HUFFPOST HILL - bin Laden Playing Checkers With Hitler
Americans continued to soak in this national period of GET SOME the day after Seal Team Six sent Osama bin Laden to a place where people use your fatwa tapes to record Rush Limbaugh's show. Countless numbers of teens formed bands called "Actionable Intelligence" in untold numbers of garages. Criminal masterminds began to silently campaign for the empty spot on the FBI's 10 most wanted list. And President Obama continued his quest for the patriotic high score by awarding two posthumous Medals of Honor. If he keeps it up, the next State of the Union address will just be him singing Lee Greenwood while donning a bandana and jean jacket. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, May 2nd, 2011, the first day of the rest of your life ... unless you're Osama bin Laden:
If you thought your boss has a death stare, check out this photo of the president and his national security team watching the events in Pakistan unfold. Ice. Cold.
From David Wood: National Counterterrorism Center: How A Little-Known Spy Agency Helped Track Down Osama bin Laden.
CALLS FOR AFGHANISTAN WITHDRAWAL GROWING - Now that Osama bin Laden is familiarizing himself with his Hell-brand Mr. Coffee that only makes room temp Americanos and his Hell radio that only plays Rebecca Black and Blue Oyster Cult, a growing number of politicians are questioning the military's raison d'etre in Afghanistan. "If Osama bin Laden was still alive, that would have given some people an argument, 'Oh you can't get out of Afghanistan for reputational reasons,'" Barney Frank said at a CAP event this morning, "Having killed Osama bin Laden deprives people who wanted to stay in Afghanistan for other reasons of the argument that we would be leaving in defeat." Tea Party favorite Jason Chaffetz said that the small team that was able to take out bin Laden demonstrates that al-Qaeda can be tackled with a much smaller force. "I think it demonstrates that intelligence, both human and electronic, is paramount," Chaffetz said. "We need the very best electronic and human intelligence, and when we have actionable intelligence, we need to strike. For me, that means you don't necessarily need 100,000 people on the ground in Afghanistan." [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]
Carl Levin: "I think there's going to be a lot of strong feeling on the part of most Democrats and many, I think many independents, and even some Republicans, that the decision of the President to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan should be a robust reduction."
Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell will introduce a resolution as early as tomorrow hailing bin Laden's death.
Dianne Feinsteing tells HuffPost's Jen Bendery that bin Laden may have been living in the compound for up to six years, calling into question whether the US should keep showering the country with money.
REID: OBL'S DEATH DOESN'T MEAN PENTAGON DISCOUNT - Despite hopes that bin Laden's demise would put a nice little bow on the (bum bum bummmmm) WAR ON TERROR, it appears that the Great Douche's exit from this earthly realm won't actually lead to any Douche-Is-Dead Dividend. At a press conference this morning, Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested that there won't be any additional cuts to the Pentagon budget as a result of the slaying. "I don't think it'll have any direct impact," Reid said. "We're going to continue doing the job we're doing." [HuffPost's Elise Foley]
The White House has issued a veto threat of H.R. 1213, Fred Upton's bill that would repeal health care reform funds to states that set up health care exchanges.
@jbendery: Classified, bipartisan House briefing Tuesday with Panetta to discuss bin Laden devts, says senior GOP aide.
TREASURY EXTENDS DEBT CEILING EXPIRATION - It wouldn't be August in Washington if some life-or-death piece of legislation were passed because people wanted to go on vacation. So there you have it: "By taking 'extraordinary measures,' the U.S. can keep borrowing until Aug. 2 after reaching its $14.29 trillion legal debt limit no later than May 16 unless Congress acts, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said. The Treasury Department will take steps starting this week to provide additional borrowing room, Geithner said in a letter today to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, and other congressional leaders. The Treasury pushed the August deadline back from July 8 'as a result of stronger-than- expected tax receipts,' Geithner said. The May 16 date is unchanged from an estimate he made last month." [Bloomberg Businessweek]
DID REP. DON YOUNG VIOLATE CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS? - At some point, we're going to have to pass a law mandating every elected official in Alaska maintain a Foursquare account tracked at all hours by an FEC intern. Running tonight in Roll Call: "A wealthy Louisiana businessman and his family used a dozen corporate entities to contribute a total of $60,000 to a defense fund to help Rep. Don Young fight his legal battles, which some critics say circumvented the $5,000 limits for individual donations, writes Roll Call's Bennett Roth. Gary Chouest, the president of Edison Chouest Offshore, a marine transportation company, and other family members control 12 entities that each made $5,000 contributions to the Alaska Republican's legal expense fund in the first quarter of this year."
