Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: May 3, 2011


Panetta, Clinton and Gates "worked around" Obama on the bin Laden mission?

If this is true, it is a bombshell and will kill the luster on Obama’s new found Commander-in-Chief bona fides.

It comes from a site names "Socyberty" and is posted by someone named Ulsterman. It is from an anonymous source (a "Washington DC insider"). So all of this is suspect – stipulated. But when you read it, it all reads pretty authoritatively.

So, take it for what its worth, but it is, at least, a very interesting rumor:

Q: You stated that President Obama was “overruled” by military/intelligence officials regarding the decision to send in military specialists into the Osama Bin Laden compound. Was that accurate?

A: I was told – in these exact terms, “we overruled him.” (Obama) I have since followed up and received further details on exactly what that meant, as well as the specifics of how Leon Panetta worked around the president’s “persistent hesitation to act.” There appears NOT to have been an outright overruling of any specific position by President Obama, simply because there was no specific position from the president to do so. President Obama was, in this case, as in all others, working as an absentee president.

And, of course, it gets worse:

Q: What changed the president’s position and enabled the attack against Osama Bin Laden to proceed?

A: Nothing changed with the president’s opinion – he continued to avoid having one. Every time military and intelligence officials appeared to make progress in forming a position, Jarrett would intervene and the stalling would begin again. Hillary started the ball really rolling as far as pressuring Obama began, but it was Panetta and Petraeus who ultimately pushed Obama to finally act – sort of. Panetta was receiving significant reports from both his direct CIA sources, as well as Petraeus-originating Intel. Petraeus was threatening to act on his own via a bombing attack. Panetta reported back to the president that a bombing of the compound would result in successful killing of Osama Bin Laden, and little risk to American lives. Initially, as he had done before, the president indicated a willingness to act. But once again, Jarrett intervened, convincing the president that innocent Pakistani lives could be lost in such a bombing attack, and Obama would be left attempting to explain Panetta’s failed policy. Again Obama hesitated – this time openly delaying further meetings to discuss the issue with Panetta. A brief meeting was held at this time with other officials, including Secretary Gates and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but Gates, like Panetta, was unable to push the president to act. It was at this time that Gates indicated to certain Pentagon officials that he may resign earlier than originally indicated – he was that frustrated. Both Panetta and Clinton convinced him to stay on and see the operation through.

So, according to this, all those “intense” meetings the White House said President Obama attended really were a lot of one side trying to get him to act and Valarie Jarrett convincing him not too.

How’d they eventually get a “go?”  That’s interesting as well (I’ve broken this into some paragraphs that aren’t in the original):

What happened from there is what was described by me as a “masterful manipulation” by Leon Panetta.  Panetta indicated to Obama that leaks regarding knowledge of Osama Bin Laden’s location were certain to get out sooner rather than later, and action must be taken by the administration or the public backlash to the president’s inaction would be “…significant to the point of political debilitation.”  It was at that time that Obama stated an on-ground campaign would be far more acceptable to him than a bombing raid.  This was intended as a stalling tactic, and it had originated from Jarrett.  Such a campaign would take both time, and present a far greater risk of failure.  The president had been instructed by Jarrett to inform Mr., Panetta that he would have sole discretion to act against the Osama Bin Laden compound. 

Jarrett believed this would further delay Panetta from acting, as the responsibility for failure would then fall almost entirely on him.  What Valerie Jarrett, and the president, did not know is that Leon Panetta had already initiated a program that reported to him –and only him, involving a covert on the ground attack against the compound.  Basically, the whole damn operation was already ready to go – including the specific team support Intel necessary to engage the enemy within hours of being given notice. 

Panetta then made plans to proceed with an on-ground assault. This information reached either Hillary Clinton or Robert Gates first (likely via military contacts directly associated with the impending mission) who then informed the other.  Those two then met with Panetta, who informed each of them he had been given the authority by the president to proceed with a mission if the opportunity presented itself.  Both Gates and Clinton warned Panetta of the implications of that authority – namely he was possibly being made into a scapegoat.  Panetta admitted that possibility, but felt the opportunity to get Bin Laden outweighed that risk.  During that meeting, Hillary Clinton was first to pledge her full support for Panetta, indicating she would defend him if necessary.  Similar support was then followed by Gates.  The following day, and with Panetta’s permission, Clinton met in private with Bill Daley and urged him to get the president’s full and open approval of the Panetta plan. 

Daley agreed such approval would be of great benefit to the action, and instructed Clinton to delay proceeding until he had secured that approval.  Daley contacted Clinton within hours of their meeting indicating Jarrett refused to allow the president to give that approval.  Daley then informed Clinton that he too would fully support Panetta in his actions, even if it meant disclosing the president’s indecision to the American public should that action fail to produce a successful conclusion.  Clinton took that message back to Panetta and the CIA director initiated the 48 hour engagement order.  At this point, the President of the United States was not informed of the engagement order – it did not originate from him, and for several hours after the order had been given and the special ops forces were preparing for action into Pakistan from their position in Afghanistan, Daley successfully kept Obama and Jarrett insulated from that order.

Again, I want to be clear – this is from a blog site I don’t know, written by someone using a handle and quoting an anonymous source.  But I also have to say that it hits me as very, very plausible.  It makes Gates, Panetta, Clinton and Daley look pretty good.  The president, on the other hand, doesn’t appear in a very good light and Jarrett comes off as a puppet master.  It also makes the not so subtle point that Obama seemed more concerned with the possible political effects of failure than actually taking the chance of getting OBL.

