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May 03, 2011

Comments

Cecil Turner

It seems to me a lot of the inconsistent statements are directly related to the desire to make this appear less like a targeted assassination . . .

Concur completely. And I further suspect the order was unequivocally to kill Bin Laden (as it should have been) but that nobody wants to take credit for that particular order.

Neo

Just think about it for a second ... we have been calling this guy incompetent for the last 2+ years, and now we are supposed to call him competent now that he has gone and actually killed somebody. It sounds more like the autobiography of a junior mob hit man rather than a President of the United States of America.

YGBSM !

I don't know much about drinking, I'll defer to my more experienced colleagues, But, ISTM that any new drink that is "two shots and a splash" should rightfully and more, appropriately, called an
ST-SIX (or Ecstasy Six after you have had a few)
or a
DevGru

Just sayin.

Porchlight

Rob, it would be one thing if they had put together a bare bones timeline and added details when they became available. But that's not what has happened. Instead, basic elements of the story have been announced as fact and then rescinded later.

How many people were killed? Captured? Left at the scene? Did Osama resist or didn't he? Was he armed or not? These are not facts that should be difficult to establish. And there should be no rush to announce them until they are established.

I do not fault the military on this one bit - it is all mishandling on the admin level.

MayBee

It seems to me a lot of the inconsistent statements are directly related to the desire to make this appear less like a targeted assassination . . .

Clarice, I agree. I also agree with what (I think?) you believe, that there has been much walking back about what Obama saw so it doesn't appear he witnessed the assassination.

DebinNC

Hero dog helped snare Osama

clarice

What were they looking at in the sit room? The screens are blank..Are the facial expressions related to some contemporaneous audio report? What is the picture in front of Hillary that was pixelated out so we couldn't see it?
Maybe I can get press credentials and ask Carney some real questions.

Extraneus

When il Padrino puts a hit on somebody, he doesn't release a picture of himself watching it live on video if he wants any sort of plausible deniability. Releasing that mini-Obama situation room pic was bizarre.

Fortunately we'll get answers to the hard-hitting questions on Sunday's '60 Minutes.'

Rob Crawford

Rob, it would be one thing if they had put together a bare bones timeline and added details when they became available. But that's not what has happened. Instead, basic elements of the story have been announced as fact and then rescinded later.

Welcome to the Fog of War.

MayBee

OMG! Not a dog! Democrats told us letting dogs near Arab men is torture!

matt

some thoughts on why the government should release the Bin Laden death photos immediately. LUN

maryrose

Confusion, walking back comments,different statements are all attempts to craft an acceptable narrative and hide the fact it was a targeted hit job that wussy Obama never had the stomach for or the approval of the far left liberals. Smoke and mirrors once again and efforts to make obama look like a tough guy. Too bad we're on to this game now.

MayBee

What is the picture in front of Hillary that was pixelated out so we couldn't see it?

Clarice- our local news did a super close up of various elements of the sit room photo.
The picture on Hillary's laptop had been pixillated by the WH before release, but you can clearly see the shape of the Bin Laden compound and the first few letters of "Abbottabad".

Jack is Back!

matt,

Excellent points. I might one more reason: do it before Trump starts with "where's the photos?" routine.

JM Hanes

Army of Davids:

"Wonder how many people remember Pelosi and Holder's political assault on the CIA interrogators in Gitmo?"

Oddly enough! I began to think the appointment of Panetta actually held some promise, when he came out strongly in defense of the CIA vs Pelosi. I got the impression that he had to start submitting his public statements to the White House for vetting after that, but I suspect he was also arguing the CIA's case in private, when Holder /Obama were clearly toying with the idea of show trials.

That's not the only time he has practically gainsaid the President publicly, and this week he stated unequivocally that the Seals were given absolute authority to kill bin Laden, period, which pretty much says it all. He was also forthright about the value of information gleaned through enhanced interrogation, notwithstanding the required caveat about what they might have been able to discover by traditional means. It's a safe bet that Obama's political team, not Panetta, came up with the "resistance" spin.

