ABC reports on former President George Bush’s first extensive public comments on the mission that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. In a meeting with hedge fund managers in Las Vegas on Wednesday, he gave credit to President Barack Obama for making a “good call” on ordering the mission, and said that bin Laden’s death was a “great victory” but that he didn’t get too caught up in celebration over it:
When asked by forum moderator Melissa Lee of CNBC how he felt upon learning the news, Bush said he was “not overjoyed,” explaining that the campaign to track down the 9/11 mastermind was done not “out of hatred but to exact judgment.”
The development is ultimately a victory for the American people, he said.
“The guy is dead. That is good,” Bush said of bin Laden. “Osama’s death is a great victory in the war on terror. He was held up as a leader.”
“The intelligence services deserve a lot of credit. They built a mosaic of information, piece by piece,” he said, claiming no credit for himself.
In the phone call, Bush said that Obama explained the mission in significant detail after telling him of its success. He told Obama, “Good call,” on the decision to use the Navy SEALs to complete the mission objective. He also noted the professionalism and accomplishments of SEAL Team 6 as well as the intelligence work done to track down bin Laden.
None of this is terribly surprising. Despite being used as this administration’s punching bag for more than two years, and despite the fact that Obama and his team couldn’t summon the graciousness to acknowledge Bush’s efforts as well as their own in tracking down OBL in the hours and days after the mission, Bush has refrained from any public criticism of his successor since leaving office. Even more or less privately, Bush has remained supportive of Obama’s efforts on the war on terror.
Good for him, and let’s hope a few people learn lessons from Bush’s example.