President Obama goes on Oprah with the First Lady and the first and largest breaking news story of her interview was the release of the coveted long form of the President's birth certificate. "He was born here!" says the First Lady in gest as they both laugh and smile at the foolery surrounding the entire issue. They talked the entire hour about family, the presidency, and many light issues. It was a warm conversation and both the president and first lady looked as if they were extremely relaxed.
Then the President goes to the correspondent's dinner that weekend. He roasts Donald Trump with some of the most brilliant candor the world had ever seen. The only person who didn't seem to enjoy it was Donald Trump who continued to look both angered and foolish by his being suckered by the extreme right who believed the President wasn't born here, and made this joke of a man believe it as well. The introduction of the long form of the birth certificate and this correspondents dinner seemed to put closure to the issue. I especially liked the fake "birth video" that was actually a scene from the Lion King! The President made jokes about Trump's taking on "big issues" such as having to make the TOUGH decision of who to fire between Gary Busey, Meatloaf, or Lil' John on his show The Apprentice. Seth Myers roasted the President for his "lack of knowledge" of knowing where bin Laden existed by jokingly saying he was on the set of CSPAN filming... the President gave a large grin, laughed, as well as the entire crowd. The evening was filled with laughter with the only serious moment coming from the president addressing those who were facing hard times in Alabama.
That Sunday, the President gets up and plays nine holes of golf. I am not sure how his game went, but from the pictures he looked as if he was having a grand, relaxed time.
What is the significance of these events over the week? The one common thread was Operation Geronimo was being planned. This was the operation to catch the most notorious criminal in the world... Osama Bin Laden. The man who coordinated an event that killed 3,000 Americans, spread terror throughout the world through the ordered killing of Muslims and other innocent people, and for the past 10 years has changed the way Americans lived their lives... never again would I just take the subway, ride a plane, or go to an event with a lot of people without looking cautiously for anything that was out of place. We have all been charged with the order of "If you see something... say something" and it is largely because of this man who the President had finally located after 10 years of searching.
How was he able to remain so cool and calm? As he taped "The Oprah Show" he hadn't signed off to start the operation but he knew of the location of bin Laden... he didn't show any signs of agitation throughout the casual conversation. At the correspondents dinner he has already made the tough decision to change the operation. Originally they were going to bomb the complex deep in Pakistan near Islamabad. However, the president didn't want to kill any innocent bystanders AND he wanted to be sure they were able to get physical evidence of the capture or kill of bin Laden so he ordered four helicopters holding about 79 American commandos to fly deep into Pakistan (without the knowledge of the Pakistanis) and rope down into the compound for a hand-to-hand confrontation.
The decision to sign off and start the mission was called one of the most risky and tough decisions in the history of this country because it still was not completely certain of Bin Laden's residence inside this compound near Islamabad. The only tip they had was from a CIA agent who followed behind the white Suzuki of an alleged courier of Bin Laden's near Peshawar, Pakistan in July. The officials of the CIA, following the Suzuki, reached an extensive compound at the end of a long dirt road and surrounded by large security fences in a wealthy area about 35 miles near Islamabad. The information was given to commandos who began planning Operation Geronimo. Was this enough information to put 79 of our nation's best troops' men and women in danger? Our president, with a cool head, signed off on the mission and was at the correspondents dinner later that weekend with full knowledge while holding one of the coolest poker faces the world had ever seen.
The pictures from the situation room hours after his round of golf showed a stern, serious, but still cool President Obama directing the mission from afar as they waited patiently to hear the results of the mission. The commandos roped into the compound, encountered enemy fire, shot five people including one tall bearded man who refused to surrender peacefully, and despite having to blow up a malfunctioned helicopter flew out of the compound in just 40 minutes with the dead body of a man alleged to be bin Laden in tow. They were not yet out of danger as the Pakistanis had detected the unannounced helicopters in their air space. They rushed to get into their planes to intercept and take down the intruders by force that refused their requests to identify themselves. The Americans quickly communicated their mission and intent before their troops were taken down by the Pakistanis and the commandos were able to make it back to Afghanistan air space safely in just the nick of time.
Pictures were taken, the body was given a DNA test, it was confirmed by analysts that this was indeed Bin Laden. They radioed back to the President who was with his team monitoring the situation real time and stated, "Geronimo... E-KIA." This means Operation Geronimo, Enemy Killed in Action. The president responded in his typical cool headed fashion with one simple phrase, "Got 'em."
I was awoken out of my sleep to hear the news. I didn't go to the World Trade Center grounds to celebrate, but I was certainly jumping up and down. The world's most wanted terrorist was taken down by our president! The murderer of 3,000 innocent Americans was put to justice. This was a historical moment and I was going to take the time to enjoy it with my fellow Americans.
I had friends in the World Trade Center that day... most made it out, but a few I never saw again. In those days, I myself traveled through the World Trade Center every morning on my way to my equity trading firm in Jersey City. To think that just that morning I was at the site where just an hour and a half after I traveled through the building, it was attacked by the man who our president just took down... I cried as I remembered the day and am even shedding a tear now as I remember seeing with my own eyes the second plane hitting the building and the buildings collapsing from across the Hudson River. "Did my friends make it out?" Again... most did, but some didn't.
I make no mistake in thinking this is over. This most certainly means that in the short term we are in more danger as the evildoers will want to retaliate. However, in the long term I do think this is a huge step in the right direction in fighting against terrorism. I am not a fool... I know we will NEVER be rid of terrorism because when you eliminate one just like a weed another will sprout up just as fast. Yes... Ayman al-Zawahri (Al Qaeda's second in command) I am sure stands ready to take the lead. Between Al Qaeda central their core operating mechanism, Al Qaeda networks and affiliates, and the independent operating cells of Al Qaeda we can't ever expect to completely eliminate them... but we CAN send a message. This message was sent by President Obama that if you attack America there is no place you can run, no place you can hide, no matter how long you run, we will find you and take you down! YOU WILL PAY!
Thank you, President Obama, for your cool head and leadership. The man who took friends from me on that day has been brought to justice... you "got 'em"!