As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

Obama Gets Osama: The Good, the Bad, and the Questions

Here are a few initial observations. It’s a fast moving story, with many details still unknown, but this is what I can derive from what we do know.

1. President Obama deserves credit for ACTING to kill Osama Bin Laden. This is something that Bill Clinton, distracted in part by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, failed to do aggressively enough, even as Bin Laden steadily launched attacks against U.S. targets overseas. On the other hand, given the intelligence handed to him, it would have been pretty hard for Obama to avoid moving to kill Bin Laden.

2. There needs to be a thorough review of why the special forces operation was judged a superior alternative to just obliterating the compound with missiles. Which strategy had greater chance for success?

Obama reportedly wanted to make sure that Bin Laden’s corpse was identified, but it seems pretty likely that the Pakistanis would have dug him out and put what’s left of him on YouTube.

It appears the desire to avoid collateral damage was a key factor. If bombing had the greater likelihood of success, then the concern with Pakistani lives and world reaction has to be weighed against the risks to U.S. personnel and the chance that the opportunity to kill Bin Laden and prevent future attacks would have been missed.

3. Obama gambled his presidency, and he won. There is little question in my mind that, given the ineptness of some of his other foreign policy moves and the deteriorating respect for America around the world, failure of the mission would have been an unfixable political disaster for the president. The special forces operation was a bold move. Jimmy Carter’s failed mission to retrieve the Iran hostages did him devastating political damage.

4. Success does not at all guarantee major political benefits for Obama. Sure, there will be a bump in the polls. But the unemployment rate is still high, the deficit is not getting serious attention, the Qaddafi operation is a mess, Iran continues to develop its nuclear weapons programs, and so forth. The basic Obama problems remain, and at some level, I think people believed that Bin Laden would eventually be killed anyway and were wondering why it hadn’t happened yet.

5. Obama looked a little crass in seizing credit for this. He deserves credit, but it’s not very presidential to be grabby. Here’s what he said.

Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan.  Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.

In a teleconference with reporters early this morning, his advisers were worse.

From the outset of the administration, the President has placed the highest priority in protecting the nation from the threat of terrorism.  In line with this, we have pursued an intensified, targeted, and global effort to degrade and defeat al Qaeda.  Included in this effort has been a relentless set of steps that we’ve taken to locate and bring Osama bin Laden to justice.  Indeed, in the earliest days of the administration, the President formally instructed the intelligence community and his counterterrorism advisors to make the pursuit of Osama bin Laden, as the leader of al Qaeda, as a top priority.

And Obama should have given some credit to Bush. Our wonderful, unparalleled military that killed this monster is more the result of Bush’s efforts than Obamas. It would have been classy and inclusive, but it didn’t happen.

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48 Responses to Obama Gets Osama: The Good, the Bad, and the Questions

  1. Oh, Yeah, him and Panetta–like that! All their good work. I reminds me of the Sam Goldwyn line–“Give me two $5,000 a week writers and I will write it myself.”

  2. Well done, Keith. I haven’t heard Obama’s announcement yet but I’m listening to Rush who just said that he used the word “I” ten times and “me” 3 times, “myself” 3 times and the military fewer times. I’m just excerpting and you’ld have to hear the actual thing. It’s on the blogs, too. No surprise that it’s all about him. People are also saying that the crowds outside the WH seemed astroturf. They did seem well-prepared for that time of night.

    • Was wondering if the hour long delay was to give the Obots enough time to assemble.

      Could have missed some but think this is pretty accurate account of last night’s speech:
      I…
      1) I can report
      2) I directed Leon Panetta
      3) I was briefed
      4) I met repeatedly
      5) I determined
      6) I’ve made clear
      7) I’ve repeatedly made clear
      8) I called President Zardari
      9) I, as Commander-in-Chief,
      10) I know that it has

      me….
      1) These efforts weigh on me
      2) let me say

      my…
      1) my national security team
      2) at my direction
      3) and my team

  3. I’ve been arguing with Obama supporter friends of mine who think it’s ludicrous to assume GWB deserves any praise for this operation, because he had so much more time to get this done than Obama’s had. And when I point out Andrew Malcolm’s report that it took the CIA nearly two years just to figure out the real names of the “trusted couriers” in OBL’s compound they think that tracks perfectly for the infrastructure of this operation to have been put in place after January 2009. Sometimes I can’t believe how hatefully myopic people are when it comes to GWB.

    • None of this would have been necessary if GWB had taken the CIA seriously in August 2001.

