Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 21, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

CAPTURING BIN LADEN....Andrew Sullivan shakes his head in mock weariness today at the news that Bill Clinton actually tried to obey the law during his attempts to assassinate Osama bin Laden in the late 90s:

The Clinton administration's feckless attempts to get Osama are, to my mind, a huge neon warning about what might happen if John Kerry becomes president.

The reason for the difference between the Clinton and Bush approaches to killing or capturing Bin Laden should be obvious to everyone: 9/11. A full-scale military solution simply wasn't on the table before 9/11 and would have had no public support. So Clinton did what he could: he authorized covert CIA action against Bin Laden, but he did so within the legal restrictions against assassination that existed at the time. What's more, as the Washington Post article Sullivan cites makes clear, the legal roadblocks against CIA assassination attempts were put there by Ronald Reagan, not by some lefty Democratic administration.

Conservatives are fond of claiming that liberals just don't understand that 9/11 changed everything. But if they understand it so well themselves, why do they keep pretending that Bill Clinton was some kind of fainthearted poltroon for not taking the actions that George Bush took after 9/11?

The act has gotten old, especially since 2 years after 9/11 George Bush still hasn't authorized the actions necessary to capture Bin Laden either. Shouldn't Sullivan be complaining about Bush's feckless behavior in not authorizing an invasion of Pakistan?

Kevin Drum 4:29 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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