Top News Stories of 2011 Covered Here

A number of stories qualify as “top news” during 2011, and Bob McCarty Writes was on top of most of them.

THE ‘ARAB SPRING’

On Jan. 26, I blew it when I published a post speculating about anti-government protests in the Middle East were signs of the Tea Party Movement going global.   Then, during the next five days, I questioned whether or not President Barack Obama should have the same internet “kill Switch” that was used to silence opposition in Egypt and followed that up by wondering if President Obama’s post-presidential ambitions stretched to Egypt.

On Feb. 2, I shared a David Donar video in which the online cartoonist likened protests on the streets of Cairo to shoes being tossed at Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Two weeks later, I focused attention on how President Obama was continuing his anti-Israel push via the United Nations.

Finally, I wrapped up my Middle East coverage by sharing how the turmoil in Libya brought back memories from my Air Force days.

DISASTER IN JAPAN

After reporting March 11 that a mega-quake had struck off the coast of Japan, I offered a same-day report about the federally-funded International Tsunami Information Center’s web site failing on the day of big quake.

During the days that followed, I shared details about Japan being on edge following an explosion at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant and highlighted news about U.S.S. Ronald Reagan aviators risking everything to help the  Japanese.

OSAMA BIN LADEN’S DEATH

During the 10 days that followed my initial post about Osama Bin Laden’s death, I shared a half-dozen more posts, ranging from one that highlighted Donald Trump’s call for President Barack Obama to “Show Us The Body” to one asking the question,  “Does Osama Bin Laden’s death matter?”

In addition, I revisited a filmmaker’s claim that he had found OBL and I went inside the minds of Obama administration officials.

Finally, I wondered out loud about the interrogation techniques used to provided actionable intelligence on Osama Bin Laden and highlighted Paul R. Hollrah’s questions surrounding the killing of Bin Laden.

‘OCCUPY WALL STREET’

For the most part, I’ve avoided giving the so-called “Occupy Wall Street” movement any attention.  During the days leading up to Veterans Day, I made an exception when I used photos from the National Archives to note how some occupations are more worthwhile than others.

Questions Surround Killing of Osama Bin Laden

By Paul R. Hollrah, Guest Blogger

The killing of Osama bin Laden on Sunday, May 1, 2011… or Sunday, April 24, whichever White House version of the event you choose to believe… has confronted us with a number of quandaries and anomalies. For example, exactly how should we feel about American special operations forces charging into the bedroom of an unarmed foreign leader in the middle of the night and shooting him to death in front of his wives and children?  Like the British, should we consider that to be “not quite cricket?”  Or should we stop to remind ourselves of just who and what bin Laden is… er, was… and what he has done to merit our profound hatred?

And what are we to make of the thousands of revelers… many college students… who took to the streets on the evening of March 2 to celebrate Osama’s death… shouting, “U-S-A!  U-S-A!  U-S-A!”… amid spontaneous recitations of the pledge of allegiance and the singing of the national anthem?  Are we to take that as a genuine outpouring of patriotic fervor… something we’ve rarely seen among members of the “me” generation?  Or was it something else?

During the Reagan Administration, Islamic terrorists attacked the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut; the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait; the U.S. Embassy Annex in Beirut; Kuwait Airways Flight 221 at Tehran; TWA Flight 847 in Beirut; the Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany; the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro; TWA Flight 840 over Greece; Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland; and the CIA Headquarters at Langley, Va.  At the time, these attacks were all seen as random acts of violence, the work of a few crazed extremists.

During the Clinton Administration, Islamic terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York; two U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia, one at Riyadh and the other at Dhahran; the U.S. Embassy in Kenya; the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania; and the USS Cole in Yemen.  These attacks were also viewed, not as terror attacks, but as law enforcement issues for our courts… although Clinton did send cruise missiles to destroy a Khartoum aspirin factory in retaliation.

It was not until Sept. 11, 2001, during the early days of George W. Bush’s presidency, that Islamic terrorists finally decided that they’d have to strike hard at the American homeland if they were ever to get our attention. On that day, they attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., killing more than 3,000 innocent civilians.

 

World Trade Center Bombing 1993 (FBI)

In these 18 attacks, some 3,900 people, mostly American civilians, were killed. But it was not until the 9/11 attacks that we were finally able to put a name and a face on the terror attacks.  The name was al-Qaeda and the face was that of Osama bin Laden.

