— Stones & Dust: All that is left of the hideout of al-Baghdadi near Barisha. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the depraved leader of ISIS, was killed in an American military operation on 26-27 October 2019 outside Barisha, close to the Turkish border, and a considerable distance from any area previously occupied by ISIS. He was chased to his death by the Belgian Malinois, Conan. It is fitting that the last thing this murderous extremist saw or heard was a dog coming for him, considering that contact with dogs is proscribed as “impure” in his Faith.
Having previously written an article in which I presented the Situation Room picture of (former) President Obama and his people during the Raid on Bin Laden on 2 May 2011, I felt it would only be appropriate to do the same for the above raid. However, upon putting the two pictures next to each other, the profound differences struck me immediately. It seemed to me they were worth sharing.
The Raid on Bin Laden : Operation Neptune Spear
First, we consider the Raid on Bin Laden outside Abbottabad in Pakistan, the town founded by and named for James Abbott. He was a British army Officer and later Colonial Administrator in what was then British “India”. (Please do read up about him; a very interesting eccentric). The image below shows the Situation Room on the night of the raid.
The Raid on al-Baghdadi: Operation Kayla Mueller
This raid was named for the young American woman volunteer who was murdered by al-Baghdadi’s ISIS after being abducted while helping Doctors without Borders. That already tells one something. For example, I have no idea what Neptune’s spear has to do with Bin Laden. I know exactly what Kayla Mueller has to do with al-Baghdadi.
Comparing the pictures
A. The Bin Laden Raid
In the 2011 picture, there are at least seventeen people huddled in this room, one being the photographer, and three with just portions of clothes or tops of heads showing. We can list the identifiable people follows: On the far left is Joe Biden, then Vice-President of the United States, and the man who advised that the mission should NOT be undertaken because it could end like Jimmy Carter’s abortive mission in the desert of Iran on 24 April 1980. I lived in New York at the time and I well remember my best friend in life, an American, in tears. Israel, South Africa and Germany had all successfully undertaken similarly logistically complex raids in the recent past, and the most powerful nation on Earth had failed, forced to leave its dead in the desert next to the burnt out hulks of its aircraft.
The man in the sweater, hunkered down in a low chair in the left corner was then leader of the most powerful nation in the world; the man who had approved the mission to go ahead after much agonizing, President Barack Obama. He was no doubt, in line with his stated doctrine, “Leading from Behind”.
The man apparently in command in the room is in the chair at the head of the table, Brigadier General Marshall B. “Brad” Webb, USAF, Assistant Commanding General, Joint Special Operations Command. As befits a man with his responsibilities, he is focused on his workstation and is NOT—repeat NOT—checking his Facebook account. To his left and the viewer’s right sits Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor. So, the deputy is at the table, and not the actual National Security Advisor to the President, who is Tom Donilon, in blue shirt, standing behind the aforesaid Brig. General Webb.
Next to McDonough sits Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, clearly so stressed out that she is pulling a fold into the skin of her face. And she’s the one who had commercials about the nation wanting HER to take the much dreaded call on the red Doomsday Phone? The White House had to pixelize the Classified picture in front of her. Somehow she just always seems to have security issues.
Nearest the camera is Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, a man who has always commanded respect from all sides of the US political spectrum. Standing to the right of Donilon is Admiral Mike Mullen, USN, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the most senior professional military man in the room. Standing on Donilon’s left is Bill Daley, White House Chief of Staff. Behind Daley is Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President, trying to look over Daley’s shoulder. The lady at the back, stretching to see past Blinken’s elbow, set off a veritable firestorm of investigations back in 2011, because she was unidentified at the time. It eventually turned out that she is Audrey Tomason, Director for Counter-Terrorism. Unlike most people in that room, and specifically the two men in front of her or Hillary, she actually had at least a nominal reason to be there.
The last two men on the far right in the 2011 picture are John Brennan, Obama’s appointed Homeland Security Advisor (later Obama’s CIA Chief) and James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence. Unlike with Brennan, his role requires approval by the Senate. Both these men are today regarded with extreme suspicion as being part of the “Deep State” cabal that formulated the plot to remove President Trump from Office in what is in effect an attempted coup by the unelected security structure of the Country.
To my mind, the only people who should have been in that room were Obama, Biden, the general, the admiral, Secretary Gates, Donilon, and perhaps Audrey Tomason, though my jury is out on that last addition.
A. The al-Baghdadi Raid
The picture contains evidence of nine people, eight fewer than the Obama picture. Besides the photographer, there appear to be two more arrangements of writing materials, as though individuals are sitting at those positions at the table, but out of view. As for the individuals visible, none are standing, none are stretching to see past someone’s elbow or over anyone’s shoulder. There seems to be no superfluous humans present among them. They are, from left to right, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien; Vice President Mike Pence; President Trump, clearly in command at the head of the table; Defense Secretary Mark Esper; Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley; and Brig. Gen. Marcus Evans, Deputy Director for Special Operations on the Joint Staff, the man commanding the mission.
Now look in the faces of these men, and compare what you see with the faces of the people in the 2011 raid. I have one simple observation: I see six men with grim determination written in their faces in 2019. If you were a determined enemy of the United States, which of the two pictures would make you think twice before crossing swords with the USA?
Sometimes international politics, like real life, is as simple as this question, and I do not think Obama ever understood any of this. Certainly, Hillary did not. Both of them were visibly less stressed about the loss of the brave men at Benghazi. Oh… and by the way… she did NOT “pick up the red phone” when the men in that embassy desperately called for help. But she had the mental wherewithal to lie about it afterwards and ascribed the Benghazi attack to a silly video.
Is it not amazing what a picture can tell one?