Emmett Tyrrell
WASHINGTON -- It seems to me that our government had vastly more intelligence on what was going on in Obama bin Laden's ghastly hideout before sending SEAL Team 6 in last week than they are telling us. President Barack Obama told CBS that the odds in favor of bin Laden being in the compound were "at best" 55 percent. My guess is that they were closer to 100 percent.

We know that from satellites overhead, our intelligence officers thought they had bin Laden spotted in the complex. A man that they concluded was bin Laden was seen pacing regularly inside the compound grounds. Called "The Pacer," he was tall, and they figured he might very well be the 6 foot 4 terror leader. So the order was sent to our SEAL team to go in.

Yet why did they need a second helicopter? They were only after one man. They could have popped him or snatched him and been off. The answer is obvious: They wanted to take his entire entourage with him and they knew who composed it.

Instead, after one of the choppers suffered some sort of difficulty, the SEAL team was left with just one chopper to take some two dozen warriors and the body out. So they left bin Laden's family for the Pakistanis to debrief. Now we shall be squabbling with this insufferable ally interminably over our lost baggage. The mission was a great success, but it was not perfect.

Today our intelligence community is dribbling out just the information it wants the world to know, and I am all for it. The amateur show we saw last week orchestrated by the White House was what one would expect from the presidency of a community organizer with almost no executive background. It was embarrassing, but now the professionals are back in charge. The revelations over the weekend are eerie but somehow satisfying.

The man who enlisted a team of terrorist agents to get on four commercial jets a decade ago and turn them into missiles, cruelly killing 3,000 people, lived his last days like a cult leader with a pretty mangy cult. He sat in robes and blankets peering at himself in an old television atop a broken-down piece of furniture. The audio was withheld by our intelligence people lest bin Laden get his message out to the outside world, but I do not think it would have raised his stature in the minds of most viewers, at least most civilized viewers.

It is said that he was a "hands on" leader even in the end. He sent his courier out -- we are led to believe he had only one -- periodically to deliver orders and home videos of himself groaning on. On the videos, he dyed his beard, for with time, it had whitened.


Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
 
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