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Well-told story of the hunt for Bin-Laden
on May 5, 2012
Security analyst Peter Bergen has done an excellent job at recounting the 10 year search for Osama Bin-laden and his killing in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Told in a terse tone, with little sensationalism, Bergin writes for about the first third of the book on the hunt for Bin-Laden and the last two thirds on the planning for the raid on the compound, the raid itself, and the aftermath. Not only was the raid, conducted by the amazing Seal team, dangerous from an operational standpoint, it was also tricky from a political standpoint. "Political" here in the US and also in the world, where a failed raid would be devastating.
Bergen, who published the book close to the first anniversary of the raid, draws the characters with a deft hand. He had written a couple of previous books on Bin-Laden and he had met him in the late 1990's. He also writes about US government officials - from Obama on down - who discussed the prospective raid over and over again since a possible intelligence break placed Bin-Laden in the compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad. Months of surveillance, mainly from the air but a little on the ground, could not give a 100% certainty that the figure pacing in the enclosed compound was Bin-Laden, but after much discussion, the raid went forward. Peter Bergen writes with the same deliberateness with which the government officials - both clandestine and non-clandestine - went to work, weighing the odds of both the figure being Osama Bin-Laden and the raid being successful. (And "successful" meant, of course, the Seals getting into Abbotabad, landing in the compound and carrying out their mission, and then getting out again, with no lives lost.)
Bergin takes the reader into the Situation Room (as well as other small rooms in the White House) where nervous officials - both military and governmental - sat and watched as the raid proceeded in real time. This well-written book was great to read after the NBC special on the raid, which was broadcast on May 1st. Both were well-done and give the reader/viewer the inside look at a spectacular mission.