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NATO: bin Laden in Pakistan
October 18, 2010 12:51 PM   Subscribe

Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri are believed to be hiding close to each other in houses in northwest Pakistan, but are not together, a senior NATO official said. ... al Qaeda's top leadership is believed to be living in relative comfort, protected by locals and some members of the Pakistani intelligence services... The official would not discuss how the coalition has come to know any of this information, but he has access to some of the most sensitive information in the NATO alliance.

Meanwhile:

U.S. military officials racing to make progress in Afghanistan are pressing new tactics to choke off the flow of Taliban fighters and bomb-making materials from Pakistan into key battlefields of the south, with some even advocating cross-border attacks, according to several U.S. civilian and military officials. ... Military officials said the recent rash of border incidents involving U.S. helicopters crossing into Pakistani territory and the escalation of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan's North Waziristan region were not directly related to the debate about additional military steps in the south.
posted by Joe Beese (107 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Kind of smells planted, doesn't it?
posted by Bovine Love at 12:55 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


You'd think there would be that one guy who would be tempted as fuck by that $50mil bin Laden bounty.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:56 PM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


yeah, he tried
posted by mannequito at 12:58 PM on October 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


Poor Pakistan.
posted by angrycat at 12:59 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


"He is, as is obvious, in very deep hiding," Panetta said

Or he could just, as at least one Pakistani has suggested, be dead.
posted by existential hobo at 12:59 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


This worked for Reagan in 1980...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:59 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Osama bin who?
posted by monospace at 1:00 PM on October 18, 2010


Burma shave, anyone?
posted by spicynuts at 1:00 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri are believed to be hiding close to each other in houses in northwest Pakistan

Uhh, who exactly didn't believe that already? Maybe CNN can now confirm that the Yankees won the World Series last year?
posted by lullaby at 1:02 PM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Not to depress you further but remember how exicited we all were when they captured Mullah Omar's deputy, Abdul Ghani Baradar. Well looks like we've let him go.
posted by humanfont at 1:03 PM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Kind of smells planted, doesn't it?

I just liked the image of bin Laden and al-Zawahiri living down the street from each other and dropping by to visit each other - like the wives on Big Love.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:03 PM on October 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


He's a homeowner? Maybe the housing market collapse was a covert plan to ruin his equity.
posted by condour75 at 1:09 PM on October 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


This reminds me of when all the sabre-rattling was happening in the leadup to the Iraq war, every time they made any claim against Iraq, I would think to myself "and how does that not apply to Pakistan, exactly?"

Except, of course, that Pakistan actually has WMDs.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:12 PM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


He's a homeowner? Maybe the housing market collapse was a covert plan to ruin his equity.

Maybe Bin Laden is trying to get out of his cave investment in Missouri.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:15 PM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Except, of course, that Pakistan actually has WMDs.

Unless I'm mistaken, this is the first time in history that a nuclear-armed state has let itself be subjected to sustained bombing of its civilians.

Hope they don't change their mind.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:18 PM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hey everybody, a John Brennan press release!

Rather, al Qaeda's top leadership is believed to be living in relative comfort, protected by locals and some members of the Pakistani intelligence services, the official said

Translation: Pakistan is a bunch of meanies who won't tell us anything so they'll be on Fox News's shitlist before Christmas. I'm guessing this is preparation for an intensification of the war. "Welp, looks like we'll have to be in Pakistan for the rest of eternity, too."
posted by rhizome at 1:20 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


In other news, Snoop Dogg likes bitches and weed.
posted by Biru at 1:23 PM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


There won't be an escalation in Pakistan. Pakistan has all the US by the balls and has demonstrated they can cut the supply lines at will.
posted by Grimgrin at 1:26 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


You'd think there would be that one guy who would be tempted as fuck by that $50mil bin Laden bounty.

My temptation would be tempered by the sure knowledge that I'd be killed fairly quickly, and very possibly by the same people I reveal my information to.
posted by coolguymichael at 1:30 PM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Maybe CNN can now confirm that the Yankees won the World Series last year?

AWW, HOLY SHIT. Geezus, give a guy a "spoiler alert" every now and again, willya?

Next thing you'll tell me is that LOST was all about a struggle between two magical brothers and the "flash-sideways" was just the characters' collective dream prior to entering the hereafter, represented by Jack's dead father and a church simultaneously devoted to all the religions of mankind. Fucker.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:33 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


There won't be an escalation in Pakistan. Pakistan has all the US by the balls and has demonstrated they can cut the supply lines at will.

Au contraire. Aeroplanes can carry supplies. Expensive, surely... but doable for less than $7.5bn USD.
posted by Biru at 1:33 PM on October 18, 2010


"...but are not together"

Imagine the hijinks if they were:

"On September 11, Osama Bin Laden was asked to remove himself from his place of residence. That request came from his wife. Deep down, he knew she was right, but he also knew that someday, he would return to her. With nowhere else to go, he appeared at the home of his childhood friend, Ayman al-Zawahiri . Sometime earlier, al-Zawahiri 's wife had thrown him out, requesting that he never return. Can two divorced jihadists share a cave without driving each other crazy?"
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:36 PM on October 18, 2010 [27 favorites]


posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey Can two divorced jihadists share a cave without driving each other crazy?"

