Monday, May 02, 2011

how I would have done it

It looks like Osama bin Laden is dead; killed by an American military assassination squad. People are cheering Obama as the great hero who made this happen, but it looks like a major goof to me.

Here is how you run an operation like that.

Phase 1 at 0 - 12 hours, General Alert: put all of your intelligence and counter-terrorism operations on high alert. If you have been thinking about bugging any terrorist telephones, now is the time to do it.

Phase 2 at 0 hour, Ground Mission: The Seals land, grab Osama and anything that looks intelligence-worthy, then beat feet. They work as quickly and quietly as possible with silenced or suppressed weapons. They are wearing and carrying nothing but generic equipment so there is nothing that would identify them as American in case any witnesses survive Phase 3.

Phase 3 at approx. 0 + 1 hour, Create Confusion: As soon as the Seals are out of the blast zone, hit the site with a huge bomb or two. Maybe cruise missiles.

Phase 4 at approx 0 + 1 hour, Interrogation: begin waterboarding the hell out of Osama until he gives up everything he knows. Have the intelligence teams that were standing by begin analyzing all of the security information, tracking down the numbers in his cell phone, everything.

Phase 5 at 0 + 4 hours, Foster Confusion: Have a general get on TV and announce that a few hours ago, US forces bombed a site in Pakistan where we believe Osama was hiding.

Phase 6 at 0 + 5 hours. Sell the Confusion: Publicly and formally demand that the Pakistani government give us access to the site to look for Osama's remains.

Phase 7 (time depends on prisoner cooperation and investigative success), Double Scoop: have all of those counter-terrorism units that were standing by act on the intelligence information that they got from Osama to capture more terrorists.

Phase 8 at 0 + 3 days, Mess With Heads: Announce that Osama was actually captured alive and has been cooperating with terrorism investigators. Announce that we are about to start rounding up terrorists all over the world (note that phase 7 has already completed, though). Listen to phone traffic to find out who is scared about this announcement.

OK, confession time: I'm not exactly a counter-terrorism expert. But doesn't the above make sense? Why in the world would you give up the chance at a major intelligence coup like that? Is Obama just worried that he won't know what to do with an Osama prisoner now that he has worked so hard to delegitimize the tools of hard interrogation, military detention and military trials?