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Bin Laden Dead

May 2nd, 2011

It took Bush seven years and he didn’t get close. Obama got him in two years.

Had this happened under Bush, even after seven years, one can assume that this would have been the beginning of a weeks-long self-congratulatory paroxysm of crowing amongst right-wingers, with the media showering praise on Bush in particular, followed by a double-digit jump in his popularity ratings.

One wonders how this will be handled differently now that it took Barack Hussein Obama, in a long-planned and well-coordinated mission, to accomplish.

Bush in March 2002, when he was diverting his attention from bin Laden and Afghanistan so he could prosecute the war in Iraq instead:

… I don’t know where [bin Laden] is. I — I’ll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.

Obama in 2008:

And we have a difficult situation in Pakistan. I believe that part of the reason we have a difficult situation is because we made a bad judgment going into Iraq in the first place when we hadn’t finished the job of hunting down bin Laden and crushing al Qaeda.

So what happened was we got distracted, we diverted resources, and ultimately bin Laden escaped, set up base camps in the mountains of Pakistan in the northwest provinces there. …

And if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act, and we will take them out.

Nor was this a chance or accidental result; Obama was truly focusing on the task, while Bush let his attention wander almost immediately. Obama today:

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda. Even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle and defeat his network.

Then last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain. And it took many months to run this thread to ground.

I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside Pakistan.

And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.

Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abad Abad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties.

And, time until conservatives find some way to criticize Obama for taking out bin Laden, in three, two….

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  1. May 2nd, 2011 at 18:50 | #1

    You mean apart for saying:

    “I’m only sorry W didn’t get him instead of President Do-Nothing. I’m sure he’ll appear to claim all the credit for the CIA/Military’s hard work soon enou– son of a GUN there he is, interrupting CSI-Miami.”


  2. Luis
    May 2nd, 2011 at 20:02 | #2

    Michelle Malkin is busy (a) trying to cast doubt on the veracity of the operation being an intentional surgical strike, (b) castigating Obama and Democrats for politicizing the story, (c) giving credit to Bush, and (d) giving credit to the military/claiming Obama is stealing their credit. The RedState blog chastises Obama for being “self-congratulatory” and goes out of its way to assign full credit to intelligence and military elements, blaming Obama for stealing their credit and using the opportunity to opine on how Obama is still beatable in 2012.

    Looking at various right-wing blogs, that seems to be the tone: Obama didn’t do anything, it was all the armed forces, Obama is trying to steal the credit, how dare he. I suppose that’s the best tack they can hope to take.

    This is getting rather strong coverage–but the media is not giving any particular credit to Obama. I really did not expect the general public reaction to this, either–but they are giving him credit, with NYC crowds chanting, “Obama got Osama.”

  3. Luis
    May 2nd, 2011 at 21:04 | #3

    From PowerLine: “Any joy one might feel in the intelligence of our analysts and the bravery of our door kickers was significantly diminished by Obama’s malignant narcissism.”

    The writer goes on to bash Obama for being “ungenerous to Bush,” i.e. not giving Bush credit. Credit, apparently, for giving up on the search for bin Laden? Hmm.

    Pamela Geller writes, “Gd [sic] bless our troops. Obama can puff himself and shamelessly strut like peacock, but hats off to the US military that has been relentless, dogged and brave for ten years in their mission to kill that devout bastard.”

    This theme continues, and generally a lot of right-wing blogs are emphasizing Bush’s public statements on the matter.

    I expect we’ll soon hear theories about how it was all faked because of the quick burial at sea, and/or criticism that the burial was done quickly out of respect for Islamic traditions, but we’ll continue hearing the criticisms about Obama stealing the spotlight from the military.

    Update: Palin thanks troops, completely ignores Obama. As she would have had it been Bush, I am sure.

  4. Luis
    May 2nd, 2011 at 21:15 | #4

    I like this:

  5. Tim Kane
    May 2nd, 2011 at 23:07 | #5

    What I learned about fear in the last ten years, is that Republicans and Conservatives would shamelessly exploit fear, as a concept, to manipulate the masses.

    George Bush said “9/11 changed everything” and under that pretext, proceeded to loot the treasury and shift over $10 trillion dollars from the commercial (demand) side of the economy to the rich (supply) side of the economy – covering his tracks with borrowed money from China and the politics of terror and fear. The last “red” alert issued by the Bush administration was two and a half weeks before the 2004 election.

