Awaiting President Obama’s announcement. This is what we know…or think we know. It has been nine years since 9/11. It has been eight years since George W. Bush declared Mission Accomplished.
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I have called for the death of Osama Bin Laden for years. We took the fight to Bin Laden. We focused. We got the resources necessary and accomplished the task. This is how America works. I can’t let this topic go without mentioning how Bush failed. There are going to be many bloggers who are going to rub Bush’s face in his failure. I will say that we had the tools to get Bin Laden when Bush was in the White House. I will not say any more on this at this time.
Information on the city that Bin Laden was found in – Abbottabad.
From President Bush:
Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda network that attacked America on September 11, 2001. I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. They have our everlasting gratitude. This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.
A CIA-led operation has killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and recovered his body after a tortuous decadelong hunt for the elusive militant leader who commanded the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. government officials said Sunday night.
CIA Director Leon Panetta called key members of Congress late Sunday to describe the killing of the Al Qaeda leader, and President Obama is expected to make the announcement on national TV.
Al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden is dead and the United States has his body, a person familiar with the developments says.
President Barack Obama is expected to make that announcement from the White House late Sunday night.
Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is dead and the U.S. has his body, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.
U.S. President Barack Obama was to make the announcement shortly that after searching in vain for bin Laden since he disappeared in Afghanistan in late 2001, the Saudi-born extremist is dead, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Details of the death were sparse. A senior U.S. counterterrorism official, who spoke with the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said bin Laden was killed in a ground operation in Pakistan, not by a Predator drone. The official said it happened last week.
CNN and Reuters reported that the al-Qaida leader was killed in a mansion outside Islamabad, the Pakistani capital.
It is a major accomplishment for Obama and his national security team, having fulfilled the goal once voiced by Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, to bring to justice the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
I’ve seen this Mark Twain line dug up by a number of people: “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.”
Seems about right.
Finally, I must wonder how we did this. How did we kill Osama bin Laden? Yes we’ve all heard about the intelligence tip. We’ve heard about the compound. We’ve heard about the helicopter and how one of them crashed. We’ve heard about the firefight. But what was different? What did we do different this time that we didn’t do last year or five years ago or even 10 years ago? I really can’t count President Clinton’s effort to kill Osama bin Laden. Yes, President Clinton understood the risk that Osama bin Laden posed but he did not go after Osama bin Laden with the full force of our military. He couldn’t. He was politically hamstrung. You can make other excuses for President Clinton but this is the reality. Monica Lewinsky and Newt Gingrich made it impossible for him to fully go after Osama bin Laden. President Bush, on the other hand, told us that he wanted Osama bin Laden “dead or alive.” President Bush told us that he was throwing the full resources of the American government behind getting this terrorist. Yet, we came up empty. Why? Was the difference truly the president’s resolve and focus? Did the CIA make the difference? Was Leon Panetta a better manager of the CIA than George tenet? Did he make the difference? In the coming weeks and months we will hear more details about how this was actually accomplished. We hear a lot about the military personnel that were involved. We will hear more about the presidential decisions and Barack Obama’s role in directing the CIA and the military. In my mind, the bottom line is that in spite of all of the criticism that President Barack Obama has had to endure, he has risen to the task and gotten the job done. Whether it was turning the economy around or passing health-care legislation or winding down the Iraq war, Barack Obama has figured out a way to get the task accomplished.
[…] This is a transcript of Barack Obama’s speech. The video of the President’s speech is here. […]
As a great man once said “Get Er Done” .
Congrats to Obama and his team for a job well done. We are all very happy that they “pulled the trigger” (figuratively, of course) to see this through.
1. Neither Dems nor R’s killed/didn’t kill Bin Laden; the US military and intelligence sources did.
2. Despite Robert (Little Man) Reich’s assertion that torture was not involved, he’s wrong; extreme interrogation of KSM and others years ago put us the path to last night’s events.
