What is there to say about this? I find it hard to cheer for the death of any human being, particularly, and I don't believe that the death of any single man will change or even seriously alter the problems that America faces in the world. Yet the announcement that's expected in the next few moments, that Osama Bin Laden has been killed, is certainly a benchmark. It is, I suppose, a sign of victory.
Anyone out there watching this as well? I'm interested to see what you're thinking. I'll be updating at Open Salon and and over at my website (http://kepkanation) more frequently. (You can log in there using Facebook or make an account).
All times Pacific Time, because I'm Pacific Time, you nutters.
My old breaking-news friend, Kathy Riordan, is also live-blogging this on Open Salon.
8:26. David Gregory on NBC mentions that Osama Bin Laden "changed America." Well, his actions certainly did. And his death in 2001 might have changed the world -- changed the world back? What is it we expect of this?
Brian Williams said "This is truly a moment people will remember where they were, when they heard Osama Bin Laden is dead." Huh. My own perception of what kind of symbol he is to America may be skewed.
8:30. We're watching NBC. There's a foreign correspondent talking and he sounds like a hysterical William H. Macy. Oh, the little moments of levity.
Nanatehay makes a good point: this is a powerful symbolic victory, and symbols are incredibly important. However, part of this symbolic victory must be that it took America -- global powerhouse, wounded, righteous beast -- nearly 10 years to find and kill the man. It's a troubling bit of symbolism for those concerned with American decline.
Summary: We are not Rome.
Looks like the President is about to go live soon. Everyone has the link, yes?
8:35. President is speaking. He has a look that I would have been turned off by were it Bush -- a near smirk. It's sinking into something more serious as he talks about 9/11 and its consequences.
"Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us." I'm wondering if he might soon also add in those who have died in Afghanistan.
We're remembering 9/11 as a terrible day but one that brought us all together and made us one nation, indivisible? I'm not sure where this is going.
Today he ordered the operation? Wow, this is sudden. Also -- the president specifically ordering the execution is an interesting admission/claim/etc.
8:40. First mention of President Bush, I think.
"His demise should be celebrated by all who believe in peace." Sigh. My Mennonite relatives will not agree.
"The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores... We know well the costs of wars. yet as a country we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our citizens have been killed." Ah, just kidding, we are Rome.
"Justice has been done." Well, there's the line that will be on the top of every newspaper tomorrow morning.
"Today's achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country... we are reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to." This is ringing all of the wrong bells for me. America can kill anyone we want to?
8:45. Well, that was it. I'm still processing, but my initial thoughts are not extremely positive about the speech. Don't confuse this with my thoughts about the action which, though still muddled, are somewhat clearer.
8:49: New York Times:
The death of Mr. Bin Laden is a huge punctuation in the American-led war on terrorism. What remains to be seen is whether the death of the leader of Al Qaeda galvanizes his followers by turning him into a martyr, or whether it serves as a turning of the page in the war in Afghanistan and gives further impetus to the Obama administration to bring American troops home.
NBC is reporting George W. Bush has released a statement congratulating the President and the armed forces.
9:00. I'm reading the various lead stories in the online papers. The Washington Post has the weirdest lede by far:
Osama bin Laden, the glowering mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed thousands of Americans, was killed in an operation led by the United States, President Barack Obama said Sunday
A small team of Americans carried out the attack and took custody of bin Laden’s remains, the president said in a dramatic late-night statement at the White House.
FOX is still reporting that Bin Laden was killed a week ago. Were they not watching the speech?
Usama bin Laden is dead, putting an end to the worldwide manhunt that began nearly a decade ago on Sept. 11, 2001. The architect of the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil was killed a week ago inside Pakistan by a U.S. bomb.
Also: I notice Leon Panetta got a name-check in the speech; I believe he was the only other official besides Bush to be named. Not at all trying to remind everyone that he's just wisely appointed that guy to be the new SecDef, is he, perhaps?
NBC is saying that the Pakistanis gave the U.S. a tip in August about where bin Laden was hiding; the order to pursue was given in February, after it had been determined this was a solid lead. That... seems like a long stretch of time, but I also imagine that it will be neatly compressed into the dramatic Oliver Stone movie sure to be on tap.
The operation was carried out in the early morning hours of Pakistan -- I'm curious about the timing. Does this mean it was going on during the White House Correspondents' Dinner? The juxtaposition is somehow spectacularly American.
9:15. I live in one of the most hippie-laden towns in the hippiest side of America, and there are fireworks going off outside. Fireworks.
9:21. Hysterical William H. Macy on MSNBC is saying that the U.S. took helicopters into the capital city in Pakistan, and that one of them crash-landed into the compound in an affluent suburb. Really? Oh, wait, they're saying 35 miles north of the capital, so that's OK.
Except no. It sounds like the Hyannis Port of Pakistan. Uhhhh... how does the United States relationship with Pakistan not go sharply downward after this?
I am told reliably that Hysterical William H. Macy is Jim
ZaroliMiklezeski(?). But I'm sticking with Hysterical WHM.
9:36. Official statement from Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York City. It's three paragraphs long; here's the middle, strongest paragraph:
The killing of Osama bin Laden does not lessen the suffering that New Yorkers and Americans experienced at his hands, but it is a critically important victory for our nation - and a tribute to the millions of men and women in our armed forces and elsewhere who have fought so hard for our nation.
9:44. Trash at the compound was burned, it had interior and exterior walls and extraordinary security, and the final order was given on Friday, Andrea Mitchell is saying on MSNBC. Obama spoke with GWBush and Bill Clinton this evening before his speech. Pakistani intelligence was not consulted or alerted. I suspect tomorrow will be a tricky day for Secretary Clinton.
9:55. Hysterical William H. Macy has now reported that U.S. officials are saying that leaks within the Pakistani government had endangered/ruined earlier operations and this is why they didn't let ISI know about this raid. That's a very direct accusation. Interesting.
Value of the property in Pakistan: Over $1 million. Seven-foot privacy walls? That's some cave, dude.
10:01. Brian Williams is now speculating -- one might even say "hopefully" -- that "gruesome" pictures of bin Laden's dead body might be released to the media to "prove to a skeptical world" that he is actually dead.
10:25. Taking a break for a bit. I put some thoughts in order in a less immediate piece (still pretty immediate, though). Going to poke around a bit and see what others are doing/saying/thinking.
What a way to start a week!
11:20. Just noticed TPM has Former President Clinton's statement up. No word on whether it, too, was posted to Facebook. (Really, W?)
11:25. And yes, this does seem to be most major news outlets' chosen headline:
11:40. Here's what I'm struck by, over and over and over again, as I read the spontaneous reactions online. Here's one from the New York Times:
I am 22, and for over 9 years we have been at war trying to catch this one guy. We've been trying to catch him for almost half of my entire life. It certainly is a momentous event.
Though America has moved into new territory in the types of war we wage, the view of war, that it's a clash of leaders and the civilizations they rule, hasn't changed. Brian Williams referred over and over again to VJ Day. This is not the same thing. Osama bin Laden didn't rule a country. He doesn't have a nation. He barely has a people. He was a symbol of a movement of evil intention, not someone whose defeat spelled the end of a regime. Just as he is not a traditional leader, so to our expectations that this spells an end should not follow convention.
When you declare war against terror, you can't celebrate the end of a single warrior as though it means the end of the idea.