Osama bin Laden has been killed. President Obama is scheduled to make a statement at 10:30, but it’s 11:33 before the feed on Facebook and at the White House website switches over from the title card, and 11:35 before he comes striding into the shot like Superman.
Wow, Obama appears to have authorized a CIA operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan and although he throws the Pakistani government a few face-saving bones, it’s pretty clear that they had no prior knowledge of our military action within their borders, which is a major violation of their national sovereignty but certainly not one they can say anything about, since Abbottabad is one of the larger cities in Pakistan and bin Laden does not appear to have been hiding very hard. There’s a bust of Abraham Lincoln in the background.
At the end of the speech, Obama says several really important things: he says that we “took custody of his body,” which means that while the he will not quite be mounting it on a spike on the south lawn of the White House, expect some really gruesome pictures to come out over the next few days as the U.S. tells the rest of the world that bin Laden is dead in no uncertain terms. He also says this: “The United States is not and never will be at war with Islam,” and that “[bin Laden’s] demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity,” and that he’s talked to Pakistani President Zardari, who agrees with him on that last point. “They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations.”
“Justice has been done.”
Quick hits from the news:
ABC – George Stephanopoulos says that between 20 and 25 Americans went into the mansion in Abbottabad; he gives credit to the SeALS and points out that Obama said that this would be his #1 national security priority. He also reads a statement from Bush 43: “America has sent a powerful message today that no matter how long it takes, justice will be done.” Brian Ross brings in a couple of interesting factoids, as well – bin Laden was hiding in a specially built mansion with steel walls, and it was right in town, not out in the boonies somewhere, along with being on the major road that goes between Islamabad and China. Expect one of these from Zardari, Mr. President!
MSNBC – Brian Williams is officiating, and he’s also looking fresher than most of his colleagues because he’s here in the U.S. after having turned around this weekend to cover the tornados in the South rather than the royal wedding. He’s talking to Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, and asking him why the CIA told everyone that bin Laden wasn’t a high priority for terrorists or antiterrorist groups. “He became more of a figurehead or a rallying cry for others who were trying to recruit for al Qaeda,” Miklaszewski explains, but adds that the CIA statements were largely strategic lies. “Here in Defense Intelligence [the DIA] and over at the CIA, getting Osama Bin Laden has always beena top priority.”
Williams observes that “social media on everyone’s electronic device broke the word at pretty much the same time to everybody.”
CNN – Nic Robertson tellls Wolf Blitzer that “this is going to make our relations with Pakistan even more frayed and even more difficult.” He predicts street protests, and points out that Bin Laden’s hiding-in-plain-sight strategy means that the Pakistani government now have a serious credibility problem in the wider world.
CBS – Russ Mitchell is telling the world the news (props to CBS this evening: apparently producer Jill Jackson broke this story on her Twitter feed). He reads a statement from Bill Clinton, saying, among other things, “I congratulate the president, the national security team, and members of the armed forces.” The broadcast cuts to live coverage from outside the Whitehouse, where people are going bonkers. A guy on pogo stilts wearing a Texas flag around his neck is literally bouncing up and down.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Donald Trump’s prospects of defeating this “Obama” fellow in a general election are quite limited at this juncture.