    Churchill summoned his nations courage, promising them only blood, sweat, toil and tears, while Bush summoned our fears but in the mean time told us to go shopping.

    Bush of course had his chance to get Bin Laden, but forewent that chance. It’s no surprise that Bush never got Bin Laden, but Obama has.

    As long as their was money to loot on behalf of the rich from the American society, the Bush administration had no incentive to get Bin Laden – he needed that boogeyman to cause fear and to distract the public from the looting he was overseeing.

    Every day Bush could have summoned our courage, but he didn’t. He summoned our fears. Meanwhile, the median wage declined while the top 1% got immensely richer – until the imbalances became so great that the economy went into melt down – no doubt, six months earlier than it was supposed.

    M. Scot Peck, M.D. taught that there’s good love and there’s bad love; good love is empowering, and bad love is controlling, bad love is manipulating. Churchill empowered his people, Bush disempowered all but the very rich and nearly destroyed modern western civilization in the process through economic melt down, bringing us to the brink of a new dark age. In fact, we still don’t know whether or not we have survived the man.

    Hopefully the passage of mega-events in the last six months, from Tucson to Wisconsin to the capture of Bin Laden will now thoroughly discredit movement conservativism for all but the demented amongst us

  6. stevetv
    May 2nd, 2011 at 23:22 | #6

    “It took Bush seven years and he didn’t get close. Obama got him in two years.”

    Hee hee! Well, if nothing else I’m glad this will throw off the “Obama is a Muslim who wants to give our country away to the Islamic radicalists” contingent for a little while. But – as usual – I must spoil the party and try to be fair. It’s not strictly correct that Obama got him in two years. He got him in two years, plus the seven years of intelligence gathering prior to his administration. Slates are never completely wiped clean whenever there is a change in administration. The new president always operates with whatever he’s the beneficiary of. And we have to be fair and acknowledge this because if we don’t, then we must also acknowledge that Reagan was the sole player and hero for ending the Cold War (forgetting that he had the benefit of decades-worth of policy from previous administrations to draw from), and we must acknowledge that Bush couldn’t have stopped the WTC bombing because he in office for only eight months (forgetting that he had eight years worth of intelligence to work with, had he chosen to), and even that Obama’s intelligence community has had its share of embarrassing failures such as not capturing the underwear bomber sooner (forgetting – inconsistently enough – that intelligence failures don’t organically begin with a new administration but ripple from one to the next, and especially in this case when the personel were Bush hirees).

    And since I try to be fair, I should also say I remember what happened when Saddam Hussein was captured years ago. The left was saying that the capture had very little to do with Bush, that it was based on a tip received through intelligence, and that he’s getting the spoils for something that should be solely credited to the armed forces. Okay, I can’t say the entire left said this, but I know _I_ said it. And I still believe it to an extent. And, to an extent, I believe it in this case as well. Unless you’re an Alexander the Great with your boots (or sandals) on the ground, I don’t think any president deserves the bulk of the credit for any successful military operations. You can order it, but success is mostly based on chance and the skill of others. Reading the transcripts to the White House briefing, I’m left wondering how many other special forces operations based on hunches ended up being mistakes, with collateral damage left behind. And just as I never believed the capture of Saddam Hussein justified the war in Iraq in the first place, I’m not sure if the killing of bin Laden justifies the drone attacks and killings of innocent Pakistanis in order to get to him (although, believe it or not, I DO support the airstrikes in Libya, so I’m not a total radical nut).

    Okay, rant over. I won’t be the skunk at the garden party any longer. The fact is, it’s finally over, it did happen under President Obama’s watch, and he does deserve credit for his role in the operatation. Well done, and well played. Now, can we PLEASE scale back airport security already? :)

  7. stevetv
    May 2nd, 2011 at 23:35 | #7

    I guess I should quickly addendum (did I use the word correctly) that Obama does deserve credit for refocusing the intelligence more towards bin Laden proper, and rectifying that huge Bush screw-up. It wasn’t my intention to render Obama’s role in the capture completely invisible, and I apologize if I gave that impression – which, re-reading my post, I can see that I did.

  8. Tim Kane
    May 3rd, 2011 at 00:50 | #8

    When Bush came into office he found a note left to him from Clinton saying that terrorism would be his biggest concern. Then there were three other major warnings; Bush purposely ignored them all as an ideological reaction to anything from the Democrats. Remember, Clinton stopped terrorist just before 2000. Bush, through incompetence, lazyness and ignorance let 9/11 happen.

