Other people were killed after all.
As those in the government take turns in front of the media cameras to give their statements on the Osama Bin laden kill I was struck most by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday …
As I stared at the TV all I could think about was how many times in the 1990s during her husband Pres. Bill Clinton’s administration he had the opportunities to either capture, take custody as it was being offered, or kill Bin Laden … and did not.
[…] Before anyone starts taking our most recent ex-President too seriously, let’s review the bidding. Clinton wasn’t the President who ordered the armed forces to go after bin Laden without reservation, to get him “dead or alive.” He wasn’t the one who sent thousands of troops after al-Qaeda and nations that harbor and support terrorists
Instead, President Clinton responded to attacks on our troops in Somalia by withdrawing, and responded to attacks by al-Qaeda on our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya by bombing the aspirin factory of an innocent pharmaceutical firm in Sudan. He reacted to al-Qaeda’s bombing of the USS Cole by lobbing a few cruise missiles at empty tents in the desert. He turned down Sudanese offers to cooperate in tracking down and capturing bin Laden.
The bipartisan 9/11 Commission concluded that – far from doing more than anyone to kill the brutal murderer who now is the international face of terrorism – President Clinton had flatly refused to allow the military or CIA to kill Osama bin Laden. Clinton’s instructions were that bin Laden should be taken, if at all, alive not dead. CIA officials reported that this instruction cut the chance of success in half.
That is not to say that the Clinton Administration wasn’t in a better position to eliminate bin Laden. Evidence before the Commission showed that the Clinton Administration had live footage of Osama bin Laden at a camp in Afghanistan in the Fall of 2000, a year before the 9/11 attacks, but didn’t act. NBC’s Tom Brokaw, playing the tape on-air in 2004, noted rightly that this was an enormous opportunity lost. Having gotten bin Laden in your sights isn’t something to brag about if you weren’t willing to pull the trigger.
Clinton, like all presidents, had some top-notch advisers, including some thoughtful advisers on military and foreign affairs. But he is quintessentially a temporizer, one who always has had difficulty reaching a conclusion and sticking to it, and not someone who was terribly interested in either preserving our military power or using it effectively in world affairs. He’d much rather talk one on one with world leaders, persuaded he could convince them to do what he wanted by the concerted application of charm.
Talk and compromise – not clear moral principles and the will to do whatever is needed to support them – were the hallmarks of the Clinton Administration, reflecting the person at the top. Nothing Clinton says now can change that, though he still evinces conviction that he can talk us into anything – just as he thought he could when he denied point blank having had anything to do with Monica Lewinsky. Clinton always has been the one who, caught in a compromising position, would disarmingly ask, as the parody has it, “what are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?” His instinct for lying, even under oath, earned him the second presidential impeachment in American history. […]
Yes, I know hindsight is 20/20. However, people always dabble in the speculation of time traveling back to kill Adolf Hitler before he took power in Germany and was allowed to ravage much of Europe, exterminating millions, killing millions more in the bloody battles of war. I do not think it is out of line here and now to ask the same question with the more recent facts of the last decade of the 20th Century: What if then Pres. Bill Clinton and his people in positions of high responsibility, such as Sandy Burger, had given the CIA the green-light to take Osama Bin Laden dead or alive that day in a remote camp in Afghanistan in 2000 as they watched from the hills above?
Perhaps the U.S.S. Cole would still have been attacked while sitting in the waters off the coast of Yemen. But maybe, just maybe, 9/11/01 would not have been carried out. Maybe in taking OBL or those in his company in that dusty desert camp would have resulted in intelligence that would have intercepted the plan and the CIA and FBI would have been able to foil 9/11 before that sunny autumn day in 2001 … and prehaps thousands of Americans would still be alive and four commercial planes flying.
But the fear in giving the green light to the CIA in the fall of 2000 in the mountains of Afghanistan was that there would be collateral deaths of some of the people surrounding Bin Laden as human shields … And in 2011 in a million dollar compound in the area of the Pakistani military establishment at least three other people were killed, including a woman, before Osama was face to face with a highly trained and very determined team of US Navy SEALS that in that moment were representing hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops (and coalition troops) who had given their time, life, and limbs in two wars over the last ten years. I am told OBL refused to go willingly when requested, and a U.S. issued bullet from a U.S. Navy SEAL gun entered the terrorist leader’s skull … from the rifle of one of several U.S. Navy SEALS present in that moment who was lusting for that trophy kill on their personal military record as revenge and extreme justice for the countless thousands of lives that had been lost since the first plane hit the first tower on 9/11/01.
So, perhaps less people died the other day as our intel and military forces killed Bin Laden … and maybe less than would have been killed that day in the mountains of Afghanistan in the fall of 2000 during a U.S. presidential election. But was it honestly a fair exchange of lives for the last ten years?
Would somebody PLEASE have the testicular fortitude to ask THAT question of former POTUS Bill Clinton and his wife, the current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?
I’d sure love to hear how they would answer it …
And could we please waterboard Sandy Burger while we’re at it?
(Cross-posted @ CW)