The Jihad Couple.
posted by mattdidthat at 1:38 PM on October 18, 2010 [32 favorites]


I set 'em up, mattdidthat knocks 'em down.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:40 PM on October 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


Oh, please. Like Osama is still alive. Wasn't he dying of kidney disease like, ten years ago? Do they have dialysis clinics in Tora Bora?
posted by entropicamericana at 1:42 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just liked the image of bin Laden and al-Zawahiri living down the street from each other and dropping by to visit each other - like the wives on Big Love.

I'm picturing it as the identical-but-for-color pastel houses from Edward Scissorhands, al-Zawahiri out mowing the lawn on a Sunday morning, bin Ladin drops by for a glass of lemonade and a nice relaxing burning of the American flag.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:43 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Billionaires can afford new kidneys. And with all the suicide bombers ready and willing to kill themselves, there would seem no shortage of willing donors.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:44 PM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


mattdidthat: "The Jihad Couple."

No no no, "The Oud Couple."

entropicamericana: "Oh, please. Like Osama is still alive. Wasn't he dying of kidney disease like, ten years ago? Do they have dialysis clinics in Tora Bora?"

Politicians and bureaucrats make shit up all the time for PR purposes. Who knows what is true, which I'm pretty sure is the point: to turn him into a specter.
posted by rhizome at 1:44 PM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


There won't be an escalation in Pakistan. Pakistan has all the US by the balls and has demonstrated they can cut the supply lines at will.

As long as they don't provoke a US-endorsed military coup:

U.S. officials pointed to recent signs that Pakistan's powerful army and opposition parties are positioning themselves to install a new civilian government to replace President Asif Ali Zardari and his prime minister in the coming months. ... "The best outcome here is that the instability will be taken advantage of by the military in ways that aren't bad, getting rid of lots of cronies" who currently fill government positions, the administration official said.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:47 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


bin Ladin drops by for a glass of lemonade and a nice relaxing burning of the American flag.

Shit, that sounds just like my neighbourhood. I wonder if that scraggly old anarchist guy is actually bin Laden?
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:48 PM on October 18, 2010


There won't be an escalation in Pakistan. Pakistan has all the US by the balls and has demonstrated they can cut the supply lines at will.


Afghanistan Launches its first railroad in 100 years. The railroad will open later this year and is expected to enable freight to move from Turkey to the northern parts of Afghanistan. Cost will go from 14000 to $400-$500/ton to transport freight into the country. Things like this are why I'm actually somewhat hopeful in spite of everything. OTOH this the hand palm moment for team W. Getting the trains running on time, means actually having trains.
posted by humanfont at 1:48 PM on October 18, 2010


rhizome: "mattdidthat: "The Jihad Couple."

No no no, "The Oud Couple."
"

Shiism Buddies

got nothing
posted by jquinby at 1:50 PM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Rather, al Qaeda's top leadership is believed to be living in relative comfort, protected by locals and some members of the Pakistani intelligence services, the official said

And yet somehow he can't produce a single video of himself walking around, talking, and generally being filmed from more than one angle. Given how stupendously easy it would be for him to produce indisputable evidence that he's alive and the fact that he's produced a lot of sketchy, questionable evidence over the past several years, I have to believe that it's more likely that he's dead and has been for some time.

I find it quite believable that the tapes that have been released were produced by impersonators and the intelligence community did as good a job authenticating the tapes as they did finding evidence of Iraqi WMDs or of investigating the 9/11 plot before it happened. It doesn't help that as long as the intelligence services and military weren't the ones to kill him, they only have an institutional interest in maintaining the idea that he's alive.

Billionaires can afford new kidneys. And with all the suicide bombers ready and willing to kill themselves, there would seem no shortage of willing donors.

You still have to find a matching donor. And you have a 5-10% chance of needing a second one after acute rejection. And you need a medical team to perform the operation. And a steady supply of anti-rejection medication. And after 5 years there's a 30% chance you'll be dead. After 10 years it's close to 60%.
posted by jedicus at 1:51 PM on October 18, 2010 [14 favorites]


Well, then welcome to the 19th century, there, Afghanistan!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:51 PM on October 18, 2010


Maybe Bin Laden is trying to get out of his cave investment in Missouri.

Maybe he's selling it on the underground market?
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:51 PM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


By the way. didn't somebody (a biologist?) apply some of the same techniques used for locating wildlife a little wildlife and basically say "he's probably right here in this house", complete with a GoogleMaps link?
posted by jquinby at 1:52 PM on October 18, 2010


By the way. didn't somebody (a biologist?) apply some of the same techniques used for locating wildlife a little wildlife and basically say "he's probably right here in this house", complete with a GoogleMaps link?

Right here and here.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:56 PM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Politicians and bureaucrats make shit up all the time for PR purposes. Who knows what is true, which I'm pretty sure is the point: to turn him into a specter.