I've developed some real respect for the man. I think he's replaced Bob Gates as Obama's "mentor" and I don't think he just took it upon himself to green light the mission on his own authority, although he probably chose the hour and then notified the Prez. Bob Gates started out as a pretty effective father figure. Whether he soured on Obama first, or vice versa, is anybody guess, but the reason he has survived more than one changing of the guards is because he would never seriously undercut his C-i-C in public -- till now. He must be really disgusted with Obama.

I'm still wondering what Petraeus' role here might have been. He had to be working closely with Panetta, but if he's keeping a low profile, there's got to be a reason -- whether tactical or political. Has anybody heard anything about him?

Melinda Romanoff

JMH-

I would suspect he's on a "farewell tour" of the theater, since he's leaving the military.

An opinion, only.

clarice

Maybe he's (Panetta's) just (reasonably) afraid BO will shove the blame on him when the lefties start bitching about violations of international law.

MayBee

Great stuff, Matt. The point about the contractors in Fallujah is devastating.

BB Key

What is Rush saying about the photo release ?

Ranger

He's going with the 'deliberately stringing this out' theory. Bad job numbers coming out again this week, and the 'debate' about the photo keeps attention elsewhere.

maryrose

Gates was laughing very hard at the Correspondent's dinner when Seth Myers was skewering Obama about being a better candidate in 08 and being idealistic. I think Gates is glad to be out of there.
Capt. H.
Yes, I'm estatic at the fact that Kucinich is leaving Ohio and will no longer represent us. Let him sell crazy somewhere else.

Porchlight

Welcome to the Fog of War.

I understand that concept.

Today is Wednesday. The raid happened Sunday. There is no rule on earth, fog of war or not, that says they had to announce it all on Sunday night and then stumble over themselves backtracking between now and then. They could have waited until they had it all together and then announced. Is it so outrageous to expect that?

As Sue mentioned, I don't recall all of this confusion when Saddam was captured.

Jack is Back!

I wonder if Barry is aware that there is golf course in Abbottabad? The Abbottabad Golf Club near Binny's digs.

DebinNC

AP on Obama's Ground Zero photo op tomorrow...a wreath laying, a private meeting with some 9-11 families, and a meeting (open to press) with some first responders. I'm so glad GWB graciously declined.

Stephanie

IIRC, the photo of Saddam crawling out of the hidey hole came within a few hours of the announcement of the capture. I seem to remember some of those were via helmet cams, too. And they were definitely shot with night vision equipment. Remember the green hue to the shots?

How long does it take this crew to take a still image from video? They could get a pic of Osama before he was killed, unless they want us to believe that the SEAL that shot him didn't 'see' him and just shot wildly? Don't think so...

Rob Crawford

Today is Wednesday. The raid happened Sunday. There is no rule on earth, fog of war or not, that says they had to announce it all on Sunday night and then stumble over themselves backtracking between now and then.

And if they hadn't announced anything Sunday, people would be demanding to know why they waited so long to announce it.

Some people need to grow up and realize it's hard to know exactly what happened in a chaotic situation, and that we may never know exactly.

Porchlight

JMH, I agree with your take. Panetta put the operation together and has been straightforward; it's the WH people who are bumbling and spinning.

Sue

IMO, Obama should have come out Sunday night and said, we got him. Today at 0-whatever hour, our spec ops went into a compound in Abbottabad and Osama bin Laden is dead. I can't speak on the specifics yet...yada yada yada...and repeat over and over until they had the story straight that everyone would tell. It couldn't have been any worse than what they have done so far.

Sue

Rob,

Then keep their mouth shut. Why say anything until they know what they are saying? They do it all the time. How many times did Gibbs repeat the same answer to any question?

Captain Hate

I agree with Porch and JMH that Panetta has been a pleasant surprise in this; the only spin that I'd put on it is that as a Clintoon operative he has a special incentive to show the Indonesian how it's done.

MayBee

IMO, Obama should have come out Sunday night and said, we got him. Today at 0-whatever hour, our spec ops went into a compound in Abbottabad and Osama bin Laden is dead. I can't speak on the specifics yet...yada yada yada...and repeat over and over until they had the story straight that everyone would tell.

Yes.

MayBee

Bush also made the military available for questions.

