Hiding in Plain Sight?
Ian Fleming could have written the script. Our Navy SEALs could have been portrayed by Chuck Norris, Steven Segal, Charles Bronson, and Vin Diesel.
But for the real elites conducting this mission, it was just another day at the office; business as usual. And these men live out their accomplishments in silence, shunning any Hollywood aspects of perceived glamour, partly out of honor and tradition, and partly out of self-preservation.
The raid at Abbottabad, Pakistan, culminated years of covert activity with the coded message “Geronimo EKIA” – for Enemy Killed in Action. Usama bin Laden lay dead.
The American Indian Reference was not taken well by Indian nations, or other military elements having relied upon that phrase exiting airplanes.
You will never know the real operational story of the raid on a compound in Abbottabad; you don’t have a “need to know.”
As the mainstream media fully repeated every morsel of knowledge that was leaked to them, contradicting “facts” ruled for days, and this made the real details forever blurred and caused many of the real questions to be obfuscated.
The devious minded will ask whether the bleeding of conflicting information was fully planned as part of the “show.” How could Leon Panetta – the 19th CIA Director – have not known that there was not a 15-minute firefight leading to action inside the main house?
Of course, disavowal and disinformation are at the core of these Special Ops. Inside the home of the CIA at Langley, VA, headquarters a wall displays the credo: “Deny everything and demand proof!”
Mission methods and tactics: classified. Mission goals, results, and participants: classified.
You know what they want you to know; that’s it.
To find a good beginning point for the speculative parts of dissecting this story – as inquiring minds want to know – there must be an assumption that bin Laden actually escaped the mountainous caves of Tora Bora in Afghanistan.
Who allowed him to escape the mountains? Why did we float the story about his failing kidneys and constant need for transfusions or oxygen?
No medical supplies or systems were found at the compound where he was killed.
Before our covert assets used “enhanced interrogation methods” during renditions to other countries, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had him listed as most probably already dead… several times. Or was that to encourage the target to let down his guard?
More than “a tapestry of information,” we got the actual names of couriers out of the water-boarding sessions, despite what the liberal media would have you believe.
Also, anecdotal evidence is that there had been at least several Abbottabad-style raids before, but without result.
With extra mission funding moves involving tens of millions of dollars to pull off high-tech surveillance, the question of mission timing comes into play. Was the timing orchestrated? Of course, but to what end you will never know.
There are many more questions than answers!
How much hush money, or baksheesh, was paid to locals to provide local-perimeter-security for the physical raid itself? Certainly more than bin Laden had used to protect himself, as reportedly al-Qaeda had splintered and left him cash poor.
Had the past-his-prime terrorist been put out to pasture with his wives? There was nary a grenade launcher or serious weapons cash nearby. The house was not rigged with plastique and a suicide switch. It was not plush.
Surveillance must have shown everything, given the money and time allowed. I called the raid “Overkill” based upon this in my Frederick News Post column: Overkill in Abbottabad.
Sources tell me five black-ops “birds” or helicopters were used in the attack portion of the mission. One was intentionally scuttled to eliminate one aspect of the killing-field of a possible battle.
This technique was also used on our “failed” mission to Son Tay prison in 1970, where we set out to rescue our own Vietnam POWs and ended up “making an opportunity” to wipe out a full team of nearby Soviet advisors. Did it really fail?
Then: Two birds would land, and two would circle as gunships before an extraction.
But was it an extraction mission or an execution? We had deniability built-in, of course, as SEALs specialize in extractions, but…
After flash-bang grenades, bin Laden retreated to his second floor bedroom where he was seen in a doorway; a shot missed him. Upon entering the room, a team member shot a guarding wife – unarmed – in the leg, and then took the unarmed terrorist down for the last time.
He carried not even a box cutter, but reportedly had a rifle nearby.
Every team member had helmet video cams, some with infra-red capability (heat registering). Twenty-five minutes of the live video feed failed…for some reason.
Pictures of the operation, shown live in the White House “War Room” with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looking on, seemed very convincing. It was later revealed that this shot was re-enacted afterward, as no still pictures were allowed in real-time.
Mrs. Clinton holding her mouth in an “oh my god” expression was a great touch!
In the final analysis, we will never truly know whether bin Laden was “hiding in plain sight” on purpose, what the real Pakistani participation was, or how much of this was such a set up that it was virtually choreographed.
It was, however, interesting that we conducted Usama bin Laden’s burial in careful accordance with Islamic Law, but failed to bring him alive to – presumably – be tried by his own Sharia Law.
But then again, we never did see the body, did we?