Friday, April 27, 2012

Obama Campaign's Latest Claim - 'Romney Wouldn't Have Ordered Bin-Laden Hit'

The Obama Campaign is using - wait for it - Bill Clinton in an ad bragging about President Obama's 'decisive call' to assassinate Osama bin-Laden in Pakistan, and pairing that with an edited, out of context clip of Governor Romney saying that it 'doesn't make sense to spend billions of dollars chasing one man.'

This is so rich, so lacking in decency and honor on so many levels that it begs to be addressed.

To begin with, the use of ex-President Clinton to lay it on thick about being a decisive commander-in-chief borders on parody. This was the president who had three golden opportunities to get Osama bin-Laden prior to 9/11 and punted on all of them.On one occasion, authorities in the Sudan actually had OBL in custody and wanted to hand him over to the United States - only to have the offer refused by the Clinton Administration.

This was the president whose justice department actually built a wall between various U.S. intelligence agencies to prevent them from sharing intel on al-Qaeda and bin-Laden with a March, 1995 memo written by Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick. This was the president who used to simply disappear for hours and was unable to be located by even his closest aides, and who did something unprecedented - losing the credit card with the codes for the 'football' that activates America's nuclear arsenal.

What would President Clinton know about being a commander-in-chief or about decisive decisions?

Next, let's look at President Obama's 'gutsy call' in some detail.

TIME magazine, hardly a media outlet unfriendly to this president managed to get hold of an interesting memo from then CIA chief Leon Panetta that shows that President Obama actually outsourced the decision to Admiral William McRaven, commander of Special Operations:

Received phone call from Tom Donilon who stated that the President made a decision with regard to AC1 [Abbottabad Compound 1]. The decision is to proceed with the assault.

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. Those instructions were conveyed to Admiral McRaven at approximately 10:45 am.

Note the parts I've emphasized. The memo's quite clear- the “timing, operational decision making and control” are all up to Admiral McRaven. This wasn't a decisive commander-in-chief making a decision and taking the entire weight of it on his shoulders. This was a hollow man passing the buck to Admiral McRaven to make the decision..and setting up the admiral to be the fall guy if anything had gone wrong.

And then there's this - any other risks that arise are “to be brought back to the President for his consideration.” This was President Obama’s way of creating running room for himself if things went bad. He could then say that there were additional risks he hadn't been informed of, that his military leaders didn't tell him about.And under the bus would go Admiral McRaven. Gutsy!

Finally, let's look at what Mitt Romney is actually saying as opposed to what this singularly dishonest ad is implying. The actual quote by Romney is that he didn't see the sense of spending billions of dollars chasing one man, not that he wouldn't have ordered the raid on bin-Laden's compound once he was found.

But leaving that aside, let's take a good look at what assassinating Osama bin-Laden actually cost us and decide whether the price justified taking out a terrorist who definitely deserved death, but was essentially marginalized when we killed him.

Those of you whom read this site regularly know I've already analyzed the what the bin-Laden assassination cost us cost in some detail:

Like it or not, because this president made a decision to double down in Afghanistan to justify his campaign rhetoric about ' the good war', thousands of U.S. troops and NATO personnel are dependent on supplies that come through the Pakistani port of Karachi and overland through the Torkhum Pass. By assassinating bin-Laden, we exposed the Pakistanis, again, as a major aider and abettor of Islamic fascism and terrorism. Their honor/shame mentality kicked in and rather than express regret that they had been caught sheltering a mass murderer, they went into hysterics about the violation of their sovereignty and shut down the Torkhum Pass for several days. Because the stopped supply trucks were sitting ducks, the Taliban manged to destroy a number of them. Not only that, but we lost a painstakingly created network of Pakistani informers, almost all of whom are still in jail in Pakistan on charges of treason.

We lost one of our helicopters in the bin-Laden operation, a Blackhawk. Now, these normally cost about $20 million or so, but this one cost a great deal more, because it had been highly modified with top secret stealth technology that brought its cost up to more like $60 million. Even worse, the SEAL's were unable to completely destroy it, and the angry Pakistanis gleefully gave it to the Chinese to examine at their leisure. The Russians and the Iranians almost certainly got a look as well. The potential loss of technology is in the millions, not to mention our unfortunate but at this point necessary relationship with Pakistan, which has worsened considerably and is unlikely to recover for some time if at all. Not a good position to be in since they still control not only our major supply line but the  easiest route of egress out of Afghanistan if we chose to leave and had to do it quickly.

By taking out Osama bin-Laden, we resolved a long time argument between bin-Laden and  his chief lieutenant Ayman Zawahiri in Zawahiri's favor. Bin-Laden wanted to keep al-Qaeda anchored primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan where he was comfortable. Zawahiri, looking at developments in his native Egypt and elsewhere like the 'Arab Spring' , the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and President Obama's already announced retreat from the region was pushing to relocate al-Qaeda back to the Middle East and the roiling Arab world. Now that Osama bin-Laden is out of the picture, Zawahiri, a former Muslim Brotherhood leader is now in charge of al-Qaeda and the organization has re-established itself in the Arab world, just as Zawahari wished.

