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Tilting at Windmills

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May 1, 2011

U.S. FORCES KILL OSAMA BIN LADEN.... Nearly 10 years after the terrorism of Sept. 11, the man responsible for orchestrating the attack has been killed.

In just a few moments, President Obama will announce that Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces. More soon.

First Update: On March 13, 2002, George W. Bush said of bin Laden, "I truly am not that concerned about him." I get the feeling this evening that much of the country never really bought into this attitude, and feel a great sense of satisfaction now that the monster is dead.

Second Update: In October 2008, during the second presidential debate, Obama declared, "We will kill Bin Laden." Promises made...

Third Update: Watch President Obama's remarks live. (I've swapped out the live feed for a full clip of the president's speech.)

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Fourth Update: The president's remarks included some surprise details. He noted, for example, that he directed the CIA, shortly after taking office in 2009, "to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority." It was, in other words, a shift from the previous administration.

Obama also explained the speed with which these developments occurred. U.S. officials had a lead, and POTUS determined just last week that "we had enough intelligence to take action." At the president's direction, U.S. forces "launched a targeted operation" in Pakistan today, and "after a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden." No Americans were harmed in the operation.

"Justice," the president said, "has been done."

Fifth Update: It appears a huge, celebratory crowd has gathered spontaneously outside the White House. The Washington Post has a live feed, but the video quality isn't great.

Sixth Update: Did Bush really deliver the "Mission Accomplished" speech eight years ago today? Actually, yes, he did.

Seventh Update: George W. Bush issued a statement this evening. An excerpt: "Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda network that attacked America on September 11, 2001. I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. They have our everlasting gratitude."

Eighth Update: The jubilation in Lower Manhattan is pretty extraordinary, too.

Steve Benen 10:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (59)

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Comments

Fox News talking points: of course, Obama couldn't claim this victory if Bush hadn't laid the groundwork for him by ignoring that PDB back in August, 2001. And why did it take him more than two years?

Posted by: hells littlest angel on May 1, 2011 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe he really WAS doing a daily show on C-Span!

Good show, President Obama, good show.

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on May 1, 2011 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

I can't wait to see how Fox spins this story.

Posted by: fostert on May 1, 2011 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure Trump is proud and will take credit somehow.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on May 1, 2011 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

We don't know the timeline (some speculation this news is days old), but kudos to the White House and military keeping this secret for whatever period they did.

Posted by: hopeless pedant on May 1, 2011 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

At least til tomorrow, let's not worry about political discussions around this great news. A monster who killed almost 3000 of our brothers and sisters, Christians, Muslims, and atheists, Republicans, Democrats, and independents, is now dead, killed by the US in retaliation for his monstrous crimes. It's a moment of justice long, long overdue.

Let's just be glad this bastard is dead. And we'll worry about the politics later.

Posted by: Chris on May 1, 2011 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

How convenient. BHO should be made to produce Bin Laden's death certificate before we take this at face valuee

Posted by: Al on May 1, 2011 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

Great, Binladens dead now get back to our next president Mr. TRUMPS apprentice show, way more interesting!

Posted by: zhazha on May 1, 2011 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

"This" to Chris's comments above.

Tonight is a night for grim satisfaction and relief.

Posted by: Chet on May 1, 2011 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

So, I guess National Codpiece Day takes on a new meaning/

Posted by: martin on May 1, 2011 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

and it only took 10 years! in other news, the zodiac killer is still at large...

Posted by: skippy on May 1, 2011 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

I get the feeling this evening that much of the country never really bought into this attitude, and feel a great sense of satisfaction now that the monster is dead.

You got that right. Watch the Dow go up 500 points tomorrow.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on May 1, 2011 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Bleh. I never have considered anyone's death to be a good thing, and hopefully I never will. I don't care who we're talking about, celebrating killing someone feels ghoulish.

Posted by: ShadeTail on May 1, 2011 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

Trump is now demanding the long form death certificate.

Posted by: Eeyore on May 1, 2011 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

On May 1, 2003 - eight years ago to the day - Bush gave his "Mission Accomplished" speech.

Perhaps these guys are savier than I give them credit for.

Posted by: Memekiller on May 1, 2011 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

Until I see the long-form death certificate, I won't believe it!

Besides, where are Biggie and Tupac? HMMMMMM?

