How They Got Bin Laden

The New Yorker has a great piece out today by Nicholas Schmidle detailing the behind the scenes details of the mission that ended the life of Osama bin Laden:

The Americans hurried toward the bedroom door. The first SEAL pushed it open. Two of bin Laden’s wives had placed themselves in front of him. Amal al-Fatah, bin Laden’s fifth wife, was screaming in Arabic. She motioned as if she were going to charge; the SEAL lowered his sights and shot her once, in the calf. Fearing that one or both women were wearing suicide jackets, he stepped forward, wrapped them in a bear hug, and drove them aside. He would almost certainly have been killed had they blown themselves up, but by blanketing them he would have absorbed some of the blast and potentially saved the two SEALs behind him. In the end, neither woman was wearing an explosive vest.

A second SEAL stepped into the room and trained the infrared laser of his M4 on bin Laden’s chest. The Al Qaeda chief, who was wearing a tan shalwar kameez and a prayer cap on his head, froze; he was unarmed. “There was never any question of detaining or capturing him—it wasn’t a split-second decision. No one wanted detainees,” the special-operations officer told me. (The Administration maintains that had bin Laden immediately surrendered he could have been taken alive.) Nine years, seven months, and twenty days after September 11th, an American was a trigger pull from ending bin Laden’s life. The first round, a 5.56-mm. bullet, struck bin Laden in the chest. As he fell backward, the SEAL fired a second round into his head, just above his left eye. On his radio, he reported, “For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo.” After a pause, he added, “Geronimo E.K.I.A.”—“enemy killed in action.”

There’s a lot more to the story, including a few previously unknown participants in the raid, behind the scenes at the White House, and the story of the day President Obama met SEAL Team Six, so go give the whole thing a read.

 

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/08/08/110808fa_fact_schmidle#ixzz1TmoMBUln
FILED UNDER: Intelligence, Military Affairs, National Security, Quick Takes, Terrorism, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Jay Tea says:

    Is this the final story, rendering all the prior White House statements inoperative? Bin Laden was armed… one of his wives was armed… he tried to attack the SEALS… the SEALS were prepared to take him prisoner… he resisted capture…

    Did I miss any?

    J.

  2. Herb says:

    @Jay Tea: Yeah, you missed the detail they got right.

    Bin Laden = dead.

    I love that the SEAL called out “For God and country.” That’s just awesome.

  3. Jay Tea says:

    @Herb: Still think it would have been better to at least have the option of taking him alive.

    And they should have sat on all details of the raid until the intelligence agencies had a chance to see how events would have played out in the immediate aftermath. Who was told first… by who… and by how… and how the various parties would have spun it. That sort of intelligence is gold, and Obama pissed it away so he could go on TV and grab credit.

    But I guess he’s gotta play to his strengths, and that’s what he does best…

    J.

  4. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: Just as soon as you’re president, you can start proving how much smarter you are than everyone else. Or as soon as you actually accomplish anything.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    If I’m not mistaken, Jay T works in the “pester people at home” industry. I believe he’s a phone solicitor.

  6. Herb says:

    @Jay Tea: Seems like you’re going out of your way to criticize the president on this one….

    None of this stuff holds up.

  7. EddieInCA says:

    @Jay Tea:

    I’d prefer if you just said “Thank you, President Obama.”

    That would suffice.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jay Tea:

    That sort of intelligence is gold, and Obama pissed it away so he could go on TV and grab credit.

    Jay continues his fantasies: Jay for the record, Obama came out with the news when he did because if he had not, the Pakistanis were going to.

  9. Jay Tea says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Jay for the record, Obama came out with the news when he did because if he had not, the Pakistanis were going to.

    And that would have been bad why, exactly?

    Information is power. We had his body. All anyone on the ground could know is that there was a wrecked helicopter on the ground, some dead bodies that were not Bin Laden, and a bunch of women and children who couldn’t tell a coherent story.

    Here’s what I would have recommended: evacuate all the survivors from the building, haul off the dead bodies, and level the building. If anyone wants to know what we took and what we blew up, let them dig through the rubble. Let them panic a bit about what — and who — we took,and what — and who — we killed/destroyed. Don’t give them anything.

    But, Obama had to make certain everyone knew He Got Bin Laden. Even if that means they have to issue four or five versions of ‘how it happened” to get it right.

    J.

  10. Pug says:

    @Jay Tea:

    He could have put on a flight suit and landed on the aircraft carrier for pictures of himself dumping Bin Laden’s body overboard. Then he could have given a speech declaring victory over Al Qaeda.

    That would have just awesome, don’t you think?