We can already see increased al-Qaeda presence in both the Egyptian Sinai and Libya, as well as in Iraq where the Maliki government's marginalization of the Sunnis has given al-Qaeda new life.

Moreover, should Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist governments take over in Egypt and Libya as seems likely, Ayman Zawahiri, al-Qaeda and its affiliates like Takfir-wal Higra can count on a haven to train and recruit, with Libya's oil wealth and Egypt's population and rabid Islamism to draw on. Small wonder a number of my sources are adamant that bin-Laden was deliberately ratted out by Zawahiri.

 The SEALs were under orders not to bring bin-Laden back for interrogation, thus eliminating one of the chief possible benefits of the raid. It's decision on the President's part  I'm startled more people haven't questioned. President Obama has often said that we're at war with al-Qaeda. Wouldn't a nice chat with al-Qaeda's leader under the influence of scopolomine be an invaluable source of intel instead of  simply giving him a Muslim funeral and dropping his corpse off a ship?  Is it possible that the Obama Administration would rather not know  whom in the Muslim world was funding al-Qaeda, or more about Iran's complicity in the  9/11 attack?

In terms of what it cost us financially and strategically, especially since we didn't bring him back for interrogation, assassinating  Osama bin-Laden was a decision that a prudent and knowledgeable person might have questioned.

Unless, of course, you were a president facing re-election with a foreign policy record filled with debacles and missteps and needed something to point to as a 'success'. Then, it made perfect sense.

UPDATE: The actual Romney quote used in the ad is here. When you read it in context, you'll see that the ad distorted it's meaning 180 opposite from what Governor Romney actually had to say on this topic.

They will say and do simply anything...and if they can't find something, they'll just make it up.


nazar said...

Oh come on man. I'm no fan of the president but give him some credit already!! You're desperately trying to spin this against his favor...and telling me that second-guessing taking out bin laden? Seriously? Yeah I get the whole strategic concept, but you're missing the symbolism I think. We finally got this turd and we got our revenge.

Me personally, I could not care less about our relations with Pakistan or the hood in egypt because we should worry about our own borders, mosques, and immigration policies here in the US. That will do far more to stop terrorism than intervention in foreign countries.


Rob said...

Hello Nazar,
Nice to have you drop by.Are you back stateside now?

I agree with you entirely about mosques, borders and immigration, and about relations with Pakistan, but here's the problem - we're already there, as you know better than most.

As I've said before, one genius of a president decided to drop an army and billions of dollars worth of equipment into a landlocked country with no strategic value surrounded by hostile territory, and an even bigger genius of a president decided to double down and put even more troops and equipment there so he wouldn't look like an idiot after running his mouth throughout the campaign on AfPak. Not only that, but this same genius announced in advance when we were leaving.

Because of that idiocy, Pakistan is a necessary evil because they control the supply routes. Why else do you think we're giving them $7 billion a year in 'aid'?

Not only that, but as I said, a lot of my sources tell me OBL was deliberately ratted out to facilitate the move of AQ back to the Arab world...and remember. Zawahiri, the new AQ head has excellent relations with the Muslim Brotherhood, whom he used to be a part of. That's going to create far more problems for us in the future than killing one already marginalized murderer..especially since we didn't drag him back home for a little chat with our CIA interrogators.

Also,as it appears, it wasn't President Obama's show but Admiral McRaven's.

If you want to call it spin, OK. I think the president got bin-Laden ( or rather McRaven and the SEALs did) but he lost the Middle East, endangered our forces stuck in AfPak and compromised millions of dollars worth of critical technology.

To me, war's about strategy, not revenge. You can always dole out payback after a victory.

Take care and watch your six, bro.

Old School said...

I must admit, based on your analysis (excellent as usual, by the way) whilst Osama bin-Laden definitely deserved to die, perhaps the cost was indeed prohibitive from a strategic point of view.

I was unaware of Admiral Mcraven's role, but it seems to fit quite well with the way President Obama typically behaves.

Sara said...

O didn't take much of a risk. If it fell apart, no one would have known and Panetta had a cover story in case. There are reports O was golfing 1 1/2 hours before.

O is the one who put out the "despicable" ad and for once I agree with Arianna. O deserves to be criticized for this.

I am glad O did what he did, but the SEALs, the CIA, all the men he should be thanking while he takes a backseat are not being thanked.

I don't think the call was gutsy and unless O was on the chopper with the SEALs, I fail to see why he is getting this much credit.

When Saddam was caught, Bush was demonized. At least O is being praised.