Friday, April 16, 2021
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Tag: Osama bin Laden

The Days Burned into Our Memories

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I taught English in high school for thirty-one years and loved every minute I was on the job. I still have dreams of being in the classroom, teaching. I was blessed with a chance to see kids achieve far more than anyone would have expected them to. Sadly, I also saw others throw away the best chance they would ever have to be prepared for the future. Many times I shared their happiness and sometimes I shared their sadness. Twice, we even shared communal sorrow and horror as tragedy unfolded on television before our eyes.

On September 11, 2001, I was seated at my desk a few minutes before my first class started. A student came in and said, "Something has happened in New York. May I turn on the television?" I gave him the O.K. The first tower of the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. Not long after that, as the rest of the class filed in and took seats, we watched together as the another plane smashed into the second tower.

The rest of that day we spent seeing the unfolding drama of the most devastating single act of mass murder in the history of this nation. From the first, I refused to call al qaeda's evil act an act of war. No, it was a senseless, murderous crime against humanity by psychopaths. As we saw first one and then the other tower fall, horror compounded on horror. This heinous act murdered 2977 innocents in the towers and on the planes turned into weapons, while 411 first responders gave their lives in the line of duty that day desperately trying to save their fellow men and women.

Most of us remember exactly what we were doing and where we were when we heard news that changed the direction of our nation: the assassinations of President Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy, and September 11. For me, the young people I shared September 11 with will always be an integral part of my memory of that event. And that's not the only such terrible time I shared with the kids I taught. There was another time...That other time was January 28, 1986.  

One of the “gutsiest calls of any president in recent memory”

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(starting at about 4:30)
I think what this operation demonstrates is that there are some very very good people who have been following bin Laden for many many years. They have been very persistent, they have pulled on every thread. And as a result of their diligence, and their analytic capabilities, they were able to track this, and continue to build a body of evidence that suggested, circumstantially, that bin Laden was at that compound. That's what they did, it was much greater confidence that we had in this body of intelligence, in this body of information, than we've had since Tora Bora. Still, though, there was nothing to confirm that bin Laden was at that compound. And therefore, when President Obama was faced with the opportunity to act upon this, the president had to evaluate the strength of this information, and then made what I believe was one of the most gutsiest calls of any president in recent memory.
Exactly. Thank goodness we elected someone so methodical, so responsible, and so level-headed as Barack Obama. It's definitely paying off, too, both in Obama's response to the economic crisis we found ourselves in when he took office, and now in this signature accomplishment of the Obama presidency. Bottom line: great job by everyone involved in this operation - the superb SEAL Team 6 that carried out the operation, the intelligence community, the Obama foreign policy and counterterrorism team, etc. Truly superb.

P.S. It's so funny to look back at some of the ridiculous statements made by both Democrats and Republicans back in the 2007/2008 campaign, criticizing Barack Obama for stating that if he had actionable intel on bin Laden, he'd order him taken out. What on earth where these people thinking? I mean, isn't this about as common sensical as you can get?