Today, Time magazine got hold of a memo written by then-CIA head Leon Panetta after he received orders from Barack Obama’s team to greenlight the bin Laden mission. Here’s the text, which summarized the situation:
Received phone call from Tom Donilon who stated that the President made a decision with regard to AC1 [Abbottabad Compound 1]. The decision is to proceed with the assault.
The timing, operational decision making and control are in Admiral McRaven’s hands. The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration. The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out. Those instructions were conveyed to Admiral McRaven at approximately 10:45 am.
This, of course, was the famed “gutsy call.” Here’s what Tom Hanks narrated in Obama’s campaign film, “The Road We’ve Traveled”:
As much as it pains me to come to the defense of the Obama administration, Ben Shapiro is showing his lack of understanding here about how military operations should be, and are, conducted.
President Obama gave the approval to conduct the operation. Fair enough. Of course he left the actual conduct of the operation to ADM McRaven and the military. That’s how we want things done.
Back in the bad old days of Vietnam, LBJ exerted far too much oversight of operations, down to picking individual targets and specifying bombloads for strikes against North Vietnam. For almost half a century, military folks have been pointing at that as the exact wrong way to do business.
And LBJ wasn’t the only one guilty. The Reagan administration ordered airstrikes against Syrian positions in Lebanon in 1983, and dictated the timing of the strikes, leaving the aviators badly vulnerable due to several factors. The costs of that strike were far too high.
Look, I find Obama’s “spiking the football” over his “gutsy” call ridiculous. What the hell is so gutsy about ordering a strike against the most wanted man in the world? If he had said no, and word leaked out that he’d let Osama slide, he would have been politically crucified. Deservedly so. So how is it gutsy making a call that every sane person in America would have made? And especially, how gutsy is it to take credit when other people are the ones potentially facing death or wounding?
But to claim that Obama didn’t make a decision at all is stupid. Shapiro should stick to writing about stuff he knows. His ass is showing here.