Anyway, this link takes you too the continuation of this information from the anonymous source from the anonymous blogger on a site I never heard of – but still, given his history, it sure seems believable, doesn’t it?

~McQ


What is the “value” of bin Laden’s death?

Someone ask me that and it set me to thinking.  I’ve concluded that there is (and was) more value in his death than if we’d taken him alive.

Let me expand on that. 

As we all know, he’d been holed up in that fortress cum “mansion” for 6 years with no land line or internet connection – so he was dependent on trusted couriers for news of the organization he’d founded and had little ability to influence the day to day operations of al Qaeda.  Obviously he would have still been a valuable intelligence asset, but not quite as valuable as one might think.   I get the impression that bin Laden’s real value was that of figurehead – that as long as he lived, his existence continued to demonstrate to his followers how powerless the “great Satan” really was.   Every day he drew breath, he rubbed in the fact that he could take 3,000 lives in a single day and the US couldn’t even take his.

With each video or audio clip he had smuggled out of his lair and posted among jihadi sites, he tweaked the nose of the US and inspired his jihadist followers.  His stature grew with each tweak.  His survival helped him sell the “righteousness” of his cause because he could claim the protection of his god as the reason he was still untouched.

Bin Laden, given his experiences prior to 9/11, honestly believed that the US was too decadent and cowardly to ever take real action against he and his followers.  He’d tried to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993, did bomb Kohbar Towers and two African embassies as well as attacking the USS Cole.  In all case the reaction was pitifully inadequate. He also believed we didn’t have the fortitude or courage to take casualties and stick it out for the long run.  His planning got more ambitious.  He, like many throughout history, badly underestimated his foe.  

His first indication of his future fate came with the capture of Saddam Hussein.  Hussein shared bin Laden’s beliefs about the US and found himself to be horribly wrong.  Not only did we destroy his regime, we were relentless in his pursuit, finally capturing him months after the culmination of combat operations in Iraq.  He went to the gallows a thoroughly defeated man.

Bin Laden didn’t expect to have to live as he’s had too these past 6 years.  He believed at some point soon after we invaded Afghanistan we’d tire of the combat deaths and the commitment and leave.  He felt his beliefs about the US would be vindicated.   But not only did we stay in Afghanistan, we invaded Iraq and stayed there as well.  And when it was clear we were going to be successful there, the first realization that he was dead wrong about the US had to dawn on him.  To quote Admiral Yamamato, he had awakened a sleeping giant with his 9/11 attacks, and that giant wasn’t going to roll over this time and go back to sleep.

The Sunday operation that led to his death was the culmination of years upon years of effort to find the man.  It was a relentless pursuit.  It cost us lives.  It took a lot of money.  It took a lot of time.  But when that Navy SEAL pumped two rounds into bin Laden’s head, he not only killed bin Laden, but he killed forever the narrative bin Laden had built up among his followers for years. 

No longer could his followers take comfort in the belief that the US was a decadent, cowardly paper tiger.  Iraq and 10 years in Afghanistan had blown that myth away.  No longer could his followers believe that his survival demonstrated the righteousness of their cause.  He was now fish food.

More important was the message his death sent to the entire jihadist community – something his capture couldn’t do – it may take years, lives and money to find you, but we will find you.  And when we find you, we will kill you.

That’s an incredibly powerful and important message to send.  Bin Laden’s death was the very best way to send it.  It will reverberate throughout the jihadist community and the hopeful result is a further lessening of al Qaeda’s influence and a peeling away of the less committed among that community.  It is clear that his death was a greater “value” for the US that was his capture.

Hats off to all those who made it happen.  As someone said, “5.1.11 is the day we got even”.  And the jihadist community will remember it, and hopefully its lesson,  just as we remember 9/11.

~McQ


Interview with former SecDef Rumsfeld

This past weekend was the 6th Annual Milblog Conference.  I attended and it was the best one yet.  Our headliner was former SecDef Donald Rumsfeld and since I’d met him previously, I was asked to introduce him and facilitate the Q&A, which I was honored to do.

It was a fun 45 minutes as you’ll probably see if you’ve the time or desire to watch the whole thing.  I start the questioning with the shakeup in the national security arena where Petraeus is going to CIA and Panetta going to SecDef.  Secretary Rumsfeld reminded me that Ryan Crocker is also included in that as the new ambassador to Afghanistan.

He’s definitely right to point that out and it plays even more into the theory that we’re going to fight the war differently than we have.  Petraeus and Crocker had a very tight relationship in Iraq and there’s no doubt in my mind that the relationship will be reestablished with Petraeus at CIA.  It again emphasizes the probability of a more covert, SOF, “secret ninja” type of war in the future, vs. the way we’re waging it now. 

And, with the demise of bin Laden, many are now going to call on us to pack up and leave claiming our mission is complete and encouraging us to turn Afghanistan over to the Afghanis to sort out.  I see the pressure to do that building over the coming months (remember July is the month of the scheduled withdrawal from A’stan).   About all that might dampen those cries is if al Qaeda strikes somewhere in retaliation for the bin Laden death (and I fully expect they will, however they may not mount any sort of reprisal in the next few months).

~McQ