Crowd-pleasing fun to cleanse the palate. My only quibble: Bin Laden didn’t die nearly this bravely. According to John Brennan, one of his wives ended up as a human shield, possibly against her will or possibly … voluntarily. I tweeted earlier today that it’d be amazing if the SEALs had actually had cameras embedded on them somehow during the raid; Red State contributor Jeff Emanuel tweeted back that helmet cams on some troops during raids like this aren’t out of the ordinary. I know the White House doesn’t want to give away any SEAL secrets by making the recordings public, but if they have a few seconds of OBL cowering behind his wife, post it. That sort of self-discrediting propaganda is worth billions. Muslim confidence in Bin Laden has been steadily eroding for the past decade. If he went out hiding behind a skirt, let them see it and seal the deal.
Something I’ve been thinking about since the news broke last night: What was this guy doing with himself for the past 10 years? He put out two or three videos, only one of which (in 2004, right before the U.S. presidential election) received any real attention. He issued audiotapes more frequently, but with little consequence and often, inexplicably, with no references to recent news to at least prove that he was alive. By virtually all intelligence accounts, his role in Al Qaeda had been reduced to a figurehead. Like most people, I thought he’d been dead for ages just because I couldn’t fathom that a psychology like his, with its grandiose fantasies of leading an Islamic conquest of the world, would allow him to drop off the grid. But he did. Was he … retired? Was he waiting for us to withdraw from Afghanistan in some insane hope that he’d simply move back across the border and re-open Tarnak Farms? The fact that he hid for 10 years proves that he knew we were, and always would be, desperate to kill him; he’d never be safe, even in an Afghanistan back under Taliban control.
The best I can do to explain his (in)actions is that he was waiting for Pakistan, not Afghanistan, to collapse. If the government in Islamabad toppled and a free-for-all erupted between the Pakistani military, the Taliban, and people with a foot in both those groups, he might have been able to carve out an enclave in a heavily fortified area. It’d be tough to insert U.S. troops into a situation like that, and Pakistani weaponry is sophisticated enough to take down American drones. And of course, Bin Laden’s top priority would be stealing a nuclear bargaining chip from Pakistan’s arsenal; once he had one in his hands, any action against him would be too risky to attempt. (Call that “the Iranian lesson.”) Am I wrong about all that? If I am, then I repeat: What was this guy’s plan post-9/11?