Politics: May 2011 Archives

Porn King of Abbottabad

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Some asked me when I might follow up on my song "Osama Bin Laden, You Ruined My Birthday" (for which I won a coveted Schrammie award). Then, driving into work last week, hearing news about the porn cache Bin Laden had in his compound, it struck me that he probably used his terrorist information network to make some extra money on the side and became the number one provider of porn to the Greater Abbottabad region of Pakistan.

Up in north Hazara
Was a man who was wanted by the feds
By the feds
He killed thousands of people
They say, because he was a holy man
A moral man

But you have to pay the bills somehow
The rent won't pay itself, so now
He gets what people want
He gets what people need

He's the Porn King of Abbottabad
He's the Porn King of Abbottabad
He's the Porn King of Abbottabad

In the back you'll find the good stuff
Big hits like "The Beauty and The Whore
... of Lahore"
If you don't have the rupees
We can probably work out a deal
What a deal

You can do a job for me
Strap on this vest and count to three
I hope you watched the film
No more chance to watch the film

Even the most devout sheikhs
Need to indulge now and then
Now and then
A man can't be expected to
Look at the same six women all his life
What's left of his life

You'll find out what it means to me
When I play this movie
And pretend that I am holy

What Tough Decision?

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I keep hearing that President Obama made a tough decision somewhere in the process of giving an order to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden. What was that tough decision, and why was it tough?

Let's first set aside the utter nonsense of the idea that this reflects on Obama's ability to get things done, as opposed to Bush. It's stupid and no one of moderate intelligence cares. The only thing Obama did that might possibly have had a significant effect on the process -- setting aside the "torture" issue -- is making Leon Panetta the CIA Director, and there's really been no indication that made a significant difference.

Similarly, as to torture: we cannot know, with any level of certainty, whether we'd have been better off -- in terms of intelligence, American deaths, or anything else -- with more torture, or with less. If you think you know, you're wrong. Let's set this aside, too.

So, as to Obama's tough decision, let's first identify Obama's main goals -- in descending order of importance -- going into his decisions, which I presume will be uncontroversial: he wanted to get Bin Laden (dead or alive); if Bin Laden is killed, he wanted verification (i.e., a body); he wanted direct access to any intelligence Bin Laden had.

Let's also identify some the relevant factors involved: we were uncertain if Bin Laden was actually there; and Pakistan -- to be brief, and polite -- is a delicate diplomatic situation for us.

Let's add in the fact that Obama said that he would not resist going in to Pakistan to get Bin Laden (or other high-value terrorist targets), if Pakistan didn't do the job.

This all adds up to a no-brainer to me. We have reasonable suspicion he's there, we can't trust Pakistan to get him (we can't even trust Pakistan to not warn him), we don't want to bomb him (so we can verify his body and gather the intelligence). Where's the tough part of this decision?

Obama and others have characterized the chance that Bin Laden was there as 50-50 or 55-45, apparently as an attempt to imply that this was a tough decision: but I'd say we should go in if there's merely a five percent chance: our intelligence points to the strong liklihood that even if Bin Laden isn't there, someone or something important to Al Qaeda or its allies is there. Where's the tough part of this decision?

They've also pointed out that if we're wrong, there could be significant repercussions. True, but those pale in comparison to the chance that we pass on this opportunity. Can you imagine if we said, "yeah, there was only a 50-50 chance, so we didn't want to risk it," and then an attack was launched and people died and we could've gotten the intelligence to stop that attack if we'd gone in, because we didn't want blowback from the ISI, which has been working against us for years anyway?

Again: I see no tough decision here. Do you? If so, what decision, and how was it tough? Please explain it to me, because I can't see any part of this decision that was, in the least bit, difficult.

(P.S. Last week I said the killing of Bin Laden didn't really change anything, and that's right; however, since then, we've found out more details about the intelligence gathered from the raid, and that could end up being a huge win.)

Q: Was Osama Bin Laden really killed Sunday?
A: Yes.

Q: Wait, didn't you say it was last week?
A: I originally used an AP report that it was last week. I can't find a retraction of the report, but it's not been repeated anywhere since, so I'm going with Sunday.

Q: Are we certain it's him?
A: The U.S. government seems certain, and they likely have good reason to be. It causes me to ask two questions though: how did they verify his identity so quickly (well under 24 hours), and will they release evidence to others to verify for themselves that Bin Laden is really dead? The White House asserted they used DNA evidence; in a separate AP report, John Brennan recognized the concern and said they plan on sharing evidence "to make sure that nobody has any basis to try to deny that we got Osama bin Laden."

Q: Great! So ... are we leaving Afghanistan now?
A: Of course not. We are not in Afghanistan to get Bin Laden (except for the relatively small group that's been dedicated to finding him), but to help bring the nation under control. Whether you think that's a good, or even realistic, goal, it's had almost nothing to do with Bin Laden (except that his actions served as the catalyst, of couse). Remember, Bin Laden went to Afghanistan in the first place because that's where the fighting was: they were fighting before he got there and they won't stop until long after he's gone.

Q: Well, at least he's dead. So ... we should celebrate, yeah? We've been hunting him for almost ten years!
A: If you like. But actually, we've been hunting him for more than ten years, since Clinton was in office and Bin Laden attacked the USS Cole.

Q: Oh, I forgot about that.
A: Most people seem to.

Q: You don't sound too excited. Again: we've been hunting for him for a long time.
A: That's not a question.

Q: *rolls eyes* OK, fine: why don't you sound very excited?
A: I normally don't.

Q: I expected you might in this case. Er ... but why don't you sound excited in this particular case? He killed lots of people, we've been hunting him for more than ten years, and we finally got him.
A: I am a strong believer in justice, but I don't take joy in it. It's just something that happens in response to something else, not a cause for celebration, from where I sit. At best, I feel relief in knowing he can't harm others in the future, and I'm not even sure how much of a danger he remained to us. I've wondered for the better part of the last ten years -- about nine of them -- whether hunting him was worth the resources, when we'd basically cut him off from being effective anyway.

Q: Umm ... really?
A: Pretty much, yes. I'm satisfied that justice has been served, but I am unsure if it was worth the cost, and even if it was, I'd take no joy in it. Sorry to be a downer. Make no mistake, I prefer him dead or incarcerated, and I believe the world is likely much better off for it, all other things considered equal.

Q: OK, well, putting yourself in the shoes of normal people, don't we have cause to at least give huge credit to President Obama? MSNBC said this will be one of the most significant achievements of his presidency.
A: None of us know much of what happened, but from what we know so far, if this is one of the most significant achievements of his presidency -- saying "yes, please kill this bad guy you found" -- that's pretty sad. From all appearances he didn't do anything that Bush, McCain, Cheney, Biden, etc. wouldn't have done. I'm not trying to take anything away from Obama here; I just don't see how this reflects well on him, when it's something almost anyone -- including me, and probably you -- would have done too.

Q: OK, but if Bush had caught Osama, you'd be saying how it reflected on what a great leader he was, right?
A: You're new here, aren't you? I tend to not give credit to anyone, including people I like -- and I am not a huge Bush fan -- unless they really did something to deserve it. Doing your job competently doesn't win you extra points with me. Bluntly put, saying Obama did something great here isn't much less of a stretch than saying he did something to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.

<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from May 2011.

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