I can understand the editors' position, since they did their darnedest to weaken national security during the Bush years, and more recently with WikiLeaks. But in attacking coercive interrogations they conveniently ignore that President Obama not only has reneged on his pledge to close Guantanamo, he also praised the intelligence gathering the led American forces to Osama Bin Laden --- and that intelligence-gathering process by all counts included enhanced methods at both Guantanamo and at off-shore black sites. See, "The Torture Apologists." It's boilerplate and predictable, but it's mostly the dishonesty and omissions that are bothersome. Folks can correct these by reading the commentary from Marc Thiessen and John Yoo, both of whom published essays yesterday, Thiessen at WaPo ("Obama owes thanks, and an apology, to CIA interrogators") and Yoo at WSJ, "From Guantanamo to Abbottabad").
Early reports are conflicted, but it appears that bin Laden was not armed. He did not have a large retinue of bodyguards—only three other people, the two couriers and bin Laden's adult son, were killed. Special forces units using nonlethal weaponry might have taken bin Laden alive, as with other senior al Qaeda leaders before him.That's an extremely interesting line of argument, and a devastating indictment of this president and the administration's counterterror policies. Americans are pleased that we killed Bin Laden, and as I also noted yesterday, only a small percentage in Rasmussen's polling said Bin Laden should been taken alive and put on trial. But it's highly likely that President Obama indeed would have had fits of apoplexy in deciding how, when, and where to try Osama. In short, he had no choice to be tough in ordering the hit on Bin Laden, because he's such a pussy. And of course by now we've seen how badly the White House has botched the post-killing public relations campaign. It's almost frightening to observe the government's incompetence.
If true, one of the most valuable intelligence opportunities since the beginning of the war has slipped through our hands. Some claim that bin Laden had become a symbol, or that al Qaeda had devolved into a decentralized terrorist network with more active franchises in Yemen or Somalia. Nevertheless, bin Laden was still issuing instructions and funds to a broad terrorist network and would have known where and how to find other key al Qaeda players. His capture, like Saddam Hussein's in December 2003, would have provided invaluable intelligence and been an even greater example of U.S. military prowess than his death.
White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said Monday that the SEAL team had orders to take bin Laden alive, "if he didn't present any threat," though he correctly dismissed this possibility as "remote." This is hard to take seriously. No one could have expected bin Laden to surrender without a fight. And capturing him alive would have required the administration to hold and interrogate bin Laden at Guantanamo Bay, something that has given this president allergic reactions bordering on a seizure.
It's a pity. Seriously. In any case, check those links. I'll have more on all of this tomorrow.
Related: See Michelle's essay, "Non-shocker of the day: Most transparent prez ever decides not to be transparent; : GOP Rep. Mike Rogers said what?"