    In 2004, I used to read the online addition of the International Tribune – and they would have a headline from 10 years ago today, 25 years ago, 50 years ago and 100 years ago. In 1954 Eisenhower, in a vindication and support of the basic containment strategy set up by Harry Truman, stated that the Soviet Union would collapse in four or five decades. At best, all Reagan did was push things up a decade by his massive spending on defense.

    As I said earlier, Bush & Company learned how to use terrorism and fear to push through policies that basically are still in the process of destroying our economy and society.

    In 2001 it was remarkable that someone like Pat Tillman would give up a multimillion dollar career in the NFL to join the army to fight terrorism. It’s almost impossible to think anyone would do that now and think he wasn’t crazy. We were still a society, a community and a country in 2001. Today we are just a collection of people who are being run by overwhelmingly rich, powerful and greedy mother fnckers who got that way courtesy of Bush’s policies.

    Bush deserves nothing good to be said about him. Period. The man is trash, who trashed the country he was given stewardship over: he took a country at the height of not just it’s history, but of all history, and brought it to ruin in short order. His under reaction to the threat of terrorism paved the way to 9/11, and 9/11 was just the first course in eight years of ruinous behavior and policies. Oh, and along the way he divided the country – as that’s the only way he could survive politically. Again, nothing good can be said of the man. In fact, calling him a man is unfair to most other humans.

  9. stevetv
    May 3rd, 2011 at 02:17 | #9

    “As I said earlier, Bush & Company learned how to use terrorism and fear to push through policies that basically are still in the process of destroying our economy and society.”

    Yes, which the Obama administration and Justice Dept. are fighting to maintain. Apples, oranges. If Obama doesn’t use fear as his tactic to maintain these policies, that’s small thanks to him.

    I wonder how often torture was used in order to gather enough information to carry out the mission. Reading between the lines of the administration’s account, the answer would appear to be “often enough”. Instead of ‘fear’, maybe Obama will use the glow of ‘victory’ in order to continue the abhorrent practice of detainee interrogations.

  10. Luis
    May 3rd, 2011 at 02:44 | #10

    As long as their was money to loot on behalf of the rich from the American society, the Bush administration had no incentive to get Bin Laden – he needed that boogeyman to cause fear and to distract the public from the looting he was overseeing.
    I very much agree. Bush didn’t engineer 9/11, nor did Cheney. But both appreciated raw materials when they saw them. The thing with terror, with fear, is that it is easily led. It served Bush and Cheney as well as, in fact better, than it did bin Laden. they wasted no time in hijacking the terror, cultivating it, causing it to grow, so it could be harvested when needed. They knowingly used it to the extreme profit. Bin Laden was as much an asset to Bush as Bush was to bin Laden; they both fed off of each other, they both profited from each other. Like two rival wrestlers stoking the emotions of the fans against each other, both knowing they profited from the rivalry.

    But – as usual – I must spoil the party and try to be fair. It’s not strictly correct that Obama got him in two years. He got him in two years, plus the seven years of intelligence gathering prior to his administration.
    I disagree in the strongest possible terms. Bush & Cheney could have gotten bin Laden much earlier. They simply didn’t give a rat’s ass. They were far more interested in what bin Laden and the terror he created could do for them.

    Look back at what happened in late 2002 and early 2003, with Bush more or less abandoning Afghanistan and the pursuit of bin Laden so he could go after what he really wanted–Iraq, and especially control over the flow of oil out of Iraq, plus all the money that could be channelled to his patrons in the process.

    Bush mindfully turned away from his pursuit. We all knew it at the time. Hell, on the left, we were practically screaming it, to no avail. Bush neglected Afghanistan and let it fester, when it was supposed to be the whole focus of the prosecution of terror agencies. Instead, we got the bullshit war on a country not linked to terror in reality, though the right wing went wild claiming it was so.

    Even in 2008, Republicans were still refusing to go into Pakistan to get bin Laden if the Pakistanis were to in any way object. No matter that we plowed through Afghanistan for sheltering bin Laden, Pakistan was out ally, they had sovereignty.

    It’s no guarantee that Bush would have gotten bin Laden had he really concentrated and tried. But if one thing is clear, it is that he didn’t. Nor were his wannabe successors interested in doing so.