Exactly; given how much of this stuff is shrouded in secrecy, and given how energetically and frequently [.pdf] the Bush administration knowingly exaggerated and/or fabricated the terror threat, forgive me for continuing to take everything we're told (about OBL, about the GWOT, about AQ, and about 9/11) with a big bag of salt.
posted by existential hobo at 1:57 PM on October 18, 2010


Two and a Half Mullahs?
posted by Joe Beese at 1:58 PM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


What, you mean you can't do a major organ transplant in a field hospital? Do John Connor and Marcus Wright know about this?!?!
posted by entropicamericana at 1:58 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


You still have to find a matching donor. And you have a 5-10% chance of needing a second one after acute rejection. And you need a medical team to perform the operation. And a steady supply of anti-rejection medication. And after 5 years there's a 30% chance you'll be dead. After 10 years it's close to 60%.

I agree that the odds suggest that he's dead, and I think that this is a Goldstein play. But unlike most terrorist leaders I think he'd have resources to give that kind of medical procedure the old college try, compared with those who don't share his wealth or as devoted a following.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:59 PM on October 18, 2010


The "but not together" disclaimer made me wonder whether there isn't out there, somewhere, Osama/Ayman slashfic, where they bond over their shared hatred and then realize that their anger at the western world is all a front to cover up their undying love.
posted by gracedissolved at 2:06 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bin Laden and Zawahiri hiding in a hotel on the Pakistani coast wearing drag to hide as part of a all female review. Some Jihadis Like it Hot.
posted by humanfont at 2:08 PM on October 18, 2010


The leaders of Pakistan have a razor's edge to walk politically both internally and externally. Theirs is perhaps the most difficult act in the world. It behooves them internally to appear to be independent, it behooves them internationally to appear to be in control domestically. The US and Taliban are only 2 and easily balanced by a skilled politician. Don't forget India, or the pipeline, or ethnicity (tribes, families, clans, alliances, whatever).
The overlap between each force/interest is slight and shifting. If Pakistan acts according to the wishes of any particular side it will lose its bargaining position with the other. Pakistan needs to keep all the relevant parties interested in an unresolved suite of issues. That way it can maintain what little independence it has.

Complicated and unresolved is good for Pakistan.
posted by vapidave at 2:12 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Snopes says the kidney thing is "unconfirmed".

The "kidney disease" may have just been kidney stones, or is just impaired kidney functioning from diabetes (which requires him to keep well-hydrated, not dialysis). Source
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 2:14 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always thought the line about Bin Laden having a fatal kidney problem (or otherwise being in dubious health) was just a pretty standard piece of counter-intelligence disinfo meant to make Bin Laden (and by extension, his movement) look weak and to raise doubts about his abilities to provide leadership in the region... I mean, hasn't Castro been on his deathbed since the 60s? And Kim-Jong Il too? Weren't there even rumors Saddam Hussein was terminal at one point? But that's just me...
posted by saulgoodman at 2:14 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing he's been dead for quite a while and it's just been politically expedient for both sides to pretend otherwise. We get to use his image to drum up support for a war, and they... well, I guess they get to do the same thing.

It'd be interesting to be proven wrong, but I really doubt it will ever happen.
posted by quin at 2:15 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's absolutely no way Bin Laden's alive.

This is an old man who needs constant dialysis - hiding in caves in Afghanistan and Pakistan for almost a decade? Forget it.

When he was alive, he released mocking videos. The last video we saw from him, he doesn't look so well, and started with generic abuse of the West, and then the image freezes and we hear a slightly different voice referring to the 2006 Democratic victory (and even that could have been recorded in advance because, heck, we know that there were only two possible outcomes!)

Any rational person would assume he died at or around that time - that would be almost exactly four years ago. If he were alive, he'd be releasing more videos, why would he not be?

This is one of the reasons I know that the government has contempt for our reasoning ability. I fully expected better of Mr. Obama, but to always act as if you are sure that Osama Bin Laden is still alive, that the possibility that he might be dead isn't even conceivable - well, do you think we are fools?

Why didn't someone, some prominent Democrat like, say, Mr. Obama, announce at the start of his term, "By our best estimation, Bin Laden is already dead. Bush blew it. He escaped us forever. According to our best guess, Bush could have had him in Afghanistan but blew it and Bin Laden died some time later."

This would have been zero loss for Mr. Obama. One of three things happens.

If Al Qaeda admits it, well, big tip for Mr. Obama! If they say nothing, but if Bin Laden NEVER shows up again, Mr. Obama looks wise for announcing it.

And if Bin Laden DOES pop up, why, Mr. Obama orders those surprise drone attacks (that in the real world, he did anyway!!) and says, "Look, Bin Laden fell into our trap and revealed his location, so we used our secret weapon to attack him!" and at that time people would say, "Wow, clever move there, Mr. Obama!" because he had the reputation of being ultra-smart and effective. (He doesn't have to really attack Bin Laden, just run some attacks and say he did - in other words, do the same killing he did in fact do in real life, except have it on the front pages as connected directly to 9/11 - much more bangs for the (killing) buck...)

