- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 5, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

I, in my innocence, was, in the aftermath of SEAL Team 6’s disruption of Osama bin Laden’s bucolic life in posh Abbottabad, reading editorial comment by the great newspapers of this republic. As always, the Wall Street Journal was superb, pausing to congratulate President Obama for “ordering a special forces mission rather than settling for another attack with drones or standoff weapons from afar.” The Washington Post was, likewise, informative and appreciative of the president’s prudent decision to let SEAL Team 6 do its thing, skirting the laws of a sovereign nation and acting unilaterally to put a bullet hole in bin Laden’s head.

Then I turned to our nation’s newspaper of record, the New York Times. Not once, but twice the Times’ editorialists departed from heaving confetti to remind us all of George W. Bush, the war criminal. They could have maintained a gentlemanly forbearance. They could have stifled their urge to again vent their hatred of this man and instead join in our national celebration. Rather, they allowed that little creep that lurks in the back of their minds and serves as a conscience to squeal. All fellow ritualistic liberals have one. It is what lowers every political moment in America, has lowered every historic occasion in recent years, to the level of juvenilia. What cads they are.

Now, of course, we know that bin Laden was caught precisely because of those much reviled “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including the dreaded waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and several other barbarians. Such actions led to the identification of the courier who traveled the dusty byroads of Afghanistan and Pakistan to deliver bin Laden’s many bulls and fatwas to his agents. We also know that the CIA interrogators, whom the Democrats and liberals at the New York Times wanted to prosecute, spent several years sifting through the information, some reliable and some not, to find the one place in this world where the dog bin Laden was hiding. Doubtless, over these many years, they have been wrong. But this time, they were right, so in the event that some had their careers set back and others had them destroyed, can we return these intelligence officers to favor? They performed brilliantly. Maybe we can all get a respite from Hollywood’s portrayals of American heroes as brutes.

We also know that our intelligence community resorted to intercepted communications to identify bin Laden’s agents. Some of these communications probably were routed through America. This, at some point, involved the “domestic wiretapping” that the New York Times exposed some years ago. Very few complained, for the newspaper was securing our civil liberties and those of foreign agents. In fact, there was general celebration among the liberals at its journalistic heroics. Did that make it all the more difficult to get bin Laden? Oh, well, President Obama got him. As Jimmy Fallon joked on NBC’s “Late Night,” “bin Laden is dead! Just like the Republicans’ chances in 2012.”

Yet, to answer Mr. Fallon, there is no bump for Mr. Obama. Rasmussen reports a 1-point bump. Thirty-seven percent of the American people strongly disapprove of our president’s behavior. Twenty-four percent strongly approve. Over the next few weeks, the White House will continue to make a hash of things, changing its stories, reversing itself on what pictures of the deceased to publish, committing as yet unimagined pratfalls. An incompetent president will continue to be incompetent. The White House is a hell of a place to learn on the job.

One story reported in the news after the operation in Abbottabad suggests the antics we will be savoring in the weeks ahead. It took Mr. Obama 16 hours to make up his mind about the SEALs going in. Around the world, the heads of the SEALs’ vastly complicated project were on pins and needles, and the president went off to sleep on his decision. What would he decide when he awakened? Reportedly, he informed a national security meeting, “I’m not going to tell you what my decision is now - I’m going to go back and think about it some more.” And then he went off to “sleep on it.” The next morning he said, “It’s a go.”

Yet, maybe the next time there will be no go. Many of the techniques used by our military and intelligence people have been outlawed. They were Mr. Bush’s tactics, and they have been discredited, no?

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His new book is “After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery” (Thomas Nelson, 2010).

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