If you’re bummed that we never got to see the Bin Laden death photos, cheer up. The worse gas prices get, the likelier it is that they’ll mysteriously leak before November.
I’ve never begrudged him the right to campaign on this. It’s his finest moment as C-in-C and a rare departure from the Carter-esque atmospherics of his presidency. You could, if you were desperate, challenge him on the merits of the decision — arguably the deterioration in relations with Pakistan afterwards did more harm than the raid did good — but I won’t. That filthbag deserved a bullet in his face and his filthy ISI protectors deserved the global humiliation of a hit pulled off right under their noses. Here’s my only quibble: The politics of counterterrorism being what they are, wouldn’t O have potentially been in major trouble politically down the road if he hadn’t acted? Granted, the intelligence putting Bin Laden in Abbottabad was only 50/50, but imagine if O had stood pat, OBL had later vacated the compound, and then it somehow leaked to the media that he had been there and Obama had reason to know it but didn’t give the order to move in. No explanation would have quelled the outrage, least of all a defense of Pakistani sovereignty given that (a) we use lethal force in Pakistan all the time via our drone program and (b) Obama famously promised on the trail in 2008 that he’d act inside Pakistan against terrorists if need be. I keep thinking back to this story in 2004 about how an unarmed CIA drone spotted a man resembling Bin Laden at Tarnak Farm in 2000, and yet no missile strikes, which would have taken several hours to prepare, were ordered. (I wonder if Clinton was thinking of that in the snippet you see of him here.) Declining to give an order to execute a surgical strike in this case is arguably harder to explain to the public than giving the order and having things go wrong. If that had happened — if Bin Laden hadn’t been there or if the SEALs took heavy casualties or had been surrounded by the Pakistanis — Obama would have taken heat but his goal would have been noble and his choice of America’s military creme de la creme to carry out the mission would have been unimpeachable. It was a risk either way and he deserves credit for the mission’s success, but as I say, I’m not sure that the potential cost of action outweighed the cost of inaction.