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Osama Bin Laden Ucciso in Pakistan

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Six myths about President Obama's greatest foreign-policy success.

 

The decision to launch the raid was a close call.

Not really. The idea that U.S. President Barack Obama bucked the counsel of his key advisors in deciding to order the Navy SEAL assault on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, apparently arose from reports of the spirited discussions that the president entertained in the weeks before the raid. Some of the confusion can be traced back to the administration itself. Vice President Biden's National Security Advisor Tony Blinken was quoted in a CNN report saying, "First, we [didn't] know for sure bin Laden is there; the evidence [was] circumstantial. Second, most of his senior advisors recommended a different course of action." ... Support for launching the raid also went well beyond the principals, and included the CIA, National Counterterrorism Center officials, and the National Security Council staff. In the end, Obama would have only been bucking his advisors if he had refused to launch the raid.

 

Obama called off the raid several times

Completely false. This rumor has no basis in fact, but is reported in Richard Mintner's broadside against Obama published last summer, Leading From Behind. It is a claim that apparently appeals to those who view the president as a closet pacifist, but contradicts every account by the principals involved in planning the operation -- many of whom I have interviewed personally. It also contradicts the timeline for mission preparation.

Adm. Bill McRaven, then the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) chief in charge of the raid, presented the president with a fully formed plan for the raid in March 2011, and pointed toward the end of April, the next moonless nights over Abbottabad, as the first optimal opportunity to launch. The raid took place on May 1.

 

The SEAL team engaged in a prolonged firefight during the raid

A major exaggeration. This myth derives from the misstatements of Obama administration officials, who spoke to the press before being fully briefed on the details of the raid. "It was a firefight," White House Counterterrorism Advisor John Brennan said on May 2, explaining why bin Laden was not captured.

In fact, the SEAL team encountered only a single burst of inaccurate fire, evidently from Ibrahim Ahmed Saeed, the courier who inadvertently led the United States to bin Laden, when they first approached the compound. The team returned fire and immediately killed Saeed. The only other shots fired during the assault were fired by SEALs as they methodically cleared the house room by room, killing Saeed's brother and his wife, bin Laden's son, and the al Qaeda chief himself. This process took more than 15 minutes.

 

Bin Laden was living in luxury

False. This myth has its origins in the fact that bin Laden's Abbottabad compound was built on a large slice of suburban property with a value estimated in the millions of dollars.

 

Obama's determination to bulk up the operation saved the day

Hardly. This misconception arose from poorly briefed White House staffers who were eager to inflate their boss's role in the raid. They assumed that the additional chopper -- one of two Chinooks that flew into Pakistan with back-up fuel and a rescue team when one of the stealth Blackhawks crashed -- was present only because the president had ordered McRaven to be prepared to fight his way out of the country if challenged by Pakistani forces.

It's true that the mission was bulked up because of the president's orders -- but the additional men and choppers added at his direction stayed parked near the Pakistani border inside Afghanistan during the raid. The SEAL mission was never noticed or challenged by Pakistani forces. The two Chinooks that did fly into the country, one of which provided timely backup when the Black Hawk went down, were part of the force McRaven had planned for the mission from the start.

 

The Obama administration has enthusiastically leaked secrets about the raid to reporters.

I wish. This charge has been leveled at the president by political opponents apparently looking to find some way to muddy one of the unalloyed successes of his term.

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In una lettera scritta allo Sceicco Mahmud, OBL scriveva:

 

"“It is proven that the American technology and its modern systems cannot arrest a Mujahid if he does not commit a security error that leads them to him,” he wrote. “So adherence to security precautions makes their advanced technology a loss and a disappointment to them.”

 

Gli rimanevano cinque giorni di vita.

 

Un articolo esclusivo di Mark Bowden pubblicato su Vanity Fair, spiega questo ed altri risvolti della caccia a Osama Bin Laden, in questo articolo. Buona lettura.

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Osama bin Laden death: secret emails give details of burial at sea

 

Osama bin Laden was buried at sea from a US warship amid high secrecy that included his body being referred to as "the package" delivered by "Fedex", secret military emails reveal.

No sailors watched as the body of the al-Qaida leader – killed in a raid on his hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on 2 May 2011 – was tipped from a board into the North Arabian Sea from aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson after brief Islamic rites.

The emails were obtained by the Associated Press under freedom of information. The news agency said they were heavily blacked out but nonetheless offered the first public disclosure of government information about the al-Qaida leader's death.

Bin Laden was killed by a navy Seal team that swooped on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

One email stamped secret and sent on 2 May by a senior navy officer briefly describes how bin Laden's body was washed, wrapped in a white sheet, and then placed in a weighted bag. According to another message from the Vinson's public affairs officer, only a small group of the ship's leadership was informed of the burial.

"Traditional procedures for Islamic burial was followed," the 2 May email from Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette reads. "The deceased's body was washed (ablution) then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag. A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, whereupon the deceased's body slid into the sea."

Earlier, Gaouette, then the deputy commander of the navy's Fifth Fleet, and another officer used code words to discuss whether the helicopters carrying the Seals and Bin Laden's body had arrived on the Carl Vinson.

"Any news on the package for us?" he asked Rear Admiral Samuel Perez, commander of the carrier strike group that included the Vinson.

"Fedex delivered the package," Perez responded. "Both trucks are safely en route home base."

The emails include a reference to the intense secrecy surrounding the mission and why few records were held. "The paucity of documentary evidence in our possession is a reflection of the emphasis placed on operational security during the execution of this phase of the operation," Gaouette's message reads.

Recipients of the email included Admiral Mike Mullen, then the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and General James Mattis, the top officer at US Central Command. Mullen retired from the military in September 2011.

The Obama administration has kept a tight hold on materials related to the Bin Laden raid. The AP said that in response to separate requests from the AP for information about the mission, the defence department replied in March that it could not locate any photographs or video taken during the raid or showing Bin Laden's body. It also said it could not find any images of Bin Laden's body taken while it was on board the Vinson.

The Pentagon said it could not find any death certificate, autopsy report or results of DNA identification tests for Bin Laden, or any pre-raid materials discussing how the government planned to dispose of Bin Laden's body if he were killed.

The defence department also refused to confirm or deny the existence of helicopter maintenance logs and reports about the performance of military gear used in the raid. One of the stealth helicopters that carried the Seals to Abbottabad crashed during the mission and its wreckage was left behind. People who lived near Bin Laden's compound took photos of the wrecked chopper.

The AP has lodged an appeal requesting more information from the defence department. The agency said the CIA, which ran the Bin Laden raid and has special legal authority to keep information from ever being made public, had not responded to requests for records about the mission.

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