Posted by: Bokonon on May 1, 2011 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. I read some of the comments on yahoo's link to the story. The conservatives are having an epic meltdown. We're in for some histrionics, to say the least.

Posted by: SaintZak on May 1, 2011 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

I saw those comments too on Yahoo too, and they really take me aback. Whoa ... guys!

For these self-claimed conservatives to stage a meltdown in this situation is pretty telling. This is a victory for the nation ... and some cold revenge for 9/11. And what do these nutcases focus on?

They freak out and start trash talking and throwing punches and breaking the furniture.

Even allowing for the usual GOP sockpuppets who post on Yahoo to spin the news, this is pretty gross.

Posted by: Bokonon on May 1, 2011 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

At least til tomorrow, let's not worry about political discussions around this great news. A monster who killed almost 3000 of our brothers and sisters...

To begin with, bin Laden was responsible for far more than 3000 deaths. Secondly, it took mature leadership to accomplish this task, and it should certainly boost Obama's electoral outlook.

The contrast between those Democrats chose to lead and those Republicans choose couldn't be more stark.

Posted by: doubtful on May 1, 2011 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

Well, that didn't take long: a Facebook friend claiming this as a victory for Bush.

Posted by: Margaret on May 1, 2011 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

And what sort of retribution will we be facing? There's always blowback from actions like this. Somewhere in the world, a terrorist has just decided to prove bin Laden's death will not go unavenged. Yes, I'm relieved bin Laden is dead but what happens next?

Posted by: Athena on May 1, 2011 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting omissions -- he specifically didn't say there were no civilian casualties, suggesting that noncombatants may have been killed (possibly bin Laden's family). Not surprising, given UBL's stated desire to take everyone around him down if he were threatened (according to open sources, he used to set up landmines around his campsite every night while traveling in AF), but likely to be an Islamist talking point if true. Also, it certainly sounded like this wasn't a joint US-PK operation, and that PK may not have known what was happening until this evening. UBL's sordid saga may be done, but I fear that things are going to start hotting up in response....

Posted by: twb on May 2, 2011 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

Your "facebook friend" is stupid. bush didn't even care about bin laden and he gets credit for nothing.

Posted by: Cha on May 2, 2011 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

There are Facebook friends of mine angry that Obama supposedly took "full credit" for this. I've watched the speech twice now, and I'm baffled. I'm not sure how the president mentioning his duties as CINC (the orders he gave), the tip they received in August, and the chain of events leading up to the body recovery is taking full credit. Oh, he also thanked the forces involved in this operation (he mentioned (twice) their professionalism, capability, and courage. He thanked the Pakistanis for the intelligence that led to this. He also stated that it was a testament to our greatness and determination and that we could do anything we set our mind to. I guess all of that qualifies as "taking full credit" in the mind of a GOPer.

Posted by: Ben on May 2, 2011 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

"After a firefight" they killed bin Laden. Other reports said he was shot in the head. Sounds like they caught him and executed him on the spot.

Posted by: Kansachusetts on May 2, 2011 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

It's wonderful to see the crowds gathering, cheering and waving the flag. Its a good day to celebrate, regardless of one's politics.

Posted by: jcricket on May 2, 2011 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder how much sooner this might have happened if we hadn't invaded Iraq.

Posted by: beep52 on May 2, 2011 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

Donald Trump has offered to sponsor Obama for a green card in recognition of this signal achievement.

Posted by: jonas on May 2, 2011 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

The Yahoo News story generated over 20,000 comments in half an hour.

Posted by: cld on May 2, 2011 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

Well, maybe one hour.

Posted by: cld on May 2, 2011 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

"Bleh. I never have considered anyone's death to be a good thing, and hopefully I never will. I don't care who we're talking about, celebrating killing someone feels ghoulish."

Amen, I feel like some kind of alien at times like this. I wish they'd brought him alive to face trial.

Posted by: Boronx on May 2, 2011 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

I was hoping that the Pres. would end the speech by putting on his shades like Horatio Caine and leaving to the strains of Issac Hayes.

Posted by: hornblower on May 2, 2011 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

Where is Richard Clarke? I truly what to hear his insight!!!

Posted by: ecthompson md on May 2, 2011 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

Wasn't there some nonsense during the debates about how Obama would need permission to execute this strategy? Memory is hazy on this one.

