Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Bragging Rights

Shortly after taking office, Obama tried to imprison the people who tracked down bin Laden. Now he's trying to claim credit for their work. Not only that, but he covered his ass by placing responsibility for possible failure on a subordinate, then blew the valuable intelligence that the raid developed.
The first anniversary of the SEAL Team 6 operation that killed Osama bin Laden brings the news that President Obama plans during the coming campaign to exploit the bragging rights to the achievement. That plan invites scrutiny that is unlikely to benefit him.

Consider the events surrounding the operation. 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.

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