NY Post's Ralph Peters ignored evidence undermining his claim that "finish[ing] off" bin Laden was "personal" for Bush

››› ››› TOM ALLISON

In a New York Post column about recent comments President-elect Barack Obama made concerning Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, Ralph Peters claimed that, "Bush has done all he could to finish off the Al Qaeda leader (for Bush, it was personal; for Obama, it's just political)." But, in asserting that Bush "has done all he could to finish off" bin Laden, Peters ignored statements Bush has made denying the importance of capturing or killing bin Laden.

In a November 18 New York Post column about recent comments President-elect Barack Obama made concerning Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters declared: "Bush has done all he could to finish off the Al Qaeda leader (for Bush, it was personal; for Obama, it's just political)." But in asserting that Bush "has done all he could to finish off" bin Laden, and in characterizing the desire to capture bin Laden as "personal" for Bush, Peters ignored statements Bush has made downplaying the importance of capturing or killing bin Laden, including his assertion in 2002 that "I truly am not that concerned about him."

When asked about bin Laden during a March 13, 2002, press conference, Bush stated that "the idea of focusing on one person ... really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission"; asserted that bin Laden is "a person who's now been marginalized" and "met his match"; and also said: "You know, I just don't spend that much time on him." Moments later, Bush added that he was "not that concerned about him."

Additionally, as Media Matters for America noted, Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes reported in his September 13, 2006, column that Bush had told him that capturing bin Laden is not, in Barnes' words, "a paramount goal of the war on terror." On the September 14, 2006, edition of Fox News Live, Barnes reiterated that Bush had said sending U.S. Special Forces into "the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan" to capture bin Laden is "not a top priority use of American resources."

From Peters' November 18 New York Post column:

But the fact is that, security-wise, we're paying a price for decades of electing presidents with no military experience and no previous interest in things military. Democrat or Republican, they make unrealistic promises that play into our enemies' hands. They don't know what they're talking about - but they sure do talk.

And that's how we have to view Obama's repeated insistence that he'll be the one to "kill or capture Osama bin Laden."

Osama may be found and killed tomorrow or on the day after the inauguration - or never. But if we do nail him, it won't be because of presidential posturing.

Bush has done all he could to finish off the Al Qaeda leader (for Bush, it was personal; for Obama, it's just political). There's no new magic formula waiting to be applied: This effort is still about skill, persistence and luck.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Afghanistan
Person
Ralph Peters
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