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Monday, May 02, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Contrary to the intelligence community’s long-held belief that bin Laden was in a lawless 'no man’s land' on the Pakistani border, bin Laden had been hiding in a three-story house in a one-acre compound in Abbottabad, about 35 miles north of Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. Officials describe it as a relatively affluent community, with lots of residents who are retired military.  'Bin Laden was living in a relatively comfortable place: a compound valued at about $1 million,' a senior U.S. official told POLITICO. 'Many of his foot soldiers are located in some of the remotest regions of Pakistan and live in austere conditions. You’ve got to wonder if they’re rethinking their respect for their dead leader. He obviously wasn’t living as one of them.' Officials described the raid as the culmination of years of highly advanced intelligence work that included the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which specializes in imagery and maps, and the National Security Agency (NSA), the 'codemakers and codebreakers' who can covertly watch and listen to conversations around the world. On June 2, 2009, just over four months into his presidency, Obama had signed a memo to CIA Director Leon Panetta stating 'in order to ensure that we have expanded every effort, I direct you to provide me within 30 days a detailed operation plan for locating and bringing to justice' bin Laden." (Politico)


"Al Qaeda will have a difficult time finding a successor. Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s chief lieutenant, has few of the qualities that would make for a successful leader. He’s anti-charismatic. He ran his own Egyptian terror organization, al-Jihad, into the ground. Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American cleric now underground in Yemen, will continue to cause trouble, but it is unlikely that he will ever gain the standing of his Saudi predecessor. The fact that bin Laden was found in a compound in a wealthy retirement community populated in large part by former Pakistani military officers raises dire questions about the relationship of the Pakistani army and its intelligence community to radical Islamic terrorists. For the past decade, as America has poured billions into a country where about one in a hundred citizens pays income taxes, the Pakistani military/intelligence complex has gone into the looking-for-bin-Laden business. Now, they are out of business. If it is true that Pakistani intelligence was helpful in locating bin Laden, and kept that matter secret, then we can begin to sort out our fraught relationship with that troubled country on a more equitable, trusting basis. If that turns out not to be the case, then there will be a dreadful reckoning to come." (Lawrence Wright)


"This just isn't Donald Trump's weekend. First on Saturday he was skewered by President Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner because of Trump's relentless attacks relating to Obama's birth certificate. Then tonight, the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed by an Obama-ordered U.S. Navy Seals mission broke in the middle of Trump's Celebrity Apprentice boardroom scene on the East Coast. The broadcast networks all interrupted their regular programming around 10:45 PM ET. Quipped one Twitter user: 'Donald Trump demands Osama Bin Laden's death certificate.'" (Deadline)


"Everyone in our family knows that our Grandfather bin Laden had two main passions: work and women. He was extremely successful in both arenas. His ethic for hard work and total sincerity won him the complete trust of the King. With hard work came financial rewards, which enabled my grandfather to satisfy his second passion: women.  In my culture, it is not uncommon for men, particularly the very wealthy and the very poor, to have four wives simultaneously. My grandfather was soon so rich that he not only married four women but continually emptied several of the four marriage positions so that he could fill the vacated slots with new wives. With so many wives and ex-wives, my grandfather had so many children that it was difficult for him to maintain a relationship with each child. As was the custom, he did give extra attention to the eldest sons, but most of his children were seen only on important occasions. This did not mean he did not follow the progress of his children; he would take time out of his busy schedule to make cursory checks to ensure that his sons were advancing in school or that his daughters married well. Since my father was not one of the eldest sons, he was not in a position to see his father regularly." (Omar bin Laden, son of Osama)


"They say Washington, DC, is 'Hollywood for ugly people,' but the Beltway got a major infusion of good looks Saturday night at the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner. Staid Washingtonians also got a dose of Hollywood-style drama. Sean Penn caused a stir right off the bat when he wouldn't follow everyone else in putting his hand over his heart as the room stood and sang 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at the Hilton International Ballroom. The surly star then spent dinner all over new flame Scarlett Johansson. 'She plopped down in his lap, and they were kissing,' described a shocked witness. The two left the room for 'an hour,' sources said, and Penn came back to the table with his tie askew." (PageSix)


"Four days before the fall of Kabul in November 2001, Osama bin Laden was still in town. The Al Qaeda leader’s movements before and after September 11 are difficult to trace precisely, but, just prior to the attacks, we know that he appeared in Kandahar and urged his followers to evacuate to safer locations in anticipation of U.S. retaliation. Then, on November 8, he was in Kabul, despite the fact that U.S. forces and their Afghan allies were closing in on the city. That morning, while eating a meal of meat and olives, he gave an interview to Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist who was writing his biography. He defended the attacks on New York and Washington, saying, 'America and its allies are massacring us in Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, and Iraq. The Muslims have the right to attack America in reprisal.' Six months later, when I met Mir in Pakistan, he told me that the Al Qaeda leader had, on that day, appeared to be in remarkably good spirits. Kabul fell on November 12, and bin Laden, along with other Al Qaeda leaders, fled to Jalalabad, a compact city in eastern Afghanistan surrounded by lush fruit groves." (TNR)


"Howard (Stern) said Obama made a great speech and got right into it. He said it was very inspiring. Howard said he watched the President and Seth Meyers at the Washington Correspondents Dinner. He said Trump was in the audience and it was kind of a fun event. Howard said the President went off on Trump and then Seth Meyers went off on him too. Howard said he likes Trump but he doesn't agree with the whole birther thing. He said he doesn't believe the guy is actually running for President. He said he feels that he's harming his brand going out and saying all of the stuff he's saying. He's turning off a lot of people doing this stuff. Howard said he has some radical views and he's coming off as a tough guy. Robin said he's catering to a lot of people who aren't so smart. Howard said they're a bunch of dummies. Robin said that's one way to put it. Howard said he doesn't think Trump needs this. He said the guy is a builder and not that many people have gotten famous doing that. He said it's an amazing thing to become famous for that. He said he probably takes no advice as far as public relations. He said he has gotten famous on his own but now he's becoming hated by a lot of people. He said they embarrassed him at that event and he could tell the guy was embarrassed. Howard said the guy doesn't need this and he's not coming off well." (Marksfriggin)


"While at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, hundreds more New Yorkers gathered for the Municipal Art Society of New York’s annual dinner and presentation of the 2011 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal to Diane Von Furstenberg. The Municipal Art Society was founded in 1893 by some far-seeing New Yorkers who were concerned about the burgeoning growth of the city which in less than four decades had moved from a center south of Fourteenth Street to what we now call midtown and north today. They’d broken ground in the development of Central Park in that time period and the population of the city had the Civil War. Fortunately for us New Yorkers, 'vision' abounded among the city civic and cultural leaders. Tim Gunn, Caroline Kennedy, and Chair of The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, Robert B. Tierney, were Thursday evening’s honorary chairs in honoring Ms. Von Furstenberg/Mrs. Barry Diller for her work as an urban pioneer, civic activist and preservationist." (NYSocialDiary)

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