3. It is nice to see that liberals have a newfound appreciation for the military, since they historically, in the recent generations, have belittled and mocked the military. When Berkeley, Calif., can actually try to prevent an ROTC office from opening, and many universities booted ROTC off campus years ago, it’s hard to believe liberals actually appreciating the military, instead of merely, barely tolerating them.
4. We have not heard from Durbin and Kerry, who have both trashed American troops as baby-killers, etc. I wonder why not?
5. We can now say that Obama has blood on his hands, that he is a “cowboy,” a “renegade,” and a “warmonger.” “No blood for oil!” “Obama ‘vied,’ people died.” (Vied: I could not think of a better word, but you know what I mean.)
6. If everyone is going to praise Obama, then they need to praise Bush and Cheney for their efforts to get all of this going many years ago. If you are going to have your cake, you have to eat it too.
7. Obama did not “decide” that Bin Laden was now the #1 priority; he has always been Public Enemy #1, as asserted by Bush.
8. To your question: No one did anything extra special in the Obama team; the info that led to this began four years ago, and it takes a long, long time to make it happen.
9. Did anyone stop to think that in hindsight, Obama’s decision to back-track on closing Gitmo and to drop the civilian trials had to do with the fact that he was starting to realize that everything the conservatives had been saying and doing for years with regards to the military, and tribunals, and torture, and so on, was actually paying dividends? Recall that he started getting key “hot” info about Bin Laden in the last couple of months, concurrent with his recent change of direction on these matters. He started to “get it.”
10. As much as we thank Obama for this, any reasonable president would have done the same thing Obama did. The facts were laid out in front him and they were 99.9% certain they had him; any president would have done this. Also, he knew that Clinton blew it 15 years ago, or whatever, and Obama did not want to make the same mistake Clinton did, who had Bin Laden in his sights.
I appreciate you stopping by.
We all join together in congratulating our fine men and women in the military for performing this extremely difficult and complex task of taking out Osama bin Laden.
as usual, I think you’ve drunk too much of the conservative Kool-Aid. I’m not sure the data supports your conclusion that torture and enhanced interrogations. Don’t feel badly, many conservatives are pushing this notion that Guantánamo Bay played a central role in bringing Osama bin Laden to justice. Over the coming days and weeks, hopefully will see a more complete picture. Currently the data is sketchy at best. the best summation that I’ve heard of this is probably from Marcy Wheeler – http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2011/05/02/the-osama-bin-laden-trail-shows-waterboarding-didnt-work/
Liberals do not have a new appreciation for the military. We’ve always appreciated the military. The problem is conservatives think that liberal speak with one voice. Unlike conservatives, we hold different points of view. Therefore, lumping all liberals together in a basket is wrongheaded. What liberals at UC Berkeley do has little or nothing to do with what I do and believe. By the way, how do you know that the people at UC Berkeley are liberals? Are they wearing T-shirts? Do they have a secret handshake?
Just a little research and you would’ve been able to find what Senator Durbin and Senator Kerry said just as I did. From Senator Kerry (http://kerry.senate.gov/press/release/?id=22a038c8-726c-4d85-a40b-e4237c656f4e): “The killing of Osama bin Laden closes an important chapter in our war against extremists who kill innocent people around the world. We are a nation of peace and laws, and people everywhere should understand that our ten-year manhunt was in search of justice not revenge. Terrorists everywhere must never doubt that the United States will hunt them down no matter where they are, no matter how long it takes.
“We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the men and women of our intelligence agencies and our military for their tireless dedication and enormous sacrifice to bring justice to a man responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on September 11 and thousands more men, women, and children around the world.
“I commend President Obama and his national security team for never forgetting the need to secure justice for those who lost their lives nearly 10 years ago and for those who have lost their lives in the war against extremism that continues today.
