Friday, May 13, 2011

Another post mortem, B

This time, take a moment to remember how right after 9/11 Osama bin Laden was, in our minds, world public enemy #1.

Then remember how when the Shrub gang couldn't find him he got downplayed. Downplayed so much that Bush himself once said he didn't know where bin Laden was and didn't much care.

Remember how bin Laden was "in hiding," "on the run," "living the life of a fugitive." Remember how he was "out of the loop," how he'd been reduced to a figurehead, how it was now Ayman al-Zawahiri who was the real mastermind. Remember how it was pointed out that bin Laden was so isolated that the compound where he was found had no internet or landline phone connections and how they wouldn't use cellphones because they'd learned how the location could be traced - so his only connection to the outside world was a single trusted courier.

After remembering all that, notice that now that they got bin Laden that suddenly he is again being portrayed as having been a major, a central, even the central figure in anything and everything that had the name al-Qaeda pasted on it right up to the day he was killed.
Though hunted and in hiding, Osama bin Laden remained the driving force behind every recent al-Qaida terror plot, U.S. officials say, citing his private journal and other documents recovered in last week's raid. ...

His personal, handwritten journal and his massive collection of computer files show he helped plan every recent major al-Qaida threat the U.S. is aware of, including plots in Europe last year that had travelers and embassies on high alert, two officials said.
So he's gone from figurehead to head figure, from out of the loop to CEO, in the space of a few days. Why? Because it's good PR, that's why. Because now that he's been caught, it's politically useful to maximize his influence and control, thus making his death that much more of a victory.

All these reports are bullcrap. How can I be so sure that bin Laden was, in fact, a figurehead, a respected "father figure," rather than having any operational control? One good reason is that buried in the 13th graph of that same story is something that flatly contradicts the lede:
Officials have not yet seen any indication that bin Laden had the ability to coordinate timing of attacks across the various al-Qaida affiliates in Pakistan, Yemen, Algeria, Iraq and Somalia, and it is also unclear from bin Laden's documents how much the affiliate groups relied on his guidance. The Yemen group, for instance, has embraced the smaller-scale attacks that bin Laden's writings indicate he regarded as unsuccessful. The Yemen branch had already surpassed his central operation as al-Qaida's leading fundraising, propaganda and operational arm.
So he couldn't coordinate anything, it's "unclear" how much others relied on his advice (some of which was outright rejected), and another branch had already become bigger and more influential.

How that translates into Osama bin Laden being "the driving force" behind every recent al-Qaeda plan is rather hard to understand. But the point is, we're not supposed to think it through that far.

Meanwhile, CIA drone strikes into Pakistan continue.


JayV said...

This is getting beyond ridiculous indeed. When Max wrote this I thought for sure it's from The Onion!

LarryE said...

Yeah, as Max suggests, this is just the latest attempt to mock and discredit a fallen enemy.

I remember a picture of some soldiers in some Latin American revolution literally walking over (and stepping on) the bodies of those they had just killed. Another example would be the burning and display of the bodies of those contractors in Fallujah that so outraged us.

It's all of a piece. Nothing new about this, frankly, although it remains to say the least distasteful and ugly.

More to the point, I think, is that in the article I saw about "bin Laden had porn" there was, again buried way down in the item, a line that the "US officials" who reported the "find" weren't sure if the stuff - which was pretty soft-core, as near as I could gather - was bin Laden's or belonged to someone else in the compound, nor did they know if bin Laden ever looked at it.

Again, the details contradict the lede.

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