shot down by President Kennedy and the SecDef. But these plans WERE seriously proposed by the Joint Chiefs. And note that those plans ALSO included shooting down Cuban emigres in Miami using US military snipers and blaming it on Castro supporters as well as other scenarios resulting in the deaths of civilians in US cities.
Consider what that means in terms of what senior US military people think is an "appropriate" way to start a war with another country.
Then add in Bush's notion of sending a U2 over Iraq to provoke Saddam into shooting it down to justify an invasion if the WMD crap wasn't enough.
Really, that the US government to the highest levels, including the President, AREN'T capable to doing this sort of thing is just naive to a degree.
Yes, it's likely some of these conspiracies WILL end up getting exposed and someone will go down. After all, the whole Iraq WMD business WAS eventually exposed - the operative word being "eventually." As in, after the fact and the damage done.
And just what effect has that had on the architects of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? Zero. No legal culpability, no financial effect, nothing more than being generally disliked by those people who actually spent some time thinking about the consequences of those decisions.
Can anyone hear prove that if Kennedy and the Secretary of Defense at the time HAD approved one or more of those scenarios that they would NOT have been undertaken AND exposed? I think not.
No One: I REALLY doubt Osama had any explosives vest anywhere around him. And you can't just slap one of those on and push the button. And if he did, they would have said so. So that is not an excuse for not taking him alive.
Neither is the "any American would kill him" excuse. I wouldn't (of course, I don't give a rat's ass about 9/11 either, so no doubt I don't count.) As I used to say when I made my offer to get him in ninety days, dead or alive - your choice, but dead is easier - which is true because I couldn't care less about his intelligence value. But the CIA and DoD certainly should.
The fact remains that the SEALS were under orders to take him alive, and considering his intelligence value, should have known full well that his value alive was FAR greater than any egoboo of being known as "the guy who killed Osama". Which is why I say the lot should be court martialed.
@Richard Steven Hack, the fact is if he went to trail, he would have to make it to the end of the trail. The comparable damage of not making it, would be like one country invading another because of the colors of the trees.
Killings bad, but in this case i'll make up a story to sleep at night.
Schneier.com is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of BT.