- Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 May 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 11 May 2011 00:00
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The death of Osama Bin Laden has been talked about, studied, rehashed, and dissected so many times that coming to any new conclusions or insights is almost impossible to do. What we do know, at least so far, is that a resolute US Navy SEAL team staged one of the most daring raids in history. They found the architect of 9/11, not to mention a half dozen other mass murders, and dispatched him.
Sadly, few men have impacted the world like Osama Bin Laden. Thanks to this evil man our entire view of the world has changed. As a nation we are far more nervous about the threat of attack than we were ten years ago. We’ve made massive investments in security,
become patient at waiting for security screening, and saw the orange terror code alert, and shrugged. All the while however, we became toughened to the possibility that one day there may yet be another attack here at home. It’s no wonder so many of us long for the world before September 11.
However, there is one lesson that we, and the world, should take special care to note. It’s not so much that we finally got Bin Laden. Or, that it was a careful and daring plot that found him and killed him. That’s well known and in the field of arms these men have a firm place in military history.
No, that’s not the real lesson. The lesson is that over a long and tumultuous decade, we never, ever, ever stopped looking for this criminal. Our energy and our focus never waivered. Even when the trail went cold, our security services rather than getting discouraged just looked harder.
Bin Laden was arguably the toughest quarry the United States ever sought. After supposedly losing track of him during the Battle of Tora Bora in Afghanistan he seemed to just vanish. But never completely. He would send out his annoying threats and rants on a video or an audio clip. They would be dutifully rebroadcast by Al Jazeera. The CIA would analyze the voice print, and yep, they’d declare he was alive. But, where he lived, in what surroundings, and even in what region of the world, was open to debate.
We speculated about his health, his control over his organization, and even over whether one of his own followers might eventually do away with him for us, but we still didn’t know where he was. At one point, the popular view was that he was living in a cave in Pakistan or Afghanistan. A New York detective, who had been on the scene at the Twin Towers was reported to have shrugged, and wondered aloud if Bin Laden wasn’t driving a cab somewhere in midtown Manhattan. That’s how hopeless the search seemed to so many.
But the FBI, the CIA, DIA, Naval Intelligence, and the other national intelligence services, never doubted they would get their man. No lead was too strange, and none, as it turned out, too obvious. Apparently, the CIA has been keeping tabs on the Abbottabad, Pakistan safe house for several years. They watched, gathered intelligence, snippet by snippet, and put together a credible case that this strange compound might hold our man. Maybe. However, even after all that work, the CIA told President Obama that they were 60 to 80 percent confident Obama was in the compound.
The President thought those were the best odds he had heard in a long time. From that point on the story has been told many times. Osama is gone. And the message to the rest of the world is that in finding a monster Bin Laden, even if it takes a decade, the United States will not rest, it will not tire, and it will not stop. Or, as Ronald Reagan once said, back in a time when the terrorists, if it’s possible to believe, seemed a little less dangerous, “you can run, but you can’t hide.”