The Politics of bin Laden's Death

[Read the ORIGINAL at AJ Federation’s official blog]

It didn’t take long – in fact, some would say it was immediate – for the politics to pour over Osama bin Laden’s death. Primarily, the concern of “who gets credit?

Without shadow of a doubt, President Obama deserves credit for ordering the operation against Osama bin Laden. But he does not get to take the credit alone. This is something that no one man can claim responsibility over. There is more to give credit to than just Obama or the intelligence services and U.S. forces who launched the actual assault.

Undoubtedly, the news reports coming out about this operation have some interesting intelligence behind it. Primarily, something about a courier service Osama bin Laden was using. One of the couriers was captured, and kept in Guantanamo Bay. The infamous Gitmo prison, host of the out of use controversial waterboarding. The very one President Obama said he would shutdown in his first 100 days as President and never did. You know, the one the left cried and exclaimed about and all but forgot once their guy was President. That one.

The Obama administration reluctantly said they could not close it down. Eric Holder, who tried to prosecute Khalied Shiek Muhammed in New York City, had to send him back to Gitmo. It is in Guantanamo Bay that crucial information about the couriers came out in the last year:

While it’s not publicly known which detainees gave CIA or Guantánamo interrogators the nom de guerre of one of the few al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin Laden, a senior U.S. official confirmed that crucial piece of intelligence was gathered from “detainees in the post-9/11 period.”

A second U.S. official with knowledge of the situationconfirmed that some of the information used to track down the courier was given by Guantánamo detainees. Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the details involved.

This ultimately lead to Osama’s Abbottabad compound. New York Time’s gives a distinct detail in how this service was even found:

By 2005, many inside the C.I.A. had reached the conclusion that the Bin Laden hunt had grown cold, and the agency’s top clandestine officer ordered an overhaul of the agency’s counterterrorism operations. The result was Operation Cannonball, a bureaucratic reshuffling that placed more C.I.A. case officers on the ground in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

With more agents in the field, the C.I.A. finally got the courier’s family name. With that, they turned to one of their greatest investigative tools — the National Security Agency began intercepting telephone calls and e-mail messages between the man’s family and anyone inside Pakistan. From there they got his full name.

Last July, Pakistani agents working for the C.I.A. spotted him driving his vehicle near Peshawar. When, after weeks of surveillance, he drove to the sprawling compound in Abbottabad, American intelligence operatives felt they were onto something big, perhaps even Bin Laden himself.

The intelligence that got agents to look in Abbottabad came from the most unsavory place for the Obama administration. Had President Obama got his way, we would not have had Guantanamo Bay intelligence. We still might be looking, and might be trusting that Pakistan is telling us the truth. Intel used from Gitmo follows George W. Bush’s lead.

It is in Bush’s administration that CIA agents and decent operatives from Pakistan were looking in Pakistan. President Obama did not retract them or take them off the ball. In short, he kept with Bush’s lead.

Early on in Obama’s campaign for President, he said he would launch missile strikes in Pakistan, especially if there was solid evidence that Osama bin Laden was there. Many Republicans, including myself at the time, condemned attacking an “ally” in the war on terror. Inside his first 100 days, he actually did launch a missile strike over the mountainous border in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Primarily striking and killing targets in Pakistan in 2009!

But back in 2008, President Musharraf supposedly gave President Bush a “hunting license” to search and strike inside Pakistan for Osama bin Laden. President Obama simply kept using the licenseThis license entailed the following:

The U.S. has options for sending special operations teams into Pakistan if bin Laden’s exact location is determined, but military officials said it would be a flying drone, not boots on the ground, that would be dispatched to kill the al Qaeda leader.

We know, now, that boots were on the ground. Officials with Obama urged him to use predator drones to attack the compound and bomb away the compound. Aside from the concerns for collateral damage, civilian casualties that could have been (like Sohaib Athar @ReallyVirtual), President Obama went for the best alternative: take him dead or alive with U.S. forces.

Obama followed the previous administration’s lead. Everything he tried to counter about Bush’s administration, he kept. He didn’t close Gitmo. He didn’t move or change intelligence services. President Obama did not increase pressure in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. He kept on Bush’s track.

The hunt for Osama bin Laden that ultimately led to his death is clear as day. Obama didn’t do anything different or new to former President Bush. But that’s not what the politics are going to say.

The left is set in the single mindset that President Bush abandoned the hunt for Osama bin Laden. They believe he did not care to find him, and was unfocused. They are steadfast in the belief that Iraq was a distraction to get away from capturing the elusive bin Laden. They believe Bush dropped the ball on the mission, and Obama picked it up. Because predator drones totally found out bin Laden!

Now, to disparage and cut away any credit to the Bush administration, the Left is sifting through the facts with baited breath to find if Bush knew bin Laden was in that compound during his second term. Some are still certain that Osama was used as the constant fear to keep Bush and other Republicans in office. Only because they can’t fathom the country re-electing him in 2004.

In the end, like I said earlier, no single person can take or deserves credit. No single President, Obama or Bush, should take credit. Both of them had the ground work and got it done.

This is no election or re-election item for anyone to take up. This isn’t an item that gains anyone presidency. The debate about “giving credit where credit is due” by the left is about legitimizing President Obama’s foreign policy. Which is a carbon copy of Bush’s foreign policy.