Neo

This photo certainly explains a lot

DebinNC

They were so euphoric, so giddy, they weren't thinking straight. What else explains their choosing a scowling John Brennan as designated spokesperson and keeping him out there through gaffe after gaffe.

Donald

I used to go to McP's all the time Mr. Danube of Thought!

Joey Harris (Of Beat Farmers fame) plays acoustically there on Sundays every now and then.

Yea McP's!

Stephanie

Reacting with their emotions and not being 'calm and collected' or whatever that BS that Fineman was alleging, Deb?

MayBee

Are USS Cole and African Embassy families being invited on Thursday?

Porchlight

Some people need to grow up and realize it's hard to know exactly what happened in a chaotic situation, and that we may never know exactly.

There is a difference between between discovering what happened and communicating it accurately and responsibly. If there is fog, then you wait until it clears, and you communciate information only after it has been confirmed and okayed for public consumption. If there are things that can't be confirmed yet, or can't be confirmed at all, then you tell people that.

Police departments do this every single day with crime investigations.

jimmyk

Jews are the descendants of monkeys and pigs and are utterly inferior. They also run the world and control everything.

An old joke:
An elderly Jewish man in 1930s Germany is reading "Der Sturmer", an anti-semitic rag. His wife asks him, "Why are you reading that garbage?" He says, "Ach, the Jewish newspaper is full of terrible stories about our suffering and mistreatment. Here I read about how we own the banks and run the world!"

Old Lurker

Neo!

Extraneus

Bush also made the military available for questions.

Great point.

jimmyk

I'm starting to think that Panetta presented him a fait accompli, so that BHO could veto, but it would have left him appearing not to want to get UBL.

I'm guessing a lot of time in the planning was spent figuring out how to give President Nambypants plausible denial if the thing went bad Carter-style.

MayBee

Tapper reporting it was definitely a kill mission.

I suspect Obama's queasiness over this has bungled the post-op narrative.

JM Hanes

Rob:

"Welcome to the Fog of War."

While it's conventional wisdom that first reports are always wrong, there is a bona fide screw up here too. Obama's exquisite sensitivities were on full display in the run-up to Libya, but this time the White House couldn't nail down the political framing till the mission was over. They were probably working that out right up till Obama took the podium (hence the unexplained delay?), especially if his hand had been forced earlier than expected. He was in such a rush to get a jump on world opinion, that he didn't have time to hand out the script, and it's been improv all around ever since. The photo release is particularly problematic because there's no way Mr. (Surgical Strike) Clean wants to be associated in people's minds with literally blowing Osama's brains out.

DebinNC

A look back at how Sadaam Hussein's capture was presented: link

Stephanie

Biden being Biden

LUN

Jim Miller

Amusing, and possibly significant:

Leon Panetta started out as a Republican and even worked in the Nixon administration. (He quit because he didn't think they were doing enough on civil rights. Then he went on to John Lindsay before becoming a Democrat.)

So I think of him, sometimes, as one of those competent Republicans that Democrats call in to clean up their messes.

MayBee

but this time the White House couldn't nail down the political framing till the mission was over.

Great point. And his consistent use of the "unity" theme since the attack is another good clue. He wanted to present this in the most unifying way.

Porchlight

especially if his hand had been forced earlier than expected

JMH,

I am also considering the possibility that Obama really didn't want a kill mission but grudgingly signed off on it when Panetta presented it as the only viable option (capturing being so much more difficult and dangerous for the SEALs).

I think we can conclude Jarrett was not on board since she has been invisible this whole time. Any WH infighting would have made the communcation strategy much more challenging.

Stephanie

It wasn't the capture that was important to this WH, it was the narrative of unity and Obama being a competent CIC. That's why the unity thing was wrapped in a nice package and the details of the capture were sloppily assembled.

The narrative was what ruled the day.

Extraneus

Rush reporting that Obama has decided not to release "the photos."

Bwa ha ha.

JM Hanes

Porchlight:

The discussions with Eric Holder must have been interesting! He's already tried to claim a share of the glory; at yesterday's hearing he apparently touted the pivotal roll played by the FBI in sussing out the intel. I tend to think Obama didn't fancy dealing with a live Osama in the run up to 2012.

