U.S. moves to throw net over Osama... a little late ?

CNN - High Tech Surveillance

They make it sound like they weren't even searching properly for Osama bin Laden... which is probably true. The effort in Iraq was taking too many resources to search for ObL. Now that the election is anything but won they have to get ObL before November ?
Or between now and November ?  Wasn't ObL a top priority in 2001 ?

It’s never too late if the result is good or, as Don Quixote said: All’s Well That Ends Well.

Of course not. Everyone knows we invaded Afghanistan in order to secure the burkha market for Halliburton.

In a vain attempt to keep this thread out of tin foil hat territory, let me add a few facts. I just heard an interview with the Washington Times pentagon correspondent who said that he heard that the reason for the stepped up emphasis on OBL recently was because the military had started to receive better intelligence about where OBL is and that because of the two attempts on Musharraff’s life the Pakistanis have assigned a very high priority to the hunt for Al Queda and OBL in particular. In the article the OP linked to all of the technology mentioned seems to indicate the military has an idea as to the area he is in and that he may be on the move soon.

An interesting facet of this question is how will the (American) public perceive things if Osama bin Laden is, indeed, captured before the November elections.

Will Joe Q. Voter say “Yay! Bush caught Osama! Re-election time!”?
Or will Joe Q. Voter say, “Why did we dick around in Iraq when we could have caught him in 2002, then?”

I’d think that an “October surprise” would come across as very blatant propaganda/manipulation, and I don’t know if the electorate likes to think of itself as pawns to the government. What are the chances that capturing Osama would cause “blowback” (heh) on the Administration?

Sure they are too late. If they had put an extra thousand troops on the Afghan/Pakistan border last year, we might have broken part of the nextwork that killed hundreds a few days ago. Now they have new leaders and supply lines, and Osama is barely worth capturing.

Osama caught very soon: Bad for Bush’s campaign. US public forgets about it and votes according to pocketbook issues. Bush is incredibly weak on the economy.

Osama caught in October: Bush is re-elected.

As with everything else, the reaction to OBL’s eventual capture or death will be viewed through the prism of individual ideology.

No matter when it happens, those on the left will say it didn’t happen fast enough. If it’s close to the election, the conspiracy theories will come out. “Bush knew where he was all along and just waited until October!” “OBL has been on ice for weeks/months and Bush waited until now to show him off!”

A few months ago, it was “Where are Saddam and Osama? See?! Bush is a failure.”

Now it’s “Where’s Osama?” See?! Bush is a failure.

After OBL has been dealt with, it will be “It took too long! See?! Bush is a failure.”

I think the trouble has been that, short of putting 100,000 soldiers on the streets of every village in the mountains, the best way so far to find Osama has been intelligence and relying on snitches. I don’t think the key to a long life as a tribal chief in Pakistan/Afghanistan is to enable the Americans to arrest the head of Al Qaeda, even if you think secretly he’s an un-Islamic thug. And such efforts are by their very nature, I would think, quiet, understated, secretive, unphotogenic, and therefore boring to the press, which is why people might think we’ve slacked off in the hunt. I’m not saying I know this to be true, just that it seems plausible to me.

Now that it’s kicking into higher profile, we might see more of it (literally). But appearance of activty /= productive activity.

The key thing going on now, as puddleglum pointed out, is better cooperation from Pakistan. You can certainly argue that we could’ve done a better job at Tora Bora (Tora, Tora, Bora :slight_smile: ), but once ObL (allegedly) fled to Pakistan, we had our hands tied.

I expect we’ll get him before the election. Yeah, Bush might take some political heat from the partisans, but Kerry will have just as much vulnerability. If he even hints that it was politically motivated, he’ll be hung out to dry.

Let’s see here: the US has had about 8,000 to 10,000 troops in Iraq for roughly two years now. We have known for a long time that significant remnants of Al Qaeda, if not UBL himself, took to the hills on the Afghan-Pakistani border. And yet, there have been “only” 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan for all that time.

