There’s no video of the actual meeting, of course, just the speech afterward to troops at Fort Campbell. Here’s as much as we’ll ever know:
The president and Vice President Joe Biden visited with team members at Fort Campbell, home to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, which participated in the raid.
During the briefing, Obama and Biden were shown maps, photos and a scale model of the compound, a senior official told NBC News.
One team member noted that a dog was part of the assault team and would be present at a later meeting, the source said. “I recommend you bring treats,” the team member joked.
He awarded them the Presidential Unit Citation for “extraordinary service and achievement,” the highest honor that a unit can receive. I dearly hope they’re allowed to tell (some parts of) their story someday, not only because I’m dying to know the look on Bin Laden’s face at the end but because it’d be sweet to have these guys set up for a luxe retirement. Imagine the sales from a jointly authored book, followed inevitably by an epic movie. If you thought “Black Hawk Down” was good, just wait until “Gutsy Call” hits the screen.
The One took care here to frame Bin Laden’s killing as a step towards ultimate victory in Afghanistan, a message the White House has been pushing all week. The thinking is that, with Bin Laden gone, there’s less jihadi glue binding Mullah Omar to Al Qaeda and therefore more of a chance of a peace deal with the Taliban. It’s true that the two groups aren’t perfectly in sync — read this AP piece for background on how AQ’s Arab sophisticates regard the Taliban as the jihadi equivalent of hillbillies — but incentives remain for Omar to keep the war going:
“If the Taliban stays with Al Qaeda there are a lot of incentives,” says Sami Yousafzai, an independent analyst in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. “If they say ‘OK, we’re not going to support Al Qaeda,’ that might have an impact on their financial sources from the Middle East.”
During the past few years, many Arabs opposed to the West have come to see Afghans, especially Pashtuns as like-minded allies.
“The Taliban are very much concerned about the general public opinion,” says Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist and independent analyst. “Some of them say that ‘We cannot give an impression to the Afghan or Pashtun masses that we are making any deals with the United States or that we are under pressure.’ They are sure that in three or four years they will defeat the United States.”
Further in this vein, I recommend this old-but-gold piece by Bill Roggio and Tom Joscelyn on why the Taliban/Al Qaeda love affair will never truly end. Some commentators are already calling on Obama to bypass Zawahiri and make Omar the next bullseye, but the White House won’t do that until they have a sense of whether killing Bin Laden might have affected his thinking on Afghanistan. If it hasn’t, then presumably he’s next in line for a date with the SEALs. Given what we know now, I advise starting the search in the basement of the presidential palace in Islamabad.