Friday, May 6, 2011

Gary Palmer: The Picture Obama should release

  In the aftermath of 9/11, Osama bin Laden became public enemy number one. With his public confession to the 9/11 murders and his subsequent threats and taunts about the destruction of the United States, he issued his own death warrant. On May 2nd, 2011 that warrant was expertly served by U.S. Navy Seal Team #6.

  So what does the death of Osama bin Laden really mean?

  It brings at least some measure of closure to the 9/11 mass murders but it certainly doesn't mean our war against terrorism is over.  In fact, it indicates that the war against terrorism has added another dimension.

  Not only did our forces kill bin Laden, they also recovered a substantial amount of information. CNN reported that five computers, ten hard drives and more than 100 storage devices including discs, DVDs and thumb drives were taken from bin Laden's compound. It should be safe to assume that these devices contain some valuable information about other terrorist cells, their locations, their capabilities, their plans and their leadership. 

  With this information in the hands of U.S. intelligence, it is a fairly safe assumption that no terrorist leader can go to bed at night with any sense that they are totally secure.

  Though some may argue that the killing of bin Laden is more symbolic than strategically significant, there is no question that the information contained on the captured devices could be of great value. It is critical to protecting our homeland and our interests overseas from terrorist attacks that we create as much disruption as possible for the leaders of terrorist organizations. The constant threat of being found and killed makes it extremely difficult for terrorist leaders to communicate and coordinate with their followers.

  We can only hope this information includes the names and locations of terrorist leaders who will become prime targets for our forces to systematically capture or kill including information about Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's likely successor as the leader of al Qaeda.

  The mission's success also emphasizes the importance of our efforts in Afghanistan. The success of American forces in defeating the Taliban and driving them out of the country forced bin Laden out with them. The presence of U.S. forces gave the Navy Seals a base for training as well as a base for launching an attack once bin Laden's whereabouts was determined. Every U.S. soldier and Marine who has served or is serving in Afghanistan can count themselves part of the mission that killed bin Laden.

  In regard to the continued presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the killing of bin Laden has also created an interesting dilemma for the Left and the anti-war base of the liberal Democrats and Obama himself.
One of Obama's campaign promises was that he would end the war in Afghanistan and withdraw our forces. Had he done so, this mission might not have been possible. Moreover, not only did Obama promise that he would close the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, he also indicated that he might even investigate and potentially prosecute Americans who participated in the use of "enhanced" interrogation techniques on captured terrorists.

  His liberal base heartily approved of these ideas. Now it turns out that the information that led us to bin Laden and made this mission successful was gained through these techniques. In an interview with NBC News the day after bin Laden was killed, CIA Director Leon Panetta admitted that "enhanced interrogation techniques" were used to extract information that led to the mission's success.

  There is also the question of whether or not the picture of bin Laden's corpse should be released by the White House. Frankly, while I think they should release the photo to prove to the terrorists that bin Laden is dead,  there is another photo that, if it exists, that should be released as well. That would be a photo of bin Laden shoving his wife out in front of himself in a cowardly attempt to save his own life.

  Such a picture would show bin Laden as the coward he really was. He sent young Muslims to their deaths while claiming that he too, was ready to die for jihad. But when he was confronted by real men, he cravenly pushed his wife out front. If they have that photo, that is the picture the Obama Administration should release.

  About the author: Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.

  This article was published by the Alabama Policy Institute.

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