From the bin Laden files (2)

The current issue of the Weekly Standard highlights the release of the bin Laden files that were so jealousy guarded by the Obama administration. Editor in chief Steve Hayes has long called for the release of the documents. He now reports “The big reveal: The story of how 470,000 documents from Osama bin Laden’s compound finally got into the open.”

What was the Obama administration hiding? The related editorial explores the Obama administration’s “Transparent lies.” The editors write:

We don’t use the word “lie” with abandon in these pages. It’s used far too often in public life, to the point at which nearly every statement someone disagrees with is characterized as a “lie.” The L-word is tightly regulated in parliamentary bodies—in Congress, for example—and rightly so. Once you call someone a liar, the good faith that allows for healthy debate is no longer possible.

On the subject of the Osama bin Laden documents, though, as Stephen F. Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn report in this issue, the administration of Barack Obama lied repeatedly and lied flagrantly. The documents were retrieved in the May 2011 raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Obama rightly hailed the mission as a success, not only because U.S. forces killed the man responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11 without suffering a casualty, but also because they carried away an enormous trove of information about bin Laden’s global terrorist network. A senior intelligence official who briefed reporters at the Pentagon said: “As a result of the raid, we’ve acquired the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever.”

In a war against a stateless enemy whose soldiers move furtively among civilians, this was a triumph. The only problem? The president and his administration didn’t believe we were at war. They believed it had been a war but had moved on to the mopping-up phase—akin to Allied troops occupying Berlin in 1945.

If this were true, the Abbottabad trove should have borne it out. The Obama administration pledged to “share as much information with the American people” as possible, an aim consistent with the president’s boast that his was the “most transparent administration in history.” But it only declassified a handful of documents. Out of the hundreds of thousands captured in the Abbottabad raid, the Obama White House released only a few hundred and falsely characterized these as the entire trove. An outrageous lie.

Why such secrecy? There were no national security concerns for the vast bulk of the collection. The raid wasn’t secret—al Qaeda knew we had whatever documents had been held in bin Laden’s lair and would adjust accordingly. Why keep them locked up?

The answer is now clear. First, bin Laden’s terrorist network wasn’t the beaten and fugitive force Obama—then seeking reelection—claimed. Second, the documents proved beyond any reasonable doubt that al Qaeda had an uneasy but mutually beneficial relationship with Iran, and Obama spent much of his second term laboring to convince Americans that the Iranian regime could be trusted.

The editors credit “President Trump and his administration, in particular CIA director Mike Pompeo,…for making good on their predecessors’ pledges—and prevailing over the bureaucratic inertia that would have kept the vast majority of these documents secret forever.”

Steve Hayes focused on the editorial via Twitter (below). I want to commend the attention of our readers to the linked pieces and express my gratitude to the editors that they are accessible via Power Line through their courtesies.

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