In this case, the mortem is literal.
One aspect of the raid that killed bin Laden that hasn’t yet attracted much attention is the retrieval of computers and other materials that could have intelligence value from the compound where he lived. Reportedly, the SEALs’ raid took around 40 minutes. From what we know about how such teams operate, my guess is that only the first few minutes, at most, were required to kill or disable the compound’s defenders. (It is still unclear–to me, anyway–how many defenders there were. We have heard about bin Laden, his son, the courier and his brother. One would assume that more al Qaeda members were present as guards, but I’ve seen nothing about this.) The bulk of the 40 minutes was probably spent searching the compound. The New York Post reports:
Along with bin Laden’s body, electronics and hard drives were seized by U.S. forces following the firefight on Sunday afternoon. The information has started to arrive at the CIA’s Virginia headquarters….
The officials described the cache as a “volume of materials” that will be “exploited and analyzed” at CIA headquarters.
There has been a great deal of speculation about the relationship between bin Laden and Pakistan’s intelligence service and military. The fact that bin Laden’s hideaway was located in plain sight, around one-half mile from the Pakistani Army’s officer training academy is suspicious, to say the least. Perhaps the captured materials will shed light on that subject.
One fun aspect of the raid is the spotlight that is being shone on SEAL Team 6. In addition to the account we linked earlier today, ABC News has a good story:
As of 2009, there were 2,500 active duty SEALs. With the expanding war on terror and missions in 30 countries, the Navy needs more, but finding young men who can meet the SEALs’ standards is a challenge.
“We are not looking for cocky kids,” said Senior Chief Hans Garcia, a SEAL recruiter. “The perfect person would be a candidate who is remarkably physically fit, but is pretty humble, an analytical thinker, a problem solver — someone who is very value-oriented, patriotic, puts service above self.”
At The Corner, Peter Kirsanow adds:
Dick Couch, former SEAL and honorman of his BUD/S class, says there’s no way to predict at the outset who will survive the rigorous training and eventually become a SEAL. One common quality among those who do: They never quit unless killed.
Couch says there’s also no foolproof way of predicting who will drop out of SEAL training, but notes that in his experience the best predictor is, for some reason, the presence of tattoos on the candidate.
I think I will send that comment to my daughters. Kirsanow concludes:
Best place to spot a Navy SEAL? Any pick-up bar in America on Friday night. At least 80 percent of the male patrons claim to be either active or former SEALs.
Maybe I’ll mention that to my daughters, too.
There has been quite a lot of chatter about those in the Muslim world who are peddling various conspiracy theories and questioning whether bin Laden is actually dead. Many have suggested that the government will soon release photographs and videos of bin Laden’s body in order to quell such speculation. Perhaps that is a good idea, but I am not convinced.
It will become obvious over time that we got bin Laden. His eternal silence will be the definitive evidence, along with al Qaeda and other radical groups hailing him as a martyr. Time is on our side, and why would it help us to credit the suspicions of the ignorant by offering them further proof? I think we would do well to let matters lie. In particular, I hope we do not release the video that reportedly shows our soldiers or sailors treating bin Laden’s body with some kind of Muslim respect on board an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea. It is better for all to imagine that we merely fed him to the fishes.
UPDATE: Michael Ramirez comments; click to enlarge: