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Live-Blogging: The Arc Of Justice

2.45 am. We leave you now until the morning. I urge you to view the video above. In our exhilaration and relief that this mass murderer has been brought to justice, we need to remember tonight the atrocity he committed, his victims, and those who loved them.

I pray tonight for the souls of the departed who died that awful day, and all their family members and friends. I pray for the souls of those great Americans who resisted on Flight 93. I pray for all those who have died in the two wars that followed this atrocity. As a Christian, I am also required to pray for the soul of Osama bin Laden. Yes, even him. And, although we should remain vigilant against Jihadist terrorism, we should take the good advice of Winston Churchill:

“In war, resolution; in defeat, defiance; in victory, magnanimity”

And, yes, I am happy to use the word "victory". Not a final victory against Jihadist terrorists. But a victory against this one, the man who set off a decade of war and chaos, the symbol of them all. We need apologize not a wit for the joy we feel. Not joy at vengeance; nor joy at death. Just joy at justice. Immense and profound joy.

2.41 am. Tyler Cowen's instant response:

My quick take is that that Obama will be re-elected (getting Osama is way more important than Iraq or Saddam in the American mind, attacks on American soil, etc.), at this point the Republicans won’t try to beat him from the center and will thus nominate a more extreme candidate and lose badly, and the most important effects will be on Pakistan, not this country.

2.40 am. Waiting for confirmation that this picture is not fake.

2.30 am. Will the Afghan war now be impossible to continue, given the public's reaction? Weigel:

[P]ublic support for further action in Afghanistan is going to erode, quickly. ... in a lot of minds, "win the war" [in Afghanistan] meant catching bin Laden. For many Americans, the death of bin Laden will have ended the war, and I don't see where the enthusiasm comes from for any further commitment to the country as the surge ends.

2.29 am. Quote for the Day II

"Now, normally, I would not comment on something like this, because, obviously, there's a lot of stuff swirling in the press at any given day and, you know, I've got other things to do," - president Obama last week.

2.30 am. Obama warned Osama:


2.20 am. Fallows assesses the speech:

To his further shrewdness and credit, he invoked his predecessor by name when mentioning one of George W. Bush's bravest and most important statements: "As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam. I've made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam."

2.15 am. We had almost given up:

Last time CNN polled Americans about bin Laden in Sept, two-thirds didn't think the terrorist mastermind would be captured or killed.

2.11 am. He told us:

Remember that small fight in the campaign?

2.10 am. The Bin Laden rally:

U.S. stock-index futures and Asian shares jumped, while crude oil fell from a 31-month high and the yen weakened after President Barack Obama said Osama bin Laden is dead. Silver tumbled as much as 13 percent. Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.5 percent as of 1:24 p.m. in Tokyo, indicating U.S. shares may extend a four-day rally when markets open later today.

2.08 am Face of the Day:


2.05 am. Three amazing words: No American Casualties. Fuck Yeah!

2.03 am. More on the 'splaining theme, especially as we are now hearing that Pakistani soldiers were not involved in the raid (but this is unconfirmed). Goldblog ponders the Pakistan ISI angle:

So let's get this straight: Osama bin Laden was living in a mansion in Abbotabad, a fair-sized city not far from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. How long was he there? How could it be that the ISI, which has the country wired, did not know he was practically next door? For all we know at this point, the ISI was directly involved in fingering Bin Laden. But there are an extraordinary number of questions that need to be answered.

2 am. Lawrence Wright:

Democracy and civil society are the cure for the chronic misery of Muslim countries that has fed the rise of Islamic extremism. The death of the most notorious terrorist the world has ever seen, whose mission was to create a clash of civilizations, will allow the door to open more widely to the tolerance, modernism, and pragmatism that is so badly needed and so long awaited in a part of the world where despair, corruption, brutality, and fanaticism have laid waste to so many generations.

1.59 am. Tweets of the day from Sohabi Sothar in Abbottabad:

Interesting rumors in the otherwise uneventful Abbottabad air today

Report from a taxi driver: The army has cordoned off the crash area and is conducting door-to-door search in the surrounding

1.53 am. The religious and moral dilemma tonight, brilliantly expressed by Russell Arben Fox:

The moral plane of the universe is not somehow improved by the killing of a man. “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he is overthrown”–the author of Proverbs had it right. I believe all that ... but I still think he deserved it.

