BOSTON (CBS) - We got him. It took ten long years but the sworn oath to "always get our man" stills holds water. Thousands of words have already been printed about the takedown of Osama Bin Laden, the likely results of the raid, how the immediate post-event coverage was handled.
The attacks on Al Qaeda's leadership structure, ongoing since September 12th, 2001, are justified on moral as well as practical grounds. Islamic terrorists declared war on the U.S. and the west by slaughtering thousands of innocent Americans. We chose to defend ourselves by taking the fight to them. At times, our directives have been foggy and methods questionable. Now, with the violent end of the world's most notorious killer, we've achieved a palpable victory and should take stock that during this long siege known as the War on Terror we have won many more battles than we've lost. None of it has been clean or without s intense sacrifice. But the consequences of allowing the Bin Laden types to run free to perpetrate their nasty deed were and are too high to bear.
There are many opinions about what went down. Here are the facts as I see it.
Professional intelligence operatives in our government and military exhibit an equal amount of patience in achieving their missions as our enemy. It took nearly ten years to bring OBL to fitting justice. The operation was in the planning stages for months if not years. It involved hundreds of dedicated Americans and allies and thousands of hours to track down the courier that ultimately led to the raid on the Pakistani compound.
The CIA did some fine work, bouncing back from a heap of public relations and real time set backs to regain respect and authority.
There is no better, tougher, more disciplined special operations force in the world than the U.S. Navy Seals. Look for the series of documentaries on the training of Navy Seals on the National Geographic Channel if you have any doubts at all.
Leaders of terrorist organizations who convince teenagers to strap bombs to their chests for Allah are not fearless. All indications suggest that Bin Laden hid in his messy bedroom as the Americans closed in, acting every bit the coward that so many terror leaders are.
Those who criticized many Americans for celebrating the night the president made the historic announcement should realize that people are people. Many cried on 9-11. Many cheered on 5-1 knowing that the world is that much safer with justice done. The execution of this particular criminal was fitting and I argue quite necessary. He will no longer be an active planner of terror, useful as propaganda tool or if taken alive, a bargaining chip. Few would quibble with the notion of self-defense. Ridding the landscape of such a killer is in the best interest of this country and the rest of the civilized world.
Pakistan has a lot to answer for. But the U.S. has more than its share of leverage and the need now is to work behind the scenes to secure our stake in that country, a stake we pay for to the tune of three or so billion dollars a year.
President Obama deserves credit for making the call to send in the Navy Seals. He negotiated the situation with apparent deftness and authority. Was it the "gutsy" move that so many analysts are suggesting? The call to go in with a live team versus a drone strike was fraught with risks, but there's nothing necessarily gutsy fulfilling the duty of commander-in-chief. It was simply the right to make and I'm very happy he made it.
The White House didn't do as good a job in their disjointed postmortem briefings. Lessons can be learned but given our insatiable thirst for information, it's understandable that bits and pieces of the story would leak out and be reported wrongly.
Should the pictures ever be released to the public? Would it make any difference to the conspiracy fans? Unlikely. One in five believes that he's alive. That's likely the same one in five who figures the Apollo 11 moon landing was filmed on a vacant movie lot in New Mexico.
President Bush and those who worked to play catch-up against our deadly enemy for years also deserve credit. As do most Americans for that matter, for having faith that those who did us such harm and planned more of it, would not be able to hide forever.
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