Osama Bin Laden, One Year Later – By Nicholas Schmidle
Last week, Obama’s campaign produced a new ad, titled “One Chance.” Most of the ninety-second bit features Bill Clinton, speaking to the camera, commending Obama for his fortitude in the weeks and months leading up to the raid. “He took the harder and more honorable path,” Clinton says, over the solemn notes of a pianist channeling Frederic Chopin on quaaludes. Then a question appears—“Which path would Mitt Romney have taken?”—followed by a Romney statement from 2007, criticizing then candidate Obama for vowing to strike at Al Qaeda, even inside Pakistan. (John McCain attacked Obama for that, too, saying, “I’m not going to telegraph my punches.”) Quoting George W. Bush, Clinton refers to the President as, first and foremost, the “decider-in-chief.” Make hard decisions, Clinton says—“that’s what you hire a President to do.”
Obama will also be speaking for himself. On Wednesday, the one-year anniversary of bin Laden’s death, NBC will broadcast an interview with Obama—taped inside the Situation Room. And last Thursday, at New York University, his Vice-President, Joseph Biden, faced a student-packed auditorium and rehashed Teddy Roosevelt’s famous dictum: “Walk softly and carry a big stick.” “I promise you,” he said, with a stern face, “the President has a big stick.” The room burst into laughter.
It was another comment from the Vice-President, however, that may offer more insight into the White House’s coming reëlection strategy: “Bin Laden is dead, General Motors is alive.” Some degree of disingenuousness or creativity would be needed for the Republicans to mount any foreign-policy critique of Obama as ineffectual. (Left only to criticize Obama’s style, McCain called the recent campaign video “pathetic” and accused his former rival of “doing a shameless end-zone dance to help himself get reëlected.”) Bin Laden, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, Baitullah Mehsud, and Anwar al-Awlaki are all dead as a result of Obama’s decisions; longtime Washington nemesis Muammar Qaddafi is gone, too.
But the economy is his weak flank. After a spell of encouraging economic reports, showing the unemployment rate falling from 9.1 per cent in August to 8.3 in February, the rate of job growth has stalled. (Obama’s campaign officials are out reminding Americans that the President didn’t create a bad economy, but rather inherited one from George W. Bush.) Biden’s bumper-sticker-ready quip foreshadows how prominent the bin Laden mission will be in the months ahead, even in conversations about economic affairs.
Republicans and Romney aren’t the only ones who would prefer to keep bin Laden out of the discussion. Two months ago, Pakistani bulldozers demolished bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, leaving the place a pile of concrete and twisted rebar, and burying the answers to some questions about bin Laden’s life there. Bin Laden’s wives know the answers to some of those questions. Their statements to Pakistani investigators, later leaked, describe how bin Laden moved around the country, with his youngest wife, Amal al-Fatah, giving birth to two children in government hospitals (albeit on false documents). But late last week, Amal, apparently nursing a limp she obtained after being shot in the leg on the night of the raid, and two other wives, climbed into a minivan around midnight, rode to the Islamabad airport, and were deported to Saudi Arabia.
As reporters scramble to find Amal and the others, there are plenty of open questions for the White House too. Does the United States possess intelligence that exposes Pakistani officials hiding bin Laden? Why did it require nine months after locating bin Laden’s courier for the raid to commence? Before the SEALs began their training, what intelligence techniques were used to confirm bin Laden’s presence inside the compound? What else don’t we know yet about arguably the most classified mission in American history? We will no doubt hear more about the bin Laden raid over the coming months. Most of it, though, will take the form of end-zone dances, spiked footballs, and clamorous appeals for an excessive-celebration penalty.
*This was used by the kind courtesy of The New Yorker. Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/04/osama-bin-laden-one-year-later.html#ixzz1tc2pdIC9
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