On Bin Laden, White House Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

It’s been almost a week now since the Obama administration surprised all of us by directing a military operation which led to kicked-in doors and bled-out terrorists halfway across the globe.  Osama bin Laden is dead, and while the world may not have changed in a tangible way, the president who rightfully deserves credit for ordering the hit that ended bin Laden’s reign of terror should be basking in the afterglow of American triumph.

Instead, the Obama administration finds itself facing a segment of the population that is skeptical of the official account of what happened in Abbottabad, Pakistan last weekend.  It finds itself trying desperately to appease those abroad who neither can nor wish to be appeased, all the while ignoring those who need closure here on our own shores.  It finds itself struggling to keep the Chinese from gleaning technological advances from a previously publicly unknown chopper downed by malfunction during the operation.  Instead, the Obama administration finds itself defensive in response to merely going on the offensive, snatching defeat one week later from the jaws of victory.

And this isn’t necessarily an Obama administration thing — it’s a government thing.  We saw the stories change in the aftermath of Pat Tillman’s friendly fire death, and in the weeks following the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch. When it comes to dealing with the American people, the American government is averse to the truth.

In the case of Osama bin Laden and his fresh facial reconstruction by Dr. SEAL, the Obama administration could have avoided similar pitfalls by being more upfront from the beginning.  Here’s exactly what happened.  Here is how the decision came about. Here are photographs of the body. Even the way in which bin Laden was buried could have been handled better from the beginning.  Here are the customs through which we buried him. Here are photos of the washed body.  Here is video of the burial.  We know that the decision to bury him in this manner is controversial, but here is why we did it, and we’re sticking to our decision.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney should never have had the opportunity to become “flustered” and “confused.” The events of Sunday, May 1, 2011 weren’t a piece of legislation up for debate or a constitutional provision up for interpretation — decisions were made, and a scourge on this world was dispatched.  The White House should have disseminated facts and confirmation, and allowed the chips to fall where they may.

I happen to take the word of our Navy SEALs as Gospel.  These are men with honor, and to doubt that they bagged Osama Bin Laden on Sunday is to besmirch that honor.  The problem, however, is that the White House didn’t do the SEALs any favors by failing to better control the narrative.  Because of that failure, inconsistencies have permeated the news landscape.

  • Al Arabiya News is reported that one slain woman “offered to sacrifice her life” for Bin Laden and, according to their source, “shielded Bin Laden during the operation and was killed by American commandos.” Other sources, however, have since said that a woman rushed the American SEALs and was shot in the leg for her trouble.
  • Reports originally stated that Osama Bin Laden himself was armed and participated in the firefight.  Then, reports noted that Bin Laden was spotted reaching for a weapon and was killed for doing so.  Then, it was “resistance does not require a weapon.”  Finally, we learned that he was in fact unarmed, and the orders were to kill and not capture him.
  • The Wall Street Journal originally stated that the operation was carried out using two helicopters.  I heard “Blackhawk.”  I heard “Chinook.”  I heard “Little Bird.”  Finally, Time Magazine reported that four helicopters went in, and three came out.
  • Time Magazine reported (and shared some pretty cool photos) that the president and his team were present in the Situation Room when it happened and very much engaged, staign.  Several times now, I’ve heard that they could see feeds from the helmet cameras, and that the environment was much more explicit than the satellite imagery we saw in movies like Patriot Games.  On the other hand, however, PBS is now reporting that, according to Leon Panetta, the president could not see such feeds at all.
  • At first, Osama bin Laden was said to have been dispatched with a double tap to the head, with entry wounds just over the left eye.  Then, the story changed to once in the gut and once in the head.

I understand the nature of this sort of thing.  I understand that the folks down in D.C. are still in the process of looking through intelligence.  I understand that, as the SEALs are debriefed and as all accounts are weighed together, details will sharpen and perspectives will change.  I understand that, on the media front, the desire to be first and to break news can lead to inaccuracy. I understand that.  However, with regard to something so important and so likely to produce conspiracy theories, the White House could have and should have disseminated information only after said information was locked down.  Even when the White House does have all of the information on one given aspect of the story, it has proven with the controversy over the release of photos of bin Laden’s corpse that being proactive and getting out in front of controversy is well beyond this particular chief executive’s skill set.

Releasing the photographs should have been a no-brainer.  And, while I understand that folks on the right like Herman Cain and Mitt Romney are taking sides with the White House on this matter, I cannot.  The photographs of bin Laden may be “bloody and gruesome” by some standards, for sure, but to an American populace that has grown accustomed to images showing the twisted metal of the U.S.S. Cole and the bodies of jumpers falling from the World Trade Center, bloody and gruesome are relative.  Furthermore, the photographs may incite and inspire violence in some on the Arab Street, but these radical Islamic jihadists were angry with and hateful toward the United States of America while bin Laden was walking among them, and they will continue to be regardless of what the White House releases.

