David Remnick (New Yorker): …In September, 2001, Obama was an obscure state senator from Hyde Park … little more than a week after the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade towers, Obama’s local paper, the Hyde Park Herald, published a series of reactions to the events … in his brief article, Obama … talked about “the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness.”
“The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others,” he wrote. “Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity….”
“…..we will have to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes of embittered children across the globe – children not just in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Asia, Latin American, Eastern Europe, and within our own shores.”
It was precisely that kind of talk that was branded as “soft” in the wake of 9/11 and throughout the Bush years, straight through the 2008 election campaign. It was precisely that sort of attempt to talk not merely in the register of prosecution and military aggression, but also of understanding root causes, whether at an anti-Iraq war rally in Chicago or at a Presidential speech in Cairo, that left so many wondering if Barack Obama would have the strength to “go after” Osama bin Laden.
Now there is an answer.
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Politicususa – Barack Obama: The Man Who Got Osama Bin Laden
Collective closure of our national 9/11 wound has finally come to America, as President Obama announced that the US military has killed, and is in possession of the body of Osama Bin Laden.
… The death of Osama Bin Laden is a cathartic moment for nation has never forgotten the horrific events of 9/11, but when the CIA took out Bin Laden on Obama’s order it did something else. It shattered the conventions of post 9/11 politics.
Obama has destroyed the GOP’s tough on terror talking point. George W. Bush may have swaggered and told the nation that Bin Laden was wanted dead or alive, but it was the calmer, less flashy Obama who actually got the job done.
…In 2008 John McCain vowed to pursue Bin Laden to the ends of the earth, but it was Barack Obama who made sure that there was no escape for one of history’s most famous mass murders…
…For the rest of human history when the story of 9/11 is told after pictures of that tragic day are shown, the face and words of America’s first African-American president will be forever etched into history as they announce the death of Osama Bin Laden.
Politically, everything has changed.
Barack Obama will now and forever be known as the president who got Osama Bin Laden.
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Steve Benen: The amount of work that went into tracking down and killing Osama bin Laden is pretty extraordinary. It took years, and involved military, law enforcement, and intelligence agency officials, most of whom we’ll never know and won’t be able to thank.
And while many patriots made this happen, it’s President Obama who’ll get much of the credit – and given the circumstances, he’ll deserve it. Slate’s John Dickerson had a good piece overnight (see below) on how Obama’s “focused, hands-on pursuit of Osama Bin Laden paid off.”
…Dickerson’s description of the president’s efforts as “hands-on” seems especially apt given what we know. It was Obama who instructed the CIA to make targeting bin Laden a top priority, breaking with his predecessor. It was Obama who oversaw five national security meetings to oversee plans for this operation. It was Obama who chose this mission, made final preparations, and gave the order.
There’s a difference between talking tough and being tough, just as there’s a difference between chest-thumping rhetoric and getting the job done.
Full article here
John Dickerson (Slate): …..Obama’s critics have said that he is a weak leader in general and in particular does not understand what must be done to combat terrorism. “They are very much giving up that center of attention and focus that’s required,” said former Vice President Dick Cheney in March 2009, in a typical remark. Yet what emerges from the details of Bin Laden’s killing … is that from early in his administration Obama was focused on killing Osama Bin Laden and that he was involved in the process throughout.
In June 2009, Obama directed his CIA director to “provide me within 30 days a detailed operation plan for locating and bringing to justice” Osama Bin Laden…
….The president went to sleep to the sound of cheering outside the White House. At Ground Zero in New York and towns across the country, people gathered to sing the national anthem and chant “USA! USA!” It was a flicker of the post-9/11 unity that the president had referenced in his remarks earlier in the evening.
In his remarks announcing the operation, the president sought to rekindle that feeling … All in all, it was a good night to be president.
