The United States doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to covert operations, say, compared to the Israelis.
The 1976 raid by Israel Defense Force commandos to free Jewish hostages at Uganda’s Entebbe Airport still stands as the all-time counter-terrorist hostage rescue operation.
The United States military attempted two similar raids. The 1975 Mayaquez Incident was an effort to rescue the crew of a U.S. freighter seized by Communist forces in Cambodia. While successful, it came at heavy cost. Ten U.S. Service men were killed, including three who were captured and savagely executed.
The ship’s crew had already been evacuated from the island where they were being held, so the raid came up empty handed. But U.S Marines recaptured the ship, and Cambodia hastily released the crew after the assault.
Operation Eagle Claw, also known as Desert One, in 1980 was an attempt to rescue 52 Americans held captive at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran during Iran’s Islamist revolution. It failed miserably; eight servicemen died and it and likely cost President Carter his re-election.
In contrast, the raid on Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan was a resounding success, with no loss of U.S. lives and the elimination of the terrorist figurehead, who masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Bigelow, who won an Oscar for directing Iraq war film “The Hurt Locker,” tells the story through the eyes of a dogged CIA agent played by Chastain.
another successful covert U.S. operation to free U.S. Embassy officials holed up in the Canadian Embassy during the Iran crisis in 1979 was also recently turned into a film. “Argo,” directed by Ben Affleck, who also stars in the picture, has received wide acclaim.
Bigelow’s movie will obviously be a feel good story. Ironically, President Obama’s presence in the film was scaled back, amid criticism from the right that he was getting too much credit for the mission. But had the mission failed, it likely would have cost him his re-election as well.
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