(Or, who knows, perhaps that would have actually flushed Bin Laden out for the kill? But that's a movie, Bin Laden's been dead since 2006...)

Again, it's one of the things that frustrates me about the Democrats - their inability to make the large, sweeping moves like that which proceed to define the dialog for the next months and cost them nothing.

Any bozo who thought about it for two seconds knows that Bin Laden's dead. Admitting this would have cost Mr. Obama zero and surprised the shit out of a lot of bad people on both sides who make their living by pretending that Osama Bin Laden, like Godzilla or King Arthur, will come back one day to attack the homeland.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:24 PM on October 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


On preview - interesting that the dialysis is unproven. But mostly irrelevant.

Bin Laden was clearly a sick old man in that last video and it's been four Afghan winters since then. He'd have every reason to keep releasing videos, no matter how short. In fact, I'm surprised that they haven't done that, had a stock of unreleased videos made in advance, but I guess they weren't that smart.

If he were alive, he'd be making videos, no matter how short, because the value of him simply saying, "I am alive, continue to fight the Americans and their new leader" would be incredibly great. No one could suppress such videos. Thirty minutes with him and a $80 Canon camera and you'd get news headlines for weeks if you dribbled the videos out.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:30 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


A while back, I speculated on the "dead or alive" question thusly:

What actual evidence is there that Osama Bin Laden is still alive?

I know that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence ... but if it could be conclusively proven he were dead, it likely would have been leaked and/or announced by someone. At this point, there's no compelling reason for a foreign intelligence agency to keep it hushed up. For example, if he were dead, it'd be likely that the Pakistani rulership would know about it, and they could use it to their advantage to extract dollars and assistance from the Americans, and to get them to stop shooting at their people with drones. So would the Russians and Iranians enjoy this, to throw sand in American eyes. The Saudis would love him dead, too.

Moreover, no one wants to make a conclusive claim that he's dead, at the risk of being proved conclusively wrong.

No one says he's dead. Ergo, he's still alive.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:31 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Truthout - Maybe, They Just Rerelease the Same News Release Every Year - CNN

At this point, there's no compelling reason for a foreign intelligence agency to keep it hushed up.

You really can't think of any reasons why any foreign intelligence agency would want to keep the news quiet?
posted by mrgrimm at 2:40 PM on October 18, 2010


This is just part of diplomatic pressure put on Pakistan while it's in Washington for high level talks this week.

Like other dictatorships we prop up, the Pakistani power structure has to walk a fine line between continuing to accept billions in US aid to maintain their military control of the general populace, and moving so far away from the will of the populace that they are overthrown. US planners are aware of what can happen when your preferred dictator is ousted in a coup, so they won't push the Pakistani military too far. That's why the US has tolerated Pakistan's material support of the Taliban, and why Pakistan has tolerated our drone attacks on the border.

This week you will witness another scene in the familiar colonialist drama. Top Pakistani brass will strike a deal to keep themselves in power and maybe hand over a few members of Al Qaeda in exchange for being allowed to exercise influence in Afghanistan through the Taliban. The human rights issues in Afghanistan that are plastered on the front pages today will be conveniently misplaced, and Pakistani human rights abuses will remain unmentioned.

Soon we will quickly proclaim victory for freedom and democracy while we abandon Afghanistan a second time, so we don't look like fools a year later when the Taliban is back in charge.
posted by notion at 2:42 PM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


If he were alive, he'd be releasing more videos, why would he not be?

Because he likely has vastly different definitions of "success" and "power" and "influence" than you and I do.

Every day he spends alive is a success. He spit in the face of the world's greatest power and lived to tell his friends about it. So what if he's living in a cave? That only shows them how bad-ass he is. Each day is success. Each cave is power. Each time he basks in the glory of his minions is influence.

And tomorrow is not any more or less valuable than next week. Think about that.

Releasing a video today would be a good thing for him. But there's a risk.

Releasing a video in 10 years would be a good thing, too. And there's less risk.

Is 10 years significantly worse than 10 days? Does the risk/reward calculation demand immediate action?

No, not really. In fact, laying low, hanging out and popping up 10 years on may even be better. It means you will have gotten to bleed the American dogs for 10 years, while your supplicants brought you food and shelter. Cue the evil supervillain laughter. Mwah hah hah.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:42 PM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


believed to be hiding close to each other ... but are not together

Oh, sure.... they're quick with the polite denials, but those furtive sideways glances they give each other around the fraying edge of their dusty shemaghs tell a different story.
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:45 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


You really can't think of any reasons why any foreign intelligence agency would want to keep the news quiet?

Name one that holds up to scrutiny. Seriously.

The one that gets to say, conclusively, that he's dead, is instantly the big winner in the worldwide "look at me" sweepstakes.

Obama knows he's dead and isn't saying anything? Are you serious? That's press conference time! "Where are the cameras? I get to look like a goddam hero right here, right now. And I get to claim credit for doing it. Yes, it was only my dogged determination..."

The one that makes a mistake ("He's dead!" "No. No, I'm not.") is forever marked as a gibbering idiot.

