October 2001

Imagine it’s October 2001, and you’ve just received a letter from the future, telling you Osama bin Laden would finally be killed by U.S. special forces in May 2011.  You might have been a little bummed that it took the better part of a decade to catch him, but even back then, you probably knew getting the al-Qaeda mastermind would be difficult.

What would you say if the letter from the future told you the CIA agents who helped track bin Laden down would face a Justice Department probe, due to their harsh treatment of terrorist prisoners… and when the sister of a pilot who died on 9/11 asked the President to at least offer “an opinion” in favor of the agents to his Attorney General, he would “turn around and walk away?”

How would you handle knowing that Osama bin Laden would spend much of the next decade hiding only a short drive from the Pakistani capital city, aided by elements within Pakistan’s intelligence services?

How would you have reacted to learning that it took sixteen hours for the president to authorize a mission to take bin Laden out – and he would later demand praise his “decisiveness?”  What if you were then informed bin Laden might have been preparing to bolt when the word was finally given?

Would you believe that the official story of bin Laden’s death would be revised dozens of times by a White House clearly seeking maximum political advantage, while apparently viewing the SEALs who put bin Laden down as defendants in need of a good alibi before the court of world opinion?

What would you say to the future Administration’s desire to give bin Laden a respectful funeral, in accordance with “Islamic practices”… followed by angry criticism from certain Islamic scholars that they failed to do so?

How would you handle learning that the President of 2011 would dangle the promise of releasing photos of bin Laden’s corpse before the American public for days – with his CIA director saying “I just think it’s important, [the American people] know we have it, to release it” – before deciding he wouldn’t let us see them after all… a decision relayed casually during an interview for 60 Minutes?

Consider the totality of what has transpired over the past five days, and then imagine you learned all of this future history at once, while bodies were still being pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center.


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