Hillary Clinton

call your lawyer:

But first, the popular question: Who cares?

Osama bin Laden was responsible for the most heinous act of terror in modern history. Only lawyers and their sophistry could defend human-rights protections for someone who displayed so little humanity. Right?

These arguments may seem obvious to most, but disquiet in legal circles has been growing after the initial euphoria following bin Laden’s death. It is quickly becoming apparent that the “who cares” retort will not wash, that Washington must establish a proper legal basis for having killed bin Laden. By doing so the U.S. could not only deconstruct the myth that an unarmed bin Laden was an innocent who was killed unjustifiably; it could also negate the jihadi narrative about Western hypocrisy: that we are no different from the terrorists. In what could be bin Laden’s last hurrah, Washington has yet to make its case, and the Obama administration is rapidly losing the narrative.

Via Kenneth Anderson, who has also been harping on this.

This is just one part of all the Keystone Kops nature of the administration actions in the wake of the killing. Another is why they’ve been talking about what a treasure trove of intel they got, and why they were in such a hurry to declare him dead:

I’m no expert on such matters — though I’ve talked to several about this — but even a casual World War II buff can understand that the shelf life of actionable intelligence would be extended if we hadn’t told the whole world, and al-Qaeda in particular, that we had it.

It’s a bit like racing to the microphones to announce you’ve stolen the other team’s playbook before you’ve had a chance to use the information in the big game.

But that’s exactly what President Obama did. He raced to spill the beans. The man couldn’t even wait until morning. At just after 9:45 p.m., the White House communications director, Dan Pfeiffer, informed the media: “POTUS to address the nation tonight at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time.”

The announcement came less than three hours after Obama had been informed that there was a “high probability” that bin Laden was dead and that the Navy SEAL helicopters had returned to Afghanistan.

In other words, it seems that the White House planned to crow as soon as possible. Why? Nobody I’ve talked to can think of a reason that doesn’t have to do with politics or hubris.

I can’t, either.

24 thoughts on “Hillary Clinton”

  1. It was widely reported that Pakistan requested Obama explain what had happened as soon as possible – on Sunday night, not Monday or later.

    If the above is true, perhaps Obama weighed the pros and cons of granting the Pakistani request. Why would Pakistan want an immediate annoucement? Again, I can only speculate — perhaps they wanted people with twitchy trigger fingers in Pakistan to hear what was going on from a credible source. Maybe President Zadari wanted everyone to know the mysterious helicopters and explosions near the military academy wasn’t a coup, nor terrorism, nor part of a wider invasion, particularly something somehow involving India. GIven that Pakistan *always* looks toward India with suspicion, and given that both countries have nuclear weapons, having a credible third party explain what just happened might have seemed important to Zadari.

  2. …and that is impossible to accomplish without telling the world we killed OBL and took his stuff?

    Btw, is India performing ops into pakistan such a common occurance, vs. the US doing so, that any reasonable pakistani would assume it was an Indian raid rather than a US one? I’m leaning towards “no”.

  3. Um think our hands were tied the Pakistani had the tail of the “stealth” Helicopter, pretty much any sequence of events can’t think are good. We also told them what we did. So they could come forward themselves and show the picture of the compound and stealth helicopter as proof since their government and media announced Osama death a few times if we didn’t respect Pakistans wish. If we didn’t tell them who and what we got , pretty sure diplomatic relations with Pakistan would just be a notch above India relationship with them. Only if the operation went perfectly could we get away with not saying anything, if the helicopters came in and out with out the Pakistanis even be aware.

  4. Even if he had waited, the amount of information given out should have been minimal. Any information risks giving important information away.

    Instead of saying 2 choppers or 4 choppers, or even that ANY choppers were used…the administration should have said: “We got in. Did the job. Got out.”

    Instead of fumbling over how many were in the assault group…40?….24?…. if asked, they should have simply said:


    We never should have told anyone about the details of the burial prep or the burial, or what ocean it was in, or even that it was dumped into an ocean.

    There really is no point in giving away details that our enemies can learn from.

  5. Obama could have waited until just before the election to release the news, and we wouldn’t be any the wiser. In fact, I don’t know that we can really be sure that OBL was killed when we think he was. But if all of this were politically calculated, it would have been much better to wait.

    Which means that Obama isn’t as politically smart as his opponents think he is…

  6. Ryan, saying it was bin Laden himself mollifies various Pakistani constituencies who were already objecting to US drone attacks. Zadari has been concerned about a coup according to wikileaks — a US attack on bin Laden himself is easier for all the various elements in Pakistan to swallow compared to other scenarios. As for India, a helicopter raid from India all the way to Abbottabad is almost unthinkable (over the Jammu Kasmir line of control?!), but Pakistan is paranoid, and Indian agents are supposedly everywhere. Pakistan’s meddling in Afghanistan is at least partly due to their concern that India will out-meddle them there.

  7. In Althouse’s poll, 82% agree that it was fine for Rush to say that Obama’s been dragging bin Laden’s corpse around with him on the campaign trail. Comparing the situation with “A Weekend at Bernie’s” — too funny!

  8. Comparing the situation with “A Weekend at Bernie’s” — too funny!

    “What are those?”

    “Channel markers?”

    “Okay, which side am I supposed to go on?”

    “I don’t know…just…stay close to them.”


    “Did you hear something?”

