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Thursday, May 05, 2011


Obama Dispatches Osama

My plane home from Florida had just landed two hours late Sunday night at beautiful MacArthur Airport near downtown West Islip when the buzz in the cabin reached unusual levels of excitement. Passengers upon landing these days immediately turn on their cell phones, and ours were greeted with the "official" news that Al Queda's inspirational satanic leader, Osama bin Laden was dead. As we were soon to learn, he was among the victims of a raid by Navy Seals on Pakistani soil, a mission ordered by the President, planned by the CIA, and executed to near perfection. We were also to hear quite a bit of erroneous information in the first 24 hours. It is well known that in war, truth is the first and recurring casualty. There are reasons for this. In the heat of battle, it is human to misperceive, and under extreme stress, equally human to want to believe that events occurred in such a way as to put the teller in a favorable light when, in fact, people are acting out of desperation. Still, you might have thought Administration spokespeople might be more careful to get their facts right.

In addition, the Obama people are learning that even when you do things well, the political jackals will be nipping at your heels. There were many decisions to be made during the course of the mission and its aftermath, and it shouldn't be surprising to hear many critical voices from the left and the right, and the inevitable second guessers. Welcome to George W. Bush's world.

So for better or worse, here's the redwavemusings view, in the form of a handy Q and A.

Q. The raid took place on Pakistani soil, without their knowledge until it was over. Wasn't this a violation of Pakistani sovereignty?
A. Of course.
Q. So shouldn't the administration have informed the Pakistanis, even obtained their permission?
A. Surely you jest.
Q. It now appears that there were limited, if any, defenses in the compound and that Osama himself was unarmed. Shouldn't he have been taken alive and brought to Guantanamo or the States for trial?
A. Osama had repeatedly incriminated himself on tape and celebrated his organization's various terrorist events and murders. A trial was unnecessary and would have been turned into a circus. The cost of securing Osama in a prison a la the Nazi war criminals would have been huge. Instead, the Seals executed him and that was revenge we had coming and justice he had coming. I have no problem with that.
Q. Was it right to bury Osama at sea according to Islamic rites?
A. Following Islamic custom was an interesting touch but probably more than he had coming. Frankly, I agree with Alan Dershowitz that he should have been autopsied as U.S. homicide victims would be. That would have provided any evidence needed to discredit future revisionists (like the people who think the moon landings were staged). I do think the burial at sea was a good idea. Why provide a memorial spot for his followers?
Q. Should the pictures be released?
A. I don't really care that much, and have no prurient interest in seeing them. My assumption is that eventually, they will be leaked, whether the Administration wants that or not.
Q. Does this mean that the CIA is back to the standards of effectiveness we took for granted during the Cold War?
A. Woulds't that were true!

A few other thoughts. There is no way to absolve the Pakistanis in this. They either knew where Osama was and protected him for a long time, or they are just plain stupid. Either way, their lack of curiosity about the compound speaks volumes about their reliability as an ally.

The Dems will never admit it, but the ultimate success of this mission owes a lot to the aggressive questioning of KSM by the Bush Administration. Frankly, it never bothered me whether waterboarding might be torture or not. it made sense to use whatever methods were necessary to extract from people who knew the information we needed. Since Al Queda fighters were not uniformed soldiers and did not subscribe to the Geneva Conventions, the protection afforded other POW's did not apply to them.

So, while this result inures to the credit of the Obama Administration (it's time something did), it also reflects well on the Bush Administration. And the President was both gracious and wise to call GWB and keep him in the loop because of his ongoing stake in the mission.


On 4/29, we bought 100 shares of IDT, a zero buy at 28.70. On 5/3, we sold 300 shares of Newpark Resources (NR) for 9.40, some more profit taking (and we'll report how much in the next post). On 5/4, we bought 200 shares of RBS preferred (RBS.PR.E) at 15.90. It appears that the Brits are going to keep this bank propped up indefinitely, so we'll keep accepting the dividend payments.

The last few days have seen the market correct pretty drastically, reversing almost all of the recent trends. The dollar has been stronger, metals, oil and stocks down. Folks have made a lot of George Soros reversing his view on gold and silver. He's another crackpot as far as I'm concerned. I think this is just a correction and that the trends will reassert themselves. That is, inflation hedges up, dollar down. I will think that until I see real change in monetary and/or fiscal policy, not just speculation.

When these corrections occur, no matter how much profit taking you've done, it never feels like it was enough. However, thanks to our formula, we did a fair amount the last few weeks and never got euphoric about the long rally, just satisfied. We're in good shape to do some buying here, having piled up ample cash, especially if the correction continues for a while.

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