OBAMADuring this 2012 campaign season, Republican presidential candidate, Willard Mitt Romney and other right-wing conservatives persist in portraying President Obama as being “weak” on national security issues.  Romney was both for and against the removal of Qaddafi, the former Libyan dictator, and he was both for and against setting a timetable to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.  Romney also attacked President Obama on his recent open-microphone slip during which he was overheard telling Russia’s President, Dimitri A. Medvedev that he would have more flexibility to deal with Russian concerns over the American missile defense system after the election in November.  An asinine comment by Romney knowing that not much foreign policy takes place during an election year.  Romney also likes to say that President Obama apologizes overseas for the United States a distortion that has been debunked.

May 1, 2012 represents the first anniversary of the killing of Osama Bin Laden.  During an interview in 2007, Romney said that the country would be safer by only “a small percentage” and would see “a very insignificant increase in safety” if al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught because another terrorist would rise to power. “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.” But since President Obama’s strategy succeeded, Romney’s campaign has become outraged and now says that it’s wrong for the Obama campaign to point out that Romney initially opposed it:  “The killing of Osama bin Laden was a momentous day for all Americans and the world, and Governor Romney congratulated the military, our intelligence agencies, and the President.”  “It’s now sad to see the Obama campaign seek to use an event that unified our country to once again divide us, in order to try to distract voters’ attention from the failures of his administration.”  If it was okay for Willard Mitt Romney to say getting bin Laden wasn’t important and it was okay for him to attack President Obama’s strategy, why wouldn’t it be okay for the Obama campaign to show how Romney was wrong and Obama was right?  That does not divide America but rather solidifies the strength of President Obama’s National Security policies as well as his courage as President.  Here is the bin Laden story:

Shortly after taking office, President Obama directed former CIA Director, Leon Panetta, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of the war against al Qaeda.  In August, 2010, the President was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden and it took many months to validate this information.  President Obama ran many secret meetings with top advisers to go over a plan.  They discussed many options, including an assault from the air, but there was not unanimity about the plan that was executed.  National Security Advisor, John Brennan said, “The president had to look at all the different scenarios, all the different contingencies that are out there,” he said. “What would have been the downsides if, in fact, it wasn’t bin Laden? What would have happened if a helicopter went down?”

In late April 2011, the President determined that there was enough credible intelligence to act and he authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden.  On Friday morning, April 29, 2011, at 8:20 a.m., before he boarded a plane for Alabama to view tornado damage, President Obama gave the go-ahead for the Sunday, May 1st raid.  That night, the President attended the White House Correspondence Association annual dinner and gave no hint of what was happening behind the scenes.

After playing nine holes of golf on Sunday morning, May 1st, President Obama joined his senior aides in the White House Situation Room at 1PM to go over final preparations for the secret raid on the bin Laden complex.  The SEALS knew how the complex was laid out and even where bin Laden and his family likely could be found on the second and third floors of the largest building on site.  According to the National Journal, they had been practicing at a mock complex, a replica of bin Laden’s home, built at a secret base in nearby Afghanistan.

You can imagine that for something as important as this, and something as risky as this, every effort would be made to do the practice runs, understand the complexities and the layout of the compound,” Brennan said. “There were multiple opportunities to do that in terms of going through the exercises to prepare for it.”  But the SEALs could not know for sure what would happen once they dropped in to the complex. They didn’t know whether they could get in and out before the Pakistani government — which had not been informed about the raid before it was launched — would be able to scramble fighter jets and get them to the scene to respond to this “Pakistan threat” from a mysterious source.  There were “a lot of people holding their breath,” Brennan said. It went like clockwork — almost.

Brennan said U.S. forces were prepared to take bin Laden alive but knew he would probably not go down easy.  It was unclear the following Monday whether he “got off any rounds,” Brennan said, but he reached for a weapon as a firefight broke out, and the SEALs shot him in the head.  Two Bin Laden couriers were killed along with one of Bin Laden’s sons and a woman reportedly used as a shield by one of the men.  Other women and children were in the compound, according to Pakistani officials, but were not harmed. U.S. officials said that Bin Laden fired his weapon during the fight and that he was asked to surrender but did not.

One of the U.S. helicopters, a CH47 Chinook, was damaged but not destroyed during the operation, and U.S. forces destroyed it with explosives. The operation took 40 minutes; much of it spent searching the residence for intelligence information. The Americans took Bin Laden’s body into custody after the firefight, taking it back to Afghanistan by helicopter, and confirmed his identity.  A U.S. official said he was buried at sea in accordance with Islamic practice.  Pakistani officials said that the operation was a joint U.S.-Pakistani operation, but U.S. officials said only U.S. personnel were involved in the raid.

Bin Laden was killed not by a drone strike, but up close during a firefight with U.S. troops.  He was living in a million-dollar mansion with twelve-foot walls less than 100 miles from the Pakistani capital.  The U.S. had been monitoring the compound for months after receiving a tip that Bin Laden might lodging there.  The house had no phone or television and the residents burned their trash.  The house had high windows and few points of access, and U.S. officials concluded it had been built to hide someone.

Taking out Osama bin Laden was an extremely difficult, sensitive and dangerous mission that could have failed costing the lives of the Navy SEALS.  Even though his credibility as President and Commander-in-Chief was at stake and how Republicans would exploit any failure possibly damaging any reelection hopes, President Obama made the call.  In 2009, President Obama issued an order to use force against pirates holding American Captain Richard Phillips hostage and as a result, Navy snipers shot and killed three of the pirates simultaneously when a pirate was spotted pointing an AK-47 rifle at Captain Phillips.  President Obama has been nothing less than a confident Commander-in-Chief.  While Willard Mitt Romney and right-wing Republican conservatives attempt to portray him as weak on National Security issues, President Obama continues to prove them wrong.  Given his often wrong and inconsistent national security positions over the years, a President Willard Mitt Romney would be a disaster for this country, but that’s just my take.



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