Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Navy Times - Detailed Description Of Bin Laden Raid - New Information

"As three of the SEALs reached the top of the steps on the third floor, they saw bin Laden standing at the end of the hall. The Americans recognized him instantly, the officials said.

Bin Laden also saw them, dimly outlined in the dark house, and ducked into his room.

The three SEALs assumed he was going for a weapon, and one by one they rushed after him through the door, one official described.

Two women were in front of bin Laden, yelling and trying to protect him, two officials said. The first SEAL grabbed the two women and shoved them away, fearing they might be wearing suicide bomb vests, they said.

The SEAL behind him opened fire at bin Laden, putting one bullet in his chest, and one in his head.

It was over in a matter of seconds"

"As the SEALs began photographing the body for identification, the raiders found an AK-47 rifle and a Russian-made Makarov pistol on a shelf by the door they’d just run through. Bin Laden hadn’t touched them."

Navy Times - Sources: Raiders knew mission a one-shot deal


Read the whole story - it is very interesting. The element that interests me the most (after the fact that Bin Laden is dead - a blessing for the world in my opinion) is the difference that a few degrees of temperature made in the outcome of the mission. That what a person would assume is a small factor loomed large over success or failure - and the lives of the soldiers who undertook the raid.


  1. I would have thought you might have been interested too in the relation of this action to international law...

  2. Bin Laden was a legitimate target in war.

    The killing was legitimate under international law.

    Bin Laden was a combatant, as well as a criminal.

    There are United Nations resolutions and a resolution of the U.S. Congress authorising action against the perpetrators of the World Trade Centre attacks.

    There may be some debate as to whether the U.S. violated international law by penetrating Pakistani airspace without direct permission (though there were.are existing agreements between the U.S. and Pakistan on the subject of action on Pakistani soil), but otherwise he was lawfully killed under the international rules of war as they exist at this time.

    Whether those rules are morally wrong is a separate debate.

    I will follow up with some arguments and legal footnotes made by those who have researched this topic more than me in a little while.

  3. Which citizen was bin Laden a citizen of with which the United States is at war?

    If bin Laden was wanted for a crime (which he was, see below), is it not more consistent with the rule of law that he should have been apprehended and tried? Let's not forget, 1. 9/11 was a criminal event, not a declaration of war, as it was not carried out by a nation state, and, 2. in any event, the F.B.I. admitted in 2006 it could not construct a case against bin Laden for 9/11; he was wanted for, at least, planning a number of terrorist attacks against American military and diplomatic targets in the 90s. His association with 9/11 in the American mind is no more factual than Saddam Hussein's.

    Of more concern to me though is how this assassination (murder) is being *celebrated*, even, apparently, by you: what, after all, does this even have to do with "information", except maybe under the topic of *propaganda* (in America's "War on Terror")...

  4. Was bin Laden a criminal or a guerrilla fighter?


    Do the "laws of war" apply to guerrilla fighters? Are guerrillas legitimate military targets for a nation state and those who control the nation state?


    As for the applicability of the topic to the blog, the masthead states:

    "Informed on Information

    access to information, privacy, security, information and records management, computing and networking, ethics, business, politics, and governmental policy"


    the discussion of the impact of technology on real world situations is relevant to some of the larger points that i have been making about technology and those who assume that if we just get the tech right things will all work out perfectly.

    i argue that tech will usually fail - and most often because of stupid piddly issues that are overlooked.

    as you know, i like to lay out the assumptions of my arguments well in advance. this high profile example of environmental effects on technology is outside the realm of computing and information, the primary focus of this blog, but still falls within a wider discussion of technology.

    i accept that i could and should have made that point directly in my post


    i dislike your suggestion that i am "celebrating" bin Laden's death. i am counting his death as a blessing. i am not singing songs, and i am not waving flags. i am explicitly not waving an American flag on this.

    i am one of those who believes that the American imperial machine has lots to answer for. i believe that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are war criminals. I believe that even knight in shining armour Obama is sitting on the edge of indictable war crimes because of the continuation of various Bush policies - specifically with regard to the detention of combatants.

    i can easily be persuaded of the legitimacy of of attacks on the U.S. war machine - even by guerrilla groups.

    i do not condone such attacks, but i am sitting in Canada as a citizen of the larger American polity and can be pretty comfortable in denouncing violence.

    however, the question of the legitimacy of the military operation against bin Laden under international law is separate from a multitude of moral and ethical issues. there are many practices that take place every day that are highly morally questionable (e.g. fast food and the science of getting the fat/sugar/salt content of that food just perfect to jolt the human nervous system) but are still legal under our system of law


    please extract celebration from my sentence:

    "The element that interests me the most (after the fact that Bin Laden is dead - a blessing for the world in my opinion) is the difference that a few degrees of temperature made in the outcome of the mission."

    i am glad Ted Bundy is dead as well. I am glad that Adolf Hitler is dead. i am glad that Stalin is dead.

    i think it is a blessing that they are dead and no longer able to perpetrate their crimes against humanity.

    where does celebration come into the above statements?

    remember teaching logical fallacies?

    here's one:

    Sweeping Generalisation: Right wing crackpots and cranks are celebrating bin Laden's death. They think it is a blessing that bin Laden is dead.

