What did happened? Thanks to bloggers like Hot Air’s Allahpundit, we now know a lot more now than we did when the announcement was made. Contrary to popular and widely held belief, bin Laden wasn’t hiding in a cave, but living in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. This begs the question, how much assistance did the Pakistanis give the terrorist leader? If this administration knows, they aren’t telling. As indicated by last night’s address, the White House is treating Pakistan as an ally who assisted them in this endeavor. Doing otherwise could create a international incident, especially since former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, are saying this operation violated the sovereignty of Pakistan. Here’s a video clip via John Sexton at Hot Air.
It would have been better if a Pakistani special service group conducted the mission? Not at all. As the latest WikiLeaks document dump demonstrates, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) couldn’t be trusted (hat-tip to Hot Air’s Allahpundit).
…One detainee, Saber Lal Melma, an Afghan whom the US described as a probable facilitator for al-Qaeda, allegedly worked with the ISID to help members flee Afghanistan after the American bombing began in October 2001.
His US military Guantanamo Bay detainee file, obtained by Wikileaks and seen by The Daily Telegraph, claims he allegedly passed the al-Qaeda Arabs to Pakistani security forces who then smuggled them across the border into Pakistan.
He was also overheard “bragging about a time when the ISID sent a military unit into Afghanistan, posing as civilians to fight along side the Taliban against US forces”…
Could it be that this was simply a radical faction within the ISI? Maybe, but Pakistan will have to explain why bin Laden was found in a secure compound in Abbottabad.
How did the Americans find Osama? The irony is that Obama’s achievement was due to the policies put in place by his predecessor, George W. Bush, that he opposed. The intelligence gathered at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and secret CIA prisons, using enhanced interrogation techniques, was crucial to locating the terrorist leader. I happen to agree with Mark Levin on this, that Obama owes Dick Cheney and apology (hat-tip to uffdemega52 for the audio).
It was during the previous administration that the key intelligence, more specifically the name of Osama’s courier, for this operation was gained. Does this mean a change in this administration’s counter terrorism strategy? Maybe, but I doubt it. That would require, at the least, an acknowledgement of the success of the Bush administration’s policies, and I don’t see this White House doing that.
What does this mean for the War on Terror? Not much. The truth is that bin Laden has been little more than a figurehead for the last few years. It is good that he has finally been killed, but his death doesn’t mark the end of al-Qaeda, let alone Islamic terrorism. The one who has been organizing the latest string of attacks was Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda leader based in Yemen. If the United States was able to get him as well, then we might see, at the least, a significant short-term drop in terrorist activities. So what’s the benefit of killing bin Laden then? The most important benefit is that it reminds terrorist leaders that no matter where they hide, they will be found and brought to justice. Could this lead to a temporary drop in terrorist activities? Perhaps, but that has yet to be seen. We will have to wait and see what impact, in any, bin Laden’s death will have on both al-Qaeda and Islamic terrorism.
What does this mean for Obama? Depends who you talk to. Democrats will claim that their weak and confused approach worked. If they had their way, the Guantanmo Bay detention facility, along with the secret CIA prisons, would have been closed. Republicans on the other hand will correctly point out that it was under George W. Bush that Osama was forced from Afghanistan, where he could no longer command his followers, and it was Bush policies that Obama continued that led to this victory. Does that mean Obama doesn’t deserve credit? Of course not. Despite past statements and his harsh criticism of the previous administration’s handling of the War on Terror, Obama showed real leadership in allowing this operation to go ahead. He gave this mission the go ahead knowing that many of his supporters would attack him for not only violating the sovereignty of Pakistan, but ordering the execution of a terrorist leader. That won’t sit well with the radical anti-war left, led by Cindy Sheehan, who doesn’t believe Osama is actually dead (hat-tip to Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw).
As for the inevitable question about how this will help Obama’s re-election chances, it’s unsure. In my opinion, Osama’s death is little more than a political achievement for a failing president. With the economy still struggling to recover and gas prices spiking, it’s unlikely voters will re-elect Obama because of this achievement. Let’s not forget that George H.W. Bush soundly defeated Saddam Hussein in the First Gulf War, only to be defeated by Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential election. There will be a bounce in his approval ratings, as the polls are showing now (hat-tip to Karl at Hot Air), but it will only be temporary as bin Laden’s death will be of little comfort to voters looking to pay the bills. This may win him a few votes come the next presidential election, but far from the amount needed to secure a second term.
In the end, this is very much a hallow victory. It is an important achieve for the War on Terror, but not as important as many would believe. Osama bin Laden will be replaced and the terrorist campaign against the West will continue. The United States and its allies must remain vigilant and not naively believe that this marks the end of the War on Terror. This was only one battle in the never-ending war against Islamic extremism.