No one has said anything. He's still alive.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:47 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, what kind of intelligence agency would want a carte blanche to spend money on new toys to further the violation of civil liberties in the name of national defense?
posted by entropicamericana at 2:53 PM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think he might be dead. Or he might be alive. No one knows for sure so no one can can say anything either way because there would be bad repercussions if they are wrong.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:05 PM on October 18, 2010


No one says he's dead. Ergo, he's still alive.

2002: Karzai: bin Laden 'probably' dead.
2009: Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari: "The question is whether he is alive or dead. There is no trace of him." Mr Zardari's predecessor, Pervez Musharraf, similarly suggested that the Saudi terror chief could be dead.

It's not hard and fast, but frankly what government would be willing to contradict the US position on this? Iran, perhaps, but who would listen?
posted by jedicus at 3:07 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


If OBL were among the living and captured, and if he were flown to the U.S. to stand trial for 9/11 in a regular court of law, it is my strong belief that no impartial judge and jury could actually find enough evidence to convict him of a crime: other than the mostly unexamined accusations of the previous administration, the specific evidence linking him to that day seems mostly to consist of a dubious "confessional" video.

(I realize this comment will be objectionable to many here, but this is my firm conviction.)
posted by existential hobo at 3:07 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


... and if he were flown to the U.S. to stand trial for 9/11 in a regular court of law...

I wouldn't worry about that.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:16 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


If OBL were among the living and captured, and if he were flown to the U.S. to stand trial for 9/11 in a regular court of law, it is my strong belief that no impartial judge and jury could actually find enough evidence to convict him of a crime

He is accused of far more than one attack, and there is plenty of evidence. This line of reasoning is actually why Obama had so much trouble trying to close Guantanamo so congrats for perpetuating it.

Oh No! We might have to release Osama out of a courtroom into NYC!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:24 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


If OBL were among the living and captured, and if he were flown to the U.S....

I don't think they have to rely solely on 9/11 to get a conviction of murder, he was active long before 9/11 and wanted by quite a few countries (including Libya which has had an Interpol warrant on him since 1994).

It is quite likely that GW could have had Bin Laden as the Taliban offered to turn him over to a neutral 3rd party, but as with everything else he touched Bush fucked that one up good.
posted by edgeways at 3:24 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well one thing is for sure: Osama bin Ladin is not a ham sandwich.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 3:33 PM on October 18, 2010


He is accused of far more than one attack, and there is plenty of evidence.

I was referring to 9/11, for which OBL has never been formally charged, and not to the pre-9/11 attacks he has been linked to.

This line of reasoning is actually why Obama had so much trouble trying to close Guantanamo so congrats for perpetuating it.

I'm for perpetuating the rule of law, and since I do not agree that there is "plenty of evidence" linking OBL to the events of 9/11, I stand by my earlier assertion. Congrats for misreading me.
posted by existential hobo at 3:35 PM on October 18, 2010


It is quite likely that GW could have had Bin Laden as the Taliban offered to turn him over to a neutral 3rd party, but as with everything else he touched Bush fucked that one up good.

The offer was "Try Bin Laden in an Islamic court that we approve of" - eg, Al-Court Al-Kangarooey. Mullah Omar was under pressure internationally to do something with Bin Laden, however was bound as his host under Pashtunwali to not allow harm to come to Bin Laden. Being an Afghan, pragmatic as they are, Omar came up with a measure that appeared to be co-operative, but was not.
posted by Biru at 3:36 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Steve Coll has two excellent books, "Ghost Wars" and "The Bin Ladens", that show that OBL is linked to plenty of stuff in addition to 9/11. If he ever gets to see the inside of an American courtroom, he is not going to be acquitted for want of evidence.
posted by vidur at 3:36 PM on October 18, 2010



I was referring to 9/11, for which OBL has never been formally charged, and not to the pre-9/11 attacks he has been linked to.


Which is fine, even though he publicly confessed to that crime of his own free will we may not be able to convict him, we have plenty of other stuff we could convict him for so that part is pretty irrelevant, eh?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:40 PM on October 18, 2010


Oh No! We might have to release Osama out of a courtroom into NYC!

No cabbie would stop for him.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:45 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


You'd think there would be that one guy who would be tempted as fuck by that $50mil bin Laden bounty.

Who would live to spend it? An informant would have to be sure he had himself and his whole family airlifted out of the country to somewhere safe from revenge attacks, and the safest place on earth is probably somewhere in, say, North Dakota, where he would be assumed to be assumed to be a terrorist, probably for the rest of his life. Even if a whole village cooperated in handing him over, Waking Ned Devine-style, they could be wiped off the map for it. In assuming there would be revenge attacks, I don't assume any great love for bin Laden; it just would be done.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:58 PM on October 18, 2010


Those are broad strokes notion. I'd suggest a bit messy at the edges: "in exchange for being allowed to exercise influence in Afghanistan through the Taliban". I'd say more trying to not get killed. Please bear with me here.
I'm tempted to contextualize these fucked up matters as part of a screwed up world too, "Like other dictatorships we prop up; familiar colonialist drama.."