  9. I think it’s interesting, maybe even ironic, that if Bush had gone in like this and whacked bin Laden it would have been just another example of his go-it-alone cowboy diplomacy, and no-one would really have expected a solid justification (or the lack of such justification would be another example of the administration’s lawlessness). Obama, the deep cool calm collected Vulcan lawyer, does it, and questions about “was it legal?” come out of the woodwork.

  10. Bob in FWB, FW: Compare both scenarios to another real life one: Bill Clinton did try to kill bin Laden (via cruise missile). I’m sure people asked “was it legal” then too.

    FWIW: All other things being equal, I don’t think a Navy Seal pulling a trigger up close to the target has different moral requirements than a Navy commander firing a cruise missile from afar, but I suppose proximity to the target often means all things will not be equal. Also, I don’t see why bin Laden is a special case — Obama and Bush both kill unsuspecting terrorists via drone attacks, so lots of government officials probably have to call their lawyers if Clinton does (and I don’t think she does.)

  11. All other things being equal, I don’t think a Navy Seal pulling a trigger up close to the target has different moral requirements than a Navy commander firing a cruise missile from afar, but I suppose proximity to the target often means all things will not be equal.

    Yeah, I suppose you don’t understand that a person can’t surrender to a cruise missile. But when you invade their bedroom, a target can show they are disarmed and surrender. When that is the case, rules of engagement predicated on the Geneva Conventions don’t allow you to kill them anway. Well, normal rules of engagements don’t, but according to anonymous Senior Administration Officials, the ROE were modified for Bin Laden. NTTATWWT, but there is something wrong when you announce this new policy to the world, and do so with bravado.

  12. If it is morally necessary for a US Navy Seal to give an unarmed terrorist a chance to surrender before shooting him in person, then it is morally necessary for a US Navy commander to give an unarmed terrorist a chance to surrender before shooting a cruise missile at him.

    In the case of a cruise missile attack, it is hard to know if the terrorist is unarmed, but then again, when the Seals confronted bin Laden, I should think it was also quite hard to tell if bin Laden was armed. I imagine the Seals were wondering whether either the house or bin Laden himself was wired to explode….

  13. There’s no special requirement to ask somebody to surrender. The SEALs could have just as easily and legally tossed a grenade into the room first as do what they did.

    On a practical point, if we can’t agree to prosecute somebody for ordering that a prisoner in our custody be tortured, we won’t prosecute Clinton or Obama for ordering Bin Laden killed during a firefight in his house.

  14. There’s no special requirement to ask somebody to surrender. The SEALs could have just as easily and legally tossed a grenade into the room first as do what they did.

    There’s also no special requirement to:
    1) Announce that the SEALs were ordered to kill Obama.
    2) Provide a fake narrative that Osama was shot because he was threatening someone at the time of the shot.

    However, both unforced errors occurred. The point isn’t that the SEALs killed Osama. That’s great news in my book. The problem is in spiking the football, the Obama Administration has unfortunately announced new US policy which suggests we condone assassinations that violate the Geneva Convention, and further, we are willing to put out false stories to hide this policy.

    You’ll note that US opposition to Obama has no interest in prosecuting him. It’s foreign nationals that are claiming the act was illegal. The difference is called loyal opposition. It’s something the US was lacking from 2001 to 2009.

  15. Leland – Obama didn’t announce that the SEALs were ordered to kill Bin Laden. In fact, they had an interrogation team waiting for Bin Laden on the carrier.

  16. Obama didn’t announce that the SEALs were ordered to kill Bin Laden.

    First, my mistake on bullet one (no pun), SEALs weren’t order to kill Obama. Should be Osama. But I also didn’t say Obama ordered the killing. However, going by this The Atlantic story: 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.

    I’d say somebody should be investigating, like they did the Plame Affair, who the senior US official was that gave such an order, why they did, and why the high-ranking military officer gave a briefing suggesting that Osama was not to be taken alive. I’d recommend starting with John Brennan and the inconsistencies in his briefing.

    Bob, you claim to read international newspapers. Go read them to find an answer to your question. I don’t have the answer, but I know what they are claiming; hors de combat. I don’t agree with the claim, because unless Osama was previously injured and incapacitated, he met none of the criteria for hors de combat even if unarmed. However, it’s pretty hard to argue against the claim when the administration keeps changing its story of what happened during the raid. Again, I suggest this be investigated, and I think someone should talk to John Brennan about the false claims he made at his press conference. The numerous errors from that one presser should be enough for him to resign.

  17. Neither you nor I believe hors de combat applies to bin Laden so I don’t see any reason to continue. However, if you care to , google “Geneva Conventions” and “assassination”, and you’ll see many people believe assassination is not forbidden by the conventions.

  18. Engineer Says:

    “Well Gregg with all there fumbling who not to say it all misinformation anyways.”

    Well that would be pretty stupid. Why make yourself look incredibly buffoonish in order to misinform, when you can simply say nothing? Even misinformation gives the enemy something to work with – do you imagine they accept what is said as the truth?

  19. From Gates (Star & Stripes Interview):

    WASHINGTON – The team that killed Osama bin Laden told Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week that they are worried that their identities will be leaked. The secretary is not happy.

    “Frankly, a week ago Sunday, in the Situation Room, we all agreed that we would not release any operational details from the effort to take out bin Laden,” he said. “That all fell apart on Monday, the next day.”

    So the buffoonish administration DECIDED to say nothing and then went right out and spouted nonsense.


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