I hadn't thought about Jarrett. Didn't she get left out of the Amazonian rush to war in Libya, too?

DebinNC

Insty links to Popular Mechanics re the reliability of OBL's DNA evidence. Lots of fodder for proofers.

jimmyk

One could argue that a photo, even a demonstrably un-photoshopped one, does not constitute proof of B-L's death. Surely there is DNA evidence (bloodied clothes, etc.) that could be used, though the chain of evidence has probably been compromised.

As for the photos being too gruesome, as someone pointed out, surely they could blur out the offensive parts and leave enough that would still make him recognizable. If not, the photos wouldn't really show anything anyway.

Maybe they're reluctant to say "Sorry, his head was blown to bits so the photos aren't definitive."

clarice

More evidence that Bush is looking better with time..the kids he was reading to on 9/11 are interviewed and say how grateful they are that he stayed there and read after Card notified him, saying they'd have been freaked out to know what had just happened.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110504/us_time/08599206932700

clarice

That story is in Time, too. Did the Koch brothers just buy it?

JM Hanes

Neo:

"This photo certainly explains a lot"

And thus, the search for The Iconic Portrait goes on. And on.

Porchlight

JMH, IIRC you are correct. Jarrett was out front back when the WH line was that the administration sympathizes with the Libyan people, but wouldn't go as far as to say it was going to do anything for them. She seems to be the voice of the noninterventionist left in the WH.

But Obama has an election to win, so it would appear she's getting outmaneuvered in favor of more macho actions.

Captain Hate

Biden being Biden

How can you let something like this go out in public?

Dave (in MA)
OMG! Not a dog! Democrats told us letting dogs near Arab men is torture!
To the dog.
DebinNC

How can you let something like this go out in public?

Fear of another "Stand up, Chuck" moment with the Wounded Warrior bike brigade at the WH today?

Charlie (Colorado)

Was there this much confusion when Saddam was taken out? I don't remember it, if there was.

Um, Saddam was arrested without resistance and executed after trial. Might that make a difference?

Captain Hate

Of course Bush did the right thing on 9/11; he caught so much flak from the usual gaggle of idiots on reading My Pet Goat by people who would be filling their pants and screaming under those circumstances. Preznit Prissypants can only dream of as much grace under stress.

Porchlight

clarice, I just love that story about the kids that were with Bush on 9/11.

Dave (in MA)
How can you let something like this go out in public?
Don't worry--Feinstein will probably blurt out their names and addresses soon.
Dave (in MA)
clarice, I just love that story about the kids that were with Bush on 9/11.
Osama probably thought of My Pet Goat as a romance novel.
DebinNC

SanFranChronicle: "Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that none of the information that led to the killing of terrorist Osama bin Laden came from torture or harsh detention policies practiced under the Bush administration."

Panetta lied then.

MayBee

Um, Saddam was arrested without resistance and executed after trial. Might that make a difference?
=========
You don't think the military was tense when they went to find Saddam, Charlie?

Danube of Thought

Wonderful essay, Matt. I had never seen your blog before, and I enjoyed reading your very intriguing profile.

Meanwhile, on the Kiss of Death front:

Washington (CNN) - Former President Jimmy Carter called former U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman an "attractive" candidate for president in 2012.
Danube of Thought

I think that--particularly because all hands knew that a fog-of-war factor would certainly be present--they should have simply confirmed the fact of the raid, the death and the burial, and held off for a few days until the leader of the assault team could be thoroughly debriefed in the presence of anybody and everybody who was going to be speaking on behalf of the administration about this matter.

I would imagine they know that now.

Sue

You don't think the military was tense when they went to find Saddam, Charlie?

Charlie just needed a post to attack. He picked mine. Of course, fog of war and all of that doesn't count when the person is not double tapped but crawls out of a stinky hole. I should have known that.

narciso

Ah, John, nice knowing you, meanwhile in the Biff Tannen ouevre;

http://twitter.com/#!/chucktodd/statuses/65833390636679168

Captain Hate

Tammy Bruce just suggested that Trump start banging on the dumb bastard to release the photos.

Captain Hate

LOL narc; you can't make that stuff up.

