Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Mukasey Says More to Come on Obama's Role in bin Laden Raid

“One definition of a great leader,” Mukasey added later in the interview, “is somebody who takes less credit than he should and takes more blame than he should. And that’s not what we’ve got now.” That is what former U.S. Attorney Michael Mukasey said recently during a television interview about the bin Laden raid. He states that there was a "highly lawyered" memo drafted by Defense Secretary Panetta that would protect President Obama politically and let the blame fall upon Naval Special Operations Commander Adm. Bill McRaven.

When speaking about the politics of the bin Laden raid, Mukasey said that more would come out about it.

Murkasey is not fan of the bragging that Obama was pursued for his re-election campaign purposes.

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.

Mukasey noted the me, me, me tone of the announcement made by President Obama on the bin Laden raid:

"I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority . . . even as I continued our broader effort. . . . Then, after years of painstaking work by my intelligence community I was briefed . . . I met repeatedly with my national security team . . . And finally last week I determined that I had enough intelligence to take action. . . . Today, at my direction . . ."

No one thinks that this decision was easy, peasy but to think that it wouldn't be made in the affirmative to move on the intelligence that bin Laden was in a particular location and that the special ops team could move in and accomplish the kill is to deny a no-brainer. But, to announce the team that accomplished the goal was a disservice to them, in that it put them in danger.

And, the man who criticized President Bush for "politicizing" the 9/11/01 attacks on America sets himself up for the same criticism.

The man from whom President Obama has sought incessantly to distance himself, George W. Bush, also had occasion during his presidency to announce to the nation a triumph of intelligence: the capture of Saddam Hussein. He called that success "a tribute to our men and women now serving in Iraq." He attributed it to "the superb work of intelligence analysts who found the dictator's footprints in a vast country. The operation was carried out with skill and precision by a brave fighting force. Our servicemen and women and our coalition allies have faced many dangers. . . . Their work continues, and so do the risks."

A real leader steps in and takes blame for failure, not glory for success that is due to the military.

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