Al Qaeda

The Cost of Getting Bin Laden

Lost lives, lost dollars, and lost liberty

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As the world reacts to the death of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, important questions should be asked about the impact his life had on America's liberty and financial security.

It's too soon to say whether bin Laden's demise will make America safer or prompt a backlash of anti-American violence, but it's clear that the federal government's unprecedented response to his terror attack on September 11, 2001 has come at a steep price to citizens and taxpayers alike.

Given the thousands of American lives that have been lost and the mountain of borrowed money that has been spent financing our country's so-called war on terror, a simple question needs to be asked: Was it all worth it?

In assessing the post 9/11 world that bin Laden's terror attack created, has our nation absorbed a cost that goes far beyond dollars and cents? In other words, have we ignored the advice of Benjamin Franklin and traded "essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety?"

As the details of the hunt for bin Laden become part of the national lore, we must consider these questions—along with the harsh black and white numbers underlying them.

First, a total of 4,452 American soldiers have been killed in action in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion began in 2003. Meanwhile, a total of 1,566 U.S. troops have been killed in action in Afghanistan—most of them within the last three years as the conflict has escalated.

At last count, the direct taxpayer cost of both wars had eclipsed $1.1 trillion. With 47,000 American soldiers still stationed in Iraq and more than 100,000 fighting in Afghanistan, that tab is only going to increase. Also, because we are paying for these wars with borrowed money, financing costs will push the totals even higher.

Beyond the military costs—measured in both lives and dollars—hundreds of billions have also been spent on homeland security and intelligence gathering efforts since 9/11. In a special report published last September by The Washington Post, these efforts were described as "a hidden world, growing beyond control."

"After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine," the Post report noted.

What we do know of these costs is staggering. Last October, the federal government revealed that it was spending more than $80 billion a year on intelligence gathering—more than twice the pre-9/11 amount. Meanwhile the proposed budget for homeland security efforts in the coming fiscal year will top $71 billion.

Beyond the cost of lost lives and borrowed dollars, though, we must also consider the incalculable tab that has come with our eroded liberties.

America's domestic surveillance program—with its warrantless searches, electronic eavesdropping, and indefinite "emergency" detentions—is every bit as much of a "clear and present danger" to this country as the terrorists it seeks to capture. By authorizing these measures, the government has trampled the First, Fourth, Fifth Sixth, Eighth, and 14th Amendments—all in the name of safeguarding our nation from itself.

In addition to these unconstitutional infringements on our liberties, Americans are being subjected to callous invasions of their privacy via intrusive pat-downs and obscene full-body scans at the country's airports. Not only is this government-funded peep show reprehensible, it was recently revealed that these scans pose a much higher health risk than Homeland Security officials originally acknowledged.

Lost lives, lost money, and lost liberty—these are the true legacies of America's response to Osama bin Laden's attack a decade ago. While an important chapter may have finally been closed in the war on terror, it is hard to justify the price our nation has paid in closing it.

Andrea Millen Rich is president of the Center for Independent Thought.

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69 responses to “The Cost of Getting Bin Laden

  1. I said this here long ago. Instead of wars and everything else, we should’ve put a $1 billion price tag on his head.

    1. ..and then we arrest whoever turned him in too, and keep the money. Right?

      1. Maybe. I was thinking that if it was an al Qaeda dude, we let him have the money, but the condition of his partial pardon would be that he live under some form of house arrest.

    2. A tax free billion; let the market take care of it.

  2. Was it worth it?

    Yes.

    The message is that if you fuck with the United States you will be hunted down, no matter what. Well worth the cost.

    1. There are *many* who fuck with the United States. Do we hunt them all down, no matter what?

    2. Huh. I was going to say “no”.

    3. Yeah, but you didn’t die!

    4. So what do you propose to do to Obama?

    5. Yeah, what’s a few hundred thousand innocent lives compared to sending a message.

  3. But it’s not really about Bin Laden. Once the initial post 9/11 fury had died down, the only ones really pushing the Bin Laden issue was the left under Bush. I’ve not really heard any one on the Right make an issue of “where’s Osama?” since Obama came to power. Did the left have such a hard-on when KSM was caught? Was there chanting in the streets when KSM, Saddam or his sons were caught/killed?