MayBee

Todd is saying GOP Mike Rogers actually said that. Oy.

narciso

Leaving aside that beheadings became very popular from Birmingham to Bandung, that's an insane analogy.


Meanwhile, Head Ewok, is having a panic that the Ryan plan is 34% negative, never mind that 40% don't know what it is.

Captain Hate

Oh dear God, MayBee; Duke and Duke must be so proud. And we wonder why those geniuses keep reverting to perpetual minority party status.

Captain Hate

Yeah narc; I read that "John Galt Vomits" post and figured his adult diaper had reached critical mass

Porchlight

Regarding Todd's other tweets - if members of Congress can see the photos of OBL, why can't the rest of us?

DebinNC

The Hill notes Obama's dithering over the photos' release is overtaking the gains the raid gave him. How great it would be to hear Trump, still smarting from BO's Saturday trash-talking, issue a full-throated, "Mr. President, release the pics!"

Captain Hate

Btw, that twitter has been, in the words of Popeye, diskappeared. Hmmmmmmmm

Sue

Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore.

Two names Rogers need to look up on the internet.

MayBee

Carney reading Osama's statement. He says releasing the photo is 'Not who we are'. But it is!
Does he declare that to be true and everyone just accepts that?

Captain Hate

I would imagine they know that now.

I dunno, DoT; ordinarily I'd say that but this crew?

MayBee

Ok, someone asking Carney about the firefight.
"Who was shooting back?"

Carney won't answer. We have to keep that secret so as to not reveal too much information. Ha!
(me: There was no firefight.)

Porchlight

How refreshing that people are asking Carney actual questions, though, MayBee.

Sue

The bodies lie on a bridge over a river, and at least three pairs of sandaled feet belonging to insurgents cluster around them. At one point, an insurgent’s arm picks up the decapitated head. Another insurgent steps on the face of the other soldier.

The video also plays old audio messages from both Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who was killed in an American airstrike in early June. An umbrella group associated with Mr. Zarqawi, the Mujahedeen Shura Council, put out the video.

Source

I have no problem looking at a photo of bin Laden's head shot off.

MayBee

Carney was saying OBL was not a Muslim leader, but a mass murderer.
However, apparently releasing death photos of him will inflame the Muslim world.

sbw

Osama's next tape: "I want to praise my body double who played the part right up to the end...

Sue

Seriously? Osama was not a Muslim leader? They just play his recorded messages after beheading an American soldier because it was handy to them?

They really think we are stupid, don't they?

 centralcal

From Marc Ambinder in a column about releasing the photo(s):

Though the White House won't say it, not releasing the photos means that the images one associates with the death of bin Laden are those of Obama making the announcement and Obama and team waiting in the Situation Room. Not releasing the photos helps Obama own this event even more.

I agree with Ambinder on that and believe the media will assist in that endeavor with all their might. Right now on Twitter, Tapper is finding moral equivalencies and prior Obama statements to encourage us all in praising The Won for his decision. And, he is only one among many in the MFM doing this.


Captain Hate

Just give the photos to Biden; the world will see them within 24 hours

narciso

I never saw the video, just the still, how could anyone do that to anyone.

 centralcal

I love this woman:


@SarahPalinUSA Sarah Palin
Show photo as warning to others seeking America's destruction. No pussy-footing around, no politicking, no drama; it's part of the mission

MayBee

Carney says Obama has decided not to speak at Ground Zero.

clarice

What did the disappearedtwitter say? I got there too late/

clarice

ah, but will he toss the wreath as he did originally--you know as if he were playing horseshoes.

Captain Hate

clarice the original Chuck Todd twitter said POTUS to CBS "Imagine how the American people would react if Al Qaida killed one of our troops...and put photos of the body on the internet"

and now they're attributing the quote to Mike Rogers.

Porchlight

Not releasing the photos helps Obama own this event even more.

Why should it be Obama's goal to own this event? I thought it was supposed to be a victory for America and Osama's victims around the world, not for Obama personally.

Is that an admission by Ambinder that this is more about the election than anything else?

narciso

How did F. Chuck, make such an error, because it is a doozy,

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Wilson/Plame