As the presidential election comes draws ever nearer, President Obama has his sycophants out lauding the “accomplishments” of Obama’s first term in office. The object is, of course, to say “look at all the good he has done! You have to vote for him again!”
It is a fair strategy and one that any sitting president would use.
The question is, “when listing ‘accomplishments, how much was ‘accomplished?’”
As our friend William Teach over at Pirate’s Cove points out, the tone of those pushing these alleged accomplishments borders upon messianic worship. In a April 17, 2012 campaign speech in Nashville, Michelle Obama spoke about her husband’s achievements:
First lady Michelle Obama hit the campaign trail in Nashville on Tuesday and told a packed crowd in a downtown office building that the campaign has an “amazing story to tell.”
“This President has brought us out of the dark and into the light,” she said. “But we need each and every one of you as fired up as you’ve been.”
The first lady made roughly the same stump speech of recent weeks, chronicling the acomplishments of her husband’s first term, from the auto industry rescue to health care reform, ending the war in Iraq and the killing of Osama bin Laden. In a roughly 26-minute speech to a crowd of about 450, she also appealed to women voters, highlighting her husband’s signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
This is not the first time (nor the last) we will hear this list of “accomplishments:”
1) auto industry rescue
2) health care reform
3) ending the war in Iraq
4) killing bin Laden
5) the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
We want to examine each of these “accomplishments” in a series of posts. We can’t give a timetable on when we will finish examining each of them, but it will be at least a five part continuing series here at Raised On Hoecakes.
The first accomplishment we wish to examine is “killing bin Laden.”
On April 29, 2011, at approximately 8:20 AM, President Obama allegedly orders the strike on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan known to be bin Laden’s residence. Roughly midnight on May 1, local time, members of SEAL Team Six raided the compound with orders to capture bin Laden if possible. Upon entering the compound a firefight ensued and bin Laden was killed. bin Laden’s body was removed from the scene and according to the White House, was buried at sea.
The news of bin Laden’s death was met with great rejoicing in the US and other parts of the world. We can honestly say that while we are not thrilled at the death of any individual, we did not lose any sleep over the world being rid of the excrement that was bin Laden.
We will give credit to Obama for being the president when the raid took place. Yet if one wants to say that Obama “got” bin Laden, one has to examine all of the information surrounding the event. In doing so, we believe the death of bin Laden happened in spite of Obama, rather than because of him.
In the race to become president in 2009, candidate Obama made many promises, two of which were to get bin Laden and to stop “enhanced interrogation methods” such as waterboarding. Once president, Obama continued to criticize the Bush administration for using waterboarding. On April 29, 2009, in a speech marking the first one hundred days of his presidency, Obama said:
Obama said he was comfortable with his decision to ban waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techiques used at Guantánamo Bay and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) secret detention centres around the world under his predecessor George Bush.
In an unequivocal statement, he said: “I believe that waterboarding was torture and, whatever legal rationals were used, it was a mistake.”
We can agree to disagree with Obama on whether to use waterboarding as an interrogation technique. Despite knowing that information gained from waterboarding had prevented a 9/11 type attack on the city of Los Angeles, Obama made the decision to ban waterboarding being used by the US as a method of interrogation.
In 2009, during his CIA confirmation hearing, Leon Panetta told the Senate:
“waterboarding is torture and it’s wrong,”
Yet after the death of bin Laden, it was revealed by CIA head Leon Panetta that waterboarding had been used to gain information leading to bin Laden. In an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams seen below, Panetta admits information from waterboarding helped get bin Laden.
Later, Attorney General Eric Holder appeared in front of Congress after the raid:
The raid was “lawful, legitimate and appropriate in every way. The people who were responsible for that action, both in the decision making and the effecting of that decision, handled themselves I think quite well,” Holder told the House Judiciary Committee.
While we can, and should vilify Panetta for his lies, he is only following the example set by his boss, one Barack Obama. Holder too was only following Obama’s example that the very laws and rules he signed don’t apply to his administration.
It is a classic case of “don’t look at the man behind the curtain.”
It was Obama who used waterboarding to beat on George Bush and Republicans and portray them as going against international law. It was Obama who stood in front of the citizens of the United States and proclaimed he was banning the use of waterboarding.
He lied. Pure and simple. He lied.
The point here is not the information gathered that lead to the killing of bin Laden. The point is that Obama said one thing, did another and now wants to take credit for it.
Such actions are not those of a true leader.
In looking at the raid on bin Laden’s compound, we should also look at the timing of the raid. According to Panetta, the US knew where bin Laden was in August of 2010.
So why the delay in the operation? Why the delay in making the raid?
There are several possible reasons. First is the desire to firm up the intelligence. This is certainly reasonable and we don’t fault the administration for taking this step if they did. A second reason would be to give the SEALS the time to train for the raid. Several sources claim the SEALS built a replica of the compound in which to train. Once again, this is totally reasonable for delaying the mission. However, this is speculation and no one in the administration has ever really explained the delay and instead have tried to keep the focus on results of the mission.
Even assuming there were legitimate reasons for delaying the attack on the compound, the bigger question is “why was there hesitation by Obama and his administration to authorize the raid?”
We believe this question is crucial to understanding Obama, his thought process (or lack thereof) and the thought process of those around him.
