Friday, May 13, 2011

Another post mortem, A

Two final (at least for now) observations on the death of Osama bin Laden.

First, here, is that the attack on the compound where bin Laden was holed up was repeatedly described as a “firefight.” For example, White House press secretary Jay Carney said ""There were many people who were armed in the compound. There was a firefight." He also told reporters that the commandos were "met with a great deal of resistance."

An unnamed senior defense official claimed that "For most of the period there, there was a firefight." And CIA Director Leon Panetta said "It was a firefight going up that compound."

Of bin Laden himself, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said "He was engaged in a firefight with those that entered the area of the house he was in." Brennan also claimed that bin Laden was “hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield."

Um, yeah. Except none of that was true. It came out not long after that the attackers met far less resistance than the administration originally claimed. In fact, only one man even fired a gun at them. He was quickly killed, after which the SEALs swept the two houses in the compound, in the course of which they killed three more people, none of who, it appears, were armed.

That's not counting bin Laden himself, who also was unarmed.

What's more, it developed he was not “hiding” behind anyone; what happened is that when the SEALs entered the room where bin Laden was, a woman - probably one of his wives - rushed them. At one point the story was they shot her in calf; later it was said they said grabbed her because they were afraid she might be wearing a suicide vest.

Bin Laden, again, was unarmed. So why was he shot twice? Because, we were told, even though he was unarmed, he "resisted." He was shot in first in the chest and then in the face because he "resisted." But how did he "resist," especially how did he continue to "resist" after being shot the first time? At first, the White House wouldn't say.

But then it came out that the "capture contingencies" involved in the operation
related to a possibility thought to be highly unlikely: a humble and abject surrender, in which the al Qaeda founder would put his hands up, raise a white flag and beg not to be shot.
So simply failing to "beg not to be shot," is "resistance."

Clearly, that didn't sound good. So there was a lot of shifting of shuffling. Leon Panetta said bin Laden made "some threatening moves that were made that clearly represented a clear threat to our guys. And that's the reason they fired." But wouldn't say just what those "moves" were.

That wasn't so good, either, So then it became that the commandos feared he was reaching for a nearby weapon. Later it became he “lunged” for a weapon. Which still left the issue of how he continued to "resist" (or reach or lunge) after being shot in the chest at close range.

Somewhere around this time Jay Carney said he would no longer provide details of the operation.

Gee, I wonder why.

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