Posted by: budpaul on May 2, 2011 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

In this case, Obama's "Yes We Can" was right on the money. This is an outstanding achievement no matter where you stand.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on May 2, 2011 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

@ecthompson

Richard Clarke was actually on one of the networks before the speech and pressed the fact that this outcome was directly enabled by Obama's policy - laid out during the campaign, and controversial at the time - of reserving the right to intervene in Pakistan if there were actionable inttelligence on a high value target.

Hm whatever did McCain and his surrogates say about that, can't recall...

Posted by: Danny on May 2, 2011 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

"I wonder how much sooner this might have happened if we hadn't invaded Iraq."

Amen.

Posted by: goterpsgo on May 2, 2011 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

"I get the feeling this evening that much of the country never really bought into this attitude, and feel a great sense of satisfaction now that the monster is dead."

You're right about that and that's why people are celebrating. And that's why it's time to come home because you can kill the man who was responsible for 9-11, but kill a tactic anymore than you can kill drug use or poverty or obesity or conserve energy by simply declaring a state or war.

He's dead. It's over. We've won. It's time to come home.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on May 2, 2011 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

"I get the feeling this evening that much of the country never really bought into this attitude, and feel a great sense of satisfaction now that the monster is dead."

You're right about that and that's why people are celebrating. And that's why it's time to come home because you can kill the man who was responsible for 9-11, but you can't kill a tactic anymore than you can kill drug use or poverty or obesity or conserve energy by simply declaring a state or war.

He's dead. It's over. We've won. It's time to come home.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on May 2, 2011 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

The Pakistanis were shocked, SHOCKED, to learn that he was living in a mansion in Islamabad.


Posted by: Joe Friday on May 2, 2011 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

Official responses, including that of "President" McCain.
http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/02/after-killing-of-bin-laden-reaction-pours-in/?hp

Posted by: exlibra on May 2, 2011 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, you left out the most loathsome part of Bush's loathsome comments regarding Osama bin Laden. After saying in a interview that "I truly am not that concerned about him," Bush then went on in one of the 2004 Presidential debates to deny that he'd ever said that, even though it was on tape! And no one in our useless prostitute media said boo about his obvious lie, opting instead to flip the hell out because Kerry dared to mention that Mary "I've been an out lesbian for ten years" Cheney was gay.

Posted by: Citizen Alan on May 2, 2011 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

My Dear President Obama,

As you sat yesterday evening in the midst of one of the biggest racist, white trash pieces of garbage in our Nation, YOU, OUR PRESIDENT, was leading the endeavor to bring to justice Osama bin Laden. Period. Done. Greatest President of All times - in EVERY WAY.

The incessant stupidity of the PL/frustrati/firebaggers and their teabagger buddies. The endless carping from the corporatist right wing media. The unrelenting insults from the Tavis and Cornell show. On and on and on and this man, this wonderful citizen of the world, this enormously empathetic human being, has been truly caring for each of us every single day.

Thank you President Obama. You deserve another four years. You deserve to be with us, guiding us, and the world for decades to come because YOU HAVE EARNED IT every step of the way along the totally unique, only in America, journey you have traveled.

I love you - what more can I say.

Posted by: Bobfr on May 2, 2011 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

I haven't heard anyone say, this will improve situation X, or this will advance objective Y. Has anyone else? Is anyone willing to assert something like that?

Posted by: Michael Griffin on May 2, 2011 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

Steady on bobfr hes still a schill for corporate interests;=)
Re the comments on the nytimes caucus blog thingy, interesting that only Boehner with his tortuous thanks to President Obama AND Bush is openly not able to enjoy the moment! But how some of the others must be retching on their disappointment!

Posted by: Chris on May 2, 2011 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

My wife saw this on TV as it was breaking and told me. My first thought was that I really didn't know if this was good or bad. Al Qaeda may have become so diffuse and decentralized that bin Laden probably wasn't really doing much anyhow, just acting as a figurehead. Now he has become a martyr.

On the other hand, he may still have been an important source of inspiration and planning that now is gone, forcing al Qaeda into just a bunch of little organizations unable to launch anything serious. If so, then this is a blow to al Qaeda, and I hope that they lose their morale because of it.

Probably the best result would have been to take him alive, put him through a public trial, and then sentence him to life, no parole, in a cell next to the Unabomber.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on May 2, 2011 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

Texas Aggie there's a lot of people worried about "retaliation", but I don't think it's realistic. It was the neocon's strategy to build up Osama's image as some kind of super-terrorist, because they needed to put a face on that "War on Terror" crap. Those miserable bastards then used that to justify obscenities like the Patriot Act and Guantanamo Bay.