Upon becoming president, Obama reiterated his campaign promise to make the pursuit of bin Laden a priority of his administration. We have already shown that he was willing to use techniques he condemned and said were “illegal” to gain that goal. Yet a little more than 2 years after he told the American people he was banning waterboarding and 5 years after starting to campaign on a platform that included “getting bin Laden,” on April 29, 2011, the moment of decision is upon Obama and his administration.
It is inconceivable that Obama and those around him had not thought this moment would arrive. It is inconceivable to think Obama and his administration had not discussed the very scenario with which they were presented. Even if one wants to discount the waterboarding statements and the campaign promise, in August, 2010 Obama had to know he was facing a decision on whether at some point to proceed with the raid. Nine months later, he still can’t make up his mind.
On April 28, Obama met with his senior officials to get their advice on the raid. According to Vice President Biden, the people in the room waffled:
Describing the decision-making process to House Democrats at their annual retreat, Biden said that when President Obama asked his top advisers for their judgment on whether the raid should go ahead, Leon Panetta, then director of the CIA, was the only one fully in favor, ABC News reports. “Every single person in that room hedged their bet except Leon Panetta,” Biden said. “Leon said go. Everyone else said, 49, 51.”
There is another account of this meeting given by a “White House Insider.”
(We have reservations about this source as it is always difficult to judge the morals and motives of an anonymous source. That being said, we have been reading this particular “source” for some time and his information has always been proved accurate.)
Q: What changed the president’s position and enabled the attack against Osama Bin Laden to proceed?
A: Nothing changed with the president’s opinion – he continued to avoid having one. Every time military and intelligence officials appeared to make progress in forming a position, Jarrett would intervene and the stalling would begin again. Hillary started the ball really rolling as far as pressuring Obama began, but it was Panetta and Petraeus who ultimately pushed Obama to finally act – sort of. Panetta was receiving significant reports from both his direct CIA sources, as well as Petraeus-originating Intel. Petraeus was threatening to act on his own via a bombing attack. Panetta reported back to the president that a bombing of the compound would result in successful killing of Osama Bin Laden, and little risk to American lives. Initially, as he had done before, the president indicated a willingness to act. But once again, Jarrett intervened, convincing the president that innocent Pakistani lives could be lost in such a bombing attack, and Obama would be left attempting to explain Panetta’s failed policy. Again Obama hesitated – this time openly delaying further meetings to discuss the issue with Panetta. A brief meeting was held at this time with other officials, including Secretary Gates and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but Gates, like Panetta, was unable to push the president to act. It was at this time that Gates indicated to certain Pentagon officials that he may resign earlier than originally indicated – he was that frustrated. Both Panetta and Clinton convinced him to stay on and see the operation through. (emphasis ours)
After listening to the people around him, Obama boldly
made the decision to go ahead with the raid went to bed.
That’s right. No matter how one looks at the time frame – whether it is 5 years since he starting making the pledge to pursue Obama, 2 years since he declared he would not authorize the use of enhanced interrogation techniques or 9 months after learning the exact location of Obama’s compound – Obama could not make up his mind.
With military and intelligence assets in place and at risk, Obama could not decide.
In the end, it appears the order to go forward with the operation was given by Leon Panetta leaving Obama to ride on the coattails of abilities of others in his administration.
I have been told by more than one source that Leon Panetta was directing the operation with both his own CIA operatives, as well as direct contacts with military – both entities were reporting to Panetta only at this point, and not the President of the United States. There was not going to be another delay as had happened 24 hour earlier. The operation was at this time effectively unknown to President Barack Obama or Valerie Jarrett and it remained that way until AFTER it had already been initiated. President Obama was literally pulled from a golf outing and escorted back to the White House to be informed of the mission. Upon his arrival there was a briefing held which included Bill Daley, John Brennan, and a high ranking member of the military. When Obama emerged from the briefing, he was described as looking “very confused and uncertain.” The president was then placed in the situation room where several of the players in this event had already been watching the operation unfold.
Contrast the inaction of Obama with two other historical decisions – the first made by Eisenhower on the night of June 5, 1944 authorizing the invasion of Europe, and the path set on by John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Eisenhower had already made the decision to invade France. He never wavered from that plan and conviction. The only variable was the timing of the invasion and the weather allowing the invasion to proceed. The night of June 5, 1944 there was never a question of “if to invade,” only “when.”
With Kennedy, once the decision was made to not allow Soviet nuclear missiles to sit 90 miles off the coast of Florida, there was never any indecision. Kennedy was going to stand by that decision and more importantly, made that decision a reality.
Despite telling the American people he had decided to pursue Obama, when it came time to give the order to go ahead, Obama could not make up his mind. He could not follow the decision he promised the American people and instead, decided to see how the raid would play politically. Such a thinking process is not one of a true leader.
Time and time again Obama proves he cannot lead by word or deed – he has to get dragged into decisions.
In the end, we are willing to give Obama the “credit” for bin Laden in that the event happened while Obama was president. However, a a cursory examination of the events surrounding the operation against bin Laden shows Obama to be a liar, hypocrite and a person who is devoid of leadership skills and ability.
If Obama wants to run on this “accomplishment,” we are perfectly willing to let him do so as it only shows how completely and utterly undeserving to sit in the Oval Office he is.