Tonight in The Hill: "Jordy Yager on how lawmakers never gave up hope that the U.S. would capture or kill Osama bin Laden. In a series of interviews over the past several months, a dozen key members of Congress told The Hill that while they didn't know when or how the former al Qaeda leader's reign would come to an end, they were certain the U.S. would get him."
Greg Sargent and his wife have welcomed their second child into the world, Greg Sargent reports.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNERBASSETT BUMMER - Arthur is on vacation this week. Arthur may also be a covert operative engaged in oversees operations. We don't know. Anyway, here's Laura Bassett to make you sad and/or angry: "Lawmakers in Oklahoma are mulling legislation that would make nutrition vouchers inaccessible to thousands of low-income mothers in order to stop Planned Parenthood from being able to distribute them ... By cutting WIC funding to Planned Parenthood, which serves about 9,300 low-income women and children a year through the program, and eight other independent contractors in Tulsa, the amendment would hinder many local women's ability to afford nutritional food for their toddlers." [HuffPost]
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GOP ACTUALLY GIVING OBAMA CREDIT FOR THIS ONE - Rather than criticize the president by contrasting him to Ronald Reagan (who no doubt would have slathered camouflage on his face and swam all the way to Pakistan -- knife firmly secured by his teeth -- to scalp Osama) Republicans have lavished President Obama with praise today (except Rush Limbaugh, who used the opportunity to mock the president). "I also want to commend President Obama and his team, as well as President Bush, for all of their efforts to bring Osama bin Laden to justice," Speaker John Boehner in a statement released the press. Semi-declared presidential candidate Mitt Romney echoed that sentiment in his own statement: "This is a great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere ... Congratulations to our intelligence community, our military and the president." Even Dick Cheney got in on the action. "The death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of American forces is a victory for the United States," the former veep said. "I also want to congratulate President Obama and the members of his national security team."
Our polling guru, Mark Blumenthal, weighs in on how this might affect the president's poll numbers. While the immediate consensus seems to be that Barack Obama can coast to reelection even if he spends the rest of his first term in pajamas Netflixing "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place," that might not be the case. "This sort of universal positive reaction is typical of the 'rally around the flag' phenomenon long observed by scholars. Presidential approval ratings have historically surged in reaction to dramatic international events that directly involved the president and the U.S. armed forces. Sixty years of the Gallup Poll illustrate the way these events produce big spikes in approval. But these surges in public favor also tend to recede within a few months ... The reaction to the arrest of Hussein in 2004 is particularly noteworthy, since it presents the closest parallel to the killing of bin Laden ... an overall pattern is discernible: Americans rally to their president around national security crises and military successes, but their reactions are usually short-lived." [HuffPost]
Senior U.S. officials have confirmed that bin Laden's death was verified in part by DNA from family members, guaranteeing that someone will green light "CSI Abbottabad."
OSAMA'S GONE: HERE'S WHO DID IT - Hands down the most gripping account of the team that killed Osama bin Laden so far is Marc Ambinder's. Almost as astonishing as the proficiency of SEAL Team Six is the fact that THEY CAN'T GO HOME AND BRAG ABOUT IT. DEAR LORD, THINK OF ALL THE FREE BEER THEY'RE GOING TO MISS. "Were it not for this high-value target, it might have been a routine mission for the specially trained and highly mythologized SEAL Team Six, officially called the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, but known even to the locals at their home base Dam Neck in Virginia as just DevGru ... DevGru belongs to the Joint Special Operations Command, an extraordinary and unusual collection of classified standing task forces and special-missions units. They report to the president and operate worldwide based on the legal (or extra-legal) premises of classified presidential directives. Though the general public knows about the special SEALs and their brothers in Delta Force, most JSOC missions never leak ... Several dozen JSOC operatives have died in Pakistan over the past several years. Their names are released by the Defense Department in the usual manner, but with a cover story -- generally, they were killed in training accidents in eastern Afghanistan. That's the code." [National Journal]
Continuing the USA! USA! USA! theme of the day, President Obama awarded posthumous Medals of Honor to two soldiers killed in combat during the Korean War. "[Anthony] Kaho'ohanohano, a native Hawaiian, held off enemy soldiers with his firearm, grenades and eventually his hands on September 1, 1951, allowing his comrades to regroup and repulse the attack. After his platoon appeared to be losing in a fight on June 12, 1952, [Henry] Svehla, from New Jersey, charged enemy positions, firing and throwing grenades. Despite being wounded, he carried on. Finally, he threw himself on a grenade to save the lives of fellow soldiers." Damn. [Reuters]
