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Obama’s Messaging Machine is Broken by the Fog of War

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What strikes me most profoundly is that when Barack Obama was campaigning for president, his messaging was crisp and efficient. As President, it stinks. Since Sunday nights announcement by President Obama of the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden their have been dozens of conflicting accounts of the Navy Seal mission by the White House and his cabinet.

It seems that Obama and his team want to own all the glory and therefore have seized control of releasing the information on the successful mission.

I’m struck by the lack of any Defense Department briefings, that we grew so accustomed to under the Bush administration. The DOD could provide a concise and more accurate description and be smart enough to with hold any facts that would harm our national security interests.

As of this very moment White House Press Secretary Jay Carney is saying he will not give out any “Operational details”, after they have already said too much?

On Sunday night Obama said, “After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.” On Monday’s Press briefing, chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan described a scene where an armed bin Laden supposedly used one of his wives as a human shield while he was being shot at.

From that point on there have been multiple “officials” speaking on the “condition of anonymity”, such as, “An official familiar with the operation said bin Laden fired on U.S. forces and was hit by a barrage of carefully aimed return fire.”

The White House then quickly walked that statement back, saying the Osama was unarmed, his wife was not killed but wounded in the leg.

The key talking point as outlined by Brennan was, “If we had the opportunity to take him alive, we would have done that,” and were “absolutely” ready to kill him when he fought back.

CIA Director Leon Panetta said, “the authority here was to kill bin Laden. And obviously under the rules of engagement, if he in fact had thrown up his hands and surrendered and didn’t appear to represent any kind of threat then they were to capture him. But they had full authority to kill him.”

During the mission, with all the unknowns if bin Laden was armed or not and the firefight that apparently took place as the Seals secured the premises; killing Osama was a foregone conclusion.

The image of Obama and his national security team in the White House Situation Room, eyes glued to a “real time” live video feed of “helmet-cams” during the raid, was just a photo op. What they could actually see is still a mystery, Leon Panetta said that neither he nor President Obama watched the actual shooting of bin Laden as it happened inside the main building.

Milblogs believe that there was birds eye surveillance provided by the highly secret RQ-170 stealth drone – aka “the Beast of Kandahar”, which relayed reliable high-bandwidth communications from the ground units into the US military’s worldwide grid and back to Washington for the President and his staff.

The White House said that the bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad had no internet, telephone or television. Then what’s with that huge satellite dish in the yard and what appears to be an antenna array on the roof?

Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan

The most abused talking point is whether or not the initial information on the courier’s identity was gained from waterboarding. The White House denies it, while Donald Rumsfeld said absolutely and finally Leon Panetta, reluctantly confirmed it as a “yes”.

Then there is the proclamations that a ‘treasure trove’ a ‘mother lode’ of computer hard drives, thumb drives, disks and documents were seized in the raid that will be a U.S. intelligence bonanza. “They cleaned it out,” said the official. “Can you imagine what’s on Osama bin Laden’s hard drive? It’s going to be great even if only 10% of it is actionable.”

I can only believe that this is a piece of mis-information solely designed to put doubts in the minds of al-Qaeda operatives. Any one in a high position of command has already fled to higher ground.

The controversy continues on the burial at sea of Osama bin Laden and the statements on the careful observance of the traditions of Islam. In 2006, when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq was killed in a airstrike, death photos of him were released and he was buried with out ceremony in an unmarked grave. “Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, as well as Zarqawi’s family, had called for his body to be returned to his homeland of Jordan for burial.   The government in Amman had refused the request for security reasons.”

Today, in an interview with the CBS show, 60 Minutes, to air on Sunday, President Obama said he won’t release post-mortem images of Osama bin Laden taken to prove his death. In explaining his choice not to release the photo, Mr. Obama said that “we don’t need to spike the football.” He said that “given the graphic nature of these photos it would create a national security risk.”

Obama still holds to his naive view of  being sensitive to the Muslim world, after we shot Osama bin Laden in the head, tried to kill Muammar Gaddafi in cruise missile attacks, hounded Hosni Mubarak out of office in Egypt and give wrist slaps to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.

This is a U.S. foreign policy failure of epic proportions, but merely gives Obama a smoke screen to avoid dealing with the stagnant economy, record unemployment, still rising gas and food prices. Quoting a post from Blackfive (below) “Get your shit together Mr. President!”

Posted: 1500PT


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