Desperate: Right-Wing Media Attack Obama For Taking Time To Consider Bin Laden Options

››› ››› ERIC SCHROECK

In the latest desperate attempt to criticize President Obama in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, right-wing media are hyping a U.K. Daily Mail article to attack Obama for taking 16 hours to consider his decision regarding the assault on bin Laden--which reportedly had several potentially harmful consequences--by calling Obama "feckless" and "our sleepy president."

Daily Mail Claims Analysts "Confirmed Beyond Doubt" Bin Laden's Location; Obama "Stunned" Officials By Taking Time To Decide

Daily Mail: "Obama Took SIXTEEN HOURS To Make Up His Mind About Bin Laden Mission." In an unbylined May 3 article, the U.K. Daily Mail wrote that Obama "kept military commanders hanging by declaring he would 'sleep on it' before taking 16 hours to give the go-ahead to raid Bin Laden's compound." [Daily Mail, 5/3/11]

Daily Mail: "[A]nalysts Confirmed Beyond Doubt That Bin Laden Was In Busy Town Of Abbottabad." The Daily Mail further claimed:

The mission looked set to be given the all clear last Thursday when analysts confirmed beyond doubt that Bin Laden was in busy town [sic] of Abbottabad in northern Pakistan.

But the president stunned officials when he told a national security meeting that he wanted more time to think - and disappeared out of the room.

'I'm not going to tell you what my decision is now - I'm going to go back and think about it some more,' said Obama, according to the New York Times. He then added 'I'm going to make a decision soon.'

The head of the CIA and other senior intelligence officers who were keen to proceed were left tense as they waited for the president's decision. [Daily Mail, 5/3/11]

In Fact, CIA Chief Said That Analysts Were Only 60-80% Sure Of Bin Laden's Location

Wash. Post: Panetta Said That Analysts Were "Only 60 Percent To 80 Percent Confident That Bin Laden Would Be Found" In Compound. Contrary to the Daily Mail claim that "analysts confirmed beyond doubt" that bin Laden was in Abbottabad, The Washington Post reported that CIA Director Leon Panetta said "analysts were only 60 percent to 80 percent confident that bin Laden would be found." From the Post:

CIA Director Leon Panetta, who supervised the operation, said in interviews that U.S. intelligence agencies never had photographs or other proof that bin Laden was living at the compound in Pakistan that was targeted. Panetta told Time magazine that analysts were only 60 percent to 80 percent confident that bin Laden would be found.

"We never had direct evidence that he in fact had ever been there or was located there," Panetta said in a separate interview with "PBS NewsHour." "The reality was that we could have gone in there and not found bin Laden at all."

President Obama nevertheless approved the operation, Panetta and other U.S. officials said, because there was little chance of obtaining more definitive intelligence on bin Laden's location, which had amounted to a guessing game for the better part of 10 years. [The Washington Post, 5/3/11]

NYT Article Quoted By Daily Mail Made No Mention That Officials Were "Stunned" By Obama Saying He Would Wait To Make Decision. In its May 3 article, the Daily Mail claimed that Obama "stunned officials when he told a national security meeting that he wanted more time to think." The Daily Mail then cited a New York Times article in which Obama is quoted as telling his advisers, "I'm going to go back and think about it some more." However, the Times article makes no mention that officials were "stunned" by Obama's comment, and the Daily Mail did not provide a source for its claim. Indeed, the Times reported that Obama's "four top aides" were prepared to "brief the president" the next morning, but Obama had already decided on what course of action to take. From the Times:

Mr. Panetta told the group that the C.I.A. had "red-teamed" the case -- shared their intelligence with other analysts who weren't involved to see if they agreed that Bin Laden was probably in Abbottabad. They did. It was time to decide.

Around the table, the group went over and over the negative scenarios. There were long periods of silence, one aide said. And then, finally, Mr. Obama spoke: "I'm not going to tell you what my decision is now -- I'm going to go back and think about it some more." But he added, "I'm going to make a decision soon."

Sixteen hours later, he had made up his mind. Early the next morning, four top aides were summoned to the White House Diplomatic Room. Before they could brief the president, he cut them off. "It's a go," he said. The earliest the operation could take place was Saturday, but officials cautioned that cloud cover in the area meant that Sunday was much more likely. [The New York Times, 5/2/11]

Time: Some Obama Advisers Recommended Waiting On Bin Laden Assault In Order To Gather More Intelligence. On May 2, Time's Michael Scherer reported:

The intelligence professionals said they did not know for sure that bin Laden was in the compound. The case was good, but circumstantial. The likelihood, officials told the President, was between 50% and 80%. No slam dunk. Obama went around the table asking everyone to state their opinion. He quizzed his staff about worst case scenarios-the possibility of civilian casualties, a hostage situation, a diplomatic blow-up with Pakistan, a downed helicopter. He was presented with three options: Wait to gather more intelligence, attack with targeted bombs from the air, or go in on the ground with troops. The room was divided about 50-50, said a person in the room. John Brennan, the President's senior counter-terrorism adviser, supported a ground strike, as did the operational people, including Leon Panetta at the CIA. Others called for more time. In the end, about half of the senior aides supported a helicopter assault. The other half said either wait, or strike from above.