AND HERE'S HOW MUCH THAT 'WAR ON TERROR' IS COSTING - To date, the "War on Terror" has cost the U.S. $1.28 trillion according to a March 2011 Congressional Research Service. Sure, we could have used some of that cash early on to ply residents of Pakistan's tribal areas with George Foreman grills and DirectTV subscriptions but ... hey ... whatever. Sam Stein: "Broken down individually, the government has spent $806 billion for Iraq, $444 billion for Afghanistan, $29 billion for enhanced security and $6 billion on 'unallocated' items. The vast majority of all the money appropriated has gone to the Department of Defense, and of that money more and more is being spent on Operation & Maintenance (O&M) funding, which went from $42 billion in FY2004 to $79 billion in FY2008. Only $67 billion (or 5 percent) went to the State Department or USAID. Only $8 billion (or 1 percent) went to veterans' care, via the Department of Veterans Affairs ... the price will continue to rise. If Congress also approves the president's FY2012 war-funding request, the cumulative cost of post-9/11 operations would reach $1.415 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office -- the nonpartisan accountant for lawmakers -- estimates that total costs "could reach $1.8 trillion by FY2021." [HuffPost]
@TheOnion: BREAKING: Violent Death Of Human Being Terrific News For Once http://onion.com/k1kJam
The bin Laden news is dominating the news cycle so much that Mike Pence reportedly has postponed his announcement that he's running for governor of Indiana.
HOW ON EARTH DID PAKISTAN NOT KNOW??? - But, hey, who among us DOESN'T have a sweet old grandmother living on a fixed income in a heavily fortified, 7-figure mansion without a telephone? Steve Coll raises and eyebrow: "[Abbottabad] is most notable for housing the Pakistan Military Academy, the Pakistan Army's premier training college, equivalent to West Point. Looking at maps and satellite photos on the Web last night, I saw the wide expanse of the Academy not far from where the million-dollar, heavily secured mansion where bin Laden lived was constructed in 2005. The maps I looked at had sections of land nearby marked off as 'restricted area,' indicating that it was under military control. It stretches credulity to think that a mansion of that scale could have been built and occupied by bin Laden for six years without it coming to the attention of anyone in Pakistan's Army. The initial circumstantial evidence suggests the opposite is more likely--that bin Laden was effectively being housed under Pakistani state control. Pakistan will deny this, it seems safe to predict, and perhaps no convincing evidence will ever surface to prove the case. If I were a prosecutor at the United States Department of Justice, however, I would be tempted to call a grand jury." [New Yorker]
HOUSE DEM ON SWIPE FEES - Our favorite anonymous, radicalized marginal House Democrat (ARMHD) writes in on that swipe fee article which, praise be, we published last week and not today. "I have had one meeting after another here in Washington and back home with banks, credit unions, card issuers on one hand, and all manner of merchants on the other. As you say in the article, I've gotten far more lobbying on that than the continuing resolutions to keep the government open or the debt ceiling," he writes. [HuffPost]
SCOTT BROWN ASKS TO PERFORM NATIONAL GUARD SERVICE IN AFGHANISTAN - Unless Elizabeth Warren is a secret SEAL Team Six member, Massachusetts Dems might as well nominate Martha Coakley again. "Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) tells the Boston Globe that he is being sent to Afghanistan. The Republican senator offered few details about his plans to the Bay State-based outlet. A member of the Massachusetts National Guard, Brown declined to indicate whether his impending departure is the result of a formal deployment. He signaled that he would issue a statement later on with more information regarding the matter." [HuffPost]
JOHN ENSIGN DELIVERS FAREWELL SPEECH ... YEAH, LIKE YOU CARE - Outgoing Senator John Ensign gave a surprisingly candid farewell speech on the Senate floor today. Then again, when you've been accused of what he's been accused of, it's unlikely that you'll ever crawl out of whatever lobbying shop you cycled into and back into the sociopathic maelstrom of American politics.* "When I first arrived in the Senate, I observed several people who were so caught up in their own self-importance and business that arrogance literally dripped from them," he said. "As easy as it was for me to view this in other people, unfortunately, I was blind to how arrogant and self-centered that I had become. I did not recognize that -- that I thought mostly of myself. The worst part about this is I even tried not to become caught up in my own self-importance. Unfortunately, the urge to believe in it was stronger than the power to fight it. This is how dangerous the feeling of power and adulation can be." He went on to regret having judged fallen colleagues Larry Craig and Ted Stevens for similar indiscretions. [HuffPost's Jason Linkins]
* But then again...
