Thursday, May 05, 2011

Time for honest introspection

We have celebrated the news of the death of Osama bin Ladin - a man who masterminded the killing of 3,000 innocent Americans, and would liked to have killed far more - and our politicians have basked in the glow of success. The spies who found him, the soldiers who confronted him, and the commanders who organized and approved it all should be lauded.

But it is also time to be honest with ourselves. We must admit the discovery of Public Enemy Number One shows our intelligence capabilities in the Arab world are still inadequate. It has been 10 years since 9/11, and we have now learned that OBL spent six years in the compound where we was ultimately found and killed. Let me repeat that: SIX YEARS. And during all of that time, our best intelligence was that he was living in a cave along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, probably constantly in motion. Instead, he was in a secure mansion, surrounded by family, living comfortably with all of the advantages of a modern life except telephone and internet.

After 9/11/2001, we learned that our intelligence services were hampered by an over-reliance on technology over human assets. We loved our gadgets and our gizmos, but hate doing the hard work of building relationships and developing allies. This discovery appears to indicate that nothing has changed in that vein. OBL understood this weakness and exploited it, by keeping gadgets far away. In the end, he fell because of human intelligence - his courier.

Soon, when all of the ceremonies are done and the medals have been awarded, we need to sit down and take a long, hard look at ourselves. Has anything really improved since 9/11/2001 in the areas of developing human assets in the Arab world by our intelligence agencies? (I doubt it.) Or does this great victory show an even greater weakness, that another enemy can exploit?


BH said...

This is the kind of incompetence that should bust all of the conspiracy theorists. If we can't even catch someone being sought by the entire power of the US military and all it's allies (minus Pakistan), how could we orchestrate some of the outlandish conspiracies that are being espoused?

CRCHAIR said...

I agree with BH. But as Rudy Giuliani said on the radio this week. These conspiracy theorists have no interest in the truth. Even if they had been brought Bin Ladon's body they would have come up with a theory like "That is just some other middle easterner with plastic surgery."

Elvia Chalmers/Dickerson-Summiel said...

I feel we need to rethink our entire defense mentality, but to say that is to be deemed a heretic. We spend fortunes on outmoded resources and we are unwilling to do the hard cutting of things we are emotionally tied to. Listening to the planning sessions and the inter agency communication that went into this endeavor, we may be headed in a new direction.

I don't have answers but I feel we need a fresh look at this thing. I believe we found him because there is fresh thinking at the top now. There is thinking, not just reacting, but that takes time and if you take your time and reflect, you get criticized for not moving fast enough.

We have so many antiquated ways of doing things, even the way congress functions. We have modern communication systems that could be used to effectively exercise state views without all of the fat cats sitting around in Washington. When they need to gather we have efficient means of transportation to allow them to quickly assemble. Imagine the money we could save if they remained closer to home where we could communicate with them routinely, look them in the face :-) Many more town hall meetings, then we could truly have representative government, not big interest government.

CRCHAIR said...

I agree that we need to rethink the way we do things. I think one good thing that has come out with this all is that no one important seems to be criticizing the President for waiting and preparing before going in to get OBL. The Seals practiced at least twice that we know of before the real thing.

I think the main attitude adjustment that we need to have is to no longer cling to the thought "Well if we give up now we are dishonoring the memories of those who died in (insert cause/war here)." We honor fallen American soldiers by doing what is best for the country that they loved. Sometimes, that includes reevaluating what is in our national interest or even admitting that we can make mistakes.