Obama left the meeting without signaling his intent. He wanted to sleep on it. At about 8:00 a.m. on Friday, just before he boarded a helicopter that would take him to tour tornado damage in Alabama, Obama called his senior aides into the Diplomatic Room. He told them his decision: A helicopter assault. [Time, 5/2/11, emphasis added]

Nonetheless, Right-Wing Media Hype Daily Mail Article To Attack Obama For Taking Time To Consider Decision

Hoft: "Good Grief. Obama Took 16 HOURS To Make Up His Mind To Get Osama Bin Laden." In a May 3 Gateway Pundit post, Jim Hoft wrote cited the Daily Mail article and wrote, "Good Grief. Obama Took 16 HOURS To Make Up His Mind To Get Osama Bin Laden." Hoft later referred to Obama as "our sleepy president." [Gateway Pundit, 5/3/11, emphasis in original]

Ace Of Spades: "Seems Like A Very Cautious, Feckless, Indecisive Individual Delaying And Delaying On Critical Decisions." In a May 3 Ace of Spades post, blogger Ace cited the Daily Mail article to claim that Obama taking time to think about the decision "[s]eems like a very cautious, feckless, indecisive individual delaying and delaying on critical decisions and then attempting to sound heroic when he finally does what he's being paid to do." However, Ace further wrote, "To Be Honest: I don't begrudge a president some thinking time before a big decision." From Ace of Spades:

On the other hand, after Obama was told (most likely for the fifteenth time) that the CIA was really, really, really quite confident that Osama bin Ladin was at that compound in Abbottabad, he decided he needed to sleep on it.

Sixteen hours later (hours during which Osama might have fled-- bear in mind, his courier's name had just been outed by WikiLeaks), he made up his mind.

How does the media report this? Well, relying upon those in Obama's inner circle (that is to say, his political flunkies and spinners), we're told this:

"But the next morning after 16 hours, Obama summoned four top aides to the White House Diplomatic Room. Before they could speak, the president put his fist on the table and declared 'It's a go'."

Why does it matter that he did this "before they could speak"? They had spoken already yesterday when they strongly, strongly urged the president to give the order, and he had decided to sleep on it.

They were only waiting on him, after all.

So, after 16 hours of vacillation, during which the operation might have been rendered a failure by intervening invents, he fist-bumps a piece of furniture and finally makes up his mind.

This is something to brag about? This is, in Howard Fineman's words, "almost Biblical"?

Seems like a very cautious, feckless, indecisive individual delaying and delaying on critical decisions and then attempting to sound heroic when he finally does what he's being paid to do.

Thanks to OCBill. This is from the Daily Mail, via Drudge.

To Be Honest: I don't begrudge a president some thinking time before a big decision.

But the media still hasn't explained to me which of the previous presidents and which of the potential/hypothetical future presidents wouldn't have ordered this. [Ace of Spades, 5/3/11, emphasis in the original]

Fox Nation: "Obama Took Sixteen Hours to Make Up His Mind About Bin Laden Mission." On May 3, the Fox Nation linked to the Daily Mail article under the headline, "Obama Took Sixteen Hours to Make Up His Mind About Bin Laden Mission." From the Fox Nation:

Fox Nation

[Fox Nation, 5/3/11]

Drudge Promotes Daily Mail Article. On May 3, the Drudge Report promoted the Daily Mail story under the headlines, "Obama took 16 hours to make up mind about Bin Laden mission..." and "'Slept on it'..." From Drudge:

Drudge: Obama took 16 hours to make up mind about Bin Laden mission...

[Drudge Report, 5/3/11]

Right-Wing Media Have Resorted To Absurdities In Struggle To Attack Obama Following Bin Laden's Death

Drudge: "Bin Laden Announcement Came In The Middle Of Trump's 'Celebrity Apprentice.'" Beginning on May 1, the Drudge Report featured the headline, "BIN LADEN ANNOUNCEMENT CAME IN THE MIDDLE OF TRUMP'S 'CELEBRITY APPRENTICE.'"

Drudge report

[Drudge Report, 5/1/11]

CNN's Loesch Suggested Obama "Politicize[d] The Hell Out Of" Bin Laden Announcement. In a May 2 Twitter post, CNN contributor Dana Loesch wrote: "Geebus. All he had to do was walk out and fist pump. Not politicize the hell out of it."

Loesch tweet

[Twitter, 5/2/11]

Geller Accused Obama Of "Shamelessly Strut[ting] Like [A] Peacock." In a May 2 blog post, Pamela Geller wrote: "Gd bless our troops. Obama can puff himself and shamelessly strut like peacock [sic], but hats off to the US military that has been relentless, dogged and brave for ten years in their mission to kill that devout bastard." [Atlas Shrugs, 5/2/11]

Washington Times' Green Bizarrely Cites 2010 Photo Of Jay-Z At The White House To Attack Obama. In a May 3 column, assistant editorial page editor Anneke Green wrote:

While it's glorious that we finally delivered justice to Bin Laden, cowboy-style, it has been a little odd to see how eager President Obama is to take credit for it. Apart from the method of the military operation -- who knew he had it in him?-- his speech announcing the demise of the world's greatest villain was short on key details and sounded more like an extended pat on the back.