    Afghanistan and Iraq are about eliminating support for terrorist. The Taliban provided a base for OBL and AQ and Saddam funded Palestinian and had AQ connections with an active WMD program (according to Saddam and every other world leader).

    If you want to argue the cost issue, we should have gone in, kicked the crap out of those that we needed to. Not done any nation building and left at a fraction of the cost. The quick sharp shock solution would also serve as a better deterrent to other wannabe terrorist supporting nations.
    Would it have left a power vacuum? Maybe, but so what. The wrong people getting in and causing trouble for the world can be solved with a few JDAMs you’d probably also have less casualties as well in the long term.

  4. I don’t so much as diasgree with Ms. Rich as I do wish she had stated what the appropriate response would have been to 9/11.

    1. We should’ve properly declared war against the Taliban as the government that harbored bin Laden and tried to disrupt al-Qaeda’s network around the globe as best we could, working with other nations in the process. Meanwhile, we should’ve expanded our freedoms and lived like the decadent motherfuckers as a big “FUCK YOU!” to those Islamic camel-fuckers.

      1. Jeezum crisps! This is exactly what I’ve been saying since, about, Sept 12, 2001. Well, at least, it’s nice to finally have some company at the party.

      2. Pretty much.

    2. We should’ve terminated the primary funder of terrorism-Iran’s Mullahocracy-and severed ties with our other arch-nemesis the House of Saud.

      1. Yeah, for starters.

      2. What? You mean instead of bombing empty fields for a couple days and going shopping at the mall? You may be on to something there.

  5. Was it all worth it?

    We had to spend it to see what was in it.

    1. Are you serious?

    2. Are you serious? Are you serious?

  6. Great article on Foreign Policy in 2111 thanks to Libs at http://www.Libertarian-International.org

  7. 6,000 American lives for one terrorist… naw not really. Plus its not like we’re going to leave now, so that number’s only going to increase.

    1. Exactly…plus hundreds of billions in dollars.

      1. All that money and all those lives were sacrificed to build nations for people who would prefer that we were all dead and “give to the gift of democracy” to people who will just vote to be ruled by a violent theocracy. Killing OBL wasn’t very expensive and very few died in pursuit of that goal.

  8. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, Bin Laden categorically stated:

    “I was not involved in the September 11 attacks in the United States nor did I have knowledge of the attacks.”

    Here are what some experts have said about the supposed “Bin Laden confession videos.”

    “Then there are the supposed Bin Laden videos. Although many foreign intelligence officials believe that the Bin Laden videos are fake, the controversy surrounding them is not in the mainstream media. Here is what some Professionals who examined the videos wrote about them:

    Professor Gernot Rotter, scholar of Islamic and Arabic Studies, Asia-Africa Institute, University of Hamburg:

    “Regardless of the question if bin Laden personally was actively involved in the organization of the attacks or not: This tape is of such poor quality that many passages are unintelligible. And those that are intelligible have often been taken out of context, so that you can’t use that as evidence. The American translators who listened to the tape and transcribed it obviously added things that they wanted to hear in many places. Things that can’t be heard – never mind how often you listen to it.

    The English translation that the US government presented to the world is not only manipulated in parts, but even contains mistakes. A report from Ekkehard Sieker and Georg Restle.”

    Dr. Abdel El M. Husseini, scholar in Arabic culture/language:

    “I carefully checked the Pentagon translation. The translation is very problematic. The passages that are the most important, the ones that are supposed to prove bin Laden’s guilt, are not identical to the Arabic sound.”

    Intel experts such as Alan Sabrosky (former U.S. Army War College Professor) and Andreas von Bulow (German Intel oversight expert) both say that Mossad, Israels CIA planned the 9/11 attacks, using Arabs as stooges.

    The evidence for this is strong.