    James thinks it is a blessing bin Laden is dead.

    therefore James is celebrating bin Laden's death

  5. re 'celebrate' (which seems to have a struck a nerve, not my intention at all, therefore, for any offense, I apologize): my impression (n.b. "apparently" that modified "celebrate" in my original comment) was inspired by the number of articles you have posted on this blog, which struck me as curiously inordinate, combined with the absence of explicit remarks on the political, legal, and even moral problems surrounding the event (which silence prompted my initial response, just to stay more or less on topic...)--Was bin Laden a criminal? Within the context of the international rule of law, it seems to me "yes"; his being classified an "enemy combatant" is at best an American, unilateral designation. Given the designation is neither internationally recognized nor condoned, the legality of the assassination remains an open question, no? And, yes, the Pakistanis are a little miffed, aren't they?

  6. [bugger! lost my post!]

    Re 'celebrate' (since that touched a nerve, never my intention, therefore I apologize for any offense taken): the number of times you had posted on this topic prompted my response, which was cautiously modified by 'apparently' mind you; my remark was further prompted by the absence of any explicit remarks on the legality and/or morality of the assassination: on further reflection, all that was/is MY interest, not yours.--Nevertheless, given that bin Laden's being designated an "enemy combatant" is a strictly American, unilateral classification, I would still argue that he was a criminal who should have been brought to stand trial for his alleged crimes rather than being summarily executed. I guess the actions taken by the U.S. saved it the embarrassment of having to admit it had no case linking ObL to 9/11, which would have therefore lost them a very effective propaganda tool, not that there being not WMD in Iraq had much impact on the awareness of the 'murkn hoi poloi...

  7. "Authorization for Use of Military Force
    September 18, 2001
    Public Law 107-40 [S. J. RES. 23]
    107th CONGRESS"


    Human Rights First - Was killing Osama bin Laden legal?

    some salient bits from their legal counsel:

    "Does it matter how it went down? Absolutely.

    It matters to one of the fundamental humanitarian principles of the laws of armed conflict: if they are “hors de combat,” or “outside the fight,” then targeting even military objectives is a war crime.

    So first, was bin Laden a military objective? Assuming one accepts the idea that the United States is at war with al Qaeda, yes. In war, persons who directly participate in hostilities or who perform a continuous combat function in an armed group are targetable, and bin Laden certainly was the latter, if not the former."

    "But what if you reject the “war against al Qaeda” paradigm? In that event, human rights law, rather than the laws of war would be your guide. And human rights law prohibits arbitrary deprivation of the right to life. While the legality of lethal force is a closer question outside of armed conflict than in it, the totality of circumstances make it difficult to claim that the killing was arbitrary, even if bin Laden was not actively resisting or fleeing."


    "...military force against al-Qaeda was authorized by Congress in full view of the public. Neither is there anything to the notion that international law prohibited the killing bin Laden -- not only does the United Nations Charter recognize an inherent right to self-defense, U.N. Resolution 1368, passed shortly after the 9/11 attacks, explicitly supports "all necessary steps to respond to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001."[my bold - James] The Bush administration's definition of torture, by contrast, ignored domestic precedents and flouted international bans against torture to which the United States is a party.

    Furthermore, even putting aside the 9/11 attacks, bin Laden was the leader of an organization that was executing attacks on American troops in Afghanistan. To argue that he was not a legitimate military target based on that alone is to propose that American troops are prohibited from defending themselves from those who are attacking them in a war zone. One needn't believe that the powers of the AUMF extend to Mogadishu or Sanaa to recognize its legitimacy in the context of the raid in Abbottabad."

    Killing OBL Was Legal


    So the fundamental question comes down to whether or not you believe that a state can be at war with a non-state organisation.

    That forms the basis of my rebel/guerrilla question above.

    If the laws of war govern armed rebel, guerrilla, and/or separatist groups... if the laws of war govern cross border incursions by non-governmental armed groups in places like the Congo... then an armed incursion into the United States by al-Qaeda can constitute a conflict in which the laws of war govern.