“A single death does not end the threat from Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups. We must remain vigilant and committed to keeping the world safe and secure.”
from Senator Durbin (http://durbin.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/pressreleases?ID=8870df24-35ec-45ae-8f5e-13ac087a424a): “I was advised by Vice President Biden this Sunday evening that Osama bin Laden has been killed. Though this is not the end of the threat of terrorism, it is a clear warning to our enemies that when they threaten and kill Americans, they will be pursued and held accountable. Our nation owes a great debt of gratitude to our intelligence community and military for pursuing this manhunt for almost ten years and successfully eliminating the most high profile terrorist on earth. Those who believed bin Laden and his network were invincible will now awaken to a new reality.”
I think both statements are extremely thoughtful. What you think? I will not comment on the rest of your diatribe. There’s plenty of evidence to contradict almost everything that you wrote including the fact that President Bush publicly stated that he wasn’t all that concerned about Osama bin Laden. It is also a fact that President Bush in 2005 close the CIA’s counterterrorism unit which were specifically formed to track and hunt down Osama bin Laden. It’s hard to imagine that he was the number one priority of our government if you close a unit that was dedicated to finding him.
Thanks your comments.
It is certainly easy for them to say those niceties now, but what about their earlier smearing and trashing of American troops? Yes, not every soldier is perfect, and some do stupid things, but by and large, they are excellent soldiers (and people), so Durbin and Kerry need to do some serious apologizing before they can be taken seriously. (I did not care if they had made statements; the point was my initial comments says all you need to know about them.)
It was actually the City of Berkley city council that voted to prevent ROTC from coming to their city. And yes, they are liberal if they won’t tolerate a military presence like that. And I thought liberals were supposed to be so tolerant?
And there’s copious info coming forth that going back to Gitmo years ago, and all the mean old Americans’ torture of the poor, innocent, misunderstood Muslim meanies, actually has paid huge dividends. I say “Cut their balls off” it that’s what it takes!
good morning Bud. I hope you’re well this morning.
In my opinion, I think we should love the troops like we love our spouses. When they do well, we should praise them. When they don’t live up to our expectations we need to point out their deficiencies and give them the tools to do better. It is clear that some of our troops over the last decade of war did not live up to our expectations. This is a fact. This is not trashing the troops. This is pushing our troops to do better. Our military, overseas, are our ambassadors. They have to reflect our values. Criticizing a spouses not mean you don’t love them it means you want them to do better. It is the same for the military.
well, okay. After nearly a decade of Guantánamo Bay and torture please tell me one terrorist plot that is been stopped from the information gleaned from these “enhanced interrogations.” Since you said that there is copious amounts of information, you should be able to provide without difficulty. Here’s the problem, as we’ve talked about before, the United States outlawed torture because it didn’t work. The data is overwhelming. We all have to look any further than the mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. He was water boarded 183 times. This courier was supposed to be a close aide. So, you’re going to tell me that he did not know the real name of his close aide? All he knew was his pseudonym? hard to believe.
God damn it. I wrote an entire response to this and it disappeared. So now I have to do it again.
Now, Bud let me first say — I am an extremely aggressive debater. I do not gloss over anything. So take none of this personally.
As someone who has spent the last six years reporting on intelligence and terrorism issues, I’ve got to say, your comments are both uninformed and offensive. You have poured everything through the filter of partisan hackery, with the result that your arguments demonstrate nothing more than your failure to conduct any research before you reach your conclusions. It is, in my view, both unAmerican and beneath you.
What is so horrible about your comments is not simply the repeated contradictions and errors, but your failure to even come close to recognizing how few facts you marshall to make your arguments. Any objective analysis of these events would not come out weighted so thoroughly to one side or the other. Reality is like that.
Bottom line, before we get into realistic discussion is this: You can’t love this country if you have disdain for half of its population. America deserves better than that.
Before I take this point by point, let me give one demonstration. In point nine, you talk about how Obama “decided” not to shut down Gitmo because we are getting such great intelligence out of it. Here are all of the problems with that:
1. Bush publicly stated in 2006 that he wanted to shut down Gitmo. Senior defense department officials were assigned that task. It didn’t shut down, for reasons that will be explained below. Bush did not “change his mind” because of great intelligence we were getting. He simply couldn’t get the impossible done.
