A number of people have asked me how I felt about Osama bin Laden’s death. It’s not that I have any great insight, but as the family member of a 9/11 victim, I suppose people are curious. Did I cheer with the revelers at the Phillies game I was watching when the death was announced, or feel sorrow, relief, anguish, joy, or just what?
The best term I can use is ‘bittersweet’. ‘Bitter’ because it conjured visions of Ann’s murder and those of thousands of others - not just in the USA but elsewhere. It conjured images of intelligence failures. like the FBI folks in DC who ignored the warnings from field offices that some foreign guys were taking flying lessons but didn't care to learn how to take off and land. It reminded me of those who had called Osama bin Laden ‘irrelevant’ (I especially remember Ann Coulter saying that, in all her wisdom), forgetting that a man responsible for the murder of thousands never becomes ‘irrelevant’.
'Sweet' because a mass murderer was brought to justice. But I wasn't cheering in the streets, although I was ambivalent about others doing it. If that's what they needed to do, so be it.
I received a call from BBC’s World Have Your Say at 5 AM the morning after Osama bin Laden’s death. A producer named Ben James wanted to know if they could interview me on air; I told him yes, and we discussed what I might say. They never called.
Nancy Laflin, a reporter for KRQE-TV in Albuquerque called about 12 hours later. She had interviewed me on that fateful Tuesday in 2001, and her kindness and compassion were so soothing. I got that same feeling almost ten years later.
The calls from James and Laflin (especially) were cathartic; they allowed me to vent, especially to James. Easy to vent to a faceless someone on the phone 5,000 miles away - someone you will never see.
I remember reading that Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) decried the manner in which bin Laden was killed. Paul mused whether we would have taken the same approach had OBL been in a London hotel room . I thought of two responses to Paul’s inquiry:
1) Osama bin Laden was not in a London hotel room but in a safe house in the middle of a town where Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point was located.
2) Had bin Laden been in a London hotel room the UK might have beaten us to the punch. At a minimum, we would not have had to worry about the Brits alerting him to leave town.
Nice call, Ron.
Regarding the Pakistani authorities: they are either incompetent or duplicitous, or both (likely). These guys aren’t our allies; they are gaming us. Pakistan is a dysfunctional backwater, but unfortunately, one with a few hundred nuclear weapons. That is their hold over us. We're throwing money down a rathole. We should tell them to take a hike.
And that goes double for the corrupt Karzai in Afghanistan.
A final comment: I was absolutely incredulous when I heard former Bush administration official Stephen Hadley give a spirited defense of the Iraq War as the reason/rationale for bin Laden's being brought to justice.
And last but not least - thanks to the wonderful support of Mary Frances!
"The PDB (Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.) does not say the United States is going to be attacked. It says Bin Laden would like to attack the United States. I don't think you, frankly, had to have that report to know that Bin Laden would like to attack the United States." -- Condoleezza Rice