Green further used a photograph from rapper Jay-Z's March 2010 visit to the White House to claim that "Mr. Obama has had to grow into his role as the head of state and occupant of the nation's most revered residence." [The Washington Times, 5/2/11]

Washington Times Complains Obama "Snub[bed] Bush," Showed "No Class" In Speech. In a May 2 editorial, The Washington Times complained that Obama "snub[bed] Bush" and "praise[d] himself" in his announcement that bin Laden had been killed. The editorial baselessly claimed "[b]in Laden assassination wasn't the result of Barack's strategic genius." The editorial continued:

Sunday's only mention of Mr. Bush came when Mr. Obama defended himself by quipping that even his predecessor insisted America isn't at war with Islam. Left unsaid was how Mr. Bush setting the groundwork for the conduct of the war on terrorism provided Mr. Obama with the tools to get this job done. The national unity, sense of purpose and offensive posture were largely the result of Mr. Bush's decisive action and strong leadership following national tragedy. Had Mr. Obama been in Mr. Bush's position on Sept. 11, 2001, bin Laden would still be alive today, and probably winning. [The Washington Times, 5/2/11]

Geller: "Would Bush Have Washed Bin Laden's Body?" In a May 2 post, Geller wrote:

John Brennan, in an ongoing press conference at the White House, was quite insistent that all "Islamic precepts" were respected and adhered to in the burial at sea of Osama bin Laden. The first priority of the Obama adminstration was the Islamic burial of the man Obama claimed was "not a leader of the Muslim world."

Bush disposed of the remains of Iraqi terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi by burying him in a secret location. Did our soldiers wash al-Zarqawi's body? I am going to puke.

I think this is outrageous and sick. Such respect we give, not only to a mass murderer of Americans in the name of Islam, but deference to the very ideology that has fueled this war on America. [Atlas Shrugs, 5/2/11]

Glenn Beck: "I Have A Real Problem With The Way This Thing Has Been Handled." "I Really Would Have Put [Bin Laden] In A Meat Grinder With A Pig." On May 2, Glenn Beck stated: "I have a real problem with the way this thing has been handled." He later added: "My problem with this is is that we gave this guy a dignified burial at sea. Or at least that's what they said. I really would have put [bin Laden] in a meat grinder with a pig, honestly." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 5/2/11]

NRO: "The President, In His Rush To Claim Credit, Made A Mistake In Delivering It Himself." A National Review Online post by Claudia Rosett on Obama's announcement declared: "Bin Laden's death is great news, but the president, in his rush to claim credit, made a mistake in delivering it himself." Rosett went on to write:

Osama bin Laden was a pied piper of mass murder, and every effort should be made to avoid in any way dignifying anything about him. Rather than using the presidential pulpit to break the news, President Obama should have left it to one of the U.S. military commanders or spy chiefs whose men took the real risks in this operation.

[...]

Obama should have then followed up by explaining the broader context of this war, and putting terrorists from Hamas to Hezbollah to Moammar Qaddafi on notice that anyone who attacks or even mortally threatens America, or America's allies, can expect the same fate. [National Review Online, 5/2/11]

Mark Steyn: News Should Have Been Announced By "Lowest-Level Official ... At The Department Of Nondescript Bureaucrats." In a National Review Online post, radio talk host and frequent Rush Limbaugh substitute Mark Steyn wrote that he "would have liked bin Laden's death to have been announced by whatever lowest-level official was manning the night desk at the Department of Nondescript Bureaucrats, preferably reading it off the back of an envelope." Steyn continued:

But, if you're going to put the head of state on TV to announce it himself, it would have been better to have been all brisk and businesslike -- "At 0800 hours American military assets entered an address at 27b Jihadist Gardens, etc" -- and finish off with a bit of Churchillian sober uplift about it not being the end or the beginning of the end but maybe the end of the beginning.

[...]

[The speech] managed to be both overwrought and generic -- all that telepromptered overload about cloudless Tuesday mornings was not only tackily over-prettified but came over as unfelt and hand-me-down, like a course exercise in some third-rate creative-writing school's Soaring Oratory class. Or, at any rate, as if they'd loaded up a first draft of September's tenth anniversary speech into the machine. The official announcement was delayed for all this? If ever there was a moment for the commander-in-chief to be real, plainspoken and off his glassy-eyed follow-the-bouncing-ball routine, this was it. It's as if nobody around him knows how to write except in the one tinny key.

Don't get me wrong. I'm happy to rally round the flag, and rally round the president, but rally round this speech? No thanks. [National Review Online, 5/2/11]

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Terrorism
Network/Outlet
The Drudge Report, Fox Nation, Gateway Pundit
Person
Matt Drudge, Jim Hoft
Show/Publication
Daily Mail, Ace of Spades
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