The media and bin Laden
I’m curious to know how folks first learned of the death of Osama bin Laden. I saw it on Twitter at 10:31 pm in the midst of multiple tweets announcing the President’s speech. That sent me scurrying to the TV. In the following hour (the President didn’t go on until 11:40 pm), it was painful watching the network stars fill the air with inane chatter while adopting a “we know what’s going on but can’t tell you” air of superiority. So I guess I learn of breaking news from Twitter and other social media, I search for visuals on TV as the event is happening, and I go to the internet for analysis and follow-up. How about you?
Here are some other bin Laden observations:
This “how could they kill him when he was unarmed” story line that’s developing is absurd. This was a nighttime, heliborne raid deep inside another country against the deadliest terrorist in the world. To have survived this long, bin Laden had to have elaborate escape plans any part of which may have involved harming those coming to get him. For the commandos, it was a time of swift action not deliberate contemplation, made even more so when other occupants of the compound commenced firing. That so many of the women and children who were in the compound survived is testament to the restraint of the commandos.
Death photos: I’m glad the President chose not to release them. What good would come of it. The only ones who will dispute this decision are the overseas zealots who hate America and the domestic zealots who hate Obama.
Sunday night celebrations: The spontaneous gathering in front of the White House on Sunday night where a crowd embraced and sang patriotic songs was wonderful. So were the gatherings during the past few days at the Twin Towers. I think it’s good that our national reaction has been dignified and restrained. America won justice, not the World Cup.
Pakistan: When I lecture about the Civil War, I often say history is not black and white, it’s always gray. I feel the same about Pakistan. Many in that country have long been obsessed with India. They tend to see Arab terrorists as either distractions or potential allies in that struggle and so they aren’t going to be very supportive of our efforts to subdue our bad guys. But as frustrating as Pakistan might be, it is an unstable government in possession of nuclear weapons in one of the most volatile corners of the world. For that reason, we should keep our emotions in check and continue to do business with them.
4 Responses to The media and bin Laden
Media source? I had gone to bed early and was half-listening to news from BBC World Service on New Hampshire Public Radio (88.3 FM in Nashua). President Obama started talking about the US military raid in Pakistan that ended with Bin Laden’s death. I got up and turned on the TV to watch the President on NBC and kept it on that channel for commentary and analysis.
Dean called me – woke me up. “The president called a press conference. It’s something big.” I thought of course they’d killed the Libyan leader – too early to try to spell his name.
I don’t always agree with Obama, but I think this took a lot of courage. If it had failed the buck would have been sitting squarely on his desk. He succeeded and he’s still “splainin'”
As far as the photos, I’d say give Al Quaida nothing. No body, no photos – nothing. The man made no secret of his intention to kill as many of us as he could. I had no problem with Bush saying we wanted him “dead or alive.” That being said, in a perfect world, I’d rather have seen more subdued celebrations, though I don’t blame people, really. VJ Day was not subdued, and some have compared this victory to that, though it’s far less conclusive. It’s too bad that these multiple versions of events have come out: human shield, no human shield, armed, unarmed, during a firefight, after a firefight. Now I don’t know if I believe that they captured a “treasure trove” of info. I hope so. But I do believe the most important thing: Obama directed the operation, and Team Six carried it out perfectly. Bin Laden was a legitimate military target. Couldn’t find a better one. And they got him. Thanks for waking me up Dean.
At first I was in favor of releasing the photos but on re-assessment have changed my mind. I felt the pictures would be Osama’s “long-form death certificate” which would silence the Doubting Thomases. But with fake pictures fooling even Congresspersons the risk of the pictures being labeled another fake is not worth it especially with the prospect of graphic pictures further enflaming Islamic anti-American sentiment.Osama’s death has already forced us to increase our security. No sense making that worse.
As to the doubters, I believe OBL’s death will force a paradigm change for Al Qaida. Either the loss of leadership will cause it to wither and die or if successor leadership is already in place whoever he/they are will have their own “style.” Either way it will be obvious there has been significant change which in itself will be sufficient proof that Abbottabad is not some elaborate hoax.
At about 11:00 PM I was about to go to bed when I did a last minute check of the Ann Althouse and Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit blogs) on my Blog Roll and saw they had both just updated. I checked out their blogs and then got my wife in from the bedroom to follow the developing story.
I think there is a lot of credit to share here and the President gets the most because it was HIS team that made it all happen.
As for shooting Osama bin Laden, my understanding is that there were guns in the room and he was NOT making a move to surrender. Thus, he was a threat. A mistake on the part of the SEAL confronting bin Laden could have gotten a number of Americans killed, and some of the others in the compound as well.
No need to release the photos.
As for Pakistan, this is a nation that is divided within and it is possible it will not hold together. Their version of the CIA, the ISI (Inter-Service Intelligence) is very powerful and very independent and probably is playing all ends against the middle. The fact is that this is good for Pakistan if it does not appear it was engineered by Pakistan. And, there is that whole nuclear weapons thing. The greatest danger with regard to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons is that they use them in an exchange with India and we find out that for 80% of the world things pretty much go on as usual, thus making the world safe for nuclear weapons—and I use “safe” in an ironic sense.
Regards — Cliff