  11. Neil Hudelson says:

    Here’s what I would have recommended: evacuate all the survivors from the building, haul off the dead bodies, and level the building. If anyone wants to know what we took and what we blew up, let them dig through the rubble. Let them panic a bit about what — and who — we took,and what — and who — we killed/destroyed. Don’t give them anything.

    You would have recommended that a covert seal team, with one of their transports out of commission, evacuate/kidnap all the survivors (and assumedly transport them who-knows-where on already overburdened top-secret helicopters). Then they were to go back into the compound, recover the dead bodies, and take whatever time was necessary to dispose of them. Finally they were to level the building with….what, pocket sized bulldozers? The only thing that would level it completely would be cruise missiles/aerial bombardment.
    And they were to do all of this in a very, very tight timeframe and still escape before pakistani military forces were alerted to their presence and blew them out of the sky. All we had to do was this simple plan, and we would have had all the time in the world to decide on when we were to release the information. The plan is so easy!

    This is your genius plan on how the situation could have been better handled?

    You know, this is actually a fun game. Here are some other ways Obama could have handled this better.

    1. All we would have had to do is send in the seal teams with a bunch of those crazy backpacks from the Dark Knight movie, shoot every compound member with tranquilizer darts, strap the backpackss on them, then have a bunch of stealth cargo planes pick them up out of the sky. You know, like this only like…a buncha times more.
    2. What if we had blanked the whole town in nitrous oxide, and sent in the seals dressed as clowns? We could have done it in broad daylight as everyone would be too busy laughing to try to report it!
    3. Why didn’t we simply take that big tunnel digger from Oceans 13 and dig until we were under Bin Laden’s house, then cut a whole in the floor he was standing on? If the Wile E, Coyote could do it, couldn’t seal teams?
    4. We use a strategically placed sniper to shoot steel bullets into Bin Laden’s arms and legs (thus preserving his life) and then we simply use a big ass magnet to pull him out of the house.

    These are so easy! Obama’s so stupid for not thinking of them!

    We need Jay Tea advising the SEALS stat.

  12. Neil Hudelson says:

    If you need a good orthopedist after twisting yourself in a pretzel to criticize Obama, I’ve got some names to recommend.

  13. Jay Tea says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Neil, you misunderstood me. And I’ll cop to being vague. I said “evacuate all the survivors from the building, haul off the dead bodies.” I didn’t mean capture the survivors, I meant get them out of the building before blowing it up. Shove them in a corner of the compound or something.

    Oh, and if you read the article, you’d know that tunnels or underground bunkers were not possible because of the high water table in the area.

    The only change I suggested that would have meant any more effort during the raid was in leveling the building, and that could have been done with a JDAM from another aircraft. Apart from that, all it required was Obama keeping his ego in check.

    On second thought, you’re right. That is pure fantasy. Never happen. Never ever ever happen. Utterly impossible. I regret ever bringing it up.

    J.

  14. Neil Hudelson says:

    Oh, and if you read the article, you’d know that tunnels or underground bunkers were not possible because of the high water table in the area.

    You’re right. How silly of me.

  15. michael reynolds says:

    Now Jay is teaching SEAL team six how to run a mission.

    Next: Jay invents faster than light travel.

  16. Jay Tea says:

    @michael reynolds: Heavens, no. The SEALS did their job perfectly. My main criticism is in how the White House followed up on the raid.

    And I believe my military experience matches that of President Obama and Vice-President Biden combined.

    J.

  17. An Interested Party says:

    So this is what it looks like when a Teabagger pigs out on sour grapes…

  18. anjin-san says:

    Or as soon as you actually accomplish anything.

    Have you ever accomplished anything Jay? The general tone of your comments suggests a bitter man who had led an ineffectual life.

  19. anjin-san says:

    And I believe my military experience matches that of President Obama

    Really? You’ve been Commander in Chief? How did I miss that?

  20. Jay Tea says:

    @anjin-san: It might have escaped your notice, but “commander in chief” is a civilian position. Doesn’t count as “military experience.” Especially since there’s a court ruling on the matter, when Bill Clinton tried to get out of Paula Jones’ suit by claiming he was “on active duty” and therefore any court proceedings had to be deferred.

    J.

  21. anjin-san says:

    Sure thing Jay. Obama commands the most powerful military in the world. He gets daily briefings on the military situation, and any number of matters related to the military. He orders missions in which people are killed. He interacts with military men, high and low on a daily basis.

    And you have the same amount of military experience he does. Every time I thing I have a grasp on just how big of a fool you are, you surprise me.

    Why don’t you run along now and continue to argue about what the meaning of is is? You surely have nothing else to contribute to the world. Really dude, go forth. You have annoyed a liberal, your life now has meaning.