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Who Deserves the Credit?

By February 13, 2013January 23rd, 2014Blog, The Way I See It

Now that several days have gone by since the killing of Bin Laden I’ve had a chance to step back and look at the broader picture.Here is the way I see it.  Osama Bin Laden has been on the run since the towers were hit.  He knew we would be after him and he knew the pursuit would never end.

We have had the resources of the branch(es) of our military and intelligence agencies working on finding him since before 9-11-01.  Do you recall Clinton’s dithering on whether to hit him with a missile or not in 1999?

However, after 9-11-01 he became the most wanted man in the world and was at the top of our priority list to find and take dead or alive.

We have had the proper resources and priorities in play with unceasing vigilance since we identified him and Al Qaeda as the individuals and organization behind the 9-11-01 attacks.

And finally, we got him.

But, this effort was not the work of George W. Bush and certainly not the work of Barack H. Obama.  We all know that.

Now you may surmise that I am a bigger “fan” of George W. Bush than I am of Barack Obama.  But I will tell you there were a great many things that I vehemently disagreed with George W. Bush on, in many areas.

One thing though, that I did like so much about Bush though was his humility concerning accomplishments of great effort during his Presidency.  In most of his speeches the words we, they, them, were almost always used in describing actions or accomplishments that he easily could have taken credit for.  Speaking to many who have known him personally the consensus was always that he was a genuinely humble guy.

Contrast this with words used by Obama in announcing the US Navy SEALs killing of Bin Laden.

I directed Leon Paneta (Director Central Intelligence) to make the killing or capture of Bin Laden the top priority of our war against Al Qaeda.”

I was briefed in August…”

I met repeatedly with my National Security Team…”

I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action…”

Now he’s an intelligence analyst?  I remember when he was elected that he would not have been able to pass an EBI in order to get a secret or Top Secret clearance if he was not the president.  And, I am speaking as one who carried a Top Secret and Above Top Secret Compartmentalized Clearance for over 15 years.

“And I authorized an operation to get Osama…”

I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action in Pakistan…”

I am a Navy SEAL and I actually participated in the raid on Bin Laden’s Compound.  In fact I was the one who actually fired the shot that killed him…”

That last quote wasn’t from Obama.  I made it up.  But I was waiting for him to say it.

The truth of the matter was that the capture or killing of Bin Laden was always at the top of the priority list in The War against Al Qaeda which he deftly and correctly separates from the priorities of the various other conflicts and threats that the U.S. was dealing with.  I hope everyone knows that the war in Afghanistan is not the War with Al Qaeda, although there are still Al Qaeda operators and sympathizers involved there.

As to his assertion that “I authorized an operation to get Osama…” And to the subsequent media chatter about his courage and resolve in making the decision; What other decision was there to make?  This was a case of Hobson’s Choice.  There was only one choice.  It wasn’t “should I let him go?”  If he made any choice at all, it was whether to assault or to bomb.  And this was done at the advice of his many advisors, JSOC, DoD, Joint Chiefs, CIA and “other” agencies input.  Including his “political” advisors.

By the way, we were already taking action in Pakistan, soon after 9-11-01, both covert and overt, under the George Bush administration.  When he was still a Senator opposing the war in Afghanistan.

All presidents meet repeatedly with their National Security Teams, maybe the exception being Bill Clinton in the last years of his second term.  (He stopped attending his own (daily) morning security briefings.)

But still, even Bill Clinton used words like “We determined…, We’ve repeatedly made clear…, We’ve met repeatedly…”  The we, ours and they(s), meaning our teams, my advisors and/or the U.S. in general, not the singular I, I,I.  And, although Bill was also known to have quite an ego, he still acted as a team player.

The taking down of Bin Laden was a tremendous effort by thousands, over many years, at costs in the billions of dollars.  In the end it boiled down to a handful of Elite warriors going into a life and death engagement with ice water in their veins, courage in their hearts and steel in their resolve.

Oh yeah, Barack Obama just happened to be president when it took place.

Ernest Emerson

The Compound 2011


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