BY FRANK SALVATO – Osama bin Laden is dead, killed at the hands of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG), commonly known as “DEVGRU” and informally by its former name, SEAL Team Six. To be certain, justice has been served where Osama bin Laden is concerned. The murderer of the victims of September 11, 2001 – and myriad other innocent victims and military personnel – will stand in judgment for his actions, now answerable to a much higher authority. Make no mistake; this is a good thing, a very good thing. But it is a singular “thing” – a singular component in a much larger and more serious issue.
Pres. Obama took to the airwaves on May 2nd, shortly before midnight, and declared,
“Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaida, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children… at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”
Almost instantaneously FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, the entire compliment of the alphabet media, began televising the “spontaneous” gathering of what appeared to be college-aged young adults outside the White House and in New York’s Times Square. Chants of “USA!” could be heard amid the choruses of “Nah-nah-nah-nah, Hey-ey-ey, Goodbye.” It was celebratory; almost surreal; spectacle-like. Geraldo was a giddy as a school girl. Rush Limbaugh said of Geraldo’s emotional explosion that he thought it was the closest thing to an orgasm he has seen on television.
As instantaneously as the mainstream media started to exploit rightful jubilation, so too did a thought cross my mind about the scene playing out before me: How quickly would the Taliban, al Qaeda and other jihadist organizations exploit these images to incite the recruitment of another generation of militants?
Now, don’t get me wrong, each and every American – each and every freedom loving anti-terrorist on the face of the planet – has every right to be celebratory over the events that took place in Abbottabad, Pakistan, over the course of the early morning hours of May 2nd, 2011. But I do have an issue with the mainstream media airing prolonged video of the street celebrations, newsworthy or not.
While many on Facebook and the other social networking sites entered into obstinate discussions about not blaming the street celebrators or taking ideological stands about free speech rights, I couldn’t help but think that we, as a people, should have celebrated this moment with a reverence fit for honoring those who were slaughtered on September 11, 2001. I also couldn’t help but feel that the mainstream media editors and producers who chose to exploit the images of those revelers failed to use vision in their decision to do so. I couldn’t help but feel that their actions placed emotion over what may or may not be best for our US military men and women who remain in the field; who remain in harm’s way. The well-being and best interests of those people – the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines – who have boots on the ground, in harm’s way, need to take precedent over our need to celebrate a dead terrorist, scumbag, now made inconsequential from this point forward.
With regard to Pres. Obama’s speech announcing the “get,” I truly tried to give him the benefit of the doubt where all of his “I-Me-My” speech was concerned. As arrogant and egotistical as I find the man, he too had a right to be emotional about the events of the day. But I was taken aback by the fact that he never presented any credit to former President George W. Bush, not only for the policies he put in place over great condemnation from the Progressive and anti-war Left, but for repairing the damage done to the US intelligence community by the Clinton Administration in its move to replace human intelligence assets almost exclusively with technology.
Understand, it was the acquisition of intelligence through human assets that provided crucial information that allowed the “get” to even become reality. President Bush deserves a huge thank you from the American people for being steadfast in his dedication to fighting the war against Islamist aggression in the first place, not to mention the freedom initiative in the Middle East, the catalyst for what we are seeing today in the form of the “Arab Spring,” if only it weren’t being wasted for our lack of attention to educating the Arab street on the tenants of liberty.
I would add that Mr. Bush is perhaps also due a heartfelt apology from the total of those on the Left side of the aisle for the abuse he took at their political opportunism where the war against Islamist aggression is concerned. I won’t hold my breath.
During the early years of my tenure as a firefighter and paramedic, back in the days of my service as a paid-on-call firefighter – the status of most of the firefighters and EMS providers in the United States, I might add – we had a particularly active day; anything that could happen did: multiple calls, low staffing turnout, tornados, working fires. But, because our department invested in the proper training of its personnel – both full-time and paid-on-call – each and every member executed their duties according to design.
On that day, I and my partner were dispatched to what was reported as a chlorine leak at a residence. What presented was a worker who had made the mistake of cleaning out a winterized pool from inside using a broom and chlorine bleach. Chlorine being heavier than air, he was soon overcome by the fumes. With no engine companies immediately available, we called for a mutual aid engine, donned our MSA breathing apparatus, grabbed a backboard and removed the victim from the bottom of the empty pool.
As we were moving out of the pool a tornado passed over our heads, debris, including rocks and broken glass flying everywhere. We struggled but made it safely to the ambulance and transported the patient to the local hospital, who was reported in stable condition with a good prognosis upon our departure.
In the debriefing, which took place the next evening at our regularly scheduled full-compliment weekly drill, I and my partner were feeling pretty good about ourselves, having managed a fairly complicated call without any “full-timer” assistance. As the Training Officer and Shift Lieutenant took the podium, I learned one of the most important lessons – one of the most important character building lessons – of my life.
Just as we expected to have kudos rained upon us, the Shift Lieutenant ran down the after report and simply said, “Good job…of course, you just did the job you were trained to do; the job you signed-up for; you simply did your duty, but good job.”
I couldn’t help but hear the echo of my Shift Lieutenant’s words as I heard Pres. Obama deliver his “I-Me-My” speech during the bin Laden “get” announcement. Truth be told, Pres. Obama deserves very little credit for the May 2, 2011, termination of one of history’s most cretinous figures, but for his giving the order to execute the mission. In fact, if we understand that Pres. Obama swore an oath to honor, protect and defend the United States, its people and our Constitution, then it can be successfully argued that he was “simply doing his duty; simply doing his job.”
The people who did the hard work, the people who put themselves in harm’s way for our benefit and for the benefit of the free world – the human intelligence operatives and US Navy SEAL Team Six, people whose identities we will most likely will never come to know – they are the ones who deserve credit; who deserve our gratitude.
Let’s try and remember that when the politicians try to take credit for their bravery…after all, we should never let a good crisis go to waste, or, in this case, someone else’s bravery, courage and hard work, right Mr. Obama?