Meanwhile, during that same period, the White House dedicated 300,000 troops to invade Iraq, and is keeping 110,000 or so there to… uh, catch someone who murdered thousands of innocents in New York and Washington? No, wait, that’s not the guy, not the right country… Oh yeah, we’re keeping troops there because we broke Iraq, now we’ve bought it.

I’m no military strategist, but I just fail to see why we have dedicated one-tenth the troops to secure a country from which the 9-11 attacks were plotted, while dedicating hundreds of thousands to another country that the Administration has consistently maintained was not an imminent threat.

I hope UBL is caught. The sooner the better. But I really don’t understand this Administration’s priorities.

I get the distinct impression that, aside from the screw-up near Tora Bora, this was not the sort of operation where thousands of American or other Western troops would have done much good, due to cultural and geographic barriers. So the hundred thousand soldiers were better deployed in Iraq to meet the Administration’s goals. The populace was/is determined to hide Osama and the only way to find him by force was to commit human rights violations on the scale of the Russians in Chechnya IMO.

I suspect this may not be one of my more popular opinions, but…

Catching or killing ObL may very well do more harm than good.

It appears that a deal has been struck. (See the New Yorker article by Seymour Hersh for more detail, here: http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?040308fa_fact). Pakistan’s Musharaff has apparently decided to risk civil war with the Islamic radicals of his country by cooperating with the Great Satan. Mr. Hersh suggests that this is the price he has to pay for America going easy on him for turning Pakistan into a cash and carry nuke store.

And if he loses? A nuclear armed Islamic fundamentalist state. Right now, not some years in the future. An outcome that we clearly cannot accept, at any price. So what then? A massive military intervention by the US becomes pretty much unavoidable. Even if we count the cost in lives and treasure as “acceptable”, it will be huge.

And the aftermath? After the Great Satan invades another Islamic nation? Of course, we are not at war with Islam, I know that and you know that. But that’s what they will believe. Whatever Islamic voices of reason yet remain will be drowned out, if not assassinated.

To put it mildly, the risks are enormous. And for what? One man. Admittedly, one detestable and vile man, but still, just one. Will Al Queda collapse, and all our Islamic enemies simply disappear? Why would we believe so? Isn’t it far more likely that the martyrdom of ObL plays right into his hands? Sure, they won’t have his money. So what, they can’t get more?

Contain him. Neutralize him, keep gnawing away at this network and its funding. If years go by, and ObL is rendered an impotent fanatic hiding in the boondocks, that is the most desirable outcome possible. Any other course of action may offer the transitory and empty joy of vengeance, but the risks are enormous, and unacceptable. Perhaps not to ourselves, if we are very lucky indeed, but to untold thousands of innocents.

How many lives are we willing to risk just to kill one man?

I’ve been thinking the same thing for the last few months to be honest.

This seems like a perfectly reasonable and good strategy to me. Contain him and marginalize him and his organization. Unfortunately, I seriously doubt that any administration, be it Bush, Kerry or Mickey Mouse, would ever adopt it…its simply not flashy enough, and doesn’t convey the “We are doing something about this: Your Administration at work!” to the American public, unfortunately. And lets be honest…there is a rather large segment of the American public that WANTS to see something tangable being done…and the politicians, reguardless of which stripe are going to pander to that, reguardless of the costs.


[JC Superstar]
Because, because, because of one man
Blood and destruction because of one man

[/JC Superstar]

Now that I’ve got that going through your heads, I’ll third 'luci’s suggestion that the quiet ‘contain and chip away’ (caca, if you’re looking for a great acronym :D) approach is probably the best approach to ObL and al-Qaeda.

I think the American public would be happy to see the guys in charge credibly announce that we’re doing well enough to lower the alert status to blue or green, and get down off this supposed war footing.

I think another Administration would be willing to get back to everyday business, but this President’s main hope of re-election lies in wrapping himself in 9/11 and the War on Terror.

Sadly, rjung, I think you are overestimating the average U.S. voter.

Study: Wrong impressions helped support Iraq war

And The impact of Bush linking 9/11 and Iraq

This survey puts the number even higher:

A USA Today poll puts it even higher still:

Also, I don’t have the book with me, but I remember Al Franken points out that a very surprising number of Americans thought that the 9/11 hijackers were from Iraq.

I question whether the majority of voters are able to distinguish the truth from political machinations, and whether they would react to Osama being captured right before the election in anything other than an emotional way.

And I’m sure the Dems will agree never to use the “He couldn’t capture bin Laden” campaign tactic, either. Right? :slight_smile:

We really don’t know how much collateral damage will be incurred in the latest push, if any will be at all. But you can bet he won’t be captured alive.

While I agree that the best overall strategy might be the caca strategy, it’s just not politically feasible.

  1. As the OP posits, indeed, the recently publicized push to capture bin Laden is late in coming. The invasion of Afghanistan was accomplished with extraordinary international unanimity. In the immediate post-9/11 environment, the U.S. had more than enough global goodwill and political capital to overthrow the Taliban and still solicit active support from Pakistan. It is only because all that momentum was squandered on Iraq and the preemption doctrine that the U.S. now finds itself in need of a political “stick” to hold over Musharraf’s head. We’re frankly pretty fortunate that Pakistan’s illicit nuclear secrets were uncovered, otherwise we would be receiving little more than window-dressing support from the Pakistani military and government. That said, Hersch (and ‘luci) is right - Musharraf is in a politically untenable position if he provides too much material support for the U.S. He’s already on the hard-liners’ hot seat for trying to forge peace w/ India, and kowtowing to the Great Satan would send him into the abyss.

  2. If bin Laden is captured prior to November 2004, election '04 is over. The average voting American will see it as full circle from 9/11/01 to 11/2/04, and the general perception will be a real “Mission Accomplished”. While an early capture of ObL means voters will shift emphasis from terror fears to economic worries, the “credit” Dubya will earn from “winning” the War on Terror will be more than enough to overcome questionable domestic policies. While a late (like, oh, say, November 1?!) capture of ObL will justifiably be questioned as suspiciously timely, it will still provide a sufficient electoral pop to keep Dubya in office.

  3. In conclusion, IMO any capture of ObL, regardless of the fact there are serious geopolitical hazards, will resonate sufficiently on a domestic scale to guarantee a second Dubya term. Which will have catastrophic effects for the United States, both domestically and internationally. U.S. stature abroad will continue to decline, we will continue pouring money down the Iraq sinkhole, a radical right social agenda will send the Great Society back to the heady days of wealthy white corporate supremacy, and average schmucks like you and me will continue to be alienated from the processes of democracy that the Founders instituted.

The good news is, Dubya II would be such a cluster-fuck as to assure a Democratic (or perhaps even 3rd party) presidential victory in 2008. The bad news is that perhaps only Lincoln or FDR will have faced a worse crisis upon entering office. Buckle up kiddies - if it comes to pass, it really will be that bad.

Well, we’ve got 15,000+ dead in Iraq, all for one scraggy-bearded guy, so there’s an answer for ya. :rolleyes: Though I’m sure you mean “we” in the metaphoric sense, since I know you and me aren’t in favor of turning Pakistan into the third notch on George W. Bush’s belt.

Unfortunately, I think you’re right. I find myself channelling Bob Dole lately: “Where’s the outrage?”

The bad news is, if Bush is re-elected, the odds are only 50-50 that there will even be a United States Presidential Election in 2008…

Mehitabel mentioned, it’s not so much the the raw number of troops as it is what kinds of troops.

It seems that specialists who handle electronic surveilance, satellite imagery, translations, and such are the ones that would have the greatest likelihood of being shifted from the battle with al Qaeda in Afghanistan to the war with Hussein in Iraq.