2. The last detainee brought to Gitmo was five years ago. Those men were taken there not to get information out of them, but to lock them up. They had been under CIA control three-to-four years, depending on which ones we are talking about. The Agency concluded that they knew everything there was to know from these guys, and that the CIA didn’t want to be in the detention business. So they were sent to Gitmo.
3. The vast majority of Gitmo detainees have been there for eight to nine years. Both the Pentagon and the CIA concluded long ago that none of them have any actionable intelligence — it is all stale. The organization they know about no longer exists in the form they knew it. Also, none of these guys who were interrogated by the military (except one, al-Qahtani) knew anything about pending attacks. Al Qahtani finished his cooperation in 2003. He cannot be tried, the Pentagon decided, because he had been tortured. And that is what they call it — torture. I will explain why in a moment.
4. Obama approached Gitmo at first with — reasonable — belief that it could be closed. It had become a terrible international symbol, which was the same reason Bush wanted it to be closed. At the time Obama stated his intent, one of the senior Pentagon guys from the Bush Administration told me “Of course, we should close it. Gitmo is just a place. But Obama’s going to find out it’s a lot harder than he thinks.
That is what they found out. For those who could be released (and there were plenty of them), there was no place to send them. the US cannot lawfully send an individual to a country where they have a reasonable belief they may be tortured or killed. That ruled out lots of places. Other countries wouldn’t take them. And — just like with Bush — we were unable to negotiate a deal with a different country to set up a detention center that would be under international control. In other words…no options. So he kept it open. Just like Bush.
But, let’s go through your comments one at a time:
1. This statement is ridiculous. I’m not sure if the argument is that, unless they are down firing weapons, no politician gets credit for the actions they took that led to the death/capture of an enemy.
This is so fundamentally stupid that it is robbing Bush of the much-deserved credit he deserves for decapitating the leadership of al Qaeda. His policies and approved operations led to the capture or killing of KSM, Saddam (not al qaeda, but still — operation red dawn was this one.), Atef, Binalshibh (less than others…big help from the Pakistanis), Zubaydah, al Libi, Nashiri and on and on. His operations led to the destruction of Jemaah Islamiyah in Asia (EXTREMELY important.) I would not on any level deny Bush the credit for any of this. In fact, they are more important the Bin Laden.
But, just like Bush gets credit for all of that — even in those instances where the initial bits of intelligence came from Clinton (which it did with Atef and Zubaydah). There’s a huge difference between buying spices and making dinner.
2. First off, your disparagement of a man who served his nation as a member of Presidential cabinet based on his physical limitation is childish and reflects badly on you.
But, on to substance. Your statement here is a complete contradiction of number one — no one deserves credit, but Bush policies deserve credit. Yah, ok.
As for aggressive interrogation — they got no information about the courier from this. What they got was denial. The valid information came from FBI interrogations at Gitmo. (more on that later.) They DID however, result in crippling Jemaah Islamiyah. So give Bush the credit he deserves (which again, JI is more important than UBL), but don’t then piss over the credit Obama deserves.
3. Too bad conservatives want to bomb abortion clinics and federal buildings. Do you now see the absurdity of your own argument?
Yes, there are far-left wingers who are anti military. But citing them as reflective of half this country is obscene. And I will not allow you to heft up events from decades ago to justify the hatred you just spewed at half of this country.
And you are simply wrong. Somewhere below you mention Berkeley — which not only has had ROTC on campus for many many years, but has an ROTC program that is one of the most successful in the nation. It’s Army ROTC is the Golden Bears Battalion – total kick ass soldiers. Navy ROTC has about 70 midshipmen, and operates a very successful affiliate program with other neighboring schools. Air Force ROTC at Berkeley is Detachment 085 — again, one of the most successful recruiting groups there are. In order to attack “libruls” you have pissed on these fine young men and women, because to recognize their service would not fit in with the partisan story.
