That might have been the campaign stump line according to Tom Mahnken had the Navy SEALs not shot first and asked questions later. After all, President Obama did have an alternate plan for bin Laden…one that involved executing his original plans for 9/11 mastermind, KSM: Showing the world and the terrorists what a great nation we are by putting Osama bin Laden on trial!
– Vice President Joe Biden
VP Joe “Malarkey” Biden in last night’s VP debate, working in the “bin Laden is dead” campaign stump meme:
When it came to Osama bin Laden, the president the first day in office, I was sitting with him in the Oval Office, he called in the CIA and signed an order saying, “My highest priority is to get bin Laden.”
Prior to the election, prior to the — him being sworn in, Governor Romney was asked the question about how he would proceed. He said, “I wouldn’t move heaven and earth to get bin Laden.” He didn’t understand it was more than about taking a murderer off the battlefield. It was about restoring America’s heart and letting terrorists around the world know, if you do harm to America, we will track you to the gates of hell if need be.
…and put them on trial to show the terrorists our values:
Mark Bowden (author of Black Hawk Down) has a new book out. (Vanity Fair offers an excerpt) In The Finish, it’s shown that despite political rhetoric, the hunt for bin Laden had ever been a high priority for President Bush as well as for President Obama.
The difference, however, seems to be that for the former president, bringing bin Laden “to justice” was important as not only the al Qaeda leader responsible for financing the 9/11 attacks, but also as the symbolic figurehead of the global jihad movement that declared war on the U.S. President Bush understood that the war we find ourselves in involved more than simply one man and one organization- The Base. The current president seems to think that the war we are engaged in began and ends with Osama bin Laden; and that with his demise, so too ends the war.
Wishing it away and disengaging ourselves from two theaters isn’t going to make “the war” with the global jihad movement simply “go away”, no matter how much the Obama administration wishes to roll us back to a 9/10/01 law-enforcement model. [snarky] You know? The same failed (Clinton-era) policies that got us here in the first place? [/snarky]
President Obama and vice president Biden continue beating a dead horse (i.e., “Osama is dead”) in order to sell us the malarkey that they have been strong on foreign policy and national security. But how much political mileage would they expect to squeeze out of this had bin Laden been captured instead? And had President Obama pushed for trying Osama bin Laden in federal court?
Bowden’s account contradicts the image of a bold Obama who decided on the Abbottabad raid in the face of a split among his advisors. According to Bowden’s research, nearly every one of the president’s advisors favored the raid. “The only major dissenters were Biden and Gates, and before the raid was launched, Gates would change his mind.”
According to Bowden, in the event that Osama bin Laden had been captured alive at his Abbottabad hideout, Obama’s plan was to put him on trial in a federal court, resurrecting the idea that Attorney General Eric Holder had put forward in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that proved to be a fiasco for the administration. As Obama explained to Bowden:
“I mean, we had worked through a whole bunch of those scenarios. But, frankly, my belief was if we had captured him, that I would be in a pretty strong position, politically, here, to argue that displaying due process and rule of law would be our best weapon against al-Qaeda, in preventing him from appearing as a martyr.”
It is an astonishing admission on two counts. First, it shows just how much Obama backed Holder’s idea of putting KSM and other terrorists on trial in the United States. Holder took the fall when the plan collapsed, but it appears that Obama was fully supportive of the idea, and remained committed to it even after it collapsed in the face of Congressional and public opposition.
Second, Obama’s statement brings into focus just how much he benefited politically from a tactical decision by SEALs on the ground to kill bin Laden. Just think: If things had gone differently, Joe Biden’s tag line at this summer’s Democratic National Convention would have been: “General Motors is still alive…and so is Osama bin Laden!”
By the way: Did you guys know that Osama bin Laden is dead?
And anyone want to take bets on whether or not the status of Osama bin Laden’s current situation isn’t brought up in the next presidential debate by the PotUS?