Osama Bin Laden is dead

It’s been nearly a decade since the attacks on American soil that toppled the Twin Towers, smashed the Pentagon and who knows what else if the brave citizens high above Pennsylvania had not acted when and how they did.

Tonight, in a way brings some closure to this event. To the hunt for the mastermind behind these attacks and many others abroad. Osama bin Laden is dead. I learned about it on Twitter as it exploded with the impending news. Facebook soon followed suit. I switched on CNN after three separate streams failed to offer the President’s words. Not realizing he had not made them yet, we stuck around for the talking heads to rehash their speculation until President Obama strode to the mic and spoke to us. As a nation, as a single family, as a country.

Tonight, just as in that dark morning when I was woken up by my college roommate yelling at me to turn on the TV because planes were being flown into buildings. I will remember this night for many years to come. I will remember nearly falling asleep. Laying in bed, watching Daria and randomly checking Twitter. Seeing the news, I jolted awake and wide-eyed even at this late hour. Even now, it is 12:40 in the morning and CNN is showing the President’s words again and I can’t help but sit up, take notice, and listen intently once more.

He reminded us we are not at war with Islam. We are not at war with a religion. We are at war with those who acted against us in violence and murderous intent. I could not be prouder of our President on this night with his reasoned, level-headed words. His speech writers are brilliant and write as well as Obama speaks.

I just found out that Obama wrote the speech he gave tonight. This adds even more power and brilliance to his words.

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The High Cost of War

As I watch students, tourists and local residents fill the streets of Pennsylvania Avenue and the similar gatherings in New York City at Ground Zero and Times Square I can’t help but think is this really called for? I am as happy as the next guy that someone who planned such terror against human beings all over the world is gone.

A little perspective from GreaterThanLapsed,

About 20,000 deaths have been US military and civilians (less than 6,000 military, and around 15,000 civilians).

Around 1 million deaths in Iraq, with a minimum of 62,570 civilians killed.

Tens of thousands of deaths in Afghanistan, again with high civilian casualties.

Just to make sure people have a bit of perspective on exactly what it is that we have done in the name of “fighting the terrorists.”

We have paid a very high human price to fight this war. Locating and killing Osama bin Laden is a victory in a battle but the larger war still rages on. Surely we have cut off a major head of the hydra but just as there were evil men before bin Laden, there will be many more to come after him.

Backlash and fallout

Tonight, we are seeing all the news outlets showing the celebrations around the country. However, I worry about what’s going to happen in the long run. Surely those members of Al Qaeda and other terrorists groups are not going to sit back and say, “Well, you got us. Good show. We’re done now.” There are going to be more attacks. In light of the events tonight, there is going to be a reaction to this action.

As much happiness as there is in the air tonight, I am reserving my cheers for another day, a week a month. I don’t want our American arrogance to get us right back into the cross hairs of another terrible attack. We were only hit once. Even if our country at home remains safe, there are still military bases and troops abroad. There are embassies in countless countries. There are Americans living abroad, students studying abroad and American tourists. There are many targets for attacks of terror. That is, after all, the point of terror.

Terrorism is meant to inspire fear and hurt both in the flesh and in the minds of those targeted. Even if there are no further attacks directly following the killing of bin Laden, there may be more things to come. Fighting against terrorism is not a one and done fight. It is and will remain an ongoing struggle.

Jeffrey Goldberg raises a good point:

One more thought: Television-based analysts are already asking if the killing of Bin Laden will provoke revenge attacks by al Qaeda. Is there a stupider question in the world? The implication, of course, is that now, al Qaeda will truly be pissed off at the U.S. Unlike in 2001, when al Qaeda was only marginally angry at the U.S.

Strong on Terror

Throughout President Obama’s speech he reiterated it was his choice. It was hit call to make the hit. It was his decision and his action. The President has been criticized for not being strong on terror or the war. He made it very clear this was his decision and his action as the Commander-In-Chief.

President Obama made no mistake tonight this was his call to make. Sure, he did not actually drop from the helicopter to raid the compound and make the shot. No president does.

Tonight is Obama’s moment in the sun. Tonight Obama got to stand proud and tall and tell us he was successful in locating bin Laden. He was able to locate and eliminate him as a threat to humanity.

As much as I try to remain non-political, this has already been flung into the political ring. If the election season hasn’t started in earnest yet, I believe it has tonight. Obama has just silenced many of his critics (at least the ones that operate with any common sense).


President Obama is our president. He is a politician. This is a political issue and will reflect very, very positively on him come election time next year. Just as Donald Trump congratulated himself for dredging up Obama’s birth certificate, Obama struck a death-blow to the nay sayers with the announcement that the Armed Forces, under him accomplished what Bush could not. Say what you will about how Obama’s role is a relatively minor one. However, if Bush had accomplished this he’d be patting himself on the back for weeks to come.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how Fox news played the role they always do with a “typo” saying Obama had been killed. Yes, many news organizations throughout the night made the slip in speech or in text. Even as my wife and I discussed the events, we made the same slip. It is a simple verbal slip that’s easy enough to do which is why I give those who made the verbal gaffe more slack than the textual ones. B and S are not that close on the keyboard.

Now, in the light of day following the announcement, the real political spinning will commence.

How do I feel?

I am still wrestling with that question. On one hand, I feel there is a sense of closure to 9/11 that may offer some modicum of solace for the families of the victims.

However, as one survivor put it,

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There is no closure here. The addition of one more body does not bring back anyone who died on the ground or in the air on that day. It does not replace the missing mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, friend, co-worker, or neighbor. It does not replace the loss in our lives and our hearts.

Was this justice? Perhaps. Was it revenge? Most certainly. Do I think bin Laden got what he deserved? No, a shot to the head is a quick death. I would have preferred a trial. A sentence. Something where he could have felt an iota of the suffering he’s caused so many. I am not calling for an eye for an eye. As Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” I do not wish blindness upon us all. I do wish there was some level of justice which could have been brought upon him that wasn’t a bullet. Suicide by cop taken to the next level.

I cannot cheer at this news. I giggled at the many jokes made last night on Twitter and made a few of my own. I was caught up on the collective moment as those around me in person and online. However, I could not cheer. I could not whoop and take to the streets. My wife and I sat in our beds, laptops in laps following the news as it was announced, waiting for the President to speak.

The moment he became visible we closed the lids and listened, speechless and wide-eyed. We wanted to take in every moment of his controlled and passionate speech.

From the spontaneous celebration in front of the White House last night and the worldwide reactions I’ve seen this morning reported from various places. I have to wonder how much of this was really worth it. We’ve given up so much in terms of freedoms and rights. We remove our shoes when flying. Liquids are now controlled substances in the air. Yet, we’ve done nothing to increase the safety of our train and subway systems.

I am sure threats were stopped before we, the people, even knew of them because that’s how it should be. The degree of security theater versus real security has to be questioned. If this is what winning feels like, the death of thousands of troops abroad, the revocation of personal freedoms at home, the trillions of dollars spent to fund the multiple wars started in the aftermath of 9/11. Have they done more harm than good? Are we any safer than we were nearly a decade ago?

I see people pointing to the lack of another attack on American soil as a resounding Yes We Are! But I’m not so sure. Is another attack even warranted? We are fighting terrorists. Their goal is terror. We sure had a frightened president for 8 years. We’ve been fed a continuous meal of fear for the past decade.

Is a Pyrrhic victory just as good as any other?