The Daily Telegraph
The past few days have seemed like an extended amateur hour in the White House as unforced error after unforced error has been made in the handling of the US Government’s message about the killing of bin Laden.
We should not forget the bottom line in this: bin Laden was justifiably and legally killed by brave and skilled US Navy SEALs. The operation was audacious and meticulous in its planning and execution. President Barack Obama made the call to carry out the raid and his decision was vindicated in spades.
Having said that, the messiness since then has taken much of the sheen off this success, temporarily at least. Here’s a summary of what went wrong once the most difficult bit had been achieved:
1. It took nearly three days to decide not to release the photographs. I think there was a case for not releasing the pictures, though on balance I think disclosure would have been best. But whichever way Obama went on this, the decision should have been made quickly, on Monday. By letting the world and his dog debate the issue for so long and then say no made the administration look indecisive and appear that it had something to hide. It will fuel the conspiracy theories. And the pictures will surely be leaked anyway.
2. To say that bin Laden was armed and hiding behind a wife being used as a human shield was an unforgiveable embellishment. The way it was expressed by John Brennan was to mock bin Laden as being unmanly and cowardly. It turned out to be incorrect and gave fuel, again, to conspiracy theories as well as accusations of cover-ups and illegality. Of all the mistakes of the week, this was by far the biggest.
3. It was a kill mission and no one should have been afraid to admit that. Bin Laden was a dead man as soon as the SEAL Team landed. There’s nothing wrong with that but the Obama administration should have been honest about it rather than spinning tales about bin Laden having a gun, reaching for a gun (the latest) and resisting (without saying how he resisted).
4. Too much information was released, too quickly and a lot of it was wrong. When it made the administration look good, the information flowed freely. When the tide turned, Jay Carney, Obama’s spokesman, clammed up completely. I’m a journalist; I like it when people talk about things. But from the administration’s perspective, it would have been much better to have given a very sparse, accurate description of what happened without going into too much detail, especially about the intelligence that led to the compound (an account which is necessarily suspect).
5. Obama tried to claim too much credit. Don’t get me wrong, he was entitled to a lot of credit. but sometimes less is more and it’s better to let facts speak for themselves. We didn’t need official after official to say how “gutsy” Obama was. Far better to have heaped praise on the CIA and SEALs (which, to be fair, was done most of the time) and talked less about Obama’s decision-making. And a nod to President George W. Bush would have been classy – and good politics for Obama.
6. Proof of death was needed. More here
7. The mission should have been a ‘capture’ one. More here
8. Obama’s rhetoric lurched from jingoistic to moralistic. More here
9. Triggering a torture debate was an avoidable own goal. More here
10. The muddle over Pakistan. More here
All this has meant that this week’s media story has become one about Obama and the White House more than one about the SEALs, the CIA and what killing bin Laden means. That’s exactly the wrong way round.
Read the full article here
Bookwarm has compiled a further list of the White House inconsistencies and how the Obama administration seem to be going out of their way to prove ow incompetent they are