Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Stuff a sock in it

Here's my sage advice. After you get done killing the world's most wanted terrorist, your next step should be to STFU.

Immediately describing various events during the raid which later turned out not to have happened was the one, guaranteed method to make people a) doubt everything else you might say and b) sow confusion about the propriety and ethics of the action. (These are legitimately questionable but we should have these conversations on good information.)

Bragging about the terabytes of data -- "equivalent to a small college library!" whatever that means -- you have captured is the perfect way to make sure that everybody who thinks there's a remote possibility their name and address is in there somewhere will immediately skedaddle. By the time they got done going through the first few gigabytes 17 graduate students had already flown home from Germany to Saudi Arabia and the Emirates; and Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mullah Omar had ordered up a police escort and moved their entourages closer to Pakistani military headquarters, if not right on an army base where U.S. helicopters really won't want to land. Anyway, you know perfectly well that 90% of it is garbage -- the kids playing World of Warcraft, bin Laden looking at pictures of nekkid ladies, the wives downloading recipes, or whatever it is they were doing.

Finally, please do not announce that bin Laden's lair turned out to be an "operational command headquarters" when the only operational command that appeared to be going on there was vague discussion of somebody somehow derailing a train somewhere some day. Especially because the instantaneous reaction is for Senators to start talking about No Ride Lists (as far as I know, you derail a train from the outside, not the inside) and pretty soon, we'll be submitting to cavity searches to board the commuter train.

That's exactly what the whole al Qaeda thing is about, get it? They threaten, possibly credibly and possibly not, to do some nasty thing that amounts to a little more than a minor nuisance compared to the risks of death, injury and sickness that we face every day; and we waste untold billions of dollars on useless charades to make people think we're doing something to prevent it, such as invading Iraq and fighting in a civil war in Afghanistan against people who don't give a shit about the U.S. but only want to govern their own country, not to mention having to get to the airport 2 hours early.

Here's what you do. You kill the guy, then you engage in an eloquent, elegant silence. That would be smart.


roger said...

yes. that would be the smart thing to do. i suspect that our government spokespeople and leakers think that they are smarter than everyone. maybe they are. a fearful populace, untrusting of even its own government, is easily fooled and fleeced.

kathy a. said...

absolutely any way this was presented was 100% guaranteed to raise criticism.

look at what has happened. the architects of W's torture policy are claiming victory, even though [a] there is nothing to indicate torture produced (or was necessary to produce) reliable evidence leading to bin laden, and [b] they did not get bin laden. you've got deathers saying there isn't enough proof he is dead, and sickos calling for photos -- like publishing gruesome photos all over the place would be healthy or resolve questions that DNA didn't. yadda.

it is extraordinarily common for initial reports to be incomplete, to get some facts wrong; it is also extremely common for those reporting what they have heard to fill in the blanks, or to misinterpret. this happens even with no intention of twisting facts. there are armies of people -- reporters, politicians, pundits -- hammering out opinions and pressing in a tsunami-like fashion for more fodder.

i happen to think it is good news that this was a strategic, limited operation based on intelligence -- instead of "he might be here, so let's just bomb a bunch around the place."

i also think it is useful to know that the target had not just settled into an easy retirement -- that the operation also grabbed intelligence. they won't be sharing the most urgent information, or the wads of junk.

the un-executed idea of derailing a train is no worse than the actual attacks on trains and subways in the past, in terms of inciting fear. there will not be anything like "body cavity searches" for trains, subways, busses -- that would be logistically impossible, unconstitutional, and would destroy transit (and the economy, since people could not get to jobs).

most people join you in thinking TSA is a pain in the ass - -and yes, even senators have been known to say stupid things -- but i for one cannot waste a lot of time on stupid ideas that won't happen.

i'd rather devote my fretting to stupid things that are more serious threats, like those idjits thinking it's a sound strategy to hold the debt ceiling hostage to 2 trillion in cuts, no taxes to be considered except tax cuts. mostly the same people think that killing medicare, medicaid, and reproductive health services are good ideas. i'm far more worried about those issues, and can't blame al quaeda for them.

kathy a. said...

i'm in a particularly cranky mood. just saying less is a decent strategy, and i'm actually not seeing a lot of noise from the white house.

muebles en madrid said...

This will not really work, I think like this.

muebles en vicalvaro said...

This cannot have effect in fact, that is what I believe.