Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 2, 2011

PLENTY OF CREDIT TO GO AROUND, STARTING AT THE TOP.... The amount of work that went into tracking down and killing Osama bin Laden is pretty extraordinary. It took years, and involved military, law enforcement, and intelligence agency officials, most of whom we'll never know and won't be able to thank.

And while many patriots made this happen, it's President Obama who'll get much of the credit -- and given the circumstances, he'll deserve it. Slate's John Dickerson had a good piece overnight on how Obama's "focused, hands-on pursuit of Osama Bin Laden paid off."

At approximately 11:30 p.m. Sunday, President Obama announced to the nation that on his orders U.S forces had killed Osama Bin Laden. His reputation for lawyerly inaction may never recover.

Obama's critics have said that he is a weak leader in general and in particular does not understand what must be done to combat terrorism. "They are very much giving up that center of attention and focus that's required," said former Vice President Dick Cheney in March 2009, in a typical remark. Yet what emerges from the details of Bin Laden's killing (offered, like the heroic accounts of the Bush years, entirely by officials who work for the sitting president) is that from early in his administration Obama was focused on killing Osama Bin Laden and that he was involved in the process throughout.

In June 2009, Obama directed his CIA director to "provide me within 30 days a detailed operation plan for locating and bringing to justice" Osama Bin Laden. By August 2010 intelligence officials had identified the suspicious compound where Osama lived.

Dickerson's description of the president's efforts as "hands-on" seems especially apt given what we know. It was Obama who instructed the CIA to make targeting bin Laden a top priority, breaking with his predecessor. It was Obama who oversaw five national security meetings to oversee plans for this operation. It was Obama who chose this mission, made final preparations, and gave the order.

There's a difference between talking tough and being tough, just as there's a difference between chest-thumping rhetoric and getting the job done.

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (41)

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Dear Righties,

Sorry it took so long for me to show you the long form of my birth certificate, I was trying to find and kill Osama bin Laden.
I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.

Thank You,
President Barack Hussein Obama (not Osama)

Posted by: c u n d gulag on May 2, 2011 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

Bush talked tough because he wasn't; Obama didn't talk tough, because he was. We have to look below the surface and see who's effective and who's not.

Posted by: Darsan54 on May 2, 2011 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

The trouble with many patriots Boils down to a deferment of better judgment . Judgment , hmmph , distinctly lacking in the snide remarks about heroic figures such as cheesie , queasy , and Limburger .

Posted by: FRP on May 2, 2011 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Dear Tighty Righties,

Unlike Bishit, I Walked-the-Walk. Big, loud-mouthed talkers/torturers like Bush, Cheney, and Turd Blossom used Bin Ladin for their political goals and to serve-up billions to their owner/handelers in the bomb and bullet making businesses. I got the bastard w/o starting two fake wars and killing millions of Arabs and Muslims.

I know you will find a way to spin this as an, "it's about time" scenario but, hey, it's finished. See you at the polls.

President Barack Hussein Obama

Birther Breaker
Community organizer
Soon to be second Termer

Posted by: Stevio on May 2, 2011 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

It took guts to do the operation, and guts to order it. The operation could have been betrayed by our treacherous Pakistani "allies", and we could have been faced with another Desert One. Obam would have seen his re-election plans go up in smoke, and he knew it when he gave the ok.

Posted by: bob h on May 2, 2011 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking of hollow bravado, the President's take down of that clown Trump Saturday night was already devastating, but in light of what we now know about this operation, it has gotten even worse for The Donald, which I didn't think possible.

The President's line about the decision to fire Busey keeping him up at night looks absolutely ruthless in hindsight.

Posted by: Holmes on May 2, 2011 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

BREAKING: Roger Ailes demands the original copy of Bin Laden's Death Certificate.

Posted by: BillFromPA on May 2, 2011 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

It took years, and involved military, law enforcement, and intelligence agency officials

this, and the fact that he wasn't killed in Iraq, by a bunker-buster or a daisy-cutter, tells you pretty much all you need to know about the difference between Obama and Bush/Cheney


(also, too, no flight suit)

Posted by: Jim, Foolish Literalist on May 2, 2011 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

While I entirely agree with the sentiment of this blog entry, I am extremely disappointed that Obama didn't make this announcement from the deck of an aircraft carrier while wearing a flight suit and a codpiece. That would have been so very much more "presidential".

[snark off]

Posted by: Bo on May 2, 2011 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry. I left out my P.S. at the end of Obama's letter.

P.S. Republican Congressmen and Senators: Please send your thank you and congratulatory notes directly to the Oval Office. Yep. The same one you've been measuring curtains for over the past two years while you were trying to kill me for being black and smarter than you as I was trying to kill Bin Ladin for America.