In the years following 9/11, the attacks inspired by al-Qaeda increased in number, if not in severity. In early June 2006, Canadian officials arrested 21 Muslim terrorists in connection with a plot to blow up the Canadian Parliament Building in Ottawa and to behead the prime minister.  The terrorists had already acquired twice the amount of ammonium nitrate used in the blast that destroyed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995.

On June 23, 2006, FBI agents arrested seven home-grown terrorists in Miami. The men had all sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda and had expressed an intention to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and the FBI Building in Miami.  The following month, FBI counterterrorism agents arrested the mastermind of a plot to blow up the tunnels beneath the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey.

In August 2006, British authorities thwarted a plot to simultaneously blow up as many as ten Continental, United and American Airlines planes heading to the U.S. using liquid explosives smuggled in carry-on luggage. As an example of their sheer madness, one Muslim couple planned to blow themselves and their infant child out of the sky.  Their bomb components were concealed inside their baby’s bottle.  More than 25 Muslim terrorists were arrested in connection with that plot.

Maj. Malik Nidal Hasan

In September 2009, undercover FBI agents arrested a 19-year-old terrorist, an illegal alien from Jordan, who planned to blow up the 720 ft. tall Fountain Place skyscraper in downtown Dallas, the fifth-tallest building in the city. And on Nov. 5, 2009, a U.S. Army physician, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, shot and killed 13 servicemen and wounded 30 others in a random shooting at Fort Hood, Texas… all were returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is men such as these who were inspired by Osama bin Laden.  However, the war on Islamic terrorism reached a milestone May 1, 2011, when a U.S. Special Operations assault team attacked a large house in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a suburb of Islamabad. In the attack, they shot and killed Osama bin Laden.

But how should we feel about that?  Many Americans have expressed shock and horror that American forces would carry out such an attack… killing an enemy leader in his home, in the presence of his family, wrapping his body in a white shroud and later dumping it into the sea.  Some have suggested that it was a criminal act.

Photo credit: El Marco

It is ironic that, on the same day that bin Laden was killed and given a respectable burial at sea, I received an email from a reader in New York who, in the weeks following 9/11, was assigned the unthinkably gruesome task of supervising the sifting of rubble from the World Trade Center, searching for bits and pieces of human remains. One wonders how critics might have reacted had they been assigned to the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT) at the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island.

Most of the victims found at “Ground Zero” were sent directly to the Medical Examiner’s Office, but what of the thousands of human body parts mixed in with tens of thousands of tons of debris… glass shards, chunks of concrete, metal fragments, etc… delivered in a steady stream of trucks shuttling between Lower Manhattan and the landfill?

Officers and police cadets assigned to the grizzly task of sorting through the debris were often uncertain if what they found was actually a human body part. With all of the restaurants in the Twin Towers, a great many chicken bones from the fast food restaurants were found, as were large bones from the stock pots in the expensive restaurants such as Top of The Towers and Windows on the World.  It was left to forensic anthropologists at the site to determine which remains were of the human variety and which were not.  When human remains were found in the debris… body parts as small as a fingertip and as large as an entire human body… they were photographed, bagged, tagged, and sent to the Medical Examiner’s office.

Photo credit: El Marco

One badly decomposed body was found; it was mashed flat, almost as if it had been run over by a steam roller.  The victim was quickly identified by a serial number engraved on a prosthetic hip implant.  As my reader describes the scene, “The body parts were horribly torn apart and fragmented due to people falling at or above terminal velocity (120 mph) through the tangled wires and aluminum structural beams as the buildings collapsed… it was as if the bodies had been put through a paper shredder.”

To this day, nearly half of the World Trade Center victims remain unidentified.  The Medical Examiner’s office currently has in storage over 20,000 pieces of cryogenically-frozen human remains, hoping that one day they might be identified.

And while we should never take pleasure in the death of another human being, those who cringe at the thought of American troops assassinating a foreign leader, sewing his remains into a white shroud and dumping him into the sea, need only imagine themselves sifting through the debris at the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island.  Focusing on the horrors of 9/11 it is important to gain a bit of perspective on the sheer evil that bin Laden represented. As my reader explains, “Sadly, bin Laden received far better treatment than the unidentified remains that I found at the landfill.  To suggest otherwise is an outrageous insult to those who died so horribly on 9/11.”