    One, several months prior to the 9/11 attacks, A former Israeli Soldier (decorated during the Yom Kippur War) overheard a conversation in Hebrew to the effect that:

    “The Twin Towers are coming down, then the Americans will know what we go through. The Arabs are so stupid, they don’t know we are using them. We have enough people in the right places to make this work.”

    Two, multiple witnesses saw a group of men videoing the fall of the Twin Towers. They turned in the liscense plate. It was from Urban Moving Systems, a “moving company” in NJ staffed almost entirely by Israelis. Right after the attacks, they closed so quickly that another moving co. had to come in and finish their jobs.

    Many of them were arrested and held by the FBI for some time, but released. They went back to Israel and actually admitted on TV that they were “sent over to document The Event”. A lone U.S. employee of Urban Moving Systems reported that the entire group of Israelis was celebrating the Fall of the Twin Towers as if it was “a job well done.”

    Also, The FBI found that MOSSAD agents were in the Apt. next door in Florida where the hijackers were staying.

    At least one of the hijackers had a ticket for another location, which indicates that they were only aware of a hijacking, but not privvy to the plot to run the planes into the Twin Towers.

    Three, seven of the supposed hijackers were victims of identity theft, some in the U.K, and others in Saudi Arabia. Experts have said this could only be carried out by an Intel group funded by a soverign state, not by someone operating from caves.

    The FBI ended up arresting almost 70 Israelis who “seemed somehow connected to the 9/11 attacks. Oddly enough, even Tom Ridge admitted that no El Quaeda cells had been discovered.

    The most blatant thing is so obvious, but it is amazing how gullible people are. A Koran sitting in the white van right outside of Logan! This is so obviously political theatre.

    I admire the Navy Seals for their courage, but they really don’t know that they got the wrong people.

    The American Media showed TV footage of some Palestinians supposedly celebrating the Fall of the Twin Towers. This footage was fraudulent. Some Israeli agents gave them some drinks, and sweets, got them laughing and joking, then filmed it.

    However, multiple witnesses in NY did see Israelis celebrating. The Prime Minister smiled and said that the 9/11 attacks were “very good for Israel.”

    Bin Laden guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? Don’t think so.

    1. Jesus Titty-Fucking Christ!

    2. I am interested in your ideas, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    3. Holy shit. The comments really are going Full Retard today.

    4. Just show me a certificate; any certificate will do at this point.

  9. I offer to your attention a film about six priorities of the generalized instruments of management by countries and people of Earth.
    Six Principles of Global Manipulation
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fF3TQ0lJnU

    and:

    Anti-Qur’an Strategy of the Bible Project Wheeler-Dealers
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1wXgXwj3MI

  10. Ah-HA! It was the Joooos all along! The Jooooos, I tells ya!

    1. Damn, I always suspected them, but it’s always awkward when you try to say anything disparaging about the Jewish race.

  11. This article’s point is weakly supported. The costs mentioned weren’t all or even mostly related to the killing of OBL. It was def worth it.

  12. Still no videos, no pictures.
    They promised they were coming yesterday, now, they say probably NOT.

    Early reports showed a photo of fire coming from the compound taken by that twitter guy.
    Just saw CNN, no sign of fire.
    No explanation of how the assult took place. Did seals land on the roof?
    If they landed on the large closed in area next to the building, how did they get in the building since there was no direct access to the building?
    Did they blow a hole in the wall? Didn’t see any.
    A forty minute gun battle and only five dead? Seals are expert marksmen coming in surprise and they only bag five? If the gun battle took so long, that means people inside the building were well protected and yet NONE of the seals were even wounded never mind killed.
    Can you say that an imposter was set up and killed by the Pakistanies to give Obama the credit, while Obama will keep the aid coming in, which is being stolen by the Pakistan military.
    One hand washs the other.
    Prove me wrong.
    Reminder: FACT: STILL NO VIDEOS OR PICTURES AND NOW, AFTER PROMISING THERE WILL BE, WON’T BE.