Over the past ten years, as we have become more and more outwardly apologetic for securing our country and avenging the deaths of our countrymen, I have grown tired of American interests being subjugated by the perceived need to appease the Arab Street.  In the context of the debate over whether or not to release the bin Laden corpse photographs, the so-called sensitivities of the Muslim world are taking priority over the ability of American families affected by 9/11 to have closure.  In the context of the debate over whether or not to release the photos, the ability to show prospective terrorists across the world that there are consequences to killing Americans, we are instead kowtowing at the great altar of political correctness.

Killing Osama bin Laden was a tremendous victory for America–even if, on a practical level, it did not change much–and President Barack Obama has proven worthy of praise for having the political courage to stand up to the base of his party and order the operation to commence.  However, just as the left had the right to criticize the Bush administration for not “winning the peace” after we deposed Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the right has the right to criticize the Obama administration for not better managing the aftermath of last Sunday’s operation.



  1. Polly Graf says:

    Are their lips moving? They’re lying.

  2. Randy Wills says:

    It’s tough to keep your stories straight when the “facts” are subordinate to political advantage as measured by the the polls.

    As for “credit” to Obama, I don’t give him much because I don’t think that he had a choice. Using the “cost of doing vs the cost of not doing” analysis, it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that, with an election coming up, it would be far better to say that “I tried” than “I didn’t even try when we had a golden opportunity”, which certainly would have been made public by those in the Intelligence community after all those years of painstaking work.

    Ah, but what a tangled web we weave.


  3. Gail B. says:

    I totally agree with you, Jeff. This administration has trust issues, and they are self made. Obama is a compulsive liar, and he should know that anything he says is suspect; but when stories change from hour to hour and day to day, how can he expect to be considered credible? I don’t believe a word he says. If he told America that the sky is blue, I would have to look up to see for myself.

    Obama flip-flops on absolutely everything. In the time he has sat at the Resolute Desk, he has fed us nothing but BS.

    The ONLY reason I believe the SEALs actually made the assault is that I saw the picture of the wrecked helicopter and pictures of the tail in the compound and being carried away.

    And I cannot stretch my imagination enough to believe that the Pakistani government did not know Osama was there in the compound.

  4. The photos should have been released the night of his death. We could have viewed them and moved on. This has all become way too politicized. This administration seems more concerned with a “proper Muslim burial” for a supposedly non-Muslim than whether or not to allow some photos–which will probably be leaked anyway–to surface confirming the death of this murderous thug. But I guess if it took Obama 16 hours to finally decide to pull the trigger, then contemplating all the aftermath is too much to ask.

    I too tire of all the Arab appeasement. It’s time to put political correctness in the back seat and show what will happen to anyone who dares fly airplanes into our buildings.

  5. Gail B. says:

    Speaking of self-serving statements, did you hear Obama say, “…my band, uh, the Marine Corps Band…,” while speaking to the 101st Airborne Charlie Company at Fort Campbell, Kentucky?

    (Did he BUY the band? How did he obtain possession of the United States Marine Corps Band?)

    My skin crawled!

  6. The truth hurts says:

    Just received my book by Corsi (Ph.D. to those who want to slight him) and am half way thru it… can’t put it down. This presidents ENTIRE life has been obfuscation, deceit, cover-up and lies….. why should this Osama fiasco surprise any of us?!

  7. jjones says:

    While it still sounds arrogant, technically he is correct. The Marine band IS the President’s band. They are often called “The President’s Own” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Marine_Band
    It should be noted that the President’s band is made up of hired musicians and not actual marines. they don’t go to boot camp or any USMC/military training and should not be confused with the other Marine bands whose members do.

  8. L. Banks says:

    Jeff, you are so right. This administration seems to be trying to appease everyone and compounding issues when the truth is the only way ahead. I even wonder if Obama actually agreed to take out Osama. There are reports circulating that Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s other government half, did not want to take out Osama, but Hillary Clinton and Panetta did. The military found Ben Laden and so began the agony of Obama to make a decision. Since he did so well in deciding on the course of the military in Aphganistan (four months), I would tend to believe he dragged his feet and hemmed and hawed until he had no choice. This could also explain his inability to have accurate facts regarding the operation since he was playing golf rather than being involved in the actual mission. Now, he is still trying to appease and I do believe he ordered a burial at see for Osama. Ben Laden never gave any of the victims in the Twin Towers or the Pentagon or on the plane over PA or fot that matter any where in the world he conducted his terror operations any mercy. Obama fails to see that within the Muslim world and the world of the terrorist there is no appeasement. He continues to blunder his way at the expense of the people of the United States and her people.

