Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Remember Osama Bin Laden?

As the 112th Congress convenes in Washington D.C. in January it will consider a number of issues. Among them will be a defense budget of $720 billion plus and a total intelligence budget of a similar amount (the total intelligence budget is classified). The defense budget is greater than the defense budget of the next ten nations in the world combined. Historically, there are few first order questions asked by the members of the house and senate armed services committees or the press regarding those budgets and the pentagon, the defense contractors, and lobbyists usually get what they want absent the first order questions.

Although I would not consider it a first order question, one question that has not been raised recently in a rigorous manner is “Why have you failed to kill or capture Osama Bin Laden? “ The man is 6’6” tall, his photo is splashed around the world, he is on kidney dialysis, there is a reward of $27 million for his capture, and he sends out videos periodically taunting us. How can a “defense/intelligence” establishment explain this failure and what does it tell us about the effectiveness of this establishment after ten years and the level of support other governments in the “war on terror.”

To this point, talking heads at the Pentagon and CIA have recently told us that Bin Laden’s elimination is not important in the “war on terror.” But rest assured of this, if he is killed or captured, these same talking heads will tout it as one of the great national security accomplishments of our time and perhaps roll out a large “Mission Accomplished” banner. In the meantime it’s not important, just keep writing all the checks.


  1. Once again, deviant behavior has been normalized.

  2. General,
    Very thought-provoking. I would venture to say that U.S. intelligence's explanation of intentions or deviations to the general public would be a greater failure than the perceived failure in regards with Osama. I have often pondered the cost associated with continued pursuit for a man whose death or capture may solidify a martyr status as opposed to allowing the icon to show his own mortality as time erodes his station. One might ask, have we not subdued him from further devastating action? Was this not one of the primary ends associated with his death or capture? Would it be wise from U.S. intelligence to explain that they have failed at any time or with any operation outside the hallowed halls?

    The economic feasibility of such resolution may have been decided years ago reflecting the thought that he is worth the time, but he specifically is no longer worth the money. Sadly, regardless of the unknown U.S. strategic intentions, it is most likely that banners would be rolled out as you stated to validate the time, human life and money expended so far.

    Thanks for the memory blogger.