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27 Oct 2011 22:51


Politics: Leon Panetta’s expensive New Year’s toast, thanks to Osama bin Laden

  • The oldest bottle in his friend’s restaurant? an 1870 Chateau Lafite Rothschild. Years ago, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made a bet with a restaurateur around his CIA-led mission to find Osama Bin Laden: If Panetta’s team caught Bin Laden, Ted Balestreri would open up a bottle of wine that predates the first automobile. Now that time’s come. With Bin Laden dead, Balestreri will uncork that 141-year-old bottle around New Year’s Eve. Did we mention the bottle costs between $10,000 and $15,000? Careful to walk a line, though, one of Panetta’s spokespeople notes that this gesture isn’t meant to celebrate Bin Laden’s death. “Secretary Panetta has had New Year’s Eve gatherings with toasts with friends for years and this year there will be a special toast,” noted Douglas Wilson, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. source

15 Aug 2011 10:39


U.S., World: Did China get a good look at the downed Bin Laden stealth copter?

The Pentagon thinks Pakistan let the uber-powerful communist nation take a look at this stealth Blackhawk copter, which crashed just before a bunch of Seal Team 6 members killed Osama bin Laden. source

06 Aug 2011 13:02


U.S., World: SEAL Team Six members reportedly killed in Afghanistan

  • 20+ Navy SEALS reportedly killed in Afghanistan plane crash source
  • » And they weren’t just any Navy SEALS, either: These are some of the guys who took out Osama bin Laden in Pakistan back in May. (Edit: There are conflicting reports.) This is horribly sad, and we’ll keep you posted as we learn more. The AP has received word of this but nothing official has been noted due to the fact that families are still being notified. (h/t ProducerMatthew)

10 Jul 2011 11:06


World: U.S. trims away a huge chunk of Pakistan’s security funding

  • $800 million in funding goes away — like that source
  • » That’s no small chunk, guys: In other words, roughly a third of the security aid that the U.S. gives Pakistan each year. Why the change? Well, as White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley puts it, Pakistan has “taken some steps that have given us reason to pause on some of the aid.” Like possibly harboring Osama bin Laden in a compound within a couple of miles of a military base? That seems like a pretty big step. That said, the U.S. does consider the relationship with Pakistan important, if imperfect. “It’s a complicated relationship in a very difficult, complicated part of the world,” Daley says. “Obviously, there’s still lot of pain that the political system in Pakistan is feeling by virtue of the raid that we did to get Osama Bin Laden, something that the president felt strongly about and we have no regrets over.”

24 Jun 2011 11:17


World: Osama bin Laden seriously considered changing al-Qaeda’s name

  • what In the months before his death, the leader of the terrorist group considered giving al-Qaeda a different name, according to a letter retrieved by special forces officials after he was killed back in May. It was a sign of Bin Laden attempting to keep the group relevant.
  • why The  name “al-Qaeda” stands for “the base,” which Bin Laden thought didn’t strike a religious pose. He wanted a name that emphasized that they were going to holy war with the enemies of Islam. He had nothing to worry about; “al-Qaeda” did the trick. source

16 Jun 2011 10:34


World: It’s official: Ayman al-Zawahiri is al-Qaeda’s new leader

There was speculation that Saif al-Adel would get the job instead. Guess not. We’re betting this eulogy for the slain Bin Laden probably had something to do with it. source

15 Jun 2011 23:30


World: It’s hard out there for a pro-American general in Pakistan

  • The most powerful man in Pakistan is on the verge of being deposed. The US and Pakistan have a very tenuous relationship; while Pakistan receives a lot of US aid, and the two countries are ostensibly on good terms, much of the Pakistani population holds anti-American sentiments, and some accuse government contingents of covertly undermining American efforts in the country. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is the head of the country’s military, and is more pro-American than just about everybody in his ranks. Dissatisfaction among his underlings is brewing, and according to Pakistani sources, a coup is not entirely unlikely. If Kayani goes, expect US-Pakistan relations to get a lot icier. source

08 Jun 2011 11:39


World: Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri eulogizes Osama bin Laden

  • The sheikh has departed, may God have mercy on him, to his God as a martyr and we must continue on his path of jihad to expel the invaders from the land of Muslims and to purify it from injustice.
  • Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri • Eulogizing the death of Osama bin Laden in a recently-released 28-minute recording. He had some rough words for the U.S., too, obviously: “Today, and thanks be to God, America is not facing an individual or a group … but a rebelling nation which has awoken from its sleep in a jihadist renaissance.” Al-Zawahri, al-Qaeda’s longtime number two, was reportedly passed up for the top job after Bin Laden’s death. In other news, a recent poll suggests widespread global support for the killing of Bin Laden, though most people think it won’t change things. source

25 May 2011 16:54


Politics: Sen. Max Baucus calls for quicker Afghanistan withdrawal

  • The President has announced that this July will mark the beginning of a transition of security responsibility to Afghan forces. However, in my view the transition plan is too slow. We need to begin handing responsibility of security to Afghan forces immediately and aim to have most US combat troops out of Afghanistan by the end of next year. We should leave behind only a small force to hunt down and kill terrorists in Afghanistan, and to help the Afghan military perform their duties.
  • Senator Max Baucus • Calling for both a quicker withdrawal of troops, and a quicker transfer of responsibility from the U.S. military to Afghan security forces. That these conversations are starting to crop up is unsurprising; the death of Osama bin Laden, the ostensible reason the U.S. entered Afghanistan to begin with, makes this the most politically opportune time to voice such sentiments. And while the concerns in leaving quicker are by no means negligible, with a government as steeped in corruption as the Afghanistan’s is, and under a leader like Hamid Karzai (famously volatile, takes bags of money from Iran, once threatened that he might join the Taliban), what is the ultimate definition of success for the U.S. involvement there? source

19 May 2011 13:41


World: Bin Laden: Technology replaces the need for cash rewards

  • $25 million reward for Bin Laden’s capture; no one’s getting it source
  • » Not unless they pay it out to a computer, anyway. U.S. officials are saying that no one directly gave the U.S. information that lead to Osama bin Laden’s capture, but instead attribute it to technology. They tracked Bin Laden’s most trusted courier through his cell phone, they found his compound by using stealth drones, and they’ll be keeping their money, thank you very much. If computers had feelings, they’d be devastated.