A hard jab at O that has the added benefit of being true. Jimmeh gave the order for Operation Eagle Claw; why wouldn’t he give the order to liquidate OBL? The politics of counterterrorism being what they are, it’s easier for a president to err on the side of aggression than passivity. If Obama had sent in the SEALs and things had gone wrong, it would have been embarrassing and politically damaging but O could always plead that his motives were pure and that he’d been duly diligent. He was after Public Enemy Number One, he had decent intel, and he’d assigned the best troops in the world to the mission. By 2011, respecting Pakistan’s sovereignty on something like this was pure folly given the depth of ISI’s treachery in Afghanistan for the past 10 years. In fact, here’s a sensational tidbit about the raid buried inNewsweek’s new story on the hunt for Zawahiri:
“There are indicators that some elements of the Pakistani government may be protecting Zawahiri,” says a U.S. intel official who did not want to be named discussing sensitive information. “We have reports that he’s been hanging out in Karachi for brief periods, and we just don’t think he’s going to be doing that without a lot of people knowing about it.”…
The distrust only got worse after the bin Laden raid. President Obama, fearing a leak, ordered that Pakistan be kept in the dark. The United States, in fact, expected that the Navy SEALs would bring back evidence that Pakistani intelligence was cooperating with al Qaeda. Newsweek has learned that shortly after the SEALs stormed bin Laden’s hideout, federal prosecutors were laying the groundwork to issue sealed indictments against members of the Pakistani government or anyone else they believed had aided bin Laden. The charge, according to two law-enforcement sources, would have been “harboring a fugitive terrorist.”
The SEALs carted away boxes of computers, hard drives, thumb drives, DVDs, and thousands of documents. It was the greatest intel haul on al Qaeda’s operations and habits since 9/11: 3.4 terabytes of information, according to an intelligence source, including a personal journal by bin Laden, outlines for aspirational plots, cellphone numbers, and other contact information for al Qaeda allies. No smoking gun on Pakistani complicity was found, however, and no indictments were returned.
Romney’s taking heat today for having scolded Obama in 2007 over his willingness to cross an ally’s borders to grab Bin Laden, but that was a closer call at the time than it is now. No one was under any illusions then either about ISI double-dealing, but Musharraf seemed to have more control over the agency than Kayani or the current weak civilian government does and he was on better terms with the U.S. than Pakistan is now after another five years of proxy terror in Afghanistan.