Couldn't put it better myself.

1.52 am. Ross:

They’ve taught us that whatever blunders we make (and we have made many), however many advantages we squander (and there has been much squandering), and whatever quagmires we find ourselves lured into, our civilization is not fundamentally threatened by the utopian fantasy politics embodied by groups like Al Qaeda, or the mix of thugs, fools and pseudointellectuals who rally around their banner.

They can strike us, they can wound us, they can kill us. They can goad us into tactical errors and strategic blunders. But they are not, and never will be, an existential threat.


1.50 am.


1.48 am. Palin - surprise! - doesn't mention the president in her message:

Thank you, American men and women in uniform. You are America's finest and we are all so proud. Thank you for fighting against terrorism.

Every other candidate who has issued a statement by now at least mention the president.

1.45 am. Pakistan has a lot of  'splaining to do. Really, this $1 million McMansion - eight times as big as its neighbors -  in a vacation resort cannot have been unnoticed by the Pakistani intelligence services. If they've known about this for years and milked their ally for money while harboring the mass murderer of thousands of Americans and others, well, this could become a huge source of popular rage for Americans, however hard the elites want to use this leverage against Pakistan on pragmatic grounds.

1.43 am. Moore Award nominee:

So many awful things have happened in the battles to find this man, so many awful things have been “justified” in the name of responding to his attacks, that killing him won’t fix a damn thing.  There is no justice here.  He started it, but our leaders have continued it, and it will not stop.

1.40 am. The NYT has its obit up. It's seven pages long.

1.30 am. It's going to be extremely hard for the far right to Carterize Obama now. He's instantly the un-Carter, reversing the botched operation of so many years ago as America faced some of its first sparks in the war against Islamist Jihadism.

And the steadiness under pressure, well, let's just say: The cat is cool. The poker face of the man has for the last few weeks been pretty damn impressive. Just because he's calm doesn't mean he isn't lethal. And imagine what must have beengoing through his mind as he was getting closer and closer to this just as Donald Trump was doing performance art with a birth certificate.

1.22 am. Yes, this could be a pivot for an exit:

At first blush, if US national security required a massive military presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan last week then it still requires one this week whether or not bin Laden is dead. Then again, my inclination would have been to say last week that such a presence wasn’t actually required. And obtaining a major symbolic/emotional victory, combined with the winds of political change sweeping across the Arab world, might provide an opportune movement to reorient our posture.

But don't count on it.

1.21 am. A trip down memory lane:

Obviously, Obama took a different view, not that Bush's reminder of the wider network doesn't remain salient.

1.20 am. Jon Dukakis Chait's Kaus-like prediction:

Obama can add this to his list of accomplishments, but it's hard to see it moving voters.

1.14 am. Possible Limbaugh spin tomorrow: "Well, Obama pals around with terrorists. So maybe that's how he found him."

1.13 am. "I feel as if we have won the war," - a firefighter on CNN. This is VE Day.

1.12 am. Isn't it wonderful that Osama was killed in a mansion - not a cave, but in a grand mansion in the heart of Pakistan. That should help rob him of allure for the Muslim poor and help present him as he was for so long, a rich plutocrat who became engrossed in a violent perversion of Islam and killed thousands. And he died in splendor, with an American bullet in his head.

1 am. "This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done," - statement from president George W Bush.

This seems to me to be a moment to think of president Bush. Yes, I had profound issues with him on any number of policies. But I never doubted his sincerity in trying to fight terrorism. And I don't think there should be a scintilla of partisanship in this. If this reflects very well on Obama, that is not a victory for any party, but for America.

12.55 am. "[I]f we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act, and we will take them out. We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority," - Barack Obama, 2008.

12.50 am. The eighth anniversary of "Mission Accomplished." To the day. The 66th anniversary of the anouncement of the death of Adolph Hitler. To the day.

12.45 am. A reader writes:

I find myself torn morally. I am against capital punishment. Against torture. Against war except for self-defense. Yet I feel nothing but happiness that Bin Laden is dead.

12.42 am. Von Hoffmann Award Nominee:

Carter blew it with Iran, encouraging the Iranian armed forces to stay in their barracks, while Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's radical Islamists (whom Carter thought of as "reformers") took power, and then approved the ill-conceived hostage rescue mission that ended with ignominious failure in the desert. Obama, by contrast, could only wish for such success.

