|Navy SEALs and bin Laden Intel: Other Things Obama “Inherited”|
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, May 03 2012
Quote of the week comes from Jim Geraghty of National Review:
“The only truly popular thing Obama has ever done is to authorize a unilateral military strike in an unsuspecting country without U.N. approval.”
In that one sentence, Geraghty captures perfectly the hypocrisy, abandoned promises and broader dysfunction of the Obama presidency.
That’s not the end, however, of the irony surrounding Obama and the bin Laden operation.
First, consider that the operation itself blossomed from waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques that Obama himself hypocritically denounced. Obama’s own former CIA chief and current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta admitted as much, telling NBC News last year, “It’s a little difficult to say it was due just to one source of information that we got,” but that, “I think some of the detainees clearly were, you know, they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of these detainees.”
Just two years earlier, Panetta sang a different tune, falsely asserting that “waterboarding is torture, and it’s wrong.” And just days after his inauguration, Obama himself shut down that CIA interrogation program entirely.
As detailed by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, however, those very interrogation techniques helped locate bin Laden. Questioning of detainee Abu Zubaydeh led to the capture of Ramzi bin al Shibh, one of the 9/11 plotters, which in turn, led to the capture of prize detainee Khalid Sheik Muhammad, whose own confession under waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques prevented follow-up terrorist attacks in both the United States and Europe. Abu Faraj al-Libi was another detainee subjected to enhanced interrogation, and these men collectively surrendered details regarding bin Laden and his secret couriers that eventually led to last year’s Navy SEAL operation.
So did the Obama Administration match word with deed by following the “fruit of the poisonous tree” exclusionary rule that courts impose upon police? Of course not. It enthusiastically used evidence obtained from waterboarding to accomplish its only signature achievement. One obviously won’t hear Obama acknowledge that waterboarding played a pivotal role in the bin Laden operation, but he wouldn’t be able to do his unseemly little endzone dance without it.
Here’s another irony.
Obama constantly and dishonestly whines about the economy he "inherited" from his predecessor, yet he behaves as if the U.S. military that masterfully targeted bin Laden somehow reflects his competence.
The reality is that the previous recession officially ended fully three years ago, but what we’ve witnessed since 2009 is the most sluggish economic recovery in history. Obama spent record amounts and generated record levels of new debt, but failed to create the recovery that massive spending and debt were supposed to bring. And speaking of “inheritances,” did President Bush ever scapegoat Bill Clinton for the tech bubble recession and devastating 9/11 plot he inherited (and from which we somehow recovered better than we have under the Obama "recovery")? At any rate, Obama himself said in 2009 that, “if I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”
Three years later, he’s still offering nothing but excuses.
In contrast to the persistently sluggish economy, the military and intelligence capabilities that made the bin Laden raid possible were inherited from Bush. Yet Obama emphasizes “I” and “my” when referencing the operation:
“I directed Leon Panetta, the Director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority … even as I continued our broader effort… Then, after years of painstaking work by my intelligence community, I was briefed… I met repeatedly with my national security team… And finally last week, I determined that I had enough intelligence to take action… Today, at my direction…”
Here’s the curious thing. A CIA memorandum disclosed recently contains a clause shifting blame away from Obama in the event that the operation failed:
“The timing, operational decision making and control are in Admiral McRaven’s hands. The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration. The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out.”
So it was “heads Obama wins, tails Admiral McRaven loses.”
Hardly a profile in courage worthy of a Washington or an Eisenhower.
Unfortunately for Obama, he can’t seek reelection based upon his record, so overplaying this triumph is all he has. Nevertheless, he should be thankful for some of the things he actually did inherit from his predecessor, even if he would never admit it publicly.
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