"You can wipe the rest of your life Mister, you will never wipe off that yellow stain"-Jose Ferrer in the classic movie Caine Mutiny
If any politician deserves the credit for sending the Navy Seals after Bin Laden it is Hillary Clinton not Barack Obama. That is according to a new book called Leading From Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him. Written by Rich Miniter, Forbes columnist and author of the best selling books Losing bin Laden and Shadow War, Miniter describes a president Obama who is too worried about his reelection to allow the mission to go ahead.
Miniter's investigation agrees with previous reports suggesting that Barack Obama cancelled three operations to kill Osama bin Laden before finally going ahead with the mission. He reports that it was the Secretary of State who forced the issue with Obama.
Miniter, a former ‘Wall Street Journal’, ‘Washington Times’ and ‘Sunday Times’ of London journalist, cites an unnamed source within Joint Special Operations Command as revealing that three ‘kill’ missions were cancelled by Obama in January, February and March 2011.Minter reports that it was Jarrett, a long-time Chicago ally who pushed Obama to cancel the first three operations to kill bin Laden.
Bin Laden was eventually killed by US Navy SEALs inside his compound in Abbotobad, Pakistan in May 2011.
The killing of bin Laden is at the centre of Obama’s re-election campaign and is likely to be highlighted yet again by his aides on the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks next month. Obama has already come under fire from former SEALs for trumpeting his role in the raid.
Miniter portrays Clinton as the main force behind killing bin Laden and contends that the prevaricating Obama has been in thrall to a number of dominant women – Clinton, top adviser Valerie Jarrett and his wife Michelle [aren't we all].
Miniter writes that Clinton’s alliances with Leon Panetta, then CIA director and now Pentagon chief, and David Petraeus, then head of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan and now at the helm at the CIA, were critical in bringing bin Laden to justice.
At the start of his presidency, Miniter writes, Obama was ‘studiously undecided’ about whether to kill the mastermind of 9/11.
‘He refused to weigh in or commit himself on even small matters related to a possible strike on bin Laden.’
He continues: ‘Obama was often disengaged as the bin Laden operation took shape; he left critical decisions to the then-CIA Director Leon Panetta, then-Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.In other words he was looking for a way to blame someone else if the mission failed. So he let his subordinates approve mission details and left the decision to proceed to Jarrett.
‘Obama feared taking responsibility for a risky raid that might go tragically wrong.’
‘Jarrett opposed the idea. She worried about a backlash against the president if the operation failed, or even if it succeeded. Clinton privately fumed about Jarrett’s relentless presence and her injection of political considerations at every turn.
‘Throughout 2009 Obama demanded more and more certainty about U.S. intelligence concerning bin Laden. Jarrett repeatedly reminded Obama and other executive-branch officials that the president had campaigned on the “intelligence failures” of the Bush years.
‘There was no need, she said, to hand our political rivals a set of intelligence failures of our own.Hillary knew that her husband was criticized for not giving the order to kill Bin Laden when he had a chance, she didn't want the Obama administration to face the wrath of the people by having the head of al Qaeda in their cross-hairs with out pressing the trigger.
‘As CIA covert teams successfully parried concerns about intelligence by extraordinary efforts that proved bin Laden was indeed in the Abottobad compound, a new set of delaying tactics emerged, embedded in the debate over what should actually be done.’
Despite their rivalry during the battle for the 2008 Democratic nomination, Clinton had gradually won over Obama and established her influence during weekly meetings in the Oval Office.
‘Clinton used her weekly meeting to begin lobbying for a decisive blow against bin Laden.
‘He knew Clinton was right. So he agreed to keep making minor decisions, but remained uneasy about the big one at the end—deciding to kill bin Laden, and to risk losing American and Pakistani lives in the process.’
Even the day before bin Laden’s demise, Miniter writes, Obama was seized by a ‘fourth moment of indecision’.
The White House later said that poor weather conditions prompted this final delay but Miniter writes that he obtained the US Air Force Combat Meteorological Centre’s weather report for that day and established that it showed ‘ideal conditions’ for the SEAL raid.