Working backwards I'll be snotty and say that colonization failed there in the mountains an Alexander or two ago and modern weapons are no match for grumpy men in rocky terrain.

Working forwards is more difficult. Imagining myself as a leader in Pakistan and referencing my comment above I have a difficult time when I wonder if I were in the same situation if I would do anything different than the Pakistani politicians are doing now. I think that if I'm a Pakistani person I might like the line the Pakistani Brass are taking.

I don't think I'm entitled to decide on behalf of Pakistanis.

And not to be an even bigger jerk in responding to your clearly felt and same side of the brestwerks as I am thoughts but: "...we don't look like fools a year later when the Taliban is back in charge."
History finds many clear precedents to reference in the case of Taliban v Internets. Grumpy men in rocky terrain are no match for lolcats. Seriously.
posted by vapidave at 4:02 PM on October 18, 2010


so that part is pretty irrelevant, eh?

Irrelevant to your point (that we could convict OBL of something), but not to mine (that we would be hard pressed to convict him of 9/11).

I might add that I think our possible inability to tie him to 9/11 is one more reason the evidence surrounding the events of that day remain inconclusive at best, and that despite the conviction he received in the media I remain skeptical that he was actually behind it at all.
posted by existential hobo at 4:03 PM on October 18, 2010


The one that makes a mistake ("He's dead!" "No. No, I'm not.") is forever marked as a gibbering idiot.


No one has said anything. He's still alive.


I really don't think that follows. At best, all that can be concluded is that no-one inclined to release the information has proof that he's dead. Given that he could have been in the poorly populated regions of any of several countries and had regular communication only with a small number of people who have a vested interest in the world believing him to be alive, the authorities being certain of his death seems very unlikely. And as you say, even I'd they hear compelling rumours of his demise, no-one wants to be the first agency to go out on that limb without actually seeing the body, just in case. So I'd expect a world where OBL is dead to look exactly like the one we currently have.
posted by metaBugs at 4:05 PM on October 18, 2010



I might add that I think our possible inability to tie him to 9/11 is one more reason the evidence surrounding the events of that day remain inconclusive at best, and that despite the conviction he received in the media I remain skeptical that he was actually behind it at all.


Ahh, a truther, sorry for thinking I was talking to an adult.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:10 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sorry to derail my own thread, but am I reading this correctly?
A federal judge said Monday she's inclined to deny a government request to delay her order that immediately stopped the military from enforcing its ban on openly gay service members.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips said she would review the arguments from Justice Department lawyers and issue a ruling by the end of the day.

The military has promised to abide by Phillips' injunction as long as it remains in place. But government lawyers have asked her to stay the ruling while it prepares an appeal.

Phillips called their request "untimely," saying the government had plenty of opportunity to modify her injunction before she ordered it last Tuesday.

She also balked at their admission of a Rolling Stone article to support its argument that the abrupt change in the policy would hurt military readiness.

"I hardly need to say more than that," Phillips said of the article. "It's hearsay. It's not reliable."
Did the Obama Department of Justice, in asking the federal judge who had just made an historic finding of unconstitutionality against them to grant a stay of her ruling, ask that the record accept into evidence an article from Rolling Stone?

This is the strength of their case?
posted by Joe Beese at 4:19 PM on October 18, 2010


vapidave,

It's not that I don't consider those political moves wise, but I'm tired of the US government pretending that it's ever on the good side for the sake of being good. If the government felt like it got a solid offer from Iran to restore diplomatic relations and give them shitloads of money in exchange for completely stopping their nuclear program, they would do it in a heartbeat, and we would never hear about injustice in Iran again.

Let me put it another way: if Osama bin Laden had instead pulled off this terrorist attack in Moscow in the depths of the Cold War, and had orchestrated it from the United States, we wouldn't give him up for extradition either. The reason we consider bin Laden to be evil is because he is on the wrong side of our national interests.

Until we express our founding principles in foreign policy with action instead of lip service, we have no place in arbitrarily demanding those values out of some other culture halfway across the world for the sin of not submitting to our desires.

I don't think I'm entitled to decide on behalf of Pakistanis.

I agree wholeheartedly. And furthermore, I don't think my government and the Pakistani military are entitled to do that either.
posted by notion at 4:33 PM on October 18, 2010


^No one says he's dead.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto named Omar Sheikh as Bin Laden's murderer the month before she was assassinated.

^And yet somehow he can't produce a single video of himself walking around, talking, and generally being filmed from more than one angle.

The admission that the FBI made fake Bin Laden videos was quietly slipped in to this Washington Post article about fake Saddam videos:

The agency actually did make a video purporting to show Osama bin Laden and his cronies sitting around a campfire swigging bottles of liquor and savoring their conquests with boys, one of the former CIA officers recalled, chuckling at the memory. The actors were drawn from “some of us darker-skinned employees,” he said.

^He is accused of far more than one attack, and there is plenty of evidence.

