Kill Bin Laden
Most people know that on May 1 of this year, America's Public Enemy Number One, Osama bin Laden, was killed. John Weisman has written a riveting novel about the mission, KBL: Kill Bin Laden, A Novel Based on True Events. Included in this book commentary is an interview by American Thinker with the author about the event and his book.
The book covers a timetable between December 2010 and May 2011 and imagines how events could have possibly unfolded, explaining the thinking and planning behind the mission. Weisman commented that Harper-Collins called four days after the Abbottabad operation, asking him to write a nonfiction book. He wrote a novel because there were facts that could not be presented correctly, such as private meetings where, for example, the only ones in the room were the head of the CIA and the JSOC. To represent the points of view of those involved in the decision-making of the operation, the book became a novel based on true facts.
Readers will learn the intricate planning and execution of Operation Neptune Spear, the killing of bin Laden (OBL), and how SEALs prepared for the mission. The first few chapters in the book introduce a CIA operative, Charlie Becker, who is in Abbottabad, Pakistan, undercover as a beggar, seeking leads about OBL. Weisman realistically describes in the book how the operative Becker is "an army of one. Working in a vacuum...the ability to be out there with no net, no support, no back-up, and most critical, no one to talk to."
The book delves into the different options considered, including an aerial bombing and a helicopter insertion mission. Not having a solid determination that bin Laden was in the compound, a bombing mission was eventually ruled out, since the collateral damage would be too great and it would be hard to get OBL's DNA to prove that he was taken out. The planning of the mission was based on keeping things simple: insert, assault, exploit, and extract.
Nothing would happen unless there was a good probability that the person in the compound was OBL. Weisman takes the reader through the circumstantial evidence that a CIA analyst could have gone through. In the book, the analyst, Spike, mirrors the real-life career analyst, John, whose job for the past decade was finding the al-Qaeda leader. They both were extremely confident and gave a high-probability percentage that the person in the compound was indeed OBL because of the food, the couriers, and the structure of the buildings. There was Arab food, lamb and rice, instead of what Pakistanis eat, chicken and lentils; among the occupants were two known trusted couriers of OBL; and the structure of the house was built to hide a tall person, six-foot-four, that included a seven-foot privacy wall and concertina wire on top that went as high as eighteen feet.
Besides Spike, there are other characters that represent real-life players. An attorney general who is described in the book as someone who spends "most of his time trying to indict CIA officers from doing their job but turned terrorists loose so they could kill more Americans." The "idiot" vice president who "never engaged his brain before he put his mouth in gear." A senator from Massachusetts, "a former presidential hopeful, the current chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a self proclaimed expert on all things diplomatic. He was famous for his collection of Hermes ties (most of them courtesy of his millionaire wife)[.]"
There is the president who is all "show me, no tell me." Someone who, as with President Obama, needed to be pushed into giving a go-ahead which was done by the CIA director, leaving the president no other option since "those guys at the White House have got to get past politics and start behaving like adults when it comes to national security policy." When asked about this characterization, Weisman commented to American Thinker, "This is a White House that uses war games, polls, focus groups on just about everything. It would be this president's natural instinct to be wary of anything that would impede his re-election or cause him embarrassment. Panetta forced him to do something. We need leaders who have the moral courage to do what is right, not political."
Weisman wrote the book as a "tribute to the grunts: those in the safe houses, and those special ops people who were the intricate part of the mission. These are the folks who have the passion and the grit no matter how bad the administration treats them. They don't care because they have one goal, to complete the mission, which in this case was putting bin Laden's head on a spike. I wanted to write about it in a way that does not jeopardize them but allows the general public to get an understanding of the mission."
He certainly did that and more. This book is very believable and well-developed with clear and concise details. If for no other reason, people should read the book for the truth behind OBL's burial at sea, which Weisman asserts is factual and exclusive to his book. What a reader will take away from this novel is an increased appreciation for the job that intelligence and Special Forces do: their passion, diligence, perseverance, and grit.