Posted by: Stevio on May 2, 2011 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Watched Fox this morning as long as my nervous system could stand it: it appears the right's approach to this news is coming together: simply avoid mentioning Obama's name altogether. On "Fox & Friends" there was literally no reference to Barack Obama at all for one segment, while they did show a clip of George W Bush vowing to get OBL, and started to work their way toward using this event as a defense of torture. It will be fascinating to watch ... I wouldn't be surprised if Obama's name was not mentioned once on Fox today. They even gave credit to Geraldo Rivera for breaking the news (as though he got a scoop, and it was not directly announced by Pres. Obama)!

Posted by: E.Hatt-Swank on May 2, 2011 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

This is but Act I of "Killing Bin Laden", and will have every bit of intrigue as the demise of Che Gueverra in the days and weeks to come.

Act II opens with a lone cry in the wings: "Habeas Corpus", followed by the Greek Chorus chanting DNA! DNA!

Posted by: DAY on May 2, 2011 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

I hope someone took pictures.

Posted by: pol on May 2, 2011 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Well, Steve, there's John Dickerson's account of a pensive President Obama methodically pursuing Bin Laden. Then there's the version aborning on Fox News. In that parallel universe, Obama gets credit but not as much as that accorded his predecessor George W. Bush.
Bret Baier interviewed former Bush chief of staff Andy Card overnight and in that jawdropping 4 minute, 40 second telephone session, Bush's name was uttered 10 times, Obama's five. The pronoun ("he," "him) count, which I didn't clock, was overwhelmingly Bush. Card did indicate Obama's resolve in the "bipartisan effort" was equal to that of Bush. An accurate reckoning, of course, would have mentioned the years during which Bush insisted catching or killing Bin Laden wasn't all that important. I guess we can log that under Bush's cleverly camouflaged resolve -- all in the spirit of setting Bin Laden up for Obama to finish him off. For more on that, we await Fox Special Report's panel of all-stars, featuring Charles Krauthammer. The probable tack: So how come Obama didn't act sooner? After all, that suspicious compound was pinpointed last August. Omigosh! Eight months of dithering!

Posted by: Jerry Elsea on May 2, 2011 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

If you can stomach it, check out Hiatt's blindingly stupid editorial at the Post this morning. I'm surprised he didn't have it pulled once the Bin Laden news broke, but I guess it had already gone to press.

Posted by: Holmes on May 2, 2011 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

All of these personal attacks on Obama are going to sound really dissonant now. The poor Confederates are going to have to come up with an entirely new game plan in record time.

Posted by: SW on May 2, 2011 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

DAY, after killing Che, the Bolivians cut off his hands, had his fingerprints verifed by experts in Argentinia, then, mailed them to Fidel.

Perhaps a Special Delivery to Roger Ailes would suffice.

However, many many many KUDOs from our President for being relentless in this, to our excellent JSOPs for making such Great House Calls.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 2, 2011 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

@E.Hatt-Swank. Thank you for watching so we didn't have to. I can take about 5 minutes before wanting to gouge my eyes out or throw a brick trough the TEE VEE.
Oh to live in the Faux Nooze Bubble where reality never dares to show it's face.

Posted by: John R AKA Mr. Serf Man on May 2, 2011 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Ever notice that Obama is a southpaw / goofy? They'll blind side you every time. Congrats America you deserve some good news for a change

Posted by: Big Kahuana on May 2, 2011 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

So now that this is done, are we laying plans to "terminate" those leaders who designed the premeditated and unprovoked attacks against tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq?

Posted by: chi res on May 2, 2011 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

The outstanding Progressive political cartoonist for the Seattle P-I, David Horsey, has a superb cartoon up this morning showing a gigantic American Eagle descending with claws towards a very small bin Laden.

Gives new meaning to "The Eagle Has Landed".

Posted by: berttheclock on May 2, 2011 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

Would love to see replays of the media - during the last election cycle & the candidates - McCain & Romney knocking Obama for saying he would go into Pakistan.

Posted by: js on May 2, 2011 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

From a relevant Facebook site near that city (I won't say to keep them, a business, from getting swamped) - a potential clue:
[place]
Hope everyone is safe and unaffected by the helicopter crash/blast
16 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

Posted by: neil b on May 2, 2011 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

And don't forget all the other aggressive actions that the president has taken to decimate Al Qaeda, actions that you have faithfully reported.

Posted by: JD on May 2, 2011 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Well, the US operation did use helicopters but no report of crash, I can't get a good picture of why that nearby business site referred to "helicopter crash/blast." - maybe they just say the commotion, a blast, didn't know at first what it was from. Heh, some guy with Pakistan name put a ":(" comment there, maybe he's sad to see OBL go. I dared put a comment there, typical bourgeois stuff and explaining why we felt the need to do it, hope I can keep my head on for awhile ...

