As smart as Team Obama is supposed to be, they sure do mess up a lot. What should have been a week of basking in the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden has turned into a hornet’s nest of controversy. On the one hand has been the “I, I, me, me” gloating by President Obama, with the occasional nod to the Navy SEALs and his national security team. On the other hand has been the politicization of the accomplishment by including it in an ad that questioned whether or not presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney would have made the same decision. A group called Veterans for a Strong America put together an ad highly critical of how Obama has handled this: “The reason Vets for America needed to run the ad is because we are throwing the penalty flag up on President Obama for excessive celebration,” the group’s chairman Jim Arends told The Daily Caller. “This is a guy who said he wouldn’t spike the football but you know what, he did. He spiked it, he signed it, he threw it into the stands.”
In addition, former Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey penned an article for The Wall Street Journal in which he focused on a “recently disclosed memorandum from then-CIA Director Leon Panetta [showing] that the president’s celebrated derring-do in authorizing the operation included a responsibility-escape clause: ‘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.’”
Mukasey concluded, “if the mission went wrong, the fault would be Adm. McRaven’s, not the president’s. Moreover, the president does not seem to have addressed at all the possibility of seizing material with intelligence value—which may explain his disclosure immediately following the event not only that bin Laden was killed, but also that a valuable trove of intelligence had been seized, including even the location of al Qaeda safe-houses. That disclosure infuriated the intelligence community because it squandered the opportunity to exploit the intelligence that was the subject of the boast.”
And largely forgotten is how badly this was handled by the Obama administration at the time of the operation last May. As I pointed out in an AIM Report at the time, the administration couldn’t get its story straight. Were they or were they not watching in real time? Was bin Laden armed and did his death occur at the end of a 40-minute firefight, as they first told us, or was it over in five minutes?
In another AIM Report, former Navy SEAL Chuck Pfarrer pointed out more discrepancies between the administration’s version of events and what he was told by his sources from inside the operation.
The British newspaper The Daily Mail also reported on a number of former Navy SEALs who spoke on the record and who are not happy with the amount and type of publicity this is getting. For example, “Clint Bruce, who gave up the chance of an NFL career to serve as a SEAL officer before retiring as a lieutenant after nine years, said: ‘We were extremely surprised and discouraged by the publicity because it compromises the ability of those guys to operate.’”
But clearly not everyone thinks Obama has handled this anniversary inappropriately. AIM has posted one video in which Dan Rather and CNN’s Piers Morgan heap praise on the President, and another video featuring a lively discussion on ABC’s The View.