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - A koala bear mom hugs its cub. Freedom isn't free.
KEVIN THE INTERN'S 'THIS DAY IN HISTORY' - May 2, 1972: J. Edgar Hoover Finally Retires ... By Dying: In the hall of fame for unstoppable government prosecutors drunk on power, J. Edgar Hoover is its king. From his days in the lower levels of the Justice Department to being in charge of the modern FBI, John Edgar Hoover was its longest-serving director. Hoover ran what used to be called the Bureau of Investigation and turned it into a powerful crime fighting organization after successfully ending the affairs of John Dillinger and other gangsters around the country. He led investigations into Communist activity within the U.S., tried to paint Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a rampaging radical, and it came out that he protected President Nixon during the Watergate affair. Hoover's stress caught up with him and he died of heart failure. The result of Hoover serving so long? Congress decided that the Senate should confirm all future FBI directors, and imposed a 10-year limit to their terms. Thanks, KB!
- Osama bin Laden's compound is getting pretty awesome reviews on Google Maps/ [http://some.ly/m9oMKU]
- DuckTales in real life is hilarious, not suitable for children. [http://bit.ly/ilOK0E]
- "Pop star Justin Bieber has come under attack from flying eggs." [http://huff.to/liyfXQ]
- Car engines powered by LASERS. Cool, but we really want that laser gun powered by lasers. [http://bit.ly/l9a9FV]
- You clearinghouse of Osama death-related animations and videos. [http://bit.ly/m4wW1m]
- Rabbits in Germany are competing in a equestrian-style jump courses. [http://bit.ly/mxABfH]
- Here's a painting of a bear that resembles Teddy Roosevelt riding Abe Lincoln who is shooting lasers out of his eyes. Freedom isn't free. [http://bit.ly/lBCj6p]
- The greatest ping pong shot ever. Check out that backspin! [http://bzfd.it/kPqdXH]
@wise_kaplan: Body of bin Laden Is Fed to Insatiable Internet; Web Beast Swallows It Whole, Belches, Wheezes, Lurches, Emits Smoke, Moves Ever Onward
@LizMair: @JonHenke "Hey, just FYI, we're about to fly into your airspace and extract/execute someone. Heads up."
@LEBassett: "Abbottabad? Talk Abbottabad place to hide." -@NardDawg #osama
@alqaeda: I always thought that seals were such cute, friendly creatures. Boy, did I get that one wrong.
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm: Debbie Wasserman Schultz takes a break from filling the DCCC's coffers to break off a little piece for her own campaign. [423 New Jersey Ave SE].
6:30 pm: A whole host of D.C. power players -- Byron Dorgan, Debbie Dingell, Ben Barnes, et al. -- convene to raise dough for Amy Klobuchar's reelection. It's like that WHCD party you attended but without the occasional B-lister [3150 South Street NW Penthouse 2].
8:30 am - 9:30 am: Reps. Joe Crowley, Richard Neal, Jim Himes and John Carney are scheduled to attend a fundraiser for the DCCC. Expect a noun, a verb and "bin Laden." [Democratic National Headquarters, 430 South Capitol Street SE].
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Yahoo! hosts a "Demos & Drinks" reception featuring wonks and techies. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres! [Yahoo! Inc, 101 Constitution Avenue NW, Suite 800 W].
6:00 pm: John Barrasso attends a "Wild Game Dinner" in his honor hosted by Tim Rupli. Nothing says favor-trading quite like the rich taste of properly-cooked pheasant. [Rupli Townhouse, 446 New Jersey Ave SE].
6:00 pm - 9:30 pm: Queens Rep. Gary Ackerman's NYC-themed "Real Deli" fundraiser gets an extra dose of meaning with OBL's death. Revenge is even sweeter when you get to sink your teeth into some meat [Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, 144 Constitution Ave. NE].
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