This is a presidential election year. That implies a lot. I have a gift for profound understatement.
As usual, I do not have all of the facts. And, as usual, that won’t stop me from commenting. I caught a few passing comments on TV, talk radio, and the net. It appears that President Obama was trying to not to appear to be “spiking the football” about his killing [phrasing mine] of Osama Bin Laden, but in doing so, pointing out that OBL was killed on his watch.
His comments spurred a huge reaction across the political landscape. And every one of those “the more noise I make, the more relevant I am” idiots (or possibly plain ol’ liars) has it wrong.
First, of course President Obama gave the orders that immediately led to the death of OBL. No one should be even able to try to deny that. But no one should be able to make political profit off of that either.
It was the president’s job to make the decision and issue (or not issue) the orders. That’s one of the things a president does. Do you congratulate your mail carrier when they put a letter in your box? It’s the same thing. There was discussion about whether Romney would do the same thing or not if he were president. That’s a silly question. Of course he would. Make the decision I mean. His orders may have been different but that’s not the point. Presidents make hard choices and issue difficult orders. It’s their job.
I’ll bypass executive orders 11905, 12036, 12333, they way that Reagan, Clinton, and Bush2 did and accept that the legality of the operation is not in question.
When Obama claims he killed OBL, he can only mean it figuratively. Anybody that doesn’t get that (and just roll their eyes at the utter self-serving ridiculousness of the statement) has just proven that they should be ignored. People going on about “He wasn’t there! “; “He was never at risk!”, “He didn’t pull the trigger!”. Tsk. Go take your meds.
But OK, let’s follow the off-their-meds response a little. The military killed OBL. Hello master “I have no grasp of the obvious.” There’s an old joke “Marines <or insert your favorite military organization here>:, When it absolutely, positively, has to be destroyed overnight”. It’s funny, but it’s not. The US military has the ability to destroy anyone or anything on unbelievably short notice anywhere that man has ever been and many places that man hasn’t been. I had to think a little to express that correctly. In case you are a little bit slow, I did not say “anywhere on Earth”. Seal Team 6 and the supporting elements are an example of the best any military anywhere has to offer. The fact that they were successful should not be a surprise. They were just doing their job (Absolutely no offense intended. In fact, just the opposite. That's how good they are.).
Find, fix, destroy. The only real obstacle to destruction of a target is finding the target. Who found OBL? The Seals? Ha! The military? Harrumph. Obama? Tee hee. UCLA undergrads? They gave a 15% chance of him being in Paris. No, the hunt for OBL was initiated very soon after 9/11 by Bush 2. Orders were given (he did his job, nothing more) to find and kill OBL basically using whatever means necessary. The Washington Post quoted “lethal covert operations”. If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’ (the expression is a lot older than football). Until they had a target, they had nothing.
BTW, OBL was at home and not going anywhere. Why not lob a dozen cruise missiles at him and be done with it. Why go through the drama of covertly infiltrating friendly airspace and putting (very valuable) troops at risk to deliver kinetic effects in such a personal way? Violence would require the violation of a friendly sovereign whether it was by a missile or a man with a gun. (It would have been sweet to covertly smuggle OBL out and not tell anybody but dragons probably be in that direction.) So Why? Proof.
Pakistan had proven to be not trustworthy. I imagine it can be difficult to extract forensic evidence from an explosion despite what TV dramas show. Add to that that the collection would take place in a country we just pissed off. Since we would have no control of the scene, other elements could alter it. There would be no sustainable proof that OBL had ever been there. Only choice: Go in, kill a terrorist, bag all the evidence including the body, and get out. That leaves the US in a morally defensible position that “we had to do it” because Pakistan didn’t and wouldn’t (probably because they were in on it).
The bottom line: Give credit where credit is due. The intelligence community had made finding OBL job 1. They did it (and they're not allowed to brag). The rest was automatic.