      1. What do you mean Robert?

    1. Heck, I wouldn’t be convinced even if they did have pictures. All that would convince me of is that somebody in the Pentagon knows how to use Photoshop.

    2. CBS News reported that the SEALs landed in the courtyard between the large living quarters and a smaller one, they killed the couriers who were living in the smaller building. They supposedly were under fire from at least 2 bin Laden minions located on a second floor balcony in the larger building. The SEALs entered the larger building, where they went up to the second floor bedroom, killed bin Laden and took his body to the helicopters, grabbed documents and computers, and beat feet.

      1. GUESS WHAT? Now it is only one person was armed and he was in the guest house. He along with his wife were killed early and nobody in the main house was armed.

        What happened to the forty minute gun battle? What happened to the minions on the second floor?
        The administration own leaks and actions prove this “raid” is an utter crock of bullshit.

  13. Of course it wasn’t worth it.

  14. I don’t get some of the mocking tones of those celebrating Bin Laden’s demise.

    It is a victory to be celebrated? Of course.

    But this “pissing on his corpse”/”feeding him to pigs” nonsense is stupid. He wasn’t evil the way Bernie Madoff or John Wayne Gacy were evil.

    There was a delusional nobility driving his evil actions. He was a worthy enemy if there ever was one. A trust-fund baby who leaves his country to fight the Russians, and then fights America when he’s done with that, gets some grudging respect from me.

    1. “There was a delusional nobility driving his evil actions. He was a worthy enemy if there ever was one. A trust-fund baby who leaves his country to fight the Russians, and then fights America when he’s done with that, gets some grudging respect from me.”

      But at the end of the day, he’s dead, and we’re not. And that’s the way I sort of hoped it would end.

      1. And I’m totally with you on that. I just get tired of these shallow attempts to paint him as a coward/hypocrite/corrupt bastard. Let’s deal with the world as it is, not as we’d like it to be.

        1. Well, after all is said and done, Osama bin Laden had absolutely no problem with hijacking containing dozens or hundreds of innocent passengers and crashing them into buildings housing thousands of people who had never done him, his associates, or the Muslim world, a lick of harm. So yes, he was a scumbag. Yes, he was fighting for Islam but so what? He ordered the slaughter of thousands of innocent people. A scumbag of the first order.

        2. Speaking of hypocrisy, while I do admit to being relieved he’s dead, I strongly suspect that some of the very methods I’ve been bitching about these 10 years were used to get the intel that lead to his being tracked down. I’ll live with it, but some of the methodology is not necessarily something to boast about.

  15. If he was taken into custody to be tried it would have been different. Instead we just went in and shot an unarmed man. And America cheered.

    If you think Dev group couldn’t take him alive if they were told to do so you’re deluded.

    And now the dems and GoP is united in accepting, and cheering, the existence of an international assassination team.

  16. Still, one can squeeze a profit out of it…

    When the CIA informed President Obama that, based on information gleaned from waterboarding and other programs and forms of interrogation started under the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld regime, they had located Osama bin Laden, Candidate Obama had to turn what for him could be a crisis into an opportunity. If he tried to cover up or evade what the CIA had learned it would leak out, and probably during his re-election campaign. So better to attack, capture or kill Osma bin Laden, and take the credit for initiatives created by others — others, like Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, who he had pilloried, smeared, and camapigned against.

    There are many curious features of what happened next. Osama bin Laden’s body was thrown overboard in an allegedly Moslem burial, a burial at sea mandated by a religion created by desert nomads. Osama’s identity was confirmed by a DNA match with a cousin who had died in an American brain cancer ward whose tissue was harvested for just such an eventuality.

    It is easy to imagine that the quick disposal of the body, and the alleged biotechnological “identification” (which would produce a match with any Osama cousin or spawn), would leave many Americans, already skeptical of the Obama regime for its constant evasions, occlusions, and the circus atmosphere of the few documents he has released of those the public had requested, thinking that Obama is again a liar and Osama is alive.

