John Brennan described the president's call to send a Seal team after bin Laden "deep inside" Pakistan as one of the "gutsiest" presidential decisions in our lifetime.
It was gutsy no doubt. Definitely gutsy for the Seals and their support units. But was it more gutsy than say knowing bin Laden's whereabouts and doing nothing to get him? When the Army comes and says, "we think he's here, what should we do?" and you're the president, what would YOU do?
Reports say he waited 16 hours before giving the go-ahead, which isn't surprising (there's nothing wrong with sleeping on big decisions) but the interesting thing is the timing. He took Friday night to think it over with the mission originally planned for Saturday--the same day as the White House correspondent's dinner and Trump Roast. Cloud cover apparently prevented a go on Saturday, which is strange since the helicopters supposedly flew at tree top level to avoid the Pakistani radar, but imagine them announcing this at the dinner or just before? Huge cheers. But imagine the news of a botched raid coming in as he was roasting Trump?
Perhaps another reason they say he pondered this decision was the potential reaction of his liberal base over an extrajudicial kill mission against a potentially unarmed man. No rights, no Army Field Manual. No messy question of where to house a captured bin Laden--Gitmo. Big messy question about why the guy who issued an executive order closing Gitmo because it was creating more terrorists just sent the world's biggest terrorist to Gitmo. Sounds awfully warmongerish.
Also to ponder--no part of an extrajudicial killing comports with previous rhetoric about torture and the US court system's ability to handle anything and everything. If KSM can't be tried in New York there's no way bin Laden could, leaving a commission at Gitmo. Burial at sea!
Prior to UBL the two biggest capturees were Ramzi Yousef and KSM, both taken alive by previous presidents. Ramzi Yousef was never interrogated by the Clinton folks to anyone's knowledge (although they found a laptop) so he never told us about the upcoming planned 9/11, and no press members ever made it a story. The press did report that KSM was waterboarded 1,335 times (estimated), causing 1,336 more gray hairs on Bush's head while giving his opponents a convenient political hammer with which to bludgeon those gray hairs. So, while killing bin Laden might leave him a martyr to the extremists and even some moderate Muslims, UBL's latest poll numbers were down. Perhaps it was a risk worth taking.
On the flip side NOT going after him--after vowing to send him to hell then having a good location on his whereabouts--would end Obama's political career instantly. Such decisions must have loomed large in that fit of restless sleep. He managed to somehow make the right call.
Perhaps Brennan was actually trying to tell us the gutsy part was in not telling the Pakistanis due to a sovereignty violation and the potential can of worms it would create going forward. That is, if they really never told Pakistan. Hillary seems to think they were partnered with us. As the summer fighting season begins and the Taliban suddenly show up at the table willing to sue for peace perhaps it'll be a sign of something (General Betrayus heading for Langley already sounds like a sign of something).
So we'll see if this the greatest victory so far in the Overseas Contingency Operation transmorphs itself into the great withdrawal from Afghanistan at some point. With bin Laden gone many on both sides might finally be ready to support it. Surely Pakistan would.
This is a must-read in trying to understand the relationship between Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States/NATO, and al Qaeda-Taliban. No doubt such a dynamic is partly what kept Obama tossing and turning in making his decision.