It took a decade for the most sophisticated intelligence network in the world to locate bin Laden. For 10 years, he hoodwinked the CIA, the FBI, and 16 US intelligence agencies, along with the intelligence operations of NATO, the National Security Council, the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. At bin Laden’s direction, a few Saudi Arabians with box cutters started this whole nightmare by following his plan to compromise the country’s entire national security system and commit the murder of thousands of innocent Americans.
Why did it take ten years to find the world’s top assassin? As we have just found out, he was not living in an isolated Afghanistan cave, but in a million dollar hideout just a stones throw from the Pakistani Military Academy. He was protected by eighteen foot high walls and a ream of security guards. Numerous military personal lived in the neighborhood. Didn’t anyone wonder who was living behind these high walls? Or did they know?
The state department is requesting $3 billion this year for Pakistan. The U.S. has already spent 10 years and billions of dollars chasing Osama bin Laden around the world, only to find him hiding in plain sight, right next door to a country it has invaded. And for most of this time, bin Laden has been hanging out less than 40 miles from Islamabad, Pakistan’s capitol city in an affluent suburban neighborhood with manicured lawns. What does this say about our capability to keep our own citizens safe?
A strong case can be made that no other single human being, either directly or indirectly, has inflicted the huge fiscal damage that was caused by Osama bin Laden. The attack of 9/11 all but shut down the American economy for days, and then caused a sluggishness that went on for months. Many Americans stopped flying, causing congress to enact a $15 billion federal bailout. And how about the new security requirements that were instituted? Annual costs have been pegged at more than $8 billion.
Because of bin Laden’s provocation, America launched wars initially in Iraq, and then in Afghanistan.
The estimated amount in United States dollars spent by the US on its military operations in Iraq to date is $787 billion. The estimated amount, in United States dollars, spent by the US on its military operations in Afghanistan to date is $400 billion. And we continue to spend $2 billion dollars a week in Afghanistan alone.
Who knows the final cost? It will certainly end up being in the trillions. Throw in escalating oil prices, which sky rocketed after we invaded Iraq, the rebuilding at the Twin Towers site, and the repair of The Pentagon, the price of damages and health care for the thousands of 9/11 victims... the costs just go on and on.
And wasn’t that the whole reason for the 9/11 attacks? To drain the U.S. dry financially? Bin Laden pulled the same stunt fighting the Russians in Afghanistan when he was a leader in the resistance. He knew full well the lesson that superpowers fail because of economic collapse, not because of military defeat. As Russia’s economy went stagnant, bin Laden boasted: “We bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt. We broke them as they tied to conquer a mass of rocks and sand.” He said the same thing about America in 2004, asserting that he was “continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.”
It’s puzzling how much damage bin Laden was able to do with so few resources. In 1996, after being exiled from both Saudi Arabia and Sudan, this calculating Arab declares war on America. At the time, he was broke with no significant followers, no political party and no movement. But he painted a scenario of a “cosmic struggle” by Muslims against the infidels in the West. Plain and simple – it was them against us, portrayed in religious tones, that this was the will of Allah.
The human suffering inflicted by this one murderous thug has been enormous. Tens of thousands of American soldiers have been killed, or maimed and psychologically scarred for life. All told, hundreds of thousands of innocent lives including the lives of thousands of innocent Muslims have been lost directly or indirectly because of Osama bin Laden.
Even though he is dead, Osama bin Laden will be a continuing presence in our daily lives. He will be there when you take off your shoes and submit to invasive searches at airports. His affect will be felt when you stand in long lines at public events while security guards search bags and purses. And he can be credited with dramatically curtailing your basic freedoms as an American citizen.
As Brian Doherty writes in the American Conservative: Thanks to the “massive security apparatus erected after 9/11, the government now wiretaps telephone calls without warrants, creates profiles of citizens even if they’re not suspected of specific crimes, and seizes information without judicial oversight.” Yes, he has but a chill on the basic American freedoms that we so dearly covet.
Some semblance of justice may have been served for the many who died in the terrible wave of violence that began on 9/11. Unfortunately, the injustice for the living will continue at home and abroad for many years to come.
“We love death. The U.S. loves life. That is the difference between us two.”
Osama bin Laden
Peace and Justice.
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers and websites throughout the South. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.