      Now we don’t know details, but it is clearly true that OBL hid from GWB for 7 years, while Shrub was busy invading the wrong country, and leaving the invisible hand of the financial market run crazy on Wall Street, and making sure that Main Street paid the bills of Wall Street. Clearly GWB had other priorities.

      In half the time it took George the Lesser to screw everything up, Obama has captured the thug. Most likely because Obama encouraged careful planning & thought among his subordinates, instead of pulling out whatever crap he can find up his arse at the last minute.

      People should detest the Bush 2nd administration. How can you justify invading the wrong country in time of war? How can you justify allowing the attack in the 1st place? How can you justify wrecking the US economy?

      Yes government is corrupt and incompetent – when it’s run by Republicans.

      • Oh, God. And Clinton could have had OBL’s head on a silver platter but he was too busy chasing skirts. Whatever.

        It’s always easy to look at things in black and white, but reality isn’t nearly that cut and dry. GWB didn’t do EVERYthing wrong and Obama doesn’t do EVERYthing right. And in the death of OBL they both did things right, however you want to revise GWB’s history or glorify BHO’s present.

      • That’s not what the 9/11 Commission Report said. It said that due to the Gorlick Wall the clues were disjointed and there was no way to pull the puzzle pieces together because under Clinton our intelligence agencies were not allowed to talk to each other. Bush changed that. Thanks for revising history, but the media has already done that for you.

  4. Well, I read in Politico that Cheney and Rumsfield congratulated Obama so I guess the man is dead. But how and when did it happen and why the hasty burial at sea ? I have a strange feeling about it, like it is a bit arranged to suit Obamas campaign. I absolutely agree that Obama looked grabby seizing credit for this. He will probably get a boost in popularity for a while but so did Bush Senior after the Gulfwar. The advisers praise of Obama is almost embarrassing.

  5. I’m such a stickler for times:

    Mike Allen: The helicopter carrying Navy SEALs malfunctioned as it approached Osama bin Laden’s compound at about 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday, stalling as it hovered. The pilot set it down gently inside the walls, then couldn’t get it going again.

    It was a heart-stopping moment for President Barack Obama, who had been monitoring the raid in the White House Situation Room since 1 p.m., surrounded by members of his war cabinet.

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/54093.html#ixzz1LDUMB1bt

    On the other hand:
    The president left the White House to play golf at 9:42 am, arriving at the Andrews Air Force Base course about 25 minutes later, according to the press pool report. He then ended his game after nine holes at 1:39 pm and made it back to the White House at 2:04 pm, about two hours before the attack on Bin Laden appears to have occurred.

    I believe you, Keith, and there does seem to be some sort of disinformation campaign going on.

      • Plus I just got a helpful press alert email of people I could talk to about how this will affect the president’s campaign–um, how about how it will affect the war on terror, or can we say that anymore? This is choreigraphed, people.

    • Yes, I noted the discrepancy on times on Keith’s Obama Morning News post.

      Of course JournoLista Mike Allen will say absolutely anything to bolster Dear Leader.

      It is getting scarier to know the Leftist press will lie about everything & anything – not just obfuscate & blur the lines, but outright lie about when the Pres was in the Sit Room.

    • The people who are propping up Obama are doing the best that they can. Even Snopes is covering up for Obama. In their birth certificate article, they are stating that the latest “birth certificate” that was released is real, but they have a problem. That certificate states “David Sinclair” was the doctor, but lower in their article they have another article from a Dr. West stating he was the doctor who delivered Obama. I sent them a short note about it. What I got back had nothing to do with what I sent them.

      It seems like no one really wants to learn the truth about Obama.

    • Is there any film/video of playing golf? This could have been disnformation to confuse the enemy. I.e. The President is golfing so don’t expect to get a house call from Seal Team Six.

  6. If Obama knew in August why did it take 8 months to come up with a plan? Why the changing in information being given? Why dump the body in the ocean? Why no mention of Pres Bush? If he was in all these meetings why was he playing golf? I believe he timed it to get a ratings increase…trust me won’t last more than a week or two.

  7. Something smells fishy. Maybe it’s Bin Laden’s body floating in the sea somewhere.

    Last week the big new was the announcement that Panetta and Patraeus were being assigned to new posts. This was on the President’s dossier for Thursday afternoon.

    It has been reported that the President gave the go ahead for the attack on Usama Bin Laden on Friday.

    Why make the announcement just prior to the attack? Reports have stated that U.S. intelligence became aware of Bin Laden’s whereabouts as of August 2010. Apparently, the operation to assassinate Bin Laden has been in the works for nearly 9 months.

    So, if the President was aware that the operation to kill Bin Laden was imminent, why would he announce assigning the most pivotal players involved in the search for Bin Laden to new posts?

