Cave or Spider Hole

From a Washington Post story by Scott Wilson and Anne E. Kornblut:

The Obama administration presented new details Monday about the death of Osama bin Laden, portraying the spiritual leader of al-Qaeda as a reclusive figure who had lived in relative luxury and whose final moments had finally exposed his cowardice.

As Americans solemnly remembered those killed at bin Laden’s command, senior administration officials sought to turn their tactical military victory into a moral one by undermining the heroic image he had long cultivated among his followers. They stressed that he had been discovered not in a remote cave, but in a mansion in a wealthy Pakistani city. They also sought to suggest that, as he tried to escape U.S. Special Operations forces, he may have used one of his wives as a shield.

“Here is bin Laden, who has been calling for these attacks, living in this million-dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the front, hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield,” John O. Brennan, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism, told reporters at the White House. “I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years.”

Apparently, there is already some backtracking on the wife-as-human-shield claim (not to mention the he-had-a-gun story) but really, was Osama bin Laden the person who’s been claiming he was hiding out in a cave for the past decade? That’s been the cant of officials from the Bush and Obama administrations, in their claims they had him pinned down in remote tribal areas on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, but presumably the people in al Qaeda who needed to know where he was were otherwise informed. Certainly there have been reports that he was in a Pakistani city somewhere for years.

And if he did put out the story that he was in a cave, was that “cowardly,” considering the resources of the United States were presumably deployed to find and kill him? Or—again, assuming bin Laden and not American officials was the source of the cave story—was it “gullible” of anyone who thought he was going to make it easy for them to find him for the past ten years?