The blowback continues from President Obama’s overreaching attempt to turn the killing of Osama bin Laden into a weapon with which directly to attack Mitt Romney. First, some Navy SEALS, the outfit whose members risked their lives to kill bin Laden, took exception. Then, a key operative at the CIA, who helped secure intelligence that led us to bin Laden using practices opposed by Obama, balked.
Now former Attorney General Michael Mukasey has weighed in. Mukasey makes three important points. First, although Obama approved the killing of bin Laden, he attempted before hand to cover his rear end to an unseemly degree:
A recently disclosed memorandum from then-CIA Director Leon Panetta shows that the president’s celebrated derring-do in authorizing the operation included a responsibility-escape clause: “The timing, operational decision making and control are in Admiral McRaven’s hands. The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration. The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out.” Which is to say, if the mission went wrong, the fault would be Adm. McRaven’s, not the president’s.
Second, Obama seemed to put his desire to gloat ahead of the nation’s intelligence needs. Immediately after the event, Obama publicly stated that a valuable trove of intelligence had been seized, including even the location of al Qaeda safe-houses. According to Mukasey, “that disclosure infuriated the intelligence community because it squandered the opportunity to exploit the intelligence that was the subject of the boast.”
Third, Obama’s self-congratulation over this affair is unpresidential – it represents a radical departure from the self-effacing approach of past presidents who, unlike Obama, knew how to behave with class and dignity. Mukasey points to Abraham Lincoln. “On the night after Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender ended the Civil War, [Lincoln] delivered from the window of the White House a speech that mentioned his own achievements not at all, but instead looked forward to the difficulties of reconstruction and called for black suffrage. . . .”
Mukasey also cites George W. Bush. Following the capture of Saddam Hussein, Bush praised the members of the armed forces serving in Iraq, the intelligence analysts who found Saddam’s footprints, and the folks who actually carried out the operation. He used the word “I” only twice – when he concluded his remarks by saying, “Today, on behalf of the nation, I thank the members of our Armed Forces and I congratulate them.”
Obama must be feeling the heat of Romney’s candidacy. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be squandering good will by using the killing of bin Laden as a club this early in the campaign. In my view, Obama’s biggest asset in this election is not the bin Laden caper, but rather the fact that Americans still like the president. How much longer they will like this whiney, immodest, and shamelessly self-promoting man is open to question.