We Got Him!

A CIA-led Navy SEAL team finally killed Usama bin Laden, the world’s most-wanted terrorist and sponsor of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America.

With the killing of Usama bin Laden yesterday, America sent a clear message to the world’s terrorists that attacks on this country will not be tolerated and that any such perpetrators will be hunted down mercilessly and terminated with extreme prejudice. Years of patient work collecting intelligence, sifting through evidence, and following leads culminated in bin Laden’s death at the hands of a small team of Navy SEALs at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan in a 40-minute raid.

News of bin Laden’s death prompted spontaneous outbursts of patriotic fervor across the country as Americans reveled in the knowledge that one of the most evil terrorists on the planet had finally been killed. The revelry was similar to outbursts of joyous singing and dancing across the Muslim world that greeted news of the 9/11 attacks. What goes around comes around.

Americans have waited almost ten years to avenge the 9/11 attacks and deserve to revel in the moment, but once the exuberance has subsided, important questions await our attention. Bin Laden’s compound was located near a Pakistan military training center in a town about 35 miles from Pakistan’s capital. This begs the question of how much Pakistani officials knew of bin Laden’s whereabouts. The size and location of bin Laden’s compound suggests that he was aided and abetted by a sizable sympathizer network that surely included former and possibly current Pakistani officials.

Once the questions surrounding Pakistani involvement are answered, we can begin reappraising our role in Afghanistan. News of bin Laden’s death will surely worry Afghan President Hamid Karzai as this may be America’s excuse to pull out of Afghanistan and leave him to the Taliban. Karzai’s corrupt administration is incapable of surviving without American support as he is well aware.

Another consideration is the credit for bin Laden’s death. George Bush initiated the hunt for bin Laden and created the conditions for his ultimate discovery, which happened to occur on Obama’s watch. President Obama gets some credit for continuing the policies of his predecessor, even if begrudgingly so, but President Bush deserves the lion’s share of the credit for declaring war on terror and going after terrorists full bore. Remember, Bush broke with the tradition of his predecessor Bill Clinton, who favored lobbing the occasional missile in retaliation for terrorist acts. After 9/11, Bush threw down the gauntlet and unleashed the power of the United States to hunt down terrorists without mercy. Bin Laden’s death would not have been possible if a man of George Bush’s courage and determination had not occupied the Oval Office in 2001.

As an organization, Al Qaeda has been smashed into pieces and exists as a shell of its former self. Its leaders have been killed or captured, its cells have been broken up, and its communications have been disrupted. Leadership positions in Al Qaeda have become death sentences for those unlucky enough to merit them. If terrorists have nightmares, they surely include Predator drones and Hellfire missiles. The stunning success of bin Laden’s death is a well-deserved boost of morale for those who have labored so long for this day. While Al Qaeda is down, we must continue to apply pressure until it is obliterated from the earth with no chance of its reconstitution.

The price in lost intelligence from bin Laden’s death is justifiable due to the fact that he probably would not have talked anyway and if he did, he was most likely more concerned with staying alive than planning new operations. The success of this mission is a testament both to America’s resolve, and to the sloppiness of bin Laden’s procedures that had been dulled by time and the belief of his invincibility. Bin Laden got lazy and careless – and dead.

There will surely be retaliation for the death of so important a Muslim terrorist figure as Usama bin Laden, but that is to be expected and not feared as Al Qaeda is only capable of small-scale attacks after years of relentless punishment by American forces. The necessity of quickly demonstrating a retaliatory response will accelerate any plans in the works and may lead to their unsuccessful outcome. We can take heart that America is winning the War on Terror, even as our leaders refuse to cast bin Laden’s death as a victory in this War on Terror, but rather as the completion of justice, which it surely is also.

Finally, those who suffered the loss of loved ones on that fateful day in 2001, along with those who have lost loved ones in the wars that followed to avenge that loss, can be comforted in the fact that Usama bin Laden died at the hands of the American military. There will be no trial. They won’t have to relive painful memories during testimony or worry that weaselly government sympathizing hacks will push their own agenda to engineer a favorable outcome.

Those of us who lived through 9/11 can remember that day in excruciating detail. We remember where we were and what we were doing. We remember watching the television coverage of the attacks and wondering if there was more to come. We remember wondering if life would ever get back to normal. And, we remember wondering if we would ever catch the ones who had done this to us. We wanted answers, and now we have some. God bless the United States of America!

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