- Glenn Reynolds.

12.41 am. I have been sometimes at a loss to understand why president Obama would have escalated the war in Afghanistan as far as he did. Do you think it could because he was aiming for this all along?

12.40 am. Wolcott:

It's taken so long for his death to come (although it's been rumored for years, that he was being used as a useful ghost to keep the specter of terrorism alive) that I didn't think I'd be tearful when word finally came, that his death would be a long overdue postscript to a terrible decade, but I was wrong.

12.35 am. Quote for the Day:

When a man's partner is killed, he's supposed to do something about it. It doesn't make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you're supposed to do something about it. And it happens we're in the detective business. Well, when one of your organization gets killed, it's-it's bad business to let the killer get away with it, bad all around, bad for every detective everywhere.

- Humphrey Bogart, as Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon.

12.34 am. Here's the Beast's tweet-feed. Osama was shot in the head? And here's how the story spread around the Internet.

12.30 am. I want to go down there. Aaron rushed down 16th Street about half an hour ago. He's headed to the White House. The whole neighborhood is stirring.

12.21 am. The more I hear the more Obama seems very close to this over the last few months: in weekly meetings, deeply involved in five national security meetings recently. This was not a lucky break. This was the end-point of several weeks of coordination. And Obama's cool throughout. As Donald Trump was birthering out, Obama was aiming right at this country's deadliest enemy.

Everyone in both the Bush and the Obama administration who helped make this happen deserve our thanks, especially the unsung federal employees in the CIA and the special forces who are loyal to no party but to the constitution. But it remains obvious that the president who kills Osama bin Laden is a president who is going to be almost impossible to beat in 2012.

This has the feel of the kind of operation John Kennedy would have loved to have pulled off - and had a martini after. Here's hoping the president enjoys at least one Martini and one cigarette.

12.20 am. One piece of conventional wisdom over-turned: the Pakistani military was not cooperating with the US. It seems they were crucial in the operation, on the ground.

12.17 am. So Donald Rumsfeld's spokesman broke the news in the tweet: “So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn.”

12.08 am. Can I say how deeply moving it is that a man named Barack Hussein Obama gave the order for the operation that killed Osama bin Laden?

The pre-eminent symbol of our the multicultural, multiracial society of the future defeated the pre-eminent symbol of the darkest, bleakest throwback to medieval religious fanaticism. Im not ashamed to use the following language: Good defeated evil. And hope rekindles again.

12.03 am. This sounds like a highly dangerous, immensely courageous act of daring, a military and intelligence coup that will be taught in high schools for as long as America exists. This wasn't just a lucky bomb or a drone attack; it was an elaborate, carefully planned and successfully completed operation - deep in an urban area in deepest Pakistan. This was one badass achievement.


11.44 pm. The president's announcement walked the fine line between the appropriate sobriety of a profound moment and the immense pride and joy the United States must feel in bringing an end to this monster's threat to the world. It framed the successful attack as a result of a presidential decision to make getting Bin Laden the highest priority of American forces. And the way he revealed how long this has operation has been going on and how persistent the US forces have been, the prouder one becomes. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Pool/Getty,)

11.30 pm. I put the video up above for obvious reasons. The TV anchors are all abut the future right now, what the impact will be, how it will interact with the Arab Spring, etc etc. And that's understandable. But can we first take a moment to remember what was done to more than 3,000 human beings nearly ten years ago by this religious mass murderer? It was not just done to them, but to the families and friends of all of them, and to the principle of freedom of religion and freedom itself. That day changed a huge amount for all of us. We thought of it as a war (with all the awful consequences of that definition) because the act that started it was an act of war. And so we feel now that this moment is, in some ways, the end of that war.

We know, of course, that this struggle will go on with new groups and new plots and new atrocities. But this man symbolized its hideous beginning. Almost its meaning.

So victory. Yes, victory. And justice. Yes, justice.

God Bless America.

11.20 pm. What to say? To know that this mass murderer has been killed, and by US forces, brings a sense of joy that surpasses adequate expression. Finally, this ghastly ten year old war feels as if it has been for at least something. Saddam had not attacked us. Bin Laden had. This is the moment of justice for his despicable act of mass murder.