I believe Osama bin Laden was more like Che Guevara . . . a charismatic leader for sure, but no evil mastermind, and now just a face on a t-shirt.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on May 2, 2011 at 2:50 AM | PERMALINK

Remembering past facial substitutions (e.g. the fat video imposter, the CIA mockup using a Spanish politician's face), perhaps we should closely compare the corpse's face to the genuine Osama bin Laden.

There's an overall general resemblance, yes -- but do they have the same right eyebrow? detailed outline of beard on cheek? size and shape of nose and ear? The corpse seems younger than the several-years-old photo of Osama -- as though it were only a son of his.

Posted by: Pyre on May 2, 2011 at 3:55 AM | PERMALINK

^ "I can't wait to see how Fox spins this story."

(fx: Roger Ailes thought process)

WHERE'S MULLAH OMAR?

Posted by: FX Leeson on May 2, 2011 at 4:00 AM | PERMALINK

That image going around - first shown in Pakistan and now making its way around the globe - purported to be a dead Bin Laden is an obvious photoshop. Don't know who released it or for what purpose, but MSNBC has proof of tampering.

http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/05/02/6568249-we-think-that-bin-laden-death-photo-is-a-fake

Posted by: Dr. Geek on May 2, 2011 at 5:12 AM | PERMALINK

Bin Laden still out there was like a chronic wound - no matter how good or bad everything else is the ulcer and pain are always in there as a reminder you're not well.

The concept of "closure" may be overused; however, I don't think we could get past 9/11 (not over it - but past it) until he was gone. Moreover, whether or not our "job" was done in Afghanistan I'm not sure anyone would feel right leaving until Bin Laden was dead.

Time to look to the future.

Posted by: Bob on May 2, 2011 at 6:06 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if President Obama called George W Bush personally to tell him...

Posted by: bob on May 2, 2011 at 6:07 AM | PERMALINK

I really hope they took some DNA and lots of photos because it's only a matter of minutes before the tea smokin' Birther, Truther, tinfoil hat crowd starts to question if it really happened.....

Posted by: Bob on May 2, 2011 at 6:36 AM | PERMALINK

It will take no more than three days for Fox News to start promoting the new Elvis story -- Bin Laden lives!

Posted by: John B. on May 2, 2011 at 6:38 AM | PERMALINK

Finally a propaganda coup for Obama. Finally the dim-Dems have played a trump card and wiped all the Trump birther nonsense out of the headlines. And revealing the 'great' news on the 8th anniversary of the "Mission Accomplished" theater is absolutely inspired. One has to wonder if Karl Rove is moonlighting for the Democrats.

But where are the images? When Hussein was captured from his hole in the ground we got pictures, presumably authentic ones. Don't we need authentic pictures of OBL's corpse as well?

Don't mean to spoil everyone's party, but verification is necessary.

Posted by: rrk1 on May 2, 2011 at 7:17 AM | PERMALINK

Those SEALs better have brought a camera, because I'm 100% certain people will be calling for a visual ID of the corpse. I'm 99% sure the Obama administration wouldn't have made the announcement without it, but it has to be said.

I also share the sentiment with some of the other posters that it feels creepy to see so many people openly celebrate a person's death, even if it was a monster like OBL.

And there's the inevitable repercussions from OBL's martyrdom. We need to use the occasion to initiate a different approach towards the Middle East.

Posted by: bdop4 on May 2, 2011 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

DNA confirmed. Agree about the celebrations. Be happy he's gone, yes, but chanting "USA!" and singing "We are the champions"? Tasteless. This isn't the Olympics, it's deadly serious business.

Posted by: Hannah on May 2, 2011 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Democracy Now did a pretty spectacular show on all this this morning, talking to national security reporter Jeremy Scahill, former intelligence officers Joshua Foust and Matthew Hoh, and leading Pakistani figure Tariq Ali, among others. A lot of great info and context here: http://www.democracynow.org/shows/2011/5/2


Posted by: Walter Glass on May 2, 2011 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

DNA supposedly confirmed, take our word for it -- but the broadcast photo has been exposed as a photoshop, and the body has already been dumped in the North Arabian Sea, so there will never be any forensic confirmation, isn't that tidy...

Posted by: Pyre on May 2, 2011 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK
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