^I don't think they have to rely solely on 9/11 to get a conviction of murder,

FBI says, it has “No hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11”

The Muckraker Report spoke with Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI. When asked why there is no mention of 9/11 on Bin Laden’s Most Wanted web page, Tomb said, “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”

The article linked in the FPP is more 2 minutes hate and priming for a Pakistan invasion.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 4:38 PM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Correction: the fellows in Intelligence made the fake Bin Laden videos, not the boys in the Bureau.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 4:40 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Isn't anyone considering the third possibility here? Bin Laden is in Pakistan. UNdead.

Now that's truly terrifying.
posted by sonika at 4:54 PM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


>Unless I'm mistaken, this is the first time in history that a nuclear-armed state has let itself be subjected to sustained bombing of its civilians.

Well, maybe the second...
posted by pompomtom at 5:00 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


[A few comments removed, cool it.]
posted by cortex at 5:04 PM on October 18, 2010


yeah but some of us are well and truly tired of the truther nonsense that poisons some of these discussions.
i'm especially aggravated because I thought people had come to their senses about this, aside from a few outliers, some time again
posted by angrycat at 5:05 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


(sorry cortex, didn't preview)
posted by angrycat at 5:06 PM on October 18, 2010


Isn't anyone considering the third possibility here? Bin Laden is in Pakistan. UNdead.

Grey on white translucent black beard
Back on jihad
Bin Laden is dead
The rats have fell'd the twin towers
The victims have been bled
Red velvet lines the black box
Bin Laden is dead
Undead undead undead
The virginal brides file past his grave
Strewn with time's dead flowers
Bereft the deathly knaves
Alone in a darkened cave
The count
Bin Laden is dead
Undead undead undead
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:10 PM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


[Fucking drop it or take it to metatalk if you have to. This is not good metafiltering on either side and I don't want to have to clean up any more petty bickering. You want to argue with each other, do it substantially, but cut it out with the sarcasm and the tired rehashes of conspiracy theories or just excuse yourself from the thread if that's too much to ask.]
posted by cortex at 5:30 PM on October 18, 2010


Every day he spends alive is a success.

Absolutely not. Every day he stays alive and we know about it is a success. Every day he's alive and is unable to get word out to the faithful is a failure.

Look - it's not like I'm proposing some weird image of Bin Laden. From 2001 to 2006, Bin Laden regularly put out taunting videos, growing obviously weaker each time. Then he stopped.

Now, he had some reason to put them out before that, and he stopped. Any argument you make has to somehow explain why making these videos was good for him till 2006, and suddenly ceased to be good for him, with no particularly change in anything else in the world. You'd think if anything he'd continue to make videos, just because skeptical people like me would think he was dead...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:35 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm waiting for either 4-CHAN or Something Awful to take down all of Al Qaeda in some Eve online esque takedown. Frankly I'm disapointed they havnt already. I mean WTF gang, don't tell me we're going to see the jugaloes get there first. Can you imagine how totally insufferable the ICP would be if they took down Bin Laden. Not to mention to record sales.
posted by humanfont at 5:42 PM on October 18, 2010



ok, if i were bin laden, i would fake a medical condition that requires narrow search parameters then rent about a thousand homes, apartment etc. With a 14-20 hour head start, after the attacks, go to pakistan to play "oh look it is uncle such and such." But hiding in plain sight, like saddam, is not bin laden style. His tradecraft would be old school and drones don't use interigation techniques so more potential data lost in the DRONE WARS.

"Reflections on the Method of Relief Work."
this is not something mr. phelps asked Barney to whip up for the Arrenian Diamond Heist.

to add something...
if he is dead, he is a martyr
if he is alive, he is a inspiration

in that mindset it is win-win. moot point on this existence....even if his capture/death were filmed and scripted by Milius it would seem...

well, better the martyr then inspiration yea
posted by clavdivs at 5:46 PM on October 18, 2010


i wish obl was dead 10 yrs ago...

finality is great, and OBL and AQ are enemies of progressive values. its odd that american rightwingers talk about the threat of foreign policy failure but have left this asshole alive for containment or whatever reason...
posted by lslelel at 5:57 PM on October 18, 2010


oh, this right winger would have ran him over with a Merkava.
posted by clavdivs at 6:06 PM on October 18, 2010


Maybe his luck just ran out. Though probably not.
posted by humanfont at 6:10 PM on October 18, 2010


This worked for Reagan in 1980...

This whole scenario reminds me of President Johnson...
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 6:40 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think he might be dead. Or he might be alive.

so for the past 9 years, we've been hunting schrodinger's cat
posted by pyramid termite at 9:18 PM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sorry notion for the delay I was off monitoring the Assiboine and the Red rivers. (both are well)
notion: but I'm tired of the US government pretending that it's ever on the good side for the sake of being good
Me too, fuck me too. Which is what makes this situation doubly difficult. I think that the US foreign policy might have accidentally stumbled on being right. I know anyone or any society is right about not getting killed - this obtains for the US and Pakistan and everyone in any instance. I'm certain that everyone has the right to decide their own fate.
The problem as I see it is that Realpolitic (ugh) has prevailed and in the process my beloved USA has lost credibility.
It's an odd situation that 46 year old lefties like me find themselves in where I am defending a war that is fought for the practical matters of a State (oil and its neighbors) that happens to also have some ramifications for rights - human and especially women's.
posted by vapidave at 9:35 PM on October 18, 2010


