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Year later, bin Laden killing remains a decision to behold

Published: Tue, May 1, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

As the details become public of the debates and deliberations within the White House over the secret operation that resulted in Osama bin Laden’s death, the decision by President Obama to order the attack a year ago takes on greater significance.

High ranking administration officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, argued against the U.S. Navy SEALS’ raid in Abbottabad, a Pakistani army town where bin Laden had been living for six years. They argued that the risks of failure were too high, especially since the Pakistani government, intelligence service and military were not to be notified.

But, Obama, whose national security and foreign policy credentials were called into question in the 2008 primary and general elections and are still questioned by his Republican critics, was well aware that two presidents before him, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton, had allowed bin Laden slip through their fingers. He wasn’t about to let that happen again.

The one-year anniversary today of bin Laden’s killing shows the president was right in going with his instincts.

The fact of the matter is that the raid on the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad wasn’t just about pursuing the world’s leading terrorist, the mastermind of al-Qaida’s deadly attacks Sept. 11, 2001, on America’s mainland. The SEALS’ operation under the noses of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services sent a strong message to terrorists everywhere: You can run, but you can’t hide. Bin Laden had been on the run since October 2001, when former President Bush launched a military invasion of Afghanistan with support from a coalition of western nations. Afghanistan, ruled at the time by the Islamic extremist Taliban, was providing a safe haven for bin Laden and other top operatives of al-Qaida. The world’s No. 1 terror organization had established training camps for terrorists; a majority of the Sept. 11 murderers were trained in Afghanistan.

The invasion resulted in the Taliban being toppled from power, but just as coalition forces were closing in on bin Laden, who had taken refuge in the mountain area of Tora Bora, Bush redeployed American forces to Iraq. Thus, bin Laden slipped away and ultimately set up his operations in the mountainous region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

President Obama kept his eye on the prize — and it paid off.

Soft underbelly

With the bin Laden gone, al-Qaida’s soft underbelly has been exposed. Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was his chief deputy, has taken over the network. He is said to be hiding in the mountains in Pakistan.

Al-Zawahiri deserves to be targeted because he is now the moral leader, and is just as guilty of crimes against humanity as bin Laden.

Several key figures in global terrorism have been killed. Among them: Anwar al-Awlaki, leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula; Abu Hafs al-Shahri, al-Qaida’s chief of Pakistan operations; Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, the deputy leader of al-Qaida; Ilyas Kashmiri, one of the terror network’s most dangerous commanders; Omar al-Wa’ili, Abu Ali al-Harithi, and Ali Saleh Farhan, senior operatives in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula; Harun Fazul, senior leader of al-Qaida in East Africa. The list, compiled last year by ABC News, goes on.

No objective analysis of the Obama administration’s war on global terrorism can ignore the success of the strategy, namely, to chop off the head of the snake.

No one is even remotely suggesting that the war has been won, but there shouldn’t be any doubt that al-Qaida and the other terrorist organizations are weaker today than when Obama took office in January 2009.


1Woody(492 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

bin Ladin was killed while Obama was president, not because he was president.

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2cambridge(4136 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

It takes more than a banner and fighter pilot pajamas to be "The Commander in Chief".

Mission Accomplished!

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3walter_sobchak(2716 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

I didn't vote for Barry and still won't in 2012 because he is spending us off a cliff. But, being objective, this was a great accomplishment for the president. John McCain, while a dedicated American, continues to be wrong on this issue. Pakistan is not and never will be our friend. The president did what most Americans wanted and he should be thanked for that fact.

Now, vote for Mitt!

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4AnotherAverageCitizen(1194 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Willard says....
At the same time, said Romney, "I think it was very disappointing for the president to make this a political item by suggesting that I wouldn't have ordered such a raid. Of course I would have. Any American, any thinking American, would have ordered exactly the same thing."

Obama backers were quick to point to remarks Romney made in his 2008 race for president when then-candidate Obama said he would go after "high-value terrorist targets" within Pakistan with or without the approval of Pakistan's president, Romney said he did not agree.

"I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours. ... I don't think those kinds of comments help in this effort to draw more friends to our effort," Romney told reporters on the campaign trail in August 2007.

There is no way we should vote for "flip-flop" Willard

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5Woody(492 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago


"As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists." - Sen. Obama - Aug. 2, 2007

"This is me following through on not just a commitment I made during the campaign, but I think an understanding that dates back to our founding fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard." - President Obama, at the signing of an executive order to close Gitmo within one year, Jan. 22, 2009

Last I checks, Gitmo was still open. KSM was being tried by a military tribunal.

Do we know if McCain would have stood by his statement? Or was he making a statement to appease a crappy ally in a crappy part of the world.

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6Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

There are some really sick right wing nuts here

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7thinkthentalk(310 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Walter, you are target with the Obama positives. But dont kid yourself with what you think Mitt will do. The fact is, no one knows what he will do. You know as well as I that he has taken both sides of every issue. By holding true to your red faith you think he will chose paths that you agree with. The odds are that will be 50% of the time.
Also, dont kid yourself that the Bush tax cuts theory will resolve the deficit. That dillusional ponzi scheme put us in this mess.

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8chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

President Obama supports the use of drones which kill innocent people and assanination techinques,
while opposing waterboarding to obtain information.

Without waterboarding the foundation for obtaining information in the bin Laden assasination would not have been constructed.

PS. is GITMO still open?

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9Woody(492 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago


The logic is solid. The point is, it is really tough to say what one would or would not do before having to actually make the decision. And as I said before, maybe McCain had to say what he said due to the fragile nature of the relationship with Pakistan. While they have not been a Great Britian in terms of support in the War on Terror, they have helped a little. See arrest of KSM. They have also not helped. See killing on OBL.

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10praxis95(51 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Using intelligence gathered on the head of an organization that declared war on the United States the President of the United States order our military to do its job, excuse me but that is not a "decision to behold."

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11nemo0723(19 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Ordering US troops to violate the sovereignty of an "ally" on a 50-50 chance, and potentially provoking a collapse of relations if proven wrong? That's a fairly gutsy call. To say otherwise exposes ignorance of foreign policy. Would any other president do the same? Probably.

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