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.