I definitely read that as "hiding in each others houses" and thought that was a little strange and unnecessary.
posted by addelburgh at 12:18 AM on October 19, 2010


OBL is younger than my mom and dad, and they're still pretty healthy. And he has way more money and probably better connections than them, too. I vote for 'Alive, but mellowed and sort of unsure how to break it to the guys that he'd rather just chase chicks in the UAE'.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:39 AM on October 19, 2010


I might add that I think our possible inability to tie him to 9/11 is one more reason the evidence surrounding the events of that day remain inconclusive at best, and that despite the conviction he received in the media I remain skeptical that he was actually behind it at all.

Ahh, a truther, sorry for thinking I was talking to an adult.

There's some truth to this. While adults tend to just accept, children often think. I never understood the blanket rejection of anything other than the official explanation, considering the historic record of government deception to start wars.
posted by klue at 1:15 AM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Bin Laden was clearly a sick old man in that last video

...wait...

O. M. G.

Bin Laden is masquerading as Fidel Castro!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:37 AM on October 19, 2010


>I think he might be dead. Or he might be alive.

so for the past 9 years, we've been hunting schrodinger's cat


No that would be if he was in a superposition of being both dead and alive at the same time. We won't know which until we open the box(pakistan) and collapse the wave function.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:03 AM on October 19, 2010


klue, okay, let's say, for argument's sake, a) he's alive and b) he had no connection to 9/11

are you really saying he's some innocent dude who is just looking for some decent dialysis?
posted by angrycat at 8:05 AM on October 19, 2010


While adults tend to just accept, children often think.

That is... not my experience.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:19 AM on October 19, 2010


Many of the earliest reports I've found (like this one) that refer to Bin Laden's failing health cite as their source "intelligence agencies friendly to the US". Now, that probably means the info came from Pakistan intelligence agencies (although calling them friendly to the US might be a bit generous).

So, to me, that suggests two ways of interpreting the news: 1) Pakistan intelligence agencies in cooperation planted the stories about Bin Laden's failing health with the stated dis-info aims I suggested above; 2) Pakistan intelligence agencies, eager to clear the way for the deal Mushareff was brokering at the time to protect Bin Laden and others in al-Qaeda, concocted the story about Bin Laden's health to take off some heat.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:50 AM on October 19, 2010



You'd think there would be that one guy who would be tempted as fuck by that $50mil bin Laden bounty.

My temptation would be tempered by the sure knowledge that I'd be killed fairly quickly, and very possibly by the same people I reveal my information to.


I wasn't suggesting that one guy would be especially bright.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:01 AM on October 19, 2010


On the latest 'sighting' of 21st century America's great white whale
posted by homunculus at 12:10 PM on October 19, 2010


Point is, almost all the accounts of Bin Laden's premature demise seem to come from Pakistani and other intelligence sources--and those aren't exactly neutral parties with a reputation for being forthright and meticulous about fact-checking. On the contrary, the ISI has a long history of furtive collaboration with the Taliban and even Al Qaeda. Seems to me if the ISI wanted to protect Bin Laden, firmly establishing the idea in public consciousness that Bin Laden is probably already dead might be a useful piece of propaganda to that end. On the other hand, it really isn't uncommon for US intelligence to play up or exaggerate accounts of political adversaries' deaths or ill health in an attempt to disrupt and sow uncertainty within the organizations they represent, so that seems just as likely a possibility. With all the parties who stand to gain from promoting the idea that Bin Laden is already dead, it seems to me such claims should require an extraordinary amount of proof. Or at least some concrete proof--at any rate, more than just third party accounts of various parties tied to organizations whose core functions often involve misrepresenting the truth to further various political aims.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:56 PM on October 19, 2010


Angrycat, note that the first part of my comment is merely a quote, and that I have no idea of his connections to 9/11. The same is true for a lot of people in this thread, which is why I find lack of skepticism for one version of the events lazy.

Even if we accept that he was behind the attacks, his crimes are easily matched by the atrocities conducted by the US in its War on Terror. Does this make him innocent? No.
posted by klue at 2:32 AM on October 20, 2010


Pakistan and the US - Talking at Cross Purposes
posted by bardophile at 3:36 AM on October 20, 2010


I remain skeptical that he was actually behind it at all

To be honest, I've been skeptical since day one, mostly because I don't think he's competent enough to plan such a complicated scheme.

"The FBI gathers evidence. Once evidence is gathered, it is turned over to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice then decides whether it has enough evidence to present to a federal grand jury. In the case of the 1998 United States Embassies being bombed, bin Laden has been formally indicted and charged by a grand jury. He has not been formally indicted and charged in connection with 9/11 because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11."

- Project Censored

In Osama Bin Laden's comments after the event, he denies responsibility. Why?

"I stress that I have not carried out this act, which appears to have been carried out by individuals with their own motivation."

"I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children and other people."

posted by mrgrimm at 11:41 AM on October 20, 2010


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