Other universities HAVE refused to allow ROTC to operate on campus, but did in turn provide off-campus facilities under non-university control for recruitment. Why? Because every one of these schools had policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. And the legal judgment was that to allow ROTC on campus would violate those policies (opening up the universities themselves for discrimination suits based on their own policies.)
So, with gays now allowed in the military, what has happened? Every one of those schools — including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Columbia, yada yada — has either formally reversed their positions or are in the process of doing so. You may think that the universities should have violated their own policies — and taken the legal risk — but that is simply know-nothingism. It had nothing to do with opinions of the military.
4. The Kerry “baby killer” story is made up — and in fact, was made up by Rush Limbaugh. He never said it, never came close to saying it. He OPPOSED the war after serving in Vietnam (something that few prominent conservatives except for McCain did), as was his right. Now, in 2004 the conservatives did everything they could to proclaim (against all evidence to the contrary) that he obtained his Silver Star, Purple Heart and Bronze Star by fraud. This was unbelievably despicable, because it, one again, pissed on the military by proclaiming that these awards for bravery and service could be obtained by fraud — those making every medal winner suspect. It was the irrational preview of “Obama wasn’t born in America.”
Now, Durbin, you understated the situation — unfortunately, your lack of information led you to make a weaker argument. Durbin never called soldiers baby killers — he compared them to the troops of the Third Reich. And he didn’t do that in Vietnam. He did it in 2005. However, he was immediately and roundly condemned by every democrat in congress — literally, every one — and then proclaimed himself a broken man. ““If I believed in Hell,” he said, “I know I’d be going there.” Does not forgive him for what he said, but that’s what happened.
As for why they didn’t comment — they did. Kerrey, who has his expertise in foreign relations, first celebrated the CIA operatives and military folk whose work led to Bin Laden’s killing and then cautioned that we should not lash out at Pakistan, because that country has been an enormous source of intelligence. Which is true.
Durbin said, “We have been devastating their ranks for a long time (ed note: in other words, Bush), and without a lot of fanfare. But cutting off the head of the snake, I think, could demoralize some of his followers….At the end of the day, this evil man died.”
Argue with what they said, but don’t pretend they didn’t say it. And don’t frame the argument with falsehoods.
5. Again, this is just stupid. You are taking one faction of the left and proclaiming them to be representative. Second, most of the criticism of Bush was based on the mishandling of the Iraq war, which was terribly mishandled. How do I knew this? __ because that was the conclusion of that bastion of liberal thought, the Army War College.
Again, stop using sophistry to insult half this country.
6. You are absolutely correct. But again, you can’t say “it was because of Bush we got Bin Laden,” anymore than you could say “It was because of Clinton that we got Atef.”
As stated before, we should all bask in the glow of the successes Bush had in decapitating al Qaeda. They deserve our country’s respect and thanks for that. And conservatives should stop trying to minimize the success of Obama, pissing on the president of the united states in un-American partisan psychosis.
7. Actually, you are wrong. In 2001, Bush did proclaim Bin Laden our main target — because at that point, the full scope of al Qaeda was not understood. (The real breakthrough in that — and the most important interrogation conducted in that time — was the FBI’s questioning of Nasser Ahmad Nasser al Bahri in a prison in Yemen.) Once that information filtered through to the White House (On October 18, 2001) you did not hear Bush make any more of his “dead or alive” comments (September 17, 2001.)
Instead, he went down the decapitation path. Which is why he said:
“Who knows if he’s hiding in some cave or not. We haven’t heard from him in a long time. The idea of focusing on one person really indicates to me people don’t understand the scope of the mission. Terror is bigger than one person. He’s just a person who’s been marginalized…. I don’t know where he is. *I really just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you*.”
And….an “emphasis on bin Laden doesn’t fit with the administration’s strategy for combating terrorism.”