  9. Gail B. says:

    @jjones says:
    May 8, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Well, darn! Thanks for the information. I stand corrected.

    (If he calls the White House “his” though, I’m going to erupt!!! He has a habit of using “my” when inappropriate.)

  10. magnetrak says:

    It’s the tangled web, guys…

  11. Charlie Toona says:

    Right now, there are some sharks snatching da feet, of bin Laden, with their jaws of victory.

  12. whats_up says:


    With all due respect, he could have waited three days to get all the info correct and those on the right would then claim that he had something to hide since he waited so long to get the details out. It is easy to sit on the sidelines and take potshots. If he gets the info out too soon, you criticize, if he waits, you criticize. Is there any scenario where you would not have criticized him, I doubt it. The problem with the right is that they have built up a characture of Obama that simply isnt true. They have tried to say that he is soft on defense, despite evidence to the contrary. They have tried to state that he wasnt serious about the fight with AQ and OBL, despite evidence to the contrary. It makes the right look foolish.

  13. Jeff Schreiber says:

    What’s up — there’s nothing wrong with cutting that “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” dichotomy right down the middle and saying, “okay, America, intel and information on this is markedly fluid at this time, but here are some details that we have that are iron clad…” I’d rather be spoon-fed accurate details as things develop than given conjecture immediately, only to have the story change later. It’s terrible PR. It speaks of poll-driven leadership.

    As for whether Obama has been strong on defense and serious about the fight, etc., consider that where Obama has shown strength has been in the perpetuation of Bush-era policies, often in direct contravention of his campaign promises and the advice of his advisors (like Holder). Where Obama has had to stand alone–breaking promises on missile defense in eastern Europe, standing idly by as unrest and power vacuums develop in Iran, in north Africa, and in South America, etc.–he has proven to be wishy-washy at best on foreign policy.

    If you notice, I praised the heck out of Obama on giving the OBL operation a “go.” It took a tremendous amount of political courage and testicular fortitude to stand up to his base and make this happen, just as it has taken courage to renege on his own campaign promises re: Gitmo, etc. and continue Bush-era GWOT policies. Asking “is there any scenario where you would not have criticized him?” really isn’t fair to me.


  14. whats_up says:

    @ Jeff,

    Forgive me if you thought I meant you personally. I did not. I meant the right in general. All you have to do is look at any of a multitude of right leaning websites and blogs and you will find that most all of them are trying to find ways to NOT give Obama credit for this. Neither you nor I have any idea what policies or practices lead to the death of OBL, you are just assuming that they are carry overs of Bush’s policies. Maybe they were and maybe they were not, however what is fact is that OBL is dead, and we have Obama to thank for it. I know that this drives those on the right nuts, but every time they try to give credit to someone other than Obama, they look foolish. All you have to do is look at some of your own posters, they just cant believe that Obama can be good on defense, they have painted this idea in thier head that he is weak. In fact he has not been. The more the right wing tries to deny Obama the credit that he deserves on this, the more foolish they look to independents and those not so closely tied to politics.

  15. Jeff Schreiber says:

    What’s Up,

    The president wanted to shut down the facility at Gitmo, and his Attorney General is still in the process of investigating CIA officials for using the same interrogation techniques that led to the Bin Laden intel. Reality, my friend, has saved Barack Obama from himself. Reality, that is, and Obama’s admirable [in a liberal Democrat] willingness to accept it.

  16. Jeff Schreiber says:

    Incidentally, to everyone:

    Forgive me for the continued slow trickle of new material here. It’s been one thing after another preventing me from putting in time at night.


  17. Randy Wills says:

    To “whats_up”:

    Just think back to the vicious criticism from the Left aimed at George W. Bush, who, incidently, prevented another major attack after 9/11 when all of the military and political talking heads said that “it is not a matter of ‘if’ but of ‘when’” more attacks would be coming to the U.S., and then compare it with the current criticism of President Obama coming from the Right.

    Now, tell me again who looks foolish? Perhaps you should join us at AmericasRight to seek objective reality, regardless of whose “Ox is gored”. As Glenn Beck says, “Truth has no agenda”.


