Another chronicle of Operation NEPTUNE’S SPEAR, the May 2011 Abbottabad raid that took down Usama bin Laden. In this case, the author is Mark Bowden, once of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who, at least in some people’s minds, has significant credibility in writing about special operations because of his prior works, “Blackhawk Down” and “Killing Pablo.” That said, I think Bowden may have gone further than justified in articulating certain conclusions and characterizations of the raiding force as they applied to actions on the objective.
Vanity Fair. November 2012, Pg. 144
President Obama saw it as a ’50–50′ proposition. Admiral Bill McRaven, mission commander, knew something would go wrong. So how did the raid that killed bin Laden get green-lighted? In an adaptation from his new book, Mark Bowden weaves together accounts from Obama and top decision-makers for the full story behind the daring operation.
Phi Beta Iota: Rule 1 in national security is “Lie to the President if you can get away with it. (Morton Halperin, Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy, 2nd Edition (Brookings, 2006). This excellent article avoids addressing all of the suspicions that this was a CIA covert operation designed to close out a CIA legend in a politically-useful way. Most interesting about the article are the discussion of how ineffective aviation would be (“the air force calculated that to do the job right would mean dropping upwards of 30 precision bombs, or launching a comparable number of missile”), the alleged confirmation of a CIA safehouse with “eyes on” but no ability to launch a micro-drone to capture Bin Laden in full face, or launch a six man team with silencers, and the glossing over of DNA realities (72 hours in a fully-furnished lab doing nothing else–the body was allegedly dumped into the sea within 24 hours). Until proven otherwise, most international observers believe that this was yet another fake Bin Laden, a patsy, and that both the President and the Joint Special Operations Group (JSOG) were lied to by CIA. The dog and handler are suspect — the mission was supposed to be snatch and grab (as briefed to most) or kill and grab (as briefed to the lead shooter).