    President Obama has been lauded for being extraordinarily calculated in his decision making. He is ever conscience of his political image and how his decisions and the choices of others affects that image.His supporters find this aspect of his intelligence to be one of his stronger qualities. So, this being understood, why would he potentially jeopardize the perception of himself by announcing the reassignment of posts to Panetta and Patraeus?

    It has been reported that Panetta was the signal caller for the operation to kill Bin Laden. If this is true then what would have been the fall out had something horrendous occurred? What if one of Bin Laden’s protectors fired an unforseen rocket laucher at one of the helicopters and killed American soldiers or even worse that the mission would have failed in some form?

    It would have appeared rather foolish to announce Panetta as the choice for new Secretary of Defense only to have him poorly fumble an impending assignment that provided supreme noteriety.

    Why would President Obama risk what could have been a political disaster if it wasn’t neccessary? He understood that plans to attack Bin Laden were imminent and could have simply waited until after a successful operation had been completed to reward Panetta with the new post.

    What is more likely to have occurred, Obama assigns Panetta the post, then suddenly (within the next 24 hours) it is determined that it’s go time on an attack on Bin Laden and then the attack goes successfully without any American losses and the death of Bin Laden (albeit without a body which was cast out to sea) making both Panetta and the President appear as heros, or, Obama assigns Panetta the post because he already knows the outcome of the operation?

    Given the conspiratorial nature of the latter scenario of events, by what logic would the President elect to make the announcement regarding Panetta and not do so after the completion of the successful operation? Because if he waits until after then Panetta could have potentially received a greater portion of the operations success. By announcing Panetta’s placement prior to the operations success it provides the President with having a prophetic sensibilility ( the perfect choice for Secretary of Defense is the man who coordinated the demise of Bin Laden). And, the earlier announcement positions the President towards taking greater credit for the operations success.

    Given the Presidents drop in approval ratings and the bludgeoning he was recently taking by Donald Trump in the media he was in dire need of a political slam dunk. Having Trump force the President to provide his birth certificate made Obama look weak. The President needed something to rectify his image. It was time for Obama to play his trump card, taking down Bin Laden. And, not only would he take out Bin Laden and announce it to the world, but, he would do it by interrupting Celebrity Appentrice.

    All of it calculated. And, if it was all calculated, then announcing the reassignment for Panetta prior to the operation seems a risk, unless it was completely understood that the dead body of Bin Laden was going to be produced (at least long enough before it was disposed of so that an autopsy could be done :) ).

    • A lot of this is not hanging together. Is there a body? Did he know there was while he swanning around the country? Read off those jokes? Is it OK that they shot the guy’s wife–sorry about that. Guess so…

  8. Happy to give Obama credit, and, yes, it was a very high risk/high reward move; if it had failed, it likely would have guaranteed that he left Washington as a one-term president and Jimmy Carter Redux.

    On the other hand, for those who think that this guarantees or even merely increases the likelihood of his re-election in November 2012, I have one thing to say: George H. W. Bush. Bush the elder had approval ratings _over 80%_ (let that number soak in for a while; Obama was only just above 60% when he was inaugurated) in the wake of the liberation of Kuwait from Iraq in January 1991 — yet by November 1992, his approval ratings were down in the mid-30s. Why?

    The economy. A jobless recovery from a recession that was much more mild than what we’ve been through. This may cause a bump, but it’s a long ways from here to fall of next year. ..bruce..

  9. Extremely interesting story – was there a coup w/in the WH? Does anyone really think Obama made all these decisions to go after OBL? The military had the info – and Obama didn’t want to go after OBL – so they overruled him. They don’t care that Obama is taking credit now – just that OBL is dead. Daley, HIllary, & Panetta all worked with the military to get the job done. Obama was irrelevant.
    http://socyberty.com/issues/did-senior-militaryintelligence-officials-overrule-president-obama-regarding-mission-to-kill-osama-bin-laden/

    There’s a pic supposedly of dead OBL here – the Daily Mail cautions it may be a fake (scroll down):
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1382649/Osama-bin-Laden-dead-US-Navy-Seals-kill-terror-chief-near-Islamabad-Paskistan.html

    Beck is questioning why the Islamic ceremony in dumping the body – that it would be like burying Timothy McVeigh in Arlington – good point. Why give him the respect due a dead soldier? I thought he wasn’t really a true Muslim – that he was deranged & preached a “perverted” view of Islam – so why the emphasis on Islamic ceremony? Plus an imam(s) was/were present.

  10. I think the President made a mistake that will come back to bite him and the United States. He should have killed Osama in silence, without the fanfare. This violence will lead to more violence. And bragging about it will only make it worse. Again, a wrong, wrong decision by the President.

