In the summer of 2010, we “had the target” on Osama bin Laden. In other words, we knew precisely where he was and could have taken him out, but Barack Obama could not bring himself to okay the mission until May 2011.
If you’re thinking that’s a lot of wasted time, you’re right. And it was also dangerous, because it gave bin Laden time to detect our surveillance and flee the area.
Nevertheless, President Obama needed that time to draft a very important memo–a memo which covered his own butt in case the attempt on bin Laden’s life failed. And it covered Obama’s butt by blaming the U.S. military for any failures that might have occurred.
The memo carefully outlined the assault on bin Laden’s compound, but only as okayed by Obama. It made clear that if something unexpected arose once the assault was underway, U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven was to ask Obama’s approval before changing the plans.
But because the raid on bin Laden’s compound was not a video game that could be paused based on contingencies, nor a film stage on which action could stopped to place a “mother may I?” call to Obama if someone or something was out of place, the memo simply provided Obama the political cover he needed. It allowed him both to say “I okayed the mission” if it was successful and, had it gone south, to say, “This is Admiral McRaven’s fault. He made the wrong decision in the heat of the moment.”
Shame on President Obama for throwing our military under the bus yet again.