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Osama Bin Laden's Death: Does President Obama Deserve Credit?

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Who Deserves the Credit for the Death of Osama Bin Laden?

On Sunday night, the world was greeted with unexpected good news—after almost 10 years of searching, American special forces killed the face of world terrorism, Osama bin Laden.

This was BIG news. So big that the Mets and Phillies contest seemed trivial in light of the revelation of the death of this evil man.  Phillies fans seemed more excited to chant USA than to see their beloved Phillies win a close one against their New York rivals.

The news was so big that even my very non-political friends started asking me questions about Bin Laden’s death--  “I keep hearing that Obama had a lot to do with this…. Is that right, Erik?”

So, my friend, this article is dedicated to you. Here follows a list of people that deserve credit for the bid Laden take down. You can decide for yourself who deserves the most.


President George W. Bush

Many Republicans praised President Obama for the Pakistan raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Others maintain that the White House should have given more credit to George W. Bush, who vowed to get Bin Laden “Dead or alive.” 
 
Republicans make this claim because Bush authorized the interrogations that reportedly proved crucial to tracking down the al Qaeda leader.

Let’s review how Bid Laden was tracked to the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

At first, our government was tracking al Qaeda agents through their telephone and cell phone use.  However, once the details of the NSA’s wiretapping program of suspected terrorists was explained for all to see on the pages of The New York Times and other media sources, Osama Bin Laden wisely stopped using phones.

Bid Laden now communicated with his lieutenants thorough the use of a courier, whom would hand deliver his orders or give them via word of mouth. Bin Laden minimized his online use as well so he would not leave any digital footprints.

The CIA was able to find him by tracking a courier.  This was a process that took years, which began during the Bush Administration -- in 2007.  How did the Intelligence Community find the courier who eventually took them to bin Laden?  They found him through information gained from interrogating terrorist prisoners, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and Abu Faraj al-Libbi.

Despite many protests from the left and harsh criticisms from the media, Bush insisted that these terrorists should be detained at Guantanamo Bay and should receive harsh, “enhanced interrogation” including water boarding and sleep deprivation in order to provide key information to find Osama Bid Laden.

Jose Rodriguez who ran the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center from 2002 to 2005, says, “Information provided by KSM and Abu Faraj al-Libbi about bin Laden’s courier was the lead information that eventually led to the location of [bin Laden’s] compound and the operation that led to his death,” in his first public interview.

Barack Obama actually undermined much of President Bush’s anti-terror policies. Then Senator Barack Obama campaigned against the use of the NSA wiretaps. He campaigned for the shut down of Guantanamo Bay that coughed up the name of the courier. And after being elected, he went so far as to imply that his attorney general, Eric Holder, was ready to arrest the CIA operatives who had conducted enhanced interrogations. Yet this key piece of information that led to the execution of our worst enemy was obtained through those very means that candidate Obama demeaned, mocked, and ordered shut down.

So you see, President George W. Bush had the determination and the foresight to set the groundwork in the finding of Bin Laden. That’s why he deserves the credit.

President Barack Obama

There's a big difference between campaigning and governing. And the former anti-war Barack Obama has become the pro-war President Obama.

It is amazing how the office of the President can change a man. Once in office, much to the chagrin of his liberal base, Obama maintained much of the anti-terrorist apparatus and policies  constructed by President Bush.

But unlike Bush’s chance to get Bid Laden at Tora Bora, the Obama Administration hit their opportunity to get Bid Laden out of the park in a near perfect series of moves last week.

The more we learn about how President Barack Obama and his team carried out their secret strategy to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, the more phenomenal their work seems.

The way they found the compound, developed plans to take it, practiced those plans, kept them secret and then executed them will provide a case study for future administrations.

Even Republicans were impressed with the surgical precision of the series of events.

"It really was a tremendously skilled operation," Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told The Huffington Post. "I give Obama full credit for this."

The stakes weren't as high as they were in the Cuban Missile Crisis, but elements of the Obama's team work reminds me of that time, right down to how Obama kept up his regular schedule without a hint of what was going on. Back then, JFK kept up his daily schedule, even flying to Illinois for campaign events. He famously faked a cold to return to D.C. to get back to an important crisis meeting.

Obama, fearful of civilian causalities and wanting to capture Bid Laden’s computer database and other evidence, rejected a safer bombing operation in favor of a more risky commando raid.

If the mission has failed, Obama would have gotten the blame — as Jimmy Carter would attest about the failure to rescue 52 American hostages held in Iran in 1980, a complete disaster that ended with eight Special Forces members dead in a helicopter crash. The failed “Operation Eagle Claw” was the final nail in Carter’s presidency.
Representative King also appreciates how this could have been a blunder for the Obama administration. "This could have easily gone wrong," explained King, who has been privy to classified Homeland Security briefings and sits on the House intelligence committee as well.

He detailed just how difficult the situation was and how careful the administration had to be striking inside the borders of Pakistan based on intelligence that could have come from unreliable sources.

"First of all, Bin Laden could have just as easily not been there, no matter how much you confirm this stuff," King said. "Until you get him, it could be some guy who looked like him; it could have been a setup; they could have had that place filled with kids, or innocent women. They could have had all sorts of deadly surface-to-air missiles waiting for those helicopters. The whole thing could have been a master setup."
 
Team Obama displayed true leadership and made the right decisions when it counted the most. That's why the demise of bin Laden has come on Obama's watch, not George W. Bush's.

The SEALs

The mission to kill Osama bin Laden was carried out by a highly trained, highly secretive group of Navy SEALs working with the CIA. The SEALs group is known as Team Six. Officially, Team Six doesn't exist. Unofficially, they're "the best of the best”.

The Navy SEALs (Sea, Air, and Land) have their "origins in World War II when the United States realized that to invade Japan, it needed savvy, quick-thinking fighters who could perform reconnaissance at sea," says Ashley Fantz at CNN.

To become SEALs, candidates train 18 to 24 months, including a grueling "Hell Week" during which they are "constantly cold, hungry, sleep deprived, and wet." The dropout rate for SEAL training is about 90 percent. There were 2,500 active-duty SEALs as of 2009.

Team Six is the unofficial name for a group of elite SEAL "badasses," says Robert W. Johnson at Business Insider. Its members all "exist outside military protocol, engage in operations that are at the highest level of classification, and often outside the boundaries of international law.

The daring operation began when two U.S. helicopters flew in low from Afghanistan and swept into the compound where Osama bin Laden was thought to be hiding late Sunday night Pakistan time, or Sunday afternoon Washington time.

Thirty to 40 U.S. Navy SEALs disembarked from the helicopters as soon as they were in position and stormed the compound. The White House says they killed bin Laden and at least four others with him. The team was on the ground for only 40 minutes, most of that was time spent scrubbing the compound for information about al Qaeda and its plans.

Ultra efficient.

But don’t expect the SEALs looking for publicity to take credit for their Hollywood-like raid; the organization prides itself in secrecy and anonymity. Nevertheless, it was these guys who made Obama look really good. 


Contact Erik Uliasz at euliasz@philly2philly.com   

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