OK, lets take a deep breath. Veterans and conservatives may be offended by President Obama's self-promotion and the silly claim that Romney wouldn't have given the SEALs a "Go", but killing bin Laden is a political winner for President Obama - perhaps his biggest. I'd like to focus on two aspects that the mainstream media will note only in passing, if at all.
1. It is the policies put in place by President George W. Bush and opposed by candidate Barack Obama which allowed this national success. Specifically, and unquestionably, the harsh interrogation of key prisoners - 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al Queda operations chief Abu Faraj al-Libi, "20th hijacker" Muhammad Mani al-Qahtani, and Hassan Ghul, an associate of al Queda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi - at Guantanamo Bay and CIA "black sites" led to the identification of the courier who was Osama bin Laden's primary contact with the outside world. The courier led the CIA to bin Laden. For the remaining "deniers", this article on Red State by Dan McLaughlin lays it out in excruciating detail.
Obama has closed the "black sites" and stopped rendition to prisons in countries with lower treatment standards. Holder's brief effort to prosecute CIA interrogators has been put in abeyance - at least until after the election. The Obama / Holder objective of closing Guantanamo and trying terrorists in civilian courts in New York has been defeated by Republicans in Congress. The current policy of drone assassinations which avoids risk to ground troops and the legal thicket of where prisoners should be held and tried unfortunately also forecloses any opportunity for intelligence gathering.
For those who think moral purity trumps national security, the killing of bin Lden is "Bush's fault."
2. Still on this "enhanced interrogation" theme, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gets the prize for the greatest chutzpah of the You Tube age for this 2009 performance in which she claimed that the CIA had lied to her and that she was never briefed on the fact that "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as water-boarding were being used. Unfortunately for Nancy, recently retired CIA Clandestine Service manager Jose Rodriguez has discussed in a book, Hard Measures, both the measures that were used and the detail in which he explained them to the Speaker.
Don't expect an apology.
And one final thought on the politics of it all: there is a rhythm to the campaign and a shelf life on the public's interest in any subject. The Romney campaign is playing it best with congratulations for all, and perhaps wondering why Axelrod played his biggest trump so early in the game.
To take the discussion one step further, this week's video is a conversation between former Attorney General Ed Meese, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul relative to renewal of the Patriot Act. Last year the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court heard 1745 requests for wiretaps and espionage surveillance, approving them all. Perhaps if Washington is all-Republican, we can have a good discussion of the trade-offs without the partisan posturing.
bill bowen - 5/5/12