One wonders how the thousands of reveling students who filled the streets in celebration of bin Laden’s death might have fared at the Fresh Kills Landfill. Where was their latent patriotism when Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cal (Berkeley) and other liberal colleges and universities were banning military and CIA recruiters from campus?  Where were they when ROTC programs were banned from their campuses?  If and when it comes time for them to step forward and wear the uniforms of our U.S. fighting forces, will they have the courage to do so?

And finally, it would also be most interesting to know… if they are so high on fundamental American values… where were they when conservative speakers such as Ann Coulter and David Horowitz were being denied their 1st Amendment rights on college campuses?

Was their sudden expression of patriotism just that… patriotism, love of country?  Or was it something else? Was it perhaps just another excuse to get roaring drunk and make perfect asses of themselves in public?  True patriots would like to know.  We’d like to think it represented a rebirth of patriotism among those who are the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of the “Greatest Generation.”

 

Paul R. Hollrah

Hollrah is a senior fellow at the Lincoln Heritage Institute and a contributing editor for Family Security Matters and a number of online publications.  He resides in northeast Oklahoma.

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Inside the Minds of Obama Admin Officials (Update)

Despite the fact that an official White House photo shows more than a dozen senior officials reportedly watching a live video feed of the Navy SEALs raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, the Obama Administration seems awfully confused about what happened.

The video above reveals some of the thoughts that were likely going through the minds of some of those officials — including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, National Security Advisor John Brennan, President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates — as they watched that live video feed.

UPDATE 5/4/11 at 11:22 a.m. Central: More confusion and misinformation.

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Revisited: Filmmaker’s Claim That He Found OBL

EDITOR’S NOTE: Remember when Morgan Spurlock, the documentary filmmaker behind the “Super Size Me,” said he had found Osama Bin Laden?  Makes you wonder if this fast-food-familiar guy had anything to do with helping the U.S. Navy SEALs locate the Al-Qaeda leader said to be the mastermind of the terror events of Sept. 11, 2001.  Below I share anew my Dec. 5, 2007, post about the same.

In the headline of an article published on its web site today, MSNBC asks the question, Did Morgan Spurlock find Osama bin Laden? According to the article, the film maker who gained fame for his 2004 film, Super Size Me, is making just such a claim.

Furthermore, MSNBC reports, Morgan Spurlock has sold the rights to a film which documents his trek into Southwest Asia which resulted in him locating the alleged mastermind of the Islamic terrorist group known as Al-Qaeda.

That, my friends, is quite a claim, especially when one considers the fact that members of the United States defense and intelligence communities have, for some six years, devoted vast human and technological resources toward reaching the same goal.

When one considers how Spurlock likely accomplished his feat and who might benefit from it, the claim becomes more believable and prompts me to ask and answer several questions:

  • How might Spurlock have accomplished this feat? Only with help from allies of bin Laden.
  • Why would allies of bin Laden help a Western film maker locate the most-wanted man in the world — the focus of a worldwide manhunt since Sept. 11, 2001? Because such a discovery, when announced to the world, accomplishes two things for bin Laden: First, it makes Western intelligence and military experts look bad when a non-military, non-government film maker accomplishes what military and intelligence experts supposedly could not; and, second, it strengthens bin Laden’s standing among those adherents to his brand of radical Islam.

As a means of minimizing the negative impact of Spurlock’s effort, I recommend Americans everywhere take shots at making the claim, I FOUND OSAMA BIN LADEN. When they do so, with items like the shirt above, the news value of all such claims will diminish and, in turn, bin Laden will reap fewer benefits from efforts such as those by Spurlock.

* * *

A Jan. 31, 2008, interview of Spurlock about the film, “Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?” appears below.

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Does Osama Bin Laden’s Death Matter?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Almost four years ago, I published a post under the headline, Dead or Alive — Does Osama Bin Laden Matter? In light of the death of the Al-Qaeda terror mastermind, which I covered in posts here and here during the last 12 hours, I’ve decided to republish that post today.  It appears below.

In this post, I raise two questions: “Is Osama Bin Laden dead?” and “Does it matter?”

The answer to the first question is “Yes” — that is, if you believe the sources cited by Robert Fox in the first paragraph of an article he wrote for Great Britain’s The First Post today:

Osama bin Laden, charismatic founder of al-Qaeda, died of typhoid earlier this month in Pakistan, according to a highly classified intelligence brief given to the King of Saudi Arabia and President Chirac this week, and leaked to the French newspaper L’EstRepublicain.

