Thursday, May 05, 2011

Explaining bin Laden

The only bad thing amidst all the euphoria over the United States sending bin Laden to the ugly truth about the virgins has been the way the United States has tried to explain it. For those scoring at home here's the scorecard, and it ain't pretty. Yesterday they threw up their hands and said "that's all folks". Maybe a good decision.

But shutting the door leaves nothing but a shut door. Aside from the hoopla over the bin Laden death photo there's another photograph that WAS released and might need some explaining--the White House Situation Room photo.

Obama is shown still in his golf shirt (and even his golf spikes according to early reports) as if he just arrived from the clubhouse. He looks neither presidential nor happy. He doesn't have a command seat at the big table. Biden actually looks more presidential. Besides, why did he go to the golf course at all knowing the signature raid of his presidency was about to go down that day? Was it just to fool the press or does AQ keep tabs on his tee times? Very strange.

Hillary has a look of anxiety, as if she was watching Godzilla appearing across the wall of the compound. She came out this morning and explained that her hand to mouth was probably just an attempt to suppress an allergic cough. Interesting. That doesn't comport with this description:
"It demonstrates the intensity and emotion for the nation's key leaders, who carry the burden of these decisions," said Juan Zarate, a top White House counterterrorism official under President George W. Bush and now a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "This was a very risky operation. And the risk is evident in the eyes of the president and the gestures of the secretary of state."
Why would Hillary be trying to undermine that message?

But wait, Leon Panetta is now saying there was a Nixonian-like gap in the video of about 25 minutes. That might explain why they can't just show a snippet of the raid where bin Laden is on tape just before his head gets blown off (making him much less recognizable). Assuming special ops tape can be screen-capped, that would prove we got him and reduce the number of riots on the Muslim street.

So at what point in the raid was the picture taken? Are they inferring the photo was taken during the tape gap; that Hillary was just kind of bored, trying to suppress a sneeze while Obama just ticked because they lost video? And Gates' look of seasoned bemusement was just a testament to the old cliche "close enough for government work"?

The crisis photo matters because it's not only for the American internet audience, it's being seen all over the world (and picked apart by foreign governments). It will be shown for a long time in conjunction with stories about getting the world's top terrorist. Yet all of the above is probably easily explainable--photos only capture a snapshot of time and can often be misleading. Why release this photo and not others?

Combined with the overall messaging failure it certainly smacks of a regime so concerned about exploiting a victory they threw careful analysis out the window in the name of political expediency, which is now coming back to bite them. Granted, other administrations might have done the exact same thing in a short time frame. And this is not to undermine the outcome--a dead bin Laden. But other administrations have never had such genius at the helm.


cube said...

"Genius at the helm"... I'm going to have to remember that one. I guess that's one reason why most rational people just don't get Obama... yeah, right.

LASunsett said...

It's an Administration in an advanced state of disarray. I am disappointed but not surprised that Obama will not release the photos. It does make me wonder more about the details, when they cannot even explain them right.

Something went down. Did they get him? Did they get the right guy? No one will ever know until we see the photos for ourselves. We just have to take their word for it. And frankly, these people aren't very good at transparency and truth.

A.C. McCloud said...

Going way out on a limb, wonder if they're saying "hey, keep it secret and we'll turn the birthers into the deathers, then we can spring the picture on them in 2012". Just saying.