Posted by: neil b on May 2, 2011 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Having dealt forcefully with a Muslim terrorist and a blowhard Trump, Obama might hopefully be emboldened to deal forcefully without negotiation with Republican economic terrorists on debt limits and regressive/recession-extending budgets. If you're honest about it, both are bigger threats than Osama B-L ever was.

Posted by: gdb on May 2, 2011 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

it wasn't a Desert Storm "helicopter crash". The Seals were meant to rappel down, but the high walls of the compound meant a "lack of air" for the helo, and it made a hard landing. Another helicopter came in, landed, and the team left aboard it- with the corpus delectii. The disabled chopper was blown up; that was the explosion heard by neighbors.

Posted by: DAY on May 2, 2011 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, now will we have a "deather" movement that doesn't think Osama was really killed? "We want the long-form death certificate. Maybe it was really the same actor in those suspicious videos found during Bush's term, with the wrong nose" etc. (Yeah, look that up - but I think this at least, really was Osama.) Looks like that already, doesn't it? But I give some Republican politicians like John Cornyn credit for mature messages giving Obama credit.

Posted by: neil b on May 2, 2011 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

[Conspiratorial nonsense deleted]

Posted by: samsa on May 2, 2011 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Samsa: pathetic conspiratorial rubbish that only weakens America. You're no "patriot."

Posted by: neil b on May 2, 2011 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Please Steve, can you track down Secretary Hillary Clinton and find out why she's been quite silent or silenced of late???

Posted by: k l m on May 2, 2011 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

The Salt Lake TV stations were quick to get comments from the pathologically ignorant Yahoos Rob Bishop, Jason Chaffetz, and the pathetically yahooish Orrin Hatch, and their efforts to make sure that nothing they said could remotely be interpreted as even being close to saying something good about Obama was pathetic. Most of the credit goes to the people who worked hard to make this happen. But someone - ie, the president, made the decision to deal with OBL.... These assholes make me want to puke.

Posted by: bigtuna on May 2, 2011 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Was that burial at sea really a good idea on balance? It makes it easier for deathers to deny OBL was killed, or killed recently. Yet I do get the PR need to handle it that way.

Posted by: neil b on May 2, 2011 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

I think we have to give some credit to Osama bin Laden for his discovery, given his construction of a high security compound in a Pakistani suburb with 18 foot tall, barbwire-topped walls, and a conspicuous lack of ordinary communications such as phone lines or internet access.

Posted by: El Cid on May 2, 2011 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

This is a crushing blow...to the hearts of the Obama-hating right wing. It completely frazzles their circuits that are wired to assume Obama is a wimp, indecisive, etc. Seriously, I think the cognitive dissonance this will create will be literally unbearable for many, many right-wing commentators and Fox News viewers (and on-air folks, too). This dissonance can produce unhinged behavior.

Posted by: bruce k on May 2, 2011 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

"It makes it easier for deathers to deny OBL was killed, or killed recently."

So what? They shat their credibility completely over the last 2 years with the Birther nonsense. BO showing his certificate last week took all the wind out of those dumkopffs' sails. Any bitching they make this week about conspiracy theories will eat itself. Obama need do nothing; they have made their own bed, and shit mightily into it. The stink will be epic.

Posted by: Slippy on May 2, 2011 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

"It makes it easier for deathers to deny OBL was killed, or killed recently."

So what? They shat their credibility completely over the last 2 years with the Birther nonsense. BO showing his certificate last week took all the wind out of those dumkopffs' sails. Any bitching they make this week about conspiracy theories will eat itself. Obama need do nothing; they have made their own bed, and shit mightily into it. The stink will be epic.

Posted by: Slippy on May 2, 2011 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

@klm, if you're still around--

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/05/02/hillary-clintons-remarks-on-bin-ladens-death/?mod=WSJBlog&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wsj%2Fwashwire%2Ffeed+%28WSJ.com%3A+Washington+Wire%29

Posted by: chi res on May 2, 2011 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Good Job, President Obama!

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on May 2, 2011 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Fox news reported that "President Obama is Dead ", OOOOOPS, I mean Osama Bin Laden is dead". Fox Noise is so bent on destroying President Obama, it can't even get ONE news story right, even if it KILLS them. Fox,Sean Hannity,Bill O'Reilly,Rush Limbaugh are all sorry excuses for news reporters. Their all full os Sh--t, all of the time. It is unfortunate that the hate they spew has an ignorant following that supports their huge unwarranted salaries which makes them think they are right.
PITY.
Joe DeMarco
WW 2 Veteran

Posted by: Joseph DeMarco on May 2, 2011 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

GREAT WORK, President Obama!!!

And, congratulations to our armed forces people who FINALLY took that monster OUT!

Posted by: knightphoenix2 on May 2, 2011 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK
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