  18. whats_up says:

    @ Jeff,

    I know the right is trying to say that waterboarding is the reason that we now got OBL. The matter of the fact is if our “enhanced interogation techniques” had given us OBL’s location dont you think Bush would have got him. I mean seriously all they gave us was that OBL used a courier, they couldnt even get his name from those they posed the question to. The name of the courier didnt come until two years ago, long after those techinques the right likes to crow about were no longer in use. Simply check the timeline to find out for yourself. Again the caracture portrayed of Obama by the right on defense is simply false, and it shows as they dont know how to respond and look childish doing it.

    No worries about newer info, you have a family man, enjoy them, we will wait.

  19. whats_up says:

    @ Randy,

    Sorry Randy the right still looks foolish. They complain that he took 16 hours to make the decision and that was somehow a bad thing. They complain that we knew where OBL was for months and did nothing. Now I am not quite sure, but training for a mission as complex as this doesnt happen over night. Some on the right have postulated that Obama didnt even make the decision, that the military did this in spite of him. It goes on and on Randy, on and on. Members of the right seem to have a hard time coming to grips with the reality that Obama is tough on defense, doesnt mind using the military to obtain his objectives, is not afraid of pissing off other countries to get things done. All these things the right has claimed of Obama, none of them are true. I await your response as you always enlighten with your comments.

  20. Jeff Schreiber says:

    What’s Up,

    Other than doing an awesome job in giving the “go” on the OBL op, and continuing with Bush’s policies, how exactly is Obama tough on defense?


  21. nana3 says:

    I think Peter Heck put it best: “Who knew how quickly a little extralegal military assassination done on the watch of a Democrat President could turn the lefts resurgent ‘peace community’into a fist-pumping, flag-waving patriotic cabal of jingoistic chicken hawks”. All of a sudden the dimwits are shouting, “Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead”. The same Obama who bowed to foreign leaders and made apologies for America now fancies himself a Patton or maybe Napoleon. He is invigorated and hyped up over his ‘conquest’and has realized how much political capital he has gained while ‘directing’ the Seals from his comfy chair in the WH. Hi, HO Obama…look out America, there’s a new ‘cowboy’ in the WH. He has a notch on his belt and a bump in the polls so look out Ahmadimijad. I give him credit for actually getting the dimwits to come out of the closet and show their patriotism….after all, there is an election coming up and nothing gets the folks stirred up more than patriotism…there’s NOTHING they won’t do to insure VICTORY…for Obama, that is, NOT America. HI, HO Obama, Away!!!

  22. Randy Wills says:

    What can I say, “whats_up”? If, by the “Right”, you are referring to the Hannitys and Limbaughs of the world, I would have to confess to a degree of agreement with you, but in this case, Jeff is entirely right. Ever since Obama was elected, it seems like it has been “amateur night” at the White House and the handling of the flow of information after the raid in Pakistan followed the same incoherent pattern. The bumbling White House spokesperson, Mr. Carney, does nothing to dispell that perception, either.

    That is not to say that the Bush administration didn’t engage in more than one such faux pas, but I don’t recall anyone on the “Left” giving him credit for his successes or giving him the benefit of the doubt when his policies came into question. The truth of the matter is that we are engaged in political and cultural warfare, split pretty much down the middle. And, as it is with conventional warfare, truth is the first casualty of this war. Fact and reason need not apply. Instead, we denigrate and mock each other, hoping to inflict a mortal wound, politically speaking, before the next election.

    I’m afraid that we have lost all confidence in our leaders to do “what is right” based on a common understanding of “what is right” and in place of confidence in our leadership’s objectives, we now, all-too-often, operate on the basis of fear that they might succeed. Political operatives have stoked the fires of distrust as a means of winning elections and therefore, whomever is in power at any given time is dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t. In this case, those on the “Right” simply do not trust President Obama, just as those on the Left didn’t trust President Bush and constantly vilified him.

    It would have helped if Obama hadn’t sown the seeds of deep mistrust by his well-documented personal associations prior to campaigning for the presidency. No one has yet been able to answer my challenge to name one of his pre-political associations which could reasonably be construed as embracing the essence of Judeo/Christian traditions. That, coupled with his declaration to fundamentally transform the U.S. in some undefined way, has only served to exacerbate the atmosphere of mistrust.

    One would have to be more optimistic than I am to see the return of comity to our socio-economic environemt any time soon. That is, short of a cataclysmic event which forces us to put aside our differences for the sake of survival.


