Osama's entry gets updated on counterterrorism calendar


Osama “Usama Bin Ladin” bin Laden’s days are up, and the National Counterterrorism Center’s online calendar makes that official. (National Counterterrorism Center)
Columnist May 3, 2011

The Navy SEALs’ killing of Osama bin Laden has required the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) to give its excellent 2011 Counterterrorism Calendar and weekly planner a little update.

Loop Fans may recall that the highly prized calendar — only about 40,000 are printed — is generally given out as a counterterrorism resource guide to folks in the biz.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

Ever since the calendar began a few years after 9/11, bin Laden has been Public Enemy No. 1, listed first among the most wanted, with a $25 million bounty on his head, matched only by the reward for deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri , who now climbs to the top of the heap.

The calendar’s online version has been updated, quite tastefully, to reflect the news. On bin Laden’s page, his picture has the word “KILLED” gracefully stamped on it, and his “Status: Fugitive” has been changed to “Deceased.” On the same page, where it said that he “is wanted,” it now says he was “killed by U.S. forces.”

The calendar has significant events in the war on terror noted for each day. So on the page for May 1, the NCTC inserted the following: “Pakistan: Usama Bin Ladin, leader of al-Qa’ida and responsible for 11 September attacks in the United States, killed by US forces in Abbottabad and buried at sea; US President says ‘Justice has been done.’ ”

Please revise your hard copy accordingly and then you’re all up to date — for the moment.

Time to pay up?

As for the bounty, there’s been much chatter about whether someone — maybe the detainee who provided the key clue, the nickname of bin Laden’s courier and most trusted aide — might be eligible for the reward.

Some folks argue that you can’t reward someone who forced you to torture him for the information. Others may say that’s all the more reason to give him a few bucks for the tip that eventually led to the discovery of bin Laden’s mansion in Abbottabad, seemingly under the protection of the Pakistanis.

The person who’ll decide who, if anyone, is paid is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She and her predecessors certainly haven’t been stingy with the cash under the Rewards for Justice Program, which was set up in the mid-1980s and is run by the State Department. Since then, the program has paid more than $100 million to more than 60 people for their information.

It paid $2 million to one person who gave up the location of 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef , now doing life in prison. In 2003 a whopping $30 million went to someone who dropped a dime on how to find Saddam Hussein’s sadistic playboy sons Uday and Qusay. Eighteen days after the tip, the duo were history.

And in 2007 $10 million went to Filipino informants who tipped authorities on the location of two leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group of Filipino terrorists.

Clinton, citing the “importance of confidentiality” to the program, told reporters Monday she couldn’t comment on whether anyone might be getting a chunk of cash.

White House spokesman Jay Carney, however, told reporters Tuesday that tips came from multiple sources. So it seems unlikely that any reward will be given.

Mixed reactions

Former vice president Dick Cheney told ABC News on Monday that Obama “deserves credit” for getting bin Laden, but warned it would be “a tragedy” to spend so much time “patting ourselves on the back” that a new attack goes undetected.

So the Obama team should avoid goofy things like landings on an aircraft carrier and “Mission Accomplished” signs.

Meanwhile, the wackadoodle Mahmoud Ahmadinejad crowd in Iran, the Taliban and others in the region reacted to news of bin Laden’s demise with the usual goofiness, saying the U.S. claims were a fabrication and demanding to see pictures of the dead terrorist and his birth certificate. (Okay, we made up that last part.)

Speaking of birth certificates, the best line of April may have gotten lost in all the coverage of the White House correspondents dinner Saturday night. The media focused on President Obama ’s and “Saturday Night Live” comedian Seth Meyers ’s relentless mocking of business mogul, TV celebrity and birther champion Donald Trump .

Granted, Obama’s and Meyers’s jokes were hilarious but, remember, they were written beforehand and practiced. In contrast, a quip by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), reported by our colleague Dan Zak, was spontaneous.

Before dinner began, Boehner was asked what he made of an intense conversation a few feet away from him between Trump and Newt Gingrich .

“Crazy, and crazier,” he said.

Speaking of the calendar

Timing is everything. The intense media focus on bin Laden’s demise has overwhelmed others trying to get a bit of attention for their own agendas.

On the bad-timing front, the State Department issued a statement Monday from Clinton saying that “on behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Poland as you celebrate the 220th anniversary of the first Polish constitution . . . which granted groundbreaking liberties to the people of Poland.”

On the good, if not excellent, side of the timing front, retired Navy SEAL Howard Wasdin, badly injured in the horrific 1993 firefight in Somalia, has written “SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper” with co-author Stephen Templin.

Wasdin was a member of that team in Somalia, which is the same team that went in after bin Laden on Sunday. The book is climbing the top 10 on the Amazon bestseller list. It won’t even be for sale until May 24.

Follow In the Loop on Twitter: @AlKamenWP.

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