May 4th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #835 'The weakest links'

Reporter's Note: I’ve been writing too many serious letters to the president lately, but we’ve had some pretty serious news. So there you have it. Here is today’s.

Dear Mr. President,

It’s funny how a small thing can make a huge difference.

Do you remember that old poem? Something like “for want of nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost, for want of a horse the soldier was lost,” and on it goes until the war is lost. The point is that a tiny item gone awry may seem inconsequential, but over time can cost you everything. (As a side light, I’ve never been crazy about horses. They are pretty, and I’ve ridden some that I liked, but others seem as cantankerous as cats and just as prone to bite. Of course, I might be too if my shoes were nailed on.)

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about how a small thing brought down Osama bin Laden: A single guy, a trusted courier, who, step-by-incautious-step, accidentally led the SEALs to bin Laden’s door in the middle of the night.

Certainly bin Laden had to suspect that his greatest vulnerability rested in the people who knew his address. After all, even a successful game of hide and seek depends on no one else knowing where you are, even the other hiders. And yet, what could he do about it?

Almost all of us, including the most hard-hearted ideologues have ties to other humans. Even the Unabomber with his cabin in the woods, weed whacker haircut, and maniacal manifesto was eventually discovered because his brother realized what he was up to and called the cops.

But just as a weak link can expose our enemies, such a weakness can also expose us. That’s why I hope the death of bin Laden is also a cautionary tale. As surely as we were able to find a lose nail in his defense and exploit it, so too, our enemies are looking for soft spots on our side, and perhaps never more than now.

Hope all is well.


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Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Joanne Pflugh

    If there was a forty minute fight it is unrealistic that bin Laden was not armed. Why would he be in a 3rd floor bedroom unarmed just waiting to be taken. If your home was under attack would you not grab any guns in you area and start firing???? Very strange.

    May 4, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  2. Jean Neuvel

    How come that nobody so far evoked the assumption according to which an underground tunnel could connect the Bin Laden's bunker with the ground of the so close military academy, in which he would have found if needed a well protected refuge ?

    May 4, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  3. Ron m

    I believe the raid took place. But Binladin has bin dead for years. this is nothing more than a smoke and mirrors for the upcoming election. Any DNA they recovered is probably that of his son, of course it will match the DNA of his sister. Photos wont be released.......but they are releasing photos of the other people killed. It was also said binladin was killed in the last 10 min of the raid, would binladin not have reached for a gun befor they entered his room?

    May 4, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  4. Ron m

    I belive the raid took place on the compound. but osama has been dead for years. this is a bust plan for the presidents upcoming campain. any DNA that was recovered was probably that of his son. if they can release photos of past kills, then why not now.

    May 4, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  5. Thomas Hope

    UBL famously supported suicide bombing as a weapon of war. Were I a U.S. soldier suddenly appearing before him in UBL's own home, I would indeed be looking for a firearm or suicide vest on the man, but I would also realize that any physical motion on UBL's part might very well be directed toward a detonation of an explosive cache designed to destroy the entire compound, thus removing the SEAL team, UBL's body, and the computer storage of critical terrorist operational data. ANY movement, after shouting "FREEZE" or the like, would reasonably REQUIRE instantaneous cessation of UBL's motion. The ONLY way to do that, to my knowledge, is precise gunfire to the head.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  6. Mark

    The U.S. goverment has gone beyond resonpsiible to provide the U.S, and world communities information on the bin Laden operation . Let's move forward and think of the national security and the press needs to stop the bulldog tactics to second guess the operation. No matter how open the goverment tries to be the media continues to speculate instead of respecting the safety of our sevice men and women who need some secrecy in order to preform their duties.

    May 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  7. Kasim

    I believe that Osama Bin laden is dead. If he is still alive by now he or his number 2 man Zawahiri will have release audio message online. OBL is dead!!! that is the fact.
    Nagoya Japan.

    May 4, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  8. Wanda Brown

    I am just mortified that we would even WANT to see pictures of such an event. Even though I am relieved that this man is not here any longer to hurt innocent people, I still believe that we should fortify our own glass house before we throw stones. The media should consider the impact and implications of what they are reporing lest they paint a picture of injustice by our Navy Seals on the handling of this event. There are too many issues being raised on information that is now solid yet. The media is beginning to make the American people think twice about how this event was handled. Did we violate our own standards for justice. It sickens me that even in the victory our parties cannot come together as Americans. We are tired of being party divided. We want to feel as one in country, ideals, and as a people. This approach is what is going to tear our country down.

    May 4, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  9. Lucretia Imperato

    America – WAKE UP – have we forgotton that these maniac extremists brought Americato its knees – how the smallest army in the world crippled the west – yes our navy seals were victorious and an evil murderer has become a casualty of war – that's all – we should not be having beer parties in Times Squareor elsewhere – bold and in bad taste – showing the dead photos of Bin Laden is inflammatory and paints us as an uncouth society – enough – everyone knows he's dead and those that don't who cares.

    May 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  10. Tim Gibson

    Those who wish harm on Americans and the western world need not look as hard or wait in length to find the loose nail. We sit like an open wound with our loose borders and superier attitude for just another attack as that of 9/11. More concern is given to the release of photos in the killing of an unarmed "enemy" of the nation than is given to national security or even to regaining our footing that began slipping way back then as we continued to stand on a crumbling bank of the swollen river while we blow out barriers and destroy our own dinner plate. HIgh waters in a low tide.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  11. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    25 Navy Seals took bin Laden down and Bush sent hundreds of thousands of our precious military men and women into war sure doesn't look good.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  12. Martha Traynham

    On 9/11 the press showed repeated non-stop coverage as OBL's plan to destroy our nation unfolded on every network. People of all walks of life lost their lives leaving behind thousands of loved ones.At the very least I do believe we as a Nation and you as the one keeping them honest must do what we can to have more than just words to prove OBL is truly dead.Thank you for all of your dedication and hard work ....Martha Ann Traynham-Ga.

    May 4, 2011 at 9:43 am |