    Yes, the intelligence community built up leads–but not because of anything Bush did. And keep in mind that the Intel that led to bin Laden’s capture was not really a culmination of any Bush policy or any system that Bush built; it was, in fact, the precise kind of counterterrorism that Bush and the Republicans despised, that they derided in fact: the prosecution of terror by intelligence. Hunting them down with police work. Remember that this is what Obama and the Dems said we should do, and the right wing castigated them for suggesting it. And here we are–it worked. And now people are giving Bush credit.

    Bull. Fracking. Shit.

    How many times did Bush blow huge chances at intelligence coups by jumping the gun because he needed some terror arrest to crow about? How many times did he blow the chance to get bin Laden with all of the leaks by Republicans about how they were on to bin Laden and hoped to have him soon?

    Obama took office and started something Bush never did well: he started managing. He set people to tasks and involved himself; he kept to his mantle of “No Drama Obama,” kept a tight seal on intel that had grown since August of last year, and held his cool until the job got done, at a point in time when everyone was completely surprised. Why were we surprised? Because he did his damned job right. Something Bush never did.

    This was no Bush victory–Bush mismanaged and distracted himself elsewhere. This was no McCain, who blustered about knowing how to get bin Laden onlyif he got elected.

    Obama, on the other hand, voiced sound policies, got trashed for it–but then he got elected, he carried those policies out, and they worked.

    Sorry, but if you try to tell me that this built on Bush, I’m gonna call that out as wrong. Dead wrong, plain and simple. It’s like claiming that Steve Jobs owed Gil Amelio credit for Mac OS X, the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone, and the iPad, just because Amelio ran Apple before Jobs came, and claimed that he was going to save the company. Jobs did that, just like Obama led the capture of bin Laden. Bush did worse than squat, he fumbled and set us back, costing us trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. Claiming Bush deserves credit for getting bin Laden is like claiming that Bush deserves credit for reversing the nose dive the economy was in when he left office.

    The left was saying that the capture had very little to do with Bush, that it was based on a tip received through intelligence, and that he’s getting the spoils for something that should be solely credited to the armed forces. Okay, I can’t say the entire left said this, but I know _I_ said it.

    You may have. I sure didn’t, and frankly, I don’t recall many on the left saying this. What I and many on the left were saying was, yes, Bush got Saddam–but he was supposed to be going after bin Laden. We knew this back then–it was clear even then that Hussein was worthless, that as bad as he was, he was not a prize that helped us at all.

    When Saddam was captured, I did not claim Bush didn’t do it. I claimed that his capture wouldn’t end the troubles in Iraq–and I was right, it did not–and I even said that I would welcome the news that Iraq had become peaceful now that Saddam had gone even if it meant Bush winning re-election.

    A few days later, I noted what many of the left were saying: that Bush had been tasked to get bin Laden, but that he gave up and went after the tin-pot dictator instead.

    I stand by what I said then, and it is 100% consistent with what I am saying now. Bush deserved credit for getting Saddam–the problem was, he was supposed to get the important one, bin Laden, but gave up bin Laden for something that gravely harmed the country and was more or less worthless to us as a whole.

  11. Luis
    May 3rd, 2011 at 02:59 | #11


    Oops, I reacted to the first post before reading the retraction. But I would still disagree with a lot you said there even after subtracting the retraction. Obama did refocus, but the capture does not, I suspect, owe anything to any specific Bush policy.

    I also disagree about Reagan. He was simply there when the Soviet Union toppled on its own. What he did was in reality to cause the Soviet Union to topple was only a tiny fraction of what he is credited for. The military spending was something carter planned to do–in greater amounts, in fact, look back on his projections for future spending–and Carter was the hardass when it came to Afghanistan, which, again, had more to do with the end of the Soviet Union than anything Reagan did. A lot of people deserved more credit than Reagan.

  12. Luis
    May 3rd, 2011 at 04:00 | #12

    Steve Benen reacts to Eric Cantor crediting Obama only for following Bush’s lead:

    In March 2002, just six months after 9/11, Bush said of bin Laden, “I truly am not that concerned about him…. You know, I just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you.”

    In July 2006, we learned that the Bush administration closed its unit that had been hunting bin Laden.

    In September 2006, Bush told Fred Barnes, one of his most sycophantic media allies, that an “emphasis on bin Laden doesn’t fit with the administration’s strategy for combating terrorism.”

    And don’t even get me started on Bush’s failed strategy that allowed bin Laden to escape from Tora Bora.


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