And…why he shut down the Bin Laden unit in 2006.
Had Obama said or done any of these things, you and the talk radio boys would be raging and calling for his impeachment. But Bush did it — AND he was right — but you all remained silent.
But Bush did, i believe, underestimate the psychological importance of getting Bin Laden. But he was too busy with the other folk.
Now, when Obama came into office, there were two major people left — Zawahiri and Bin Laden. Zawahiri was pushed off the table for now — or, as he would be known by 99 percent of Americans, Zawa-who? And Obama did instruct the CIA to make killing (not capturing, but killing) Bin Laden as priority number one. That was the right thing to do. Had he been in office in 2002, it would have been horrible mistake.
Thankfully, it is Bush and Obama who were making the decisions, based on the national security needs of the country, and now a bunch of talk radio partisan hacks.
8. What I love is your ability to assert knowledge about intelligence operations based on nothing more than what you pull out of your ass. There was, in fact, a major intelligence operation involved in this, orchestrated by the Obama national security team. Saying “they did nothing” would be the same as saying that Bush did nothing with Operation Red Dawn (the one that caught Saddam.) You would be wrong on both counts. On the other hand, this point is kind of the same as # 10, so i will deal with that more below.
9. Wrong on every level, as explained above. As for civilian trials….It is true that Obama has tried 70 terrorists in civilian courts in the last three years, and has had only one military commission. So, I guess there is a strong question about his commitment to military commissions.
Oh WAIT!! That ISN”T true. Those were Bush’s numbers. Because Bush — rightfully, again — did not go all politico-blind with the idea that its all one or the other. He stated publicly, they will do military when appropriate and civilian when appropriate. That’s why Richard Reid, Moussaoui and dozens of others went through civlian trials. Of course, when the shoe bomber launched his failed attempt to blow up a plane just before Christmas– stopped by passengers — conservatives cheered; under Bush, he was read his rights, tried and is now in supermax. When the underwear bomber launched his failed attempt to blow up a plane just before Christmas– stopped by passengers — conservatives wailed, because, under Obama, he was read his rights and sent to criminal court for trial.
Now, let’s look at a few others. Conservatives also wailed and moaned when Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was moved from Gitmo to NY for trial. This stemmed from the 1998 embassy bombings. They did no such wailing or moaning when the 20 other guys were tried (in person or in absentia) in the very same court under Bush.
Again, Bush made the right call as did Obama. Because the bombings took place in 1998, there was a strong legal argument to be made that they fell outside of the authority of the United States to try them under the laws of war. Taking them to a military commission would tie everyone up in court, once a conviction came down, and both Administrations would almost certainly have lost. That’s why Bush and Obama made the same decision.
KSM presented (and presents) a similar problem. The cause of death on each of the 3,000 people was determined by civilians and deemed murder. There is no murder charge available in military commissions — so the defense would be able to make a legal argument about venue, which would tie up the case. It is less of a clear-cut situation, so it could be reversed. But there are strong reasons that KSM should be tried in the US — and Bush would have probably tried the same thing. (Then of course, everyone would be fine with it.)
Now, what is the big deal about military commissions? Bear in mind, there have been two commissions — and only one that went all the way to completion — in the past 10 years. During that same time, there have been 95 criminal trials (70 under Bush, 25 under Obama so far.) The average sentence for those tried in criminal court has been 22 years. The ones directly linked to actual or attempted attacks — and not just planned — have received life. (Of course, the Ghailani case, the only one of this category under Obama, also resulted in life, and the conservatives wailed.)
And the military commissions? Time served, plus five months. Some guilty pleas have resulted in a few years. Not one has been of the length of time imposed in 80 percent of the criminal cases.
This is, again, one of the reasons that Bush rightly decided to use both military commissions and criminal trials. At this point, the rationale for military commissions is no longer there, so it would be fine for most of these guys to go to criminal trials. Unfortunately, the wailing kills that possibility.
