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May 5, 2011

Did Leon Panetta Send Order to Take Out Osama Rather Than Obama?

Posted by Dave Blount at May 5, 2011 10:11 AM

Gutsy? Please. A White House insider offers a peek behind the scenes regarding the no-brainer decision to take out bin Laden:

President Obama was, in this case, as in all others, working as an absentee president. … [T]here had been a push to invade the compound for several weeks if not months, primarily led by Leon Panetta, Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, David Petraeus, and Jim Clapper. The primary opposition to this plan originated from Valerie Jarrett, and it was her opposition that was enough to create uncertainty within President Obama. … Every time military and intelligence officials appeared to make progress in [getting Obama to take] a position, Jarrett would intervene and the stalling would begin again.

Once again Chairman Zero was voting "present" — present in a Chauncey Gardiner sense, that is.

CIA Chief Leon Panetta took initiative to make something happen before bin Laden could escape.

Panetta indicated to Obama that leaks regarding knowledge of Osama Bin Laden's location were certain to get out sooner rather than later, and action must be taken by the administration or the public backlash to the president's inaction would be "…significant to the point of political debilitation." It was at that time that Obama stated an on-ground campaign would be far more acceptable to him than a bombing raid. This was intended as a stalling tactic, and it had originated from Jarrett. Such a campaign would take both time, and present a far greater risk of failure. The president had been instructed by Jarrett to inform Mr. Panetta that he would have sole discretion to act against the Osama Bin Laden compound. Jarrett believed this would further delay Panetta from acting, as the responsibility for failure would then fall almost entirely on him. What Valerie Jarrett, and the president, did not know is that Leon Panetta had already initiated a program that reported to him — and only him, involving a covert on the ground attack against the compound. Basically, the whole damn operation was already ready to go — including the specific team support Intel necessary to engage the enemy within hours of being given notice. Panetta then made plans to proceed with an on-ground assault. This information reached either Hillary Clinton or Robert Gates first (likely via military contacts directly associated with the impending mission) who then informed the other. Those two then met with Panetta, who informed each of them he had been given the authority by the president to proceed with a mission if the opportunity presented itself. Both Gates and Clinton warned Panetta of the implications of that authority — namely he was possibly being made into a scapegoat. Panetta admitted that possibility, but felt the opportunity to get Bin Laden outweighed that risk.

The only way our "gutsy" president would stay out of the way long enough for the grownups to take action was if he had someone lined up to blame in case something went wrong.

[Obama] was not informed of the engagement order — it did not originate from him, and for several hours after the order had been given and the special ops forces were preparing for action into Pakistan from their position in Afghanistan, [White House Chief of Staff Bill] Daley successfully kept Obama and Jarrett insulated from that order. …
Leon Panetta was directing the operation with both his own CIA operatives, as well as direct contacts with military — both entities were reporting to Panetta only at this point, and not the President of the United States. — The operation was at this time effectively unknown to President Barack Obama or Valerie Jarrett and it remained that way until AFTER it had already been initiated. President Obama was literally pulled from a golf outing and escorted back to the White House to be informed of the mission. Upon his arrival there was a briefing held which included Bill Daley, John Brennan, and a high ranking member of the military. When Obama emerged from the briefing, he was described as looking "very confused and uncertain." The president was then placed in the situation room where several of the players in this event had already been watching the operation unfold. … The now famous photo released shows the particulars of that room and its occupants. What that photo does not communicate directly is that the military personnel present in that room during the operation unfolding, deferred to either Hillary Clinton or Robert Gates. The president's role was minimal, including their acknowledging of his presence in the room.

Anonymous sources deserve skepticism, but the report does ring true. If this is how it happened, it's a good thing we have a career bureaucrat with a little spine even if no intelligence experience prior to 2009 to make the call and set himself up to take the fall while our posturing Community Organizer in Chief vacillates and covers his scrawny behind.

A farce, like the rest of this presidency. Via Nice Deb.

On tips from TaterSalad and TrickleUpPolitics.