How time flies. On Friday, May 1, 2011, then-President Barack Obama surprised the world with the news that U.S. forces had stormed a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, found al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and shot him dead.
The operation, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, was carried out in a CIA-led operation with Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) coordinating the Special Mission Units involved in the raid. In addition to SEAL Team Six, participating units included the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne)—also known as "Night Stalkers"—and operators from the CIA's Special Activities Division.
In addition to bin Laden, three other men and a woman were killed as well: bin Laden's adult son Khalid, bin Laden's courier Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, al-Kuwaiti's brother Abrar, and Abrar's wife Bushra. Documents seized at the compound after the raid have a bit of eerie relevance for today and the upcoming presidential race.
The documents first leaked in 2012 by The Washington Post,
Describe how bin Laden wanted to assassinate then-President Obama so that the "totally unprepared" Joe Biden would take over as president and plunge the United States "into a crisis."
In addition to Obama, bin Laden was hoping to take out General David Petraeus as well. “The reason for concentrating on them is that Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make [Vice President] Biden take over the presidency," bin Laden wrote to a top deputy. "Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis. As for Petraeus, he is the man of the hour ... and killing him would alter the war's path" in Afghanistan.
Obviously, bin Laden’s plan never got past the doodle on a napkin phase. Many will argue today as to whether Biden is at all prepared or capable to take on the post of president. But at the time, he was unsure whether eliminating bin Laden was such a good idea.
Fox News reports, Biden has sent mixed signals on his role in bin Laden's death, as explained at length in a timeline by The Washington Examiner's Jerry Dunleavy. In late April 2011, Obama gathered together a team that included Biden before making a final decision on whether to strike at bin Laden's suspected compound. In January 2012, Biden revealed he had opposed the raid, and claimed that “every single person in that room hedged their bet” except for CIA Director Leon Panetta, who supported striking the compound. However, in 2015 Biden revised his memory and said he’d told Obama he "should go." Except that Obama himself verified Biden's opposition to the plan, saying to Mitt Romney in a 2012 presidential debate, “Even some in my own party, including my current vice president, had the same critique as you did."
Remember the “good old days” when it seemed like the biggest threat our nation faced was “just” a terror attack? When in the face of such an existential threat, President Bush urged Americans “to go about their lives, to fly on airplanes, to travel, to go to work.”
Sigh. Yep, those were the days.
But one thing that hasn’t changed is the heroism of our U.S. military and special operators, who willingly put themselves in harm’s way to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.