10. Total complete unadulterated crap.
There were many issues involved in this operation, the most important being the United States was engaging in a military operation inside of Pakistan, which has been a very useful ally in the GWOT. (global war on terror.) During the campaign, Obama specifically stated he would authorize operations inside of Pakistan; McCain specifically stated he would not, and both McCain and Palin slammed Obama for being “naive” for advocating such a thing. Rush and Sean chimed in with the same argument.
Since coming into office, Obama has engaged in military operations — usually involving the predator — inside of Pakistan. That also set lots of teeth gnashing in the talk-radio world. BUT it was those operations (I know this) that stepped up the cooperation from Pakistan, which actually played an important — but complex — role in killing UBL.
Next, saying that they knew 99.9 percent that they were right demonstrates an utter lack of understanding about intelligence. There is no such thing as a 99.9 percent certainty. Most is 40 percent or so, none rise beyond the level of 60 or so.
Let’s take the closest example similar to this during the Bush Administration. Because of intelligence involving following certain people’s cars and watching some communications links (not actual communications, but knowing which wires were operation and which weren’t) Bush had reason to believe that Saddam was hiding out in a place called Dora Farms. Tenet told him the intelligence was “as good as it gets” — about 60 percent certain. Bush anguished over the decision — what if it was a set-up, trying to lure the US into attacking a bunch of innocents, like orphans? Hour upon hour was spent discussing this. Finally, Tommy Franks told him that, if the operation was going to launch, he had 2 minutes to give the order. Otherwise it could not occur. Bush checked his gut and ordered the attack. Dora Farms was destroyed. The intelligence, however, was wrong. Saddam wasn’t there.
Obama had intelligence of about the same quality — and in fact, based on almost the same information. He agonized over making the decision, fearful that he was being set up by factions within the ISI (pakistani intelligence) to lure the US into killing a bunch of innocents. And he had another issue on his plate — given that he would be attacking inside of Pakistan, the issues were far more significant. If he was wrong, he could easily have been facing impeachment. Can you imagine the bitching and wailing that would have occurred if Obama killed a bunch of widows and orphans? But that was why they did a boots-on-the-ground attack, rather than missiles. They could pull back if needed, and a missile attack could kill too many innocents.
The problem is, you guys do nothing but try to spin every single fact in a way that reinforced your ability to attack the president of the United States, even in military operations. You rightly proclaimed (although sometimes you abused it to silence all dissent) that attacking Bush when we were engaged in war was a disservice to our troops. Yet you have felt no compunction in declaring our commander in chief to be a foreign-born manchurian candidate — and we have actually had military men refuse to follow orders on the argument that Obama is not a lawful president. He had to consider the fact that — even if he succeeded in killing UBL — he would be attacked by the right, or have his accomplishment dismissed (for proof, see everything you wrote above.)
Finally, I have to deal with your Clinton fantasy. I’m not sure what piece of BS you’re referring to, so I have to address them all.
A. Clinton never authorized the killing of Bin Laden — yes he did. In 1998. When Ashcroft tried to make this point in testimony before the 9/11 commission, he was slapped down by the republicans who told him his statement was not true.
B. The Sudanese offered to turn over Bin Laden. The King of Crap. The Birther conspiracy of the 1990s. A fantasy shot down by the 9/11 commission. The basis — one opportunistic huckster with financial interests in Yemen (and now a fox news commentator) went to see Sandy Berger and told him that the Sudanese would turn over Bin Laden if the US pulled the Sudan off of the terrorist list. This, of course, would allow huckster to do his business. But, like any reasonable administration ever, Berger didn’t simply telll this freelancing nobody “Really! Great! Let’s do it.” Instead, the CIA was tasked to reach out to the Sudanese who said, in substance, “What the hell are you talking about?” Other than huckster, there was nothing to suggest this was true. And even though this has been shot down again and again by official, bi-partisan bodies, it remains an article of faith among the birthers — i mean, the conservatives who are more interested in partisanship than fact.