    So Obama again produces a media cloud of blue smoke that prevents consideration of our rising stagflation and his continual failure to produce any specific budget proposals or solutions to our debt tsunami. (A poll released by the Reason Foundation this week indicates that 96% of Americans fear the debt, and 74% favor a government spending cap.)

    Notice the slow roll-out of news the Obama administration is producing about the Osama attack. On Sunday night, President Obama addresses the nation. On Monday, White House communications director Jay Carney answers questions from the press about the curiosity of the burial and the compound where Obama was found and Pakistani complicity in hiding him, and says photos will not be released out of respect for Muslim sensibilities. On Tuesday a very composed photo depicting a tableau of a pensive Obama, a concerned Hillary, and many advisors is released; and on the same day CIA director Leon Paneta says the photos of Osama will be released after all. On Wednesday we learn that President Obama will be visiting Ground Zero in New York and has invited President Bush to join him. I predict this will continue until some new event beyond Obama’s control overwhelms it. Candidate Obama is going to ride this as long as he can. As I write FOX News is spending the morning interviewing Secretary Rumsfeld about whether this capture and kill could only have happened because of Bush’s policies on interrogation. On the ever-stale cup of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC with Nordic ruling class princess Mika Brzenski, the usual round up of Democratic Party concubines discussed whether the photos of Osama’s corpse or burial should be released: Dee Dee Myers and Ezra Klein don’t have an opinion, but Bloomberg’s Maragret Carlson says they should not, but they may have to be, since we live in a “Conspiracy Nation” of idiot rubes who are not even good enough to be ruled by Obama, Carlson, and the other federal overlords who have charitably agreed to control us for our own good, rubes who demand that the President show his birth certificate or post proposed legislation on the web so it can be read, and who now will need evidence that Osama was in fact captured.

    Candidate Obama and his minions were burned by the roll out of the ACORN tapes over a year ago and are trying to learn from the experience. In the fascinating new book “RIGHTeous IndigNATION,” Andrew Breitbart details his strategy (copied from an earlier Arianna Huffington expose of Bill Clinton) of a slow roll out of the James O’Keefe tapes exposing ACORN and its corruption. The slow roll out kept the issue alive for weeks and kept Obama from controlling the narrative during the imposition of his health “reform” initiative. Candidate Obama’s slow roll out of the Osama tapes, pictures etc is following the same playbook. Everything about this is a campaign event. The “crisis” of an actual American foreign policy objective being achieved will be turned into a campaign “opportunity” where all attention is taken away from Obama’s fiscal failures for as long as possible. Obama has switched the debate from his failed economic policies to whether photos will be released. One might or might not agree with either side about whether Osama’s corpse or photos should or should not be treated with respect — but should they be treated as campaign props?

  17. “While an important chapter may have finally been closed in the war on terror, it is hard to justify the price our nation has paid in closing it.”
    Nothing was closed and the price is nowhere near justifiable.

  18. No, full retard line is, “I believe the government conspiracy theory and anybody who does not is a nutter.”

  19. It’s too soon to say whether Osama bin Laden’s demise will make America safer

    Whether or not it will “make America safer” is a ridiculous question. How “safe” America will be is subjective, speculative, and can’t be rationally measured. It’s emotional nonsense.

    Besides, nobody ever proved that OBL made America “less safe”.

  20. I could have bombed the compound, but I wanted to get proof that he was dead. All of you serfs on the other hand can just take my word for it.

  21. Sorry Peter Bienert, but its stuff like giving a shit about Muslim burial in 24 hours that guarantees Democrats will always have the wimp factor. I remember lefties not believing we got Saddam until the copious amounts of video were released. Why should righties be any different?

  22. The once-freest and most militarily, culturally, and economically powerful country in the history of the world, humanity’s peerless titan, has spent the last decade bleeding militarily, culturally, and economically to a colossal extreme for people who would decapitate us all for heresy if they were given a chance to do so.

    I may begin to give a fuck about the anguish of the world’s slaves and peasants when my compatriots are free and prosperous again, and not a moment earlier. This isn’t a fucking charity.