Full article here
Marc Ambinder (The Atlantic): Bin Laden’s Death: A Pivotal Victory for Obama, U.S. Intelligence …. The president silences his national-security critics heading into 2012, and the CIA stands tall after the damage of 9/11
The death of Osama Bin-Laden is a transcendent moment for the country and a pivotal one for President Obama…..Now the CIA stands much taller. Its intelligence helped pinpoint Bin Laden, but so did its patience
…Bin Laden’s death is an undeniable success for an intelligence community that missed the connections that might have prevented the attack. It coincides with the unofficial kick-off of the 2012 re-election cycle, where the incumbent, President Obama, has had his credentials as commander in chief repeatedly questioned by opponents and his citizenship mocked. Having scored the victory that remained beyond the grasp of George W. Bush – who graciously congratulated the president tonight – Obama’s military bona fides will be harder to attack.
Whatever flaws the president’s national security policies may have, and however infrequently Obama may have mentioned bin Laden, history will record that, when it came to getting Bin Laden, Obama got the job done and his predecessor, George W, Bush, whose entire presidency was tormented by bin Laden’s actions on 9/11, did not despite Bush’s claim that he would capture him “dead or alive.”
Full article here
David Sirota (Slate): “USA! USA!” is the wrong response
There is ample reason to feel relief that Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to the world … however, somber relief was not the dominant emotion presented to America when bin Laden’s death was announced. Instead, the Washington press corps – helped by a wild-eyed throng outside the White House – insisted that unbridled euphoria is the appropriate response. And in this we see bin Laden’s more enduring victory – a victory that will unfortunately last far beyond his passing.
For decades, we have held in contempt those who actively celebrate death…. but in the years since 9/11, we have begun vaguely mimicking those we say we despise …this isn’t in any way to equate Americans who cheer on bin Laden’s death with, say, those who cheered after 9/11. Bin Laden was a mass murderer who had punishment coming to him, while the 9/11 victims were innocent civilians whose deaths are an unspeakable tragedy. Likewise, this isn’t to say that we should feel nothing at bin Laden’s neutralization, or that the announcement last night isn’t cause for any positive feeling at all – it most certainly is.
But it is to say that our reaction to the news last night should be the kind often exhibited by victims’ families at a perpetrator’s lethal injection – a reaction typically marked by both muted relief but also by sadness over the fact that the perpetrators’ innocent victims are gone forever, the fact that the perpetrator’s death cannot change the past, and the fact that our world continues to produce such monstrous perpetrators in the first place.
When we lose the sadness part – when all we do is happily scream “USA! USA! USA!” at news of yet more killing in a now unending back-and-forth war – it’s a sign we may be inadvertently letting the monsters win.
Full article here
Joan Walsh (Slate): …..After years of Catholic school, I am constitutionally unable to feel joyous about anyone being killed, but I got close tonight with bin Laden. He killed thousands of innocent people – and again, it was that incomparable American tableau: Muslims, Jews, Catholics; waiters, firefighters, investment bankers; gays and straights; mothers and fathers of every race….
….I wish this achievement could mean we get our country back, the one before the Patriot Act, before FISA, before rendition and torture and Guantanamo; before we began giving up the freedom and belief in due process that makes us Americans, out of our fear of totalitarians like bin Laden. It won’t happen overnight, but I’m going to choose to think this could be a first step.
Full article here
Frank Schaeffer: …. This morning I got up at 4 AM to walk across the street to congratulate my Marine son (now home safe with his wife and two little children after 5 years service and war) on having been a small link in the chain of service that hunted down and killed bin Laden. I wanted to thank someone who wore the uniform of the US military. I also sent up yet another “up yours!” to the so-called “Real American” conservative critics of our president; those liars like Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin et al who have nurtured the racist-motivated attacks on our first black president.
Was the SUCCESSFUL hunter of bin Laden a “secret Muslim”? Was he “born in Kenya”? Was he “soft on terrorism” or as far right religious leader/birther Franklin Graham put it giving radical Islam a “pass”?
…While the war-loving “neocons” pontificated on American “exceptionalism” and power and went to parties in Washington DC hosted by the defense industry I stayed up at night worrying while my son was shot at. He came home safe, but no thanks to Fox News and the other perpetual war shills who talk “patriotism” while other people’s children – mine for instance – do all the heavy lifting.
…I know who the people are who aren’t “Real Americans” they are the unpatriotic liars wrapping themselves in the flag my son fought for and that they use to sell books, reality TV shows and their racist ideas with.
Today the American right wing phony patriots look smaller than ever, about as stupid as Trump’s hair.
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