The Corner


I’m sure in the coming weeks and months we’ll learn many more details than we have so far this morning — maybe even some footage from a helmet video camera — of how the attack in Abbottabad went down, but one big thing that comes to mind right away is that the whole matter was successfully kept secret for the last few months. There were no leaks, and, apparently, no suspicions raised by U.S. intelligence assets as they closed in on Bin Laden on the ground, for surely there had to be some eyeball human surveillance on the compound. The CIA receives a lot of deserved criticism for its problems and weaknesses, but today it deserves a hearty shout out from everyone. (To which may be added the Obama administration did not repeat the mistake Clinton’s people made in 1998 of informing the Pakistanis ahead of time of what was about to go down.)

Two other things also come to mind. Apparently some of the intelligence came from detainees at Gitmo. That will be inconvenient for the Gitmo Gnashers. Second, the detail about the one helicopter that was damaged and had to be destroyed summons a flashback to Desert One in 1980, but this time the story has a different ending. Of course the operational circumstances are vastly different than that fateful April day in Iran 31 years ago (we were able to fly in from nearby Afghanistan), but it is also surely true that we’ve vastly improved our operational capabilities since then, so a hearty hat tip and back slap to our uniformed services too.

Now on to Qaddafi.

Steven F. Hayward is a visiting professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a fellow of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. He writes daily at

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