  8. my last post was written and posted before seeing your last post

    i am interested in your earlier assertion that the FBI said in 2006 that it did not have enough evidence to indict bin Laden.

    i would like to see that - it would certainly alter my stance if he were not guilty. it is my understanding that he claimed responsibility for the attacks and that there is reasonable evidence.

    i will look for information regarding the culpability of Osama bin Laden

    please pass along any research you have


    yes - i missed the word "apparently" in your comment before blasting off


    i find the "celebration" of his death revolting

    it was - in my opinion - a necessary, though distasteful, deed - assuming he took responsibility for the attacks on the World Trade Center, as i believe he did (but will verify), and took responsibility for a number of other attacks

  9. not 2006: 2002: "In April 2002, the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, informed the press that after the most intensive investigation in history, the FBI could say no more than that it “believed” that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan, though implemented in the UAE and Germany. What they only believed in April 2002, they obviously didn’t know 8 months earlier, when Washington dismissed tentative offers by the Taliban (how serious, we do not know, because they were instantly dismissed) to extradite bin Laden if they were presented with evidence—which, as we soon learned, Washington didn’t have. Thus Obama was simply lying when he said, in his White House statement, that “we quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda.”"

  10. On June 5, 2006, the Muckraker Report contacted the FBI Headquarters, (202) 324-3000, to learn why Bin Laden’s Most Wanted poster did not indicate that Usama was also wanted in connection with 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.”

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13664.htm and many other sites...

  11. 2006: http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/16-no-hard-evidence-connecting-bin-laden-to-9-11/

  12. Great, duelling weblinks...As it is only sane to steer out of THAT spiral, suffice to say, 1. the events around 9/11 have never and probably will never become clear (c.f. Peter Dale Scott, THE ROAD TO 9/11 (Berkeley: 2007), and 2. my initial comment was spurred, as I noted, by the absence of any critical reflection on the event (not that the mandate of your blog calls for such), no doubt inspired, in turn, by my impatience with the video game that is passed off as information on current events...

  13. i'm cool with a "who the fuck knows?" finale to the situation surrounding the event of the world trade center

    i remain, for the time being, of the opinion that bin Laden's death is a positive thing. i will concede that there is legal ambiguity with regard to the expansion of the rules of war to non-governmental organisations

    where is a modern Jean Paul Sartre to write a compelling philosophical treatise to help us through handling the situation?


    i respect and understand and agree with (and personally have) a frothing at the mouth response to the ludicrous propaganda that passes for 24 hour information and news these days


    i'm also probably going to get stopped and rectally searched at the border consistently in the future because i said above that i understood and had some sympathy with people who would attack the U.S. because of U.S. imperial policy... but, hey - if your house has been bombed and your family and children killed by the U.S. invasion of your country (Iraq and Afghanistan for example), or U.S. support for dictators (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Panama, Haiti, Brasil, Argentina, Chili, Guatemala, Philippines, Dominican Republic, Iran... oh, the list goes on...) has caused your family to be arrested and tortured or killed, or if U.S. foreign policy and corporate responsibility policies allow U.S. companies to pollute the water you drink, the air you breathe, and the food you eat - why wouldn't you be more than a little pissed?

    (really mister rubber gloved border dude - i'm expressing understanding, empathy and sympathy, not participation in inappropriate acts... hey - a little more lube please!)


    all the above being said - i am also fascinated by the minutiae of how activities like the various invasions work. the details of how a raid like the one that got bin Laden is put together. the management details of how organised genocide could be conducted in the second world war. i'm a logistics and systems freak at the best of times.

    i need to understand how stuff works and how it is organised. i think about the implications and the morality, but at times divorce my consideration of those questions from understanding how things work.

    that is part of the reason that i write this blog. i have an understanding of the systems that are used in a variety of repressive and coercive regimes - including the ones that our own country is drifting toward. i would like to stop that drift.

    but at the same time, i remain fascinated by the details and logistics of those systems.


    i would also like to let readers of this minor flame war know that you and i have been friends for almost 33 years.

    Bryan, you are, and always will be, my friend.

  14. By the Pleiades, James, you're not about to die from Dilithium Crystal Radiation, are you? ( ;

  15. ;-P


    i also realised after the fact, that in my logical fallacies commentary i should have put in the following:

    Fallacy of Composition: "In the previous scene, Sir Bedevere makes a common logical fallacy. Even though the class of things that float includes a duck, all things that float are not ducks... these things things are not the same at all. They are different and can be plainly seen to be such. This is the beauty of logic - which makes sense. Unlike my wife, who, when she buys kippers on Tuesday, believes it will not rain, or, that i do not love her anymore. This she calls using her intuition... I call it CRAP, and it makes me very angry!"

    (or something like that...)

    so, being as i am not a duck, i am not celebrating - you see?


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