This does an adequate job of saying what needs to be said:
“Unseemly” describes it best. But when the rest of your record is so abysmal, unseemly is all you have.
The truth is that getting bin Laden was the top counterterrorism objective for U.S. intelligence since well before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. This administration built on work painstakingly pursued for many years before Obama was elected — and without this work, Obama administration officials never would have been in a position to authorize the strike on Abbottabad, Pakistan, that resulted in bin Laden’s overdue death.
Most reasonable people have already figured that out despite the “look I did it” claims of Obama. Critics can trash Mitt Romney all they want, but he was right – even Jimmy Carter would have made the call Obama made. And, had the operation gone wrong, despite what Bill Clinton says, the target would never have been known (until possibly, much, much later). America would have simply believed that one of hundreds of special operations that were conducted monthly, had gone south. It is war. It happens.
And, of course, what was the concern from Clinton? Politics, of course. Nothing more, nothing less.
The military community is not happy and it has good reason not to be. What was feared by many has indeed come to pass. For years, the military did not allow pictures to be taken by the media when the bodies of the dead killed in battle were repatriated through Dover AFB, DE. It was, many considered, a private affair within the military. Held with the utmost solemnity, these ceremonies gave due honors to those who had made the ultimate sacrifice.
But the critics made the case that Americans should see the result of wars, the human cost and eventually they won the day. However warnings that such events could be used for political purposes as well seemed to fall on deaf ears. In the end, it was agreed that only if the families of the dead agreed would any media picture taking be allowed.
As you might imagine, no media was allowed to cover the solemn homecoming for those killed in the horrific helicopter incident in Afghanistan this past week. AP tells us why:
Under a Pentagon policy set in 2009, media coverage at the Dover base is allowed only when family members of the war dead approve. In the case of multiple sets of remains returning as a group, photographers take pictures of those approved caskets only and are ushered away before the remains of any troops whose families declined coverage are brought out of the plane.
The Pentagon said that in this case no family could give permission because any given case could contain the remains of troops whose families did not want coverage. The Pentagon said that during initial notification of next of kin, 19 of the 30 families said they did not want media coverage.
The AP and other media organizations argued that images could be taken of the tarmac, plane or dignitaries that would depict the occasion without showing a casket.
End of story, right? Wrong.
An official White House photo of a saluting Obama was distributed to news media and published widely. It also was posted on the White House website as the "Photo of the Day." It showed Obama and other officials in silhouette and did not depict caskets.
Doug Wilson, head of public affairs at the Pentagon, said the department did not know the White House photographer was present and had no idea a photo of the event was being released until it became public. He said the photographers who routinely travel with the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were not allowed to go to the event, and no official Pentagon photos were taken or released.
Argument for doing so?
When asked about the photo Wednesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the picture was carefully taken so that it did not show the cases containing remains.
"The White House routinely releases photos taken by the White House photographers in specific circumstances where it would be inappropriate to include members of the media," Carney said. "In this case, the White House released the photo, in the interests of transparency, so that the American people could have as much insight as possible into this historic and sobering event."
Or, to heck with policy and the wants of the families, i.e. no media coverage, this “historic and sobering event” was just too much of an opportunity for Obama to bask in the reflected glory of men better than him to pass up. Jay Carney had to go into overdrive to try to spin this in a positive way. Transparency has become an excuse, not a goal, for when Obama wants to ignore the rules and do something most would deem inappropriate – like this.
This has caused a minor furor in the blogosphere. Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive, perhaps the premier milblog, vents his feelings:
Anyone with an dime’s worth of decency would have known better than to use such an event, but that is simply part of Obama’s lack of character. He couldn’t just attend, he had top make sure that all the voting public knew he was there. It is sad to watch such a complete tool use the military, and worse our war dead, to attempt to create an image of a serious Commander in Chief. I don’t doubt that on some level Obama cares about the dead troops, but just a whole lot less than he cares about himself.
Jimbo also reacts to Carney’s spin:
No sentient being believes that one of the least transparent administrations in our history was making sure we had insight. This was another pathetic example of our Campaigner in Chief doing the only thing he is even marginally competent at, promoting himself. I didn’t believe it was possible for Obama to debase himself and show his complete self-absorption any more than he already had. I was wrong.
Jonn Lilyea at “This Ain’t Hell” sums it up best:
So the White House doesn’t follow it’s own rules and doesn’t see a need to comply with the wishes of the family…especially when a great photo opportunity presents itself. When was the last time that the President went to Dover, anyway? I think it was when they first allowed photographers to snap pictures of the returning victims of war, wasn’t it?
I see the President still doesn’t know to salute properly, either.
He’s right – it actually looks like he’s preparing to thumb his nose. And in fact, he did just that to the 19 families that wanted no coverage.
If you want to see the photo, you’ll have to chase it down. I’m not posting it here.
Anne Scott Tyson, at the Washington Post, seems to have the low-down on how the mission to rescue Captain Phillips went down.
The pirates apparently were growing increasingly agitated with the situation and were making threats when they made a fatal mistake and gave SEAL snipers 3 targets at once. Feeling that Captain Phillips life was in imminent danger, the on-scene commander called the shot and the snipers took all three of the pirates out.
Okay and well done. But there seems to be a whole bunch of spin on both sides as to what role Obama played. The left seems bound and determined to spin this as some sort of “military victory” which proves Obama has stones of steel and the right seems equally as determined to deny him any credit for the rescue, claiming it was the “on-scene commander” who made the decision.
Look – Obama was most likely briefed and asked for the go ahead to use both the military and lethal force if the situation called for it. He gave his approval for both. I doubt he tried to tell them what tactics to use or how to carry out the rescue. Instead he allowed those on the scene to make that determination. His concern was Phillips and resolving that situation in a way that the captain was rescued unharmed. By approving the use of lethal force, he made it clear he had no concern for the final disposition of the pirates and placed no constraints on the military in that regard, assuming the main mission – rescuing Phillips unharmed – was accomplished.
Great – that’s what he should have done.
But a “military victory”? It was a hostage situation – albeit on the high seas with lots of drama. But at its foundation, it was no different than a situation the local sheriff finds himself in with a domestic disturbance gone bad and hostages held in a house. The reason the national command authority and the military were involved at all is because the situation developed on the high seas in international waters. But at base, it was a run-of-the-mill hostage situation that law enforcement deals with routinely without presidential input.
So? So Obama did the right thing (at the right level of visibility) and so did the military. The situation was resolved. To the right – Obama did a good job. Get over it and understand that it wasn’t his job to “call the shot.” He gave the on-scene commander, through his authorization to use deadly force, the latitude to make that call himself without seeking further permission.
To the left – this was no more a “military victory” than was Ruby Ridge or Waco. Quit trying to make it more than it is. If you think popping 3 rag-tag pirates is going to be interpreted by Iran or North Korea as a demonstration of our military might, you’re dreaming. Obviously, had it gone bad, it would have reflected badly on the US. However it didn’t (thankfully). But it proves nothing more than in the situation presented – a hostage situation – we were able to resolve it to our advantage. That’s good and it reflects well on us. But a “military victory”? For heaven sake, get a clue.
Some form of strange aquatic life, not native to the coast of Somalia, helped Captain Richard Phillips escape his pirate captives. He’s now safe aboard the USS Bainbridge.
The pirates? Not so good:
The American captain of a cargo ship held hostage by pirates jumped overboard from the lifeboat where he was being held, and U.S. Navy SEALs shot and killed three of his four captors, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the situation.
You knew it was coming – you just wondered when.
My guess is remaining pirates will now immediately go to remedial flag identification class and learn the difference between the US flag and the flag of Panama.