  23. whats_up says:

    @ Jeff,

    Obama has used predator drones to attack terrorists in both Pakistan and Yemen. He gave the orders for the SEALS to shoot and kill the pirates near Somalia. He ordered a troop surge in Afghanistan where our focus should have been the whole time. He ordered a special forces team to basically violate an allies (precarious) air space to get OBL. That could be seen as an act of war, as could the drone attacks in both Yemen and Pakistan. Obama has done all of these things that Bush did not do, and yet people still try and claim that he is weak on the WOT and on defense.

  24. whats_up says:

    @ Randy,

    That is not to say that the Bush administration didn’t engage in more than one such faux pas, but I don’t recall anyone on the “Left” giving him credit for his successes or giving him the benefit of the doubt when his policies came into question. The truth of the matter is that we are engaged in political and cultural warfare, split pretty much down the middle. And, as it is with conventional warfare, truth is the first casualty of this war. Fact and reason need not apply. Instead, we denigrate and mock each other, hoping to inflict a mortal wound, politically speaking, before the next election.

    I’m afraid that we have lost all confidence in our leaders to do “what is right” based on a common understanding of “what is right” and in place of confidence in our leadership’s objectives, we now, all-too-often, operate on the basis of fear that they might succeed. Political operatives have stoked the fires of distrust as a means of winning elections and therefore, whomever is in power at any given time is dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t. In this case, those on the “Right” simply do not trust President Obama, just as those on the Left didn’t trust President Bush and constantly vilified him.

    Randy sadly I have to agree with you on many of these points. Its so sad that both sides have decided this is the only way that they can gain the leadership positions that they desire. There is no doubt that I dont trust many conservatives these days to solve any of the problems I see in this country. It just doesnt make sense to me to give taxes breaks to the rich and to oil companies and at the same time gut programs to help the poor and the less fortunate, how does that square with any kind of Christian teachings?

    I heard a DEM gov come out and say that the Republicans would be willing to default on the debt of the United States just to beat Obama in the next election. If this is the case then we are truly doomed as a country as no one is looking out for our best interests. I am not sure how to solve this problem, your thoughts on this matter are always welcome. Do you really think Conservatives would do that just to gain the Presidency? What are the solutions to this problem?

  25. whats_up says:

    @ nana3

    Thanks for proving my point so elequently.

  26. nana3 says:

    What point was that whats_up?….oh, yes, that Obama is strong on defence. When will he defend our borders instead of making jokes about moats and ‘gators. The people who live there deserve more consideration than they get from a President who is more interested in being a comedian.

  27. Randy Wills says:

    To “whats_up” @ 12:41 PM:

    Your first question, “— how does that square with any kind of Christian teachings?” really gets right to the heart of the matter. If we accept your premise that we “give tax breaks to the rich and the oil companys and at the same time gut programs to help the poor and less fortunate”, it doesn’t.

    I speak as one of them, but I hold professing Christians fundamentally responsible for the condition of this country simply because they have known the truth but have obfuscated, and therby enfeebled, it by failing to live faithfully, consistently, and sacrificially, in accordance with the clearly stated precepts of Jesus Christ. As I have said before, darkness has no power to overcome light other than the power to fill the void created by receding light. In other words, there are no problems that do not find their solution in the “mind of Christ”.

    Mankind is inherently ungovernable except by the power of conviction from within. There is no library large enough to contain all of the laws promugated by men sufficient to create a “just” society, but this is what we have chosen to do, even though every conceivable form of government has been tried and has failed for the same reason; unregenerate human nature eventually destroys all good intentions apart from God.

    As to your second question, “Do you think that Conservatives would do that just to gain the presidency?”, speaking as a Conservative, my answer would be “I fervently hope not” because that would violate everything that I believe in. Good cannot come from evil, of which dishonesty and deception is its most common manifestation in mankind.


  28. whats_up says:

    @ nana3,

    Please by all means tell me what bills Conservatives have brought forth on the immigration issue. Surely they arent comedians and are serious about immigration reform. Oh wait, they havent done a thing about it since 2007, why do you think that is? Please get a clue before posting next time.

  29. ANonymous says:

    I need a Like button in here, for nana3.

  30. nana3 says:

    Whats_Up, would H.R. 1505 introduced by John Carter (R-TX) count…or Orrin Hatch’s S.3901 or Gov. Brewer”s Immigration Bill in AZ. We were discussing Obama and his attitude toward immigration…it is about VOTES to him and he is not concerned with the safety of American citizens and protection of their property. They deserve respect from their President and should not be treated as material for his comedy routine. I am sick of liberals labeling ordinary, patriotic, hard-working Americans as greedy and selfish because they want a fair and just immigration policy. The American people have always shared our freedom with others but we have been taken advantage of by even our own government.

  31. Anonymous says:

    nana3 has the Trump gene! love it!!!

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