There is a huge difference, especially to the professionals on the ground tasked with completing the mission. As usual, the Obama administration seems to be talking out of both sides of their mouth in the aftermath of the take-down of Osama bin Laden.
Scroll for update.
Froggy at Blackfive is mad as hell concerning the stories in the media wondering whether or not the team was specifically instructed to kill bin Laden. He points us to a story in at National Journal posted last night, my emphasis in bold.
In an important new detail about Sunday’s raid, the White House disclosed on Tuesday that bin Laden was unarmed when the SEALs shot him in the head and chest, killing him instantly. The administration said that bin Laden resisted capture, but hasn’t suggested in any of its public comments that the SEALs were in any immediate danger when they opened fire on him during their assault on his compound in an affluent Islamabad suburb of Abbottabad.
The SEALs’ decision to fatally shoot bin Laden — even though he didn’t have a weapon – wasn’t an accident. The administration had made clear to the military’s clandestine Joint Special Operations Command that it wanted bin Laden dead, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the discussions. A high-ranking military officer briefed on the assault said the SEALs knew their mission was not to take him alive.
Publicly, the White House insists it was prepared to capture bin Laden if he tried to surrender, a possibility senior officials described as remote. John Brennan, the administration’s top counterterrorism official, told reporters on Monday if “we had the opportunity to take him alive, we would have done that.” A senior intelligence official echoed that sentiment in an interview on Tuesday, telling National Journal that if bin Laden “had indicated surrender, he would have been captured.”
But bin Laden didn’t appear to have been given a chance to surrender himself to the SEALs.
“To be frank, I don’t think he had a lot of time to say anything,” CIA Director Leon Panetta said in an interview airing on PBS NewsHour.
So, what’s the issue with the story as it is written above? Froggy at Blackfive notes…
If you order the SEALs to kill and not capture bin Laden then there is NO DECISION FOR THEM TO MAKE! They are following explicit orders of the President of the United States, but Obama does not have the sac to stand behind his decision and support the very people who are responsible for the only foreign policy victory of his Presidency.
Some selected quotes from President Obama during his announcement the other day.
[A]round the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.
[S]hortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.
[L]ast week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.
What did Attorney General Eric Holder have to say about the events? My emphasis in bold, from a Reuters post within the last two hours.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said bin Laden was a legitimate military target and he had made no attempt to surrender to the American forces that stormed his fortified compound near Islamabad on Monday, and shot him in the head.
“It was justified as an act of national self-defense,” Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee, citing bin Laden’s admission of being involved in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
It was lawful to target bin Laden because he was the enemy commander in the field and the operation was conducted in a way that was consistent with U.S. laws and values, he said, adding that it was a “kill or capture mission.”
“If he had surrendered, attempted to surrender, I think we should obviously have accepted that, but there was no indication that he wanted to do that and therefore his killing was appropriate,” he said.
U.S. acknowledgment on Tuesday that bin Laden was unarmed when shot dead had raised accusations Washington had violated international law. Exact circumstances of his death remained unclear and could yet fuel controversy, especially in the Muslim world.
If the statements made above by Holder were made by a Republican administration – let’s say with George W. Bush in office – how would the world’s community react? The United Nations?
From Jake Tapper within the last two hours…
A senior US official, hoping to offer clarity on the nature of Operation Neptune Spear, tells ABC News that “this was a kill mission.”
Yesterday White House press secretary James Carney said that “on orders of the President, a small U.S. team assaulted a secure compound in an affluent suburb of Islamabad to capture or kill Osama bin Laden.”
The senior US official says there was no expectation that bin Laden would be taken alive.
Some of you might think I’m playing with words here, but I’m standing 100 percent behind the troops in the field here. If they were ordered to kill bin Laden, Froggy at Blackfive is 100 percent correct, and nobody – ever – should write or suggest they made a decision to kill bin Laden.
This administration is talking out of both sides of their mouth’s here, and it’s got to stop immediately.
Exit question: Was the specific order from the commander and chief to kill OBL or capture or kill OBL? If answered clearly, it will stop this speculation.
Update: More information or another twist to the story. If bin Laden was found naked, they could capture him.
The assault team sent into his hideout would only have accepted surrender if they could be sure he had nothing hidden under his clothing, meaning his fate was sealed as soon as he was found in his bedclothes.
The admission by John Brennan, the chief US counter-terrorism adviser, will add to the growing belief that the planners of Operation Geronimo had no real intention of taking the al-Qaeda leader alive.