THE BLOG
05/05/2011 07:41 pm ET | Updated Jul 05, 2011

Would Shutdown Have Led to Bin Laden's Escape?

What would the take-down of Osama bin Laden, one of the most successful-ever U.S. intelligence/military operations, have been like if the government had been in a shutdown mode, running on half power? Or would the dangerous and intense operation, after years in the making, have been postponed while politicians pontificated? And what if, either way, he had gotten away?

Just a thought!

I certainly don't know the answer. Nor, I bet, do members of Congress who out of conviction, ignorance, hatred of government or plain old stupidity appear hell bent on gutting the civil service as a career. And who were willing to risk, or hoping for, a shutdown that would have jeopardized the paychecks of military personnel as well.

After all, giving a Navy SEAL, an Army Ranger, or a member of Delta Force an IOU is not fair. Nor is it a good idea.

Had the shutdown happened, one hopes that the SEALs, Rangers, the CIA, NSA and DIA, and key personnel from a dozen other agencies, would have been considered essential and therefore kept on the payroll while their not-so-essential colleagues were languishing at home. Probably.

You'd think!

Sunday's super-secret operation was known only to a small number (hundreds?) of government and military personnel. But many more, maybe thousands, of federal and military personnel were involved in the hunt, which has been going on for 10 years. Some of them may not have known it but were asked to comment on some bit of intelligence, or analyze handwriting, a voice print or a DNA sample. Or go over various interrogations, some years old, for bits of information leading to the capture of you know who.

This was definitely a team operation with the SEALs and the CIA at the point of the spear.

"Victory," as President John F. Kennedy said, "has a thousand fathers. Defeat is an orphan."

Thanks to the success of Sunday's raid in Pakistan a lot of us -- including folks like me who saw, heard and did nothing productive or helpful -- as Americans are winners today. That was the subject of yesterday's column which pointed out that hundreds, maybe thousands, of feds played a role.

Here's some of the feedback we got:

    "AMEN! Thanks for the column ... I've been really crabby, lethargic and wondering why the hell I'm still doing this job-nobody notices or cares. Especially some of the idiotic executives running the IRS. I'm thinking about hanging up some item to remind me it takes lots of cash to pull off an operation like this and I'm part of the team that gets that cash in the bank. Might look pretty good hanging next to my service plaque in my office in the home...

    "Thanks again-I needed that pep talk!" Dianne

    "Thank you for today's column (5-3-11). That said it all. We did do it, didn't we. :-) Hoo-rah. Just sign me: a hard working nameless, faceless, underpaid bureaucrat (my counterparts on the outside make over double what I make and I took a pay cut by 1/3 to come back to FDA back in 1995 -- but I don't regret it) who is proud to work for FDA protecting public health and safety. Oh, and I am not considered 'essential.'" HWNFUBWPWFFDA

    "That was a great piece you wrote!!! I wish they would blow it up on the front page of the major newspapers once a week for the next year as a reminder to everyone that WE count!!!!" Marcy F

    Mike Causey is a senior correspondent at Federal News Radio. He writes a daily column on federal government pay, benefits and workforce issues.