A recently disclosed memorandum from then-CIA Director Leon Panetta shows 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.”
Which is to say, 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.
The only reliable weapon that any administration has against the current threat to this country is intelligence. Every operation like the one against bin Laden (or the one that ended the career of Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S. citizen and al Qaeda propagandist killed in a drone attack last September) dips into the reservoir of available intelligence. Refilling that reservoir apparently is of no importance to an administration that, after an order signed by the president on his second day in office, has no classified interrogation program—and whose priorities are apparent from its swift decision to reopen investigations of CIA operators for alleged abuses in connection with the classified interrogation program that once did exist.
While contemplating how the killing of bin Laden reflects on the president, consider the way he emphasized his own role in the hazardous mission accomplished by SEAL Team 6:
“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 . . .”
Contrast Obama’s self-serving arrogance with real leaders.
The man from whom …Obama has sought incessantly to distance himself, George W. Bush, also had occasion during his presidency to announce to the nation a triumph of intelligence: the capture of Saddam Hussein. He called that success “a tribute to our men and women now serving in Iraq.” He attributed it to “the superb work of intelligence analysts who found the dictator’s footprints in a vast country. The operation was carried out with skill and precision by a brave fighting force. Our servicemen and women and our coalition allies have faced many dangers. . . . Their work continues, and so do the risks.”
……Dwight Eisenhower is famous for having penned a statement to be issued in anticipation of the failure of the Normandy invasion that reads in relevant part: “My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
A week later, when the success of the invasion was apparent, Eisenhower saluted the Allied Expeditionary Forces: “One week ago this morning there was established through your coordinated efforts our first foothold in northwestern Europe. High as was my preinvasion confidence in your courage, skill and effectiveness . . . your accomplishments . . . have exceeded my brightest hopes.
B. Hussein is one of the worst fuckups in American history. His malfeasance, stupidity, conceit, and total unfitness for office puts him in the category shared by Clinton and Carter. His disdain for the military is palpable and the feeling is mutual.