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But Obama did want the operation to take place. He just wanted to be able to cover himself if things went wrong. He could always say that the risk profile had changed and that he wasn’t informed. He could blame Panetta or McRaven.
That, of course, has been President Obama’s M.O. throughout his presidency on foreign policy. When he gave the military fewer troops than requested in Afghanistan, he blamed it on his generals. When things go poorly in Afghanistan, it’s Bush’s fault. Everything is always someone else’s fault. But when things go right, he takes all the credit. In Obama’s new opinion, he’s the only man who would have made the call to get Bin Laden. As he said this week, “I said that I’d go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him, and I did. If there are others who have said one thing and now suggest they’d do something else, then I’d go ahead and let them explain it.”
Even Ariana Huffington finds Obama’s grandstanding on this issue despicable. And so, apparently, do a number of Navy SEALs, who usually remain anonymous and silent for the most part, but have spoken out on this occasion. As Toby Harnden of the UK Daily Mail reported, “Ryan Zinke, a former Commander n the US Navy who spent 23 years as a SEAL and led a SEAL Team 6 assault unit, said: ‘The decision was a no brainer. I applaud him for making it but I would not overly pat myself on the back for making the right call. I think every president would have done the same.’” Zinke wasn’t the only SEAL speaking out. Harnden reports the words of Chris Kyle, a former SEAL sniper “with 160 confirmed and another 95 unconfirmed kills to his credit,” said “In years to come there is going to be information that will come out that Obama was not the man who made the call. He can say he did and the people who really know what happened are inside the Pentagon, are in the military and the military isn’t allowed to speak out against the commander- in-chief so his secret is safe.”
Not safe enough. The way President Obama has turned the hit on bin Laden into a political issue has drained away the credit he deserved for ordering the mission in the first place.
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