Now that I’ve answered that question, I’ll answer the second one with a resounding “No!” and base that answer, in part, on what Fox wrote deeper in the article:

“(Al-Qaeda) has never done anything like 9/11 since,” he writes before proceeding to explain away attacks in Bali, Mombasa (Kenya), Madrid and London as having been “carried out in the name of Islamic revolution — adopting the al-Qaeda logo as it were — but they were not under bin Laden’s direct command.”

The remainder of my opinion is based on statements published in an article, Islamist Forum Debates the Fate of Bin Laden, in which Abdul Hameed Bakier highlights opinions of Muslims participating in a week-long online forum during which the possible reasons behind the disappearance of Osama Bin Laden from the international spotlight were discussed.

One of those participants, Baseer Al-Hijrawi, claimed a jihadi leader in Afghanistan announced on May 18 that bin Laden was alive and well and participating in jihad with his fellow mujahideen. He also reminded others in the forum that all individuals must die eventually and that the best death is through martyrdom. Through martyrdom, he said, one sets an example for many to follow in the path of jihad, such as in the model case of al-Zarqawi.

So there you have it. The War on Terror will not end with the death of a figurehead leader like Bin Laden, because the crazy jihadists follow an ideology, not a man. Furthermore, I believe the War on Terror will end only after the West renders all Islamic jihadists impotent and harmless, using all tools at our disposal.

One man’s sobering opinion.

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Trump: ‘Obama Needs to Show Us The Body’ (Update)

Hours after hearing President Barack Obama tell the world Sunday night that terror mastermind Osama Bin Laden is dead, billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump is demanding the White House produce the body of the Al-Qaeda terror mastermind.

Donald Trump (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

“If, as the White House claims, U.S. forces were successful in killing Osama Bin Ladena, Obama needs to show us the body,” said Trump early Monday, sounding much like he did when he called for the president to release his long-form birth certificate and, more recently, his college records.

In a terse and immediate response, White House officials used words such as “inappropriate and insensitive” to describe the suggestion by Trump, a possible 2012 presidential candidate, that the president “parade Bin Laden’s body around like it was a trophy.”

In separate news, an anonymous spokesperson for Obama’s presidential campaign announced that a fundraising gala would take place early next month in Chicago.  Each invitee to the gala will be required to contribute a minimum of $500,000 each to the Democratic National Committee.  In addition, each attendee will have a chance to win, at auction, a unique table centerpiece featuring a Bin Laden body part.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Except for the report about Osama Bin Laden’s death, the information above was fictitious at the time it was originally published.

UPDATE 5/02/11 at 7:36 a.m. Central: According to news reports like this one, Bin Laden’s body was quickly buried at sea.  With that action, the seed of doubt (i.e., “What, no body?”) has been “planted.”

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Terror Mastermind Osama Bin Laden Dead (Update)

Fox News Channel’s Geraldo Rivera broke the news tonight that Al-Qaeda terror mastermind Osama Bin Laden is dead, the result of a U.S. strike more than a week ago. [Editor's note:  Geraldo turned out to be wrong.  See second update below.]

Rivera’s news came as the nation waited for President Barack Obama to speak during a rare late-night address initially scheduled to take place at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Sunday night.

The news about OBL’s death, confirmed by DNA tests, comes barely four months shy of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks that struck the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and rural Pennsylvania.

Now, the world waits to see how key players on the world stage — including leaders of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan, Afghanistan and other terror hot spots — react to the news.

In addition, it will be interesting to see how Obama exploits this news for political gain during the next 18 months.  Trust me, he will exploit it — probably to the point where we’ll see him wearing “I FOUND OSAMA BIN LADEN!” t-shirts on a regular basis.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As soon as President Barack Obama delivers his address, I will post video here.

UPDATE 5/01/11 at 10:15 p.m. Central: FNC’s Jennifer Griffin reported that U.S. officials claim they have OBL’s body, that OBL was killed in Pakistan and that questions remain as to the exact circumstances of OBL’s death.

UPDATE 5/02/11 at 1:06 p.m. Central: Video of Obama’s statement late Sunday night appears below and includes an explanation that the raid resulting in Bin Laden’s death took place within the past 24 hours:

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