    We do, we’re imperialists and usurpers. We don’t, we’re heartless isolationists and troglodytes. Let’s be candid and honest here – fuck Europe, fuck Asia, fuck Africa, fuck Oceania, and fuck Central and South America.

    I’m supposed to believe that while 300,000,000 million Americans are being driven deeper into bondage and subservience, their phenomenal wealth being squandered on absolutely nothing of worth, it’s somehow morally justifiable to prolong and expand our role in the world’s political affairs? We’ve spent the last fucking 70 years guarding everybody that’s ever been our ally, and preparing for war against everybody that hasn’t. It’s time to cut the shit.

    1. *300,000,000

  23. Lately, I find, the heaviest of the chains are the ones that seem to be forged for my protection.

    1. Verbage worthy of Thom Paine himself!

  24. Of course, none of these things are actually the cost of getting bin Laden. All of the loss of liberty and lives and money contributed almost nothing to the actual events which led to bin Laden’s death.

    The methods used to actually get bin Laden could have been employed any time in the years since 9/11 without any of the nation building or pointless military adventurism.

    Dave

  25. “It’s too soon to say whether bin Laden’s demise will make America safer or prompt a backlash of anti-American violence…”

    What a bunch of sniveling, latte lameness. Have you considered moving to France?

    Gee, we better not make the bad guys angry or they’ll do something bad. Oh no. Something bad, such as, ummmm….

    – Driving a truck-bomb into the parking garage of the World Trade Center?
    – Killing people, most of whom aren’t even American, at U.S. embassies in Africa?
    – Attacking a U.S. warship with a waterborne suicide IED?
    – Placing explosives on passenger jets over the Pacific Ocean?
    – Attempting to transport explosives into the U.S. to bomb millennium celebrations?
    – Hijacking and flying airliners into buildings?

    You mean like those things? They did those things without provocation. Sure, they sit their on their videos and claim that they are avenging U.S. support for Israel or U.S. desecration of the Saudi peninsula (what a bunch of bigots), but that’s just crap they know sells well to two groups of people: 1. Middle Easterners with a childlike view of the world, and 2. Morons like you.

    They commit acts of horrendous violence without provocation. It’s okay to track them down and blow them to Pluto.

    Is America safer with Osama bin Laden dead? YES!!!!! The fucking WORLD is safer with Osama bin Laden dead. They were trying to kill us BEFORE our services killed their bloodthirsty leader. Who CARES how they feel about it? Screw ’em.

    1. Back to LGF with you

  26. Now we find that the home of this “former” intelligence tool was totally without weapons, amidst a flurry of other lies. The truth about 9/11, etc., is more dead than ever. Is this OK in the Randian world?

    1. No weapons? All the easier to kill the bad guy without injury to our own.

  27. OBL won one last time in the manner of his death. The elite of the elite of the elite ended up shooting a sick old man in his PJs in front of his 12 year old daughter. Something a pimply 17 year old on crack can do just as well in any American city. Some dragon to be slain.

  28. First, a total of 4,452 American soldiers have been killed in action in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion began in 2003. Meanwhile, a total of 1,566 U.S. troops have been killed in action in Afghanistan?most of them within the last three years as the conflict has escalated.

    Maybe it’s just that I’m not a US citizen, but it always strikes me as a little odd when someone laments the deaths of several thousand US troops but neglects to mention the hundreds of thousands of innocent foreign civilians killed in the same conflicts over the same span of time.

    1. Whoops, I somehow didn’t see your comment.

  29. The Cost? Thousands of American troops…over a trillion dollars… loss of liberties… And another thing: the at least tens of thousands of innocent people injured, killed, dislocated and so forth in the Middle East because of the WOT.

  30. Unless and until we the people get back the control of OUR government, remember, of the people, by the people and for the people, there is no need to criticize the overwhelming theft that our unpublic disservants are and have been doing!

  31. it’s easier to add up the costs of what actually happened than the costs of what might have happened in your imagined alternate history

    i think the costs – while tragic – compare favorably to appeasement and passivity

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