On May 2, four helicopters carrying two-dozen U.S. Navy SEALs snuck into Pakistan bound for Abottabad, flying low to avoid detection by radar (that was switched off anyway). Leading the way were a pair of Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks modified for extra stealth, including radar-absorbent coatings on their skin and tail rotors with extra blades, dampening the noise. These and other features were borrowed, analysts would later speculate, from the RAH 66 Comanche—a stealth helicopter prototype canceled by the Pentagon in 2004.
You know what happened next: The commandos landed inside Osama bin Laden’s compound before the occupants knew they were there. (Neighbors later reported they didn’t hear the choppers until they were on top of them.) But one of the Black Hawks lost lift upong take off, and clipped its tail on the wall of the compound. The SEALs blew it up before escaping, preventing the top-secret technology from falling into Pakistan’s hands. Or so they thought.
How a split-second stall in a top-secret chopper could lead to a new-and-improved Chinese stealth fighter and greatly alter the international arms race—in four easy steps.
For decades, we have held in contempt those who actively celebrate death.
But in the years since 9/11, we have begun vaguely mimicking those we say we despise, sometimes celebrating bloodshed against those we see as Bad Guys just as vigorously as our enemies celebrate bloodshed against innocent Americans they (wrongly) deem as Bad Guys. Indeed, an America that once carefully refrained from flaunting gruesome pictures of our victims for fear of engaging in ugly death euphoria now ogles pictures of Uday and Qusay’s corpses, rejoices over images of Saddam Hussein’s hanging and throws a party at news that bin Laden was shot in the head.
This is bin Laden’s lamentable victory: He has changed America’s psyche from one that saw violence as a regrettable-if-sometimes-necessary act into one that finds orgasmic euphoria in news of bloodshed. In other words, he’s helped drag us down into his sick nihilism by making us like too many other bellicose societies in history — the ones that aggressively cheer on killing, as long as it is the Bad Guy that is being killed.
As you mayknow, our headquarters is at 7 World Trade Center. Beginning last night, the streets around ground zero quickly flooded with people and TV crews forcing the police to close off the area. This picture was taken this morning by our Web Producer.
“The Killing Of Osama Bin Laden Shows How to Win A Modern PR War.”
Equally impressive as the military operation to kill Osama Bin Laden is the media strategy that accompanied it, which embraces a post-Twitter world where images can inspire millions to rage — and retaliation.
Amid the stunning news of the surgical American commando operation that killed Osama Bin Laden, one feature looms large in the background: The extraordinarily careful, strategic, and savvy media management of the strike and its aftermath.
Perhaps the most notable feature has been the complete lack of battlefield imagery; instead, all we’ve gotten so far is the powerful, somber announcement from President Obama at the lectern in the East Room, and old file images of Bin Laden. (We’ve also gotten a blurry image of the Bin Laden compound, perhaps taken after the fact, and some ridiculous faked imagery.) Images from the scene outside Islamabad may yet emerge, but for now, the lack of them reads as a savvy, precisely calibrated decision.