C. “We had him in our sites and didn’t take the shot.” Again, utter, utter bullshit. On the first test flight for the Predator in October 2000, we saw UBL. Great! Let’s get him! Except….the armed predator had not been invented yet. That was still five months away. The Bush Administration did not authorize its use (because it wasn’t ready to go) until after 9/11. Maybe if we had a time machine, it could have worked…but we didn’t.
So why not shoot a missile? The only place we had even theoretically available was an Arleigh Burke class Aegis guided missile destroyer. It would take 45 minutes to get the positioning and deliver the missile — on a moving target (a car.) The idea of “taking a shot” was so absurd that no military person even considered it. Yet, gnashing and wailing after the fact by the conservatives.
D. We could have gone in and gotten him: Utter, utter bullshit. By 1998, Bin Laden had killed a grand total of 50 Americans. He killed far more muslims than Americans. By late 2000, that number increased to 67.
Now, the — idea, i guess, if I could call it that — is that conservatives believe we should have launched a land war to get this guy. Ummm…yah. Now let’s take a look at reality. After the embassy bombings — which killed the most of the Americans — Clinton shot the missiles (you know, the ones he was criticized for not launching 2 years later.) Did the Repubs line up to stand with him? No, they started citing “wag the dog” and saying Clinton had done it just to take everyone’s mind off of Lewinsky. When Saddam kicked the weapons inspectors out of Iraq (the event that subsequently led to the Iraq war) and Clinton shot the missiles, what happened? The Republicans started citing “wag the dog” and saying Clinton had done it just to take everyone’s mind off of Lewinsky. Not only would a ground war have been irresponsible, but there is no way it would be supported by the Republican-led house. A fact that was communicated loud and clear to the world for the purpose of winning political points.
Now, I also have to respond to what you say down below about “cutting their balls off.” First, thank God you’re not president. There were two sets of aggressive techniques — one by the CIA and one by the military. The CIA knew what it was doing, the military did not, for simple reason. The CIA had agents who had been trained in intelligence interrogation and did it for years. The military did not, and so they trained a bunch of young 20-ish soldiers to conduct interrogations at Gitmo. They were part of what was called JTF-170. Now, because these guys got so little training, what they did was largely pointless — it didn’t work. The quality of the information they obtained was nil. (this is NOT true for the CIA operation.)
In fact, what the CIA did and what the military did had nothing to do with each other. That is why only the CIA used waterboarding, and only on people in the black prisons overseas.
Early on, there was a problem for the White House. The leaders of JTF 170 were transmitting “intelligence” they had supposedly obtained from the detainees, leading the political leaders to believe this stuff worked. But the information had actually been obtained by CITF (Criminal Investigation Task Force) ands JTF 170 simply got the people to repeat it.
By 2002, senior Pentagon folk reached a conclusion that Dunlavey, who was running JTF 170, was nuts. So they pulled him out.
By 2003, the efforts to arrive at an aggressive interrogation method at Gitmo was suspended — because it was failing. Instead, CITF took over almost every interrogation, and used the relationship building techniques over the garbage people saw on 24. (Again, what took place at Gitmo was not EIT. It was…just a shamble of stuff done by people who didn’t know what they are doing.)
Bottom line here — what matters is what’s works, and what’s legal. And if you are going to get up to the line of legality, it damn well better work. With the CIA, it did (see above.) With the Military, it did not.
And, the final point: all aggressive interrogation techniques were abandoned in 2004. When Cheney slams Obama for saying “we won’t torture” and responds that this is putting the US at risk, he is lying. Bush decided the same thing.
Now, go through all of this, and what you will see is I compliment the hell out of both Bush and Obama. And that is the sign that this is reality, as opposed to partisanship.
And remember — nothing personal. I’m just aggressive, particularly given how much I hate the dishonest partisanship and unAmerican anger far too prevalent in this country of late.
OH…and reply back. I love a good debate.