  11. Although bombing the villa would have been more effective, a surgical procedure was well within the capacity of the forces. Also, since Pakistan was not notified, presumably since they leak like a sieve…. very few casualties aside from the intended. Very little to complain about. Amazing operation…kudos to the forces. be they good regardless of the person in the white house

  12. “And Obama should have given some credit to Bush. Our wonderful, unparalleled military that killed this monster is more the result of Bush’s efforts than Obamas. It would have been classy and inclusive, but it didn’t happen.”

    I agree, after all, Bush and other conservatives was really happy that bin Laden was killed and applauded Obama’s administration’s efforts to remove a threat to U.S. safety, but Obama showed no gratitude to conservatives at all…

  13. Actually, I think that it was a good idea to not bomb bin Laden’s sanctuary. I heard tonight that they were able to get alot of good intel from the things that they could gather. If they had bombed him to smithereens, that intel would have gone “poof”.

  14. When will you people snap out of it, If anything goes right it wasnt president Obama, if any thing goes wrong, its all his fault. He made the call, the mission was a sucess PERIOD

    • What I object to is the heads like the WSJ–Obama rolled the dice…Or his “courage” in giving the go-ahead. He knew about this a long time–it was hotly debated, apparently. These decisions are his to make. He is trying to get a billion of other people’s money so he can still make them. So do it! I don’t see a real chance. Get this guy who is so hated apparently and you’re golden. Not home? Well, bad intel. Or we never find out.

  15. And, why then didn’t our President determine to go after him sooner. Was he waiting for the precise intel to asure him that it was indeed Bin Laden.

    Or, was he fully aware of Bin Laden’s location and was waiting for the most opportune time to attack and use it to his advantage. Chances are that he would have preferred to have waited until next year to use it to his advantage and simply ride the wave of public gratefulness into a second term. However, it was determined that he needed it now.

    Obama’s approval ratings were dropping like a stone and then he started to get bullied by Trump in the media. Trump kept pounding at him until he gave up his lunch money (Birth Certificate). This exposed Obama as appearing weak. Then the bully came back and wanted more lunch money (College Records). Obama was finished, because they knew that Trump would continue his onslaught. They tried to use Obama’s toadie, Gibbs, to take a swipe at Trump (asking to see his tax returns), but, Trump just called him a loser. It was apparent that Trump was out of control and needed to be stopped.

    Now, this is not to suggest that Trump is, or was, a contender for the Presidency. I’m sure that team Obama wasn’t threatened by the Donald on the political playing field, however, Trump was a wild card, playing by his own rules.

    Obama’s image needed to be rectified immediately.

    You have to admit it was a serious power move to coordinate the announcemnet of Bin Laden’s killing to interrupt Trump firing his next celebrity.

    It was a case of the bullied punching his bully square in the nose. I anticipate we will not hear another thing from Trump questioning Obama. What you will hear some time next year is Donald praising Obama, ” He’s a great guy, great American, I have a great deal of respect for him, etc…”. Trump simply cannot attack Obama now because it would make Trump look poorly. It would be un-American to bash the man who took down Bin Laden. To do so would hurt Trump’s brand and business.

    The issue is that if this theory is accurate then Bin Laden’s death was used purely for political gains and not as it has been portrayed in the media as American justice. There have been reports that Bin Laden could have been residing at this location for as many as 6 years. How long has our government been aware of it? How long have we been pouring billions into Pakistan and the Afghanistan effort while we understood that Bin Laden has been living comfortably?

  16. well, I think the reason why obama did not include Bush had to do with his personality. He young and has a desire to prove himself in front of others

  17. With one master stroke, President Obama accomplishment three major objectives.
    * Finished off Osama Bin Laden, founder of Al Queda and inspiration figure for millions of radicalised Muslims. Retrieving and disposing off Osama Bin Laden body in the sea ensured that that his burial place would not become a shrine for all the terrorists.
    * By executing Osama Bin Laden close to Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, Obama exposed the duplicitous role Pakistan has played in sheltering and supporting Osama Bin Laden and other terrorists.
    * This would eliminate the need to have large troops in Afghanistan.
    *Lastly, by taking this bold move, Obama removed the canard that he is weak on defence. Bush had eight years to catch or finish off Osama Bin Laden but failed to do it. In 2003, Bush even declared that it was not important for him.

  18. […] the conflict in Afghanistan and bombed Libya — Obama is now being hailed by many for his “masterstroke” in killing bin Laden. But not all observers are offering praise. Some are demanding proof that […]