You ever see those Navy SEAL training shows on TV? Where they have to run ten miles with an 80 pound backpack, then complete an obstacle course, before lying in the cold surf for an hour? Before breakfast?
Well, we know who can survive such ordeals—and we know who can’t:
We should not forget the bottom line in this: bin Laden was justifiably and legally killed by brave and skilled US Navy SEALs. The operation was audacious and meticulous in its planning and execution. President Barack Obama made the call to carry out the raid and his decision was vindicated in spades.
Having said that, the messiness since then has taken much of the sheen off this success, temporarily at least. Here’s a summary of what went wrong once the most difficult bit had been achieved:
2. To say that bin Laden was armed and hiding behind a wife being used as a human shield was an unforgiveable embellishment. The way it was expressed by John Brennan was to mock bin Laden as being unmanly and cowardly. It turned out to be incorrect and gave fuel, again, to conspiracy theories as well as accusations of cover-ups and illegality. Of all the mistakes of the week, this was by far the biggest.
3. It was a kill mission and no one should have been afraid to admit that. Bin Laden was a dead man as soon as the SEAL Team landed. There’s nothing wrong with that but the Obama administration should have been honest about it rather than spinning tales about bin Laden having a gun, reaching for a gun (the latest) and resisting (without saying how he resisted).
4. Too much information was released, too quickly and a lot of it was wrong. When it made the administration look good, the information flowed freely. When the tide turned, Jay Carney, Obama’s spokesman, clammed up completely. I’m a journalist; I like it when people talk about things. But from the administration’s perspective, it would have been much better to have given a very sparse, accurate description of what happened without going into too much detail, especially about the intelligence that led to the compound (an account which is necessarily suspect).
5. Obama tried to claim too much credit. Don’t get me wrong, he was entitled to a lot of credit. but sometimes less is more and it’s better to let facts speak for themselves. We didn’t need official after official to say how “gutsy” Obama was. Far better to have heaped praise on the CIA and SEALs (which, to be fair, was done most of the time) and talked less about Obama’s decision-making. And a nod to President George W. Bush would have been classy – and good politics for Obama.
He has ten of them. Read ‘em all.
Michelle Malkin has even more:
[T]he hourly revamping of key details of Sunday’s raid suggests something far beyond the usual realm of situational uncertainty that accompanies any military operation. The Navy SEALs did their job spectacularly. The civilians tasked with letting the world know about the mission, however, have performed like amateur dinner theater actors in a tragi-comic production of “Rashomon-meets-The Blind Men and the Elephant-meets-Keystone Kops.”
Incapable of straightforward answers, Team Obama’s clarity-challenged civilians have led nauseated news-watchers through more twists and turns than San Francisco’s Lombard Street.
Take your Dramamine, and let’s review.
Take One: Bin Laden died in a bloody firefight.
On Sunday night, Obama dramatically told the world that “after a firefight,” our brave men in uniform “killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”
Embellishing the story the next morning, White House deputy national security adviser John Brennan said at his briefing that bin Laden “was engaged in a firefight with those that entered the area of the house he was in. … And whether or not he got off any rounds, I quite frankly don’t know. … It was a firefight. He, therefore, was killed in that firefight.”
Take Two: Bin Laden did not engage in a firefight.
The day after Brennan disclosed such vivid details, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney walked them back Michael Jackson-style. Bin Laden, he said in version 2.0, “was not armed.” Brennan had clearly implied that bin Laden “resisted” with arms. Carney amended the narrative by insisting that “resistance does not require a firearm.” How exactly bin Laden resisted, Carney would not say.
It’s been all downhill, uphill, K-turns and 180s ever since. Fasten your seatbelts:
Take Three: Bin Laden’s wife died after her feckless husband used her as a human shield.
Take Four: Bin Laden’s wife did not die, wasn’t used as a human shield and was only shot in the leg. Someone else’s wife was killed, somewhere else in the house.
Take Five: A transport helicopter experienced “mechanical failure” and was forced to make a hard landing during the mission.
Take Six: A top-secret helicopter clipped the bin Laden compound wall, crashed and was purposely exploded after the mission to prevent our enemies from learning more about it.
Take Seven: The bin Laden photos would be released to the world as proof positive of his death.
Take Eight: The bin Laden photos would not be released to the world because no one needs proof and it’s more important to avoid offending peaceful Muslims who supposedly don’t embrace bin Laden as a “true” Muslim in the first place.
Take Nine: Bin Laden’s compound was a lavish mansion.
Take Ten: Bin Laden’s compound was a glorified pigsty.
She has ten more.
Maybe they didn’t want to “spike the football”; or run a “victory lap”. Or even do a “sack dance”. But either these guys are covering up something big (one theory I heard today is that we did interrogate him before—and even while—killing him), or they couldn’t wait to crow and preen over Osama’s “gruesome” lifeless body. And this is what happens when you put amateurs in charge.