Monday, April 30, 2012

Obama Uses Bin Laden Killing For Political Purposes. Does He Deserve The Credit? Should It Be Used In His Campaign?

Arianna Huffington rips Obama for Osama ad: ‘One of the most despicable things’ 
Published: 12:51 PM 04/30/2012

Who would have seen this coming? On Monday’s “CBS This Morning,” Huffington Post editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington condemned President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign for an ad questioning whether or not presumtive GOP nominee Mitt Romney would have killed Osama bin Laden.

The campaign ad features former President Bill Clinton applauding Obama, and takes what some say are Romney’s own words out of context to score political points.

The Romney campaign condemned the ad and Huffington agreed. “I agree with the Romney campaign,” she said. “Using the Osama bin Laden assassination, killing, the great news we had a year ago, in order to say basically that Obama did it and Romney may not have done it, which is really the — which is the message — I don’t think there should be an ad about that.

"I think it’s one thing to celebrate the fact that they did such a great job. It’s one thing to have an NBC special from the ‘Situation Room’ … all of that is perfectly legitimate. But to turn it into a campaign ad is one of the most despicable things you can do.”

 Huffington likened it to a 2008 campaign ad from Hillary Clinton questioning if Obama would have the wherewithal to react properly to a hypothetical emergency 3 a.m. phone call. “It’s the same thing Hillary Clinton did with the 3 a.m. call — you know, ‘You’re not ready to be commander-in-chief,’” she continued.

“It’s also what makes politicians and political leaders act irrationally when it comes to matters of war because they’re so afraid to be called wimps, that they make decisions, which are incredible destructive for the country. I’m sure the president would not have escalated in Afghanistan if he was not as concerned, as Democrats are, that Republicans are going to use not escalating against him in a campaign.”

 Huffington argued that the ad went beyond merely celebrating one of Obama’s chief accomplishments. “That’s not just what the ad does,” she said. “[The ad] quotes a snippet from Romney and uses that to imply that Romney would not has been as decisive. There’s no way to know whether Romney would have been as decisive.

To actually speculate that he wouldn’t be is to me not the way to run a campaign on either side.”

 Read more: Daily

Obama strategy of taking credit for Osama bin Laden killing is risky, some observers say

President Obama has placed the killing of Osama bin Laden at the center of his re-election effort in a way that is drawing criticism for turning what he once described as an American victory into a partisan political asset.
Obama’s decision to send a Navy SEAL team deep inside Pakistan to kill bin Laden, the inspiration and ideologue behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, presents enormous political opportunity for a president, especially a Democratic one with no military experience.
But political analysts and Republican critics say Obama is taking a risk in claiming credit for something that as recently as his January State of the Union address he described as “a testament to the courage, selflessness and teamwork of America’s armed forces.”
In a series of videos and speeches leading up to the Wednesday anniversary of the raid, the Obama campaign, through high-profile proxies such as Vice President Biden and former president Bill Clinton, has made the president the star of the story. Biden and others have also suggested that Obama’s rival, the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, would not have pursued bin Laden with the same determination.
Read more at Washington Post

 "Ever since Vice President Joe Biden boiled down Obama's 2012 slogan to "bin Laden is dead, GM is alive," it has been clear that the embattled incumbent would not hesitate to use the May 2, 2011, Navy SEAL strike as a political weapon." Yahoo News

The Bush Administration, and the Killing of Osama bin Laden

David Mark, of Politico’s “Arena” asked whether George W. Bush should have accepted President Obama’s invitation to attend ceremonies at Ground Zero today. The question and possible answers should have been straightforward, but of course, some people chose to use the occasion for yet more Bush-bashing. My response can be found here. I trust that my impatience with some of the answers shines through.
The arguments continue to rage as to how much credit the Bush Administration should get for the process that led to bin Laden’s killing. I am sure that this observation will deeply upset those for whom hating George W. Bush is their raison d’être, but as Paul Miller notes, a considerable amount of credit should in fact go to the 43rd President and his team, as well as other predecessors of President Obama:
Covert action is authorized by a Presidential Finding. Findings are rare; more often, presidents sign Memoranda of Notification (MON) to further extend or modify an existing Finding. That is why to find the relevant finding behind the Abbottabad strike, we have to go all the way back to one signed in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. The 1986 Finding describes the basic authorities for covert worldwide counterterrorism action by the military and intelligence community. The Finding was signed concurrently with the birth of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC), and finally started the slow gears of American bureaucracy churning against terrorists across the globe. Reagan was the first to make fighting terrorism official U.S. policy. (See Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars).
President Bill Clinton signed a number of MONs further extending counterterrorism authorities, several specifically targeted at al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, according to the 9/11 Commission Reportand Ghost Wars. The military and intelligence community designed several operations to either kill or capture bin Laden several times in the late 90s. Clinton was the first to make fighting al-Qaida U.S. policy.
President George W. Bush dramatically expanded the counterterrorism authorities with an expansive MON signed shortly after 9/11 (detailed in Woodward’s Bush At War). The authorities enabled intelligence operatives and special operations forces to embed with the Afghan Northern Alliance and overthrow the Taliban in 2001 (see Gary Schroen’s First In and Gary Berntsen’s Jawbreaker). They also eventually gave birth to the rumored drone program (here is a fascinating website that attempts to track the rumored done strikes). But the drones are relevant for Abbottabad not because of their missiles, but because of their cameras and sensors; they’ve helped build up years and years of data about militants which analysts have been able to mine for the smallest detail, crucial in the hunt for bin Laden.
Perhaps most directly relevant for the road to Abbottabad, Bush made a few key changes to the counterterrorism programs in 2008. Frustrated by years of stalemate, he expanded the authorized target list, began to approve missions without prior Pakistani approval, and also authorized ground incursions into Pakistan to pursue al-Qaida. (see Bob Woodward, Obama’s Wars, Chapter 1).Abbottabad was not the first widely-reported Navy SEAL incursion into Pakistan. Bush authorized a raid on the town of Angor Adda in September 2008 in pursuit of al-Qaida targets. The raid went poorly — it was undertaken during Ramadan, when civilians were awake and feasting at night-Pakistani officials lashed out, and ground incursions were halted. But the precedent was set.
Via InstaPundit, still more evidence that the Bush Administration should share in the credit:
As President Obama celebrates the signature national-security success of his tenure, he has a long list of people to thank. On the list: George W. Bush.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Bush waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have forged a military so skilled that it carried out a complicated covert raid with only a minor complication. Public tolerance for military operations over the past decade has shifted to the degree that a mission carried out deep inside a sovereign country has raised little domestic protest.
And a detention and interrogation system that Obama once condemned as contrary to American values produced one early lead that, years later, brought U.S. forces to the high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and a fatal encounter with an unarmed Osama bin Laden.
But the bridge connecting the two administrations has also led Obama to the same contested legal terrain over how to fight against stateless enemies and whether values should be sacrificed in the pursuit of security.
“We in the Obama administration absolutely benefitted from an enormous body of work and effort that went into understanding al-Qaeda and pursuing bin Laden,” said Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.
All of these are inconvenient truths for those who want to believe that the plan to kill Osama bin Laden sprang unadorned from the brow of Barack Obama. But they are truths nonetheless. President Obama certainly deserves a significant share of credit for the fact that Osama bin Laden no longer walks the Earth. But so do a number of his predecessors, including and most especially his most recent predecessor.

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