Last Sunday's complex and highly successful operation validates Ronald Reagan's maxim for terrorists after U.S. Navy SEALs captured the murderous hijackers of the Achille Lauro in October 1985: "You can run, but you can't hide." Afterward, one of the participants penned a corollary: "Don't bother to run -- you will only die tired."
Those axioms were validated again last Sunday by a 24-man Navy SEAL task force and aircrews from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment -- the "Nightstalkers" -- when they took out the world's most wanted terrorist.
These "Operators" -- part of the same "Tier One" Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) unit the Reagan administration employed in Grenada in 1983, and two years later during the Achille Lauro hijacking, are now the focus of public acclaim and controversy thanks to the O-Team's insatiable thirst for public approval.
President Barack Obama's surprise announcement at 11:35 p.m. Sunday night, "The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden," has generated well-deserved accolades for those who planned and executed the mission. Unfortunately, it has also prompted extraordinary criticism, speculation and damaging revelations about operational capabilities that ought to remain classified at best or uncertain at least.
Within hours of Obama's announcement, unnamed administration officials were providing what turned out to be conflicting details on what transpired in Abbottabad. This transparent attempt to show how closely the White House "supervised" the operation only served to stimulate a tsunami of controversy and obscure the extraordinary courage and skill with which the raid was carried out.
The O-Team should have known the so-called mainstream media's quest to find fault with the U.S. military would not be placated by the narrative they had released. The potentates of the press demand to know:
"Did the SEALs 'botch' the destruction of a damaged MH-60 helicopter" at the compound?
"Was there a 40-minute firefight with the SEALs or not?"
"Did the president personally order bin Laden killed?"
"Why the haste to give this murderous terror leader a Muslim burial at sea?"
"Why not release photos of the dead terror kingpin?"
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.