In the run up to Osama Bin Ladin’s assassination, Leon Panetta, then CIA director, wrote the following memo:
Received phone call from Tom Donilon who stated that the President made a decision with regard to AC1 [Abbottabad Compound 1]. The decision is to proceed with the assault.
The timing, operational decision making and control are in Admiral McRaven’s hands. The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration. The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out. Those instructions were conveyed to Admiral McRaven at approximately 10:45 am.
The sentence, “Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration,” suggests to me, as it should to all literate people, that the President is the party ultimately responsible for the operation and it’s result.
Remember Michael Mukasey? Yeah, I know. It took me a minute too. He was Bush’s last Attorney General. Serving for just thirteen months, he was more of a temp, really, than a full fledged Attorney General. He’s been missing the spotlight, it seems.
To get himself back on Fox News, Mukasey made the sad decision to plagiarize a story on Breitbart.com, by someone called Ben Shapiro . Shapiro doesn’t seem to understand that words have meanings. Fairly specific meanings, at that. Because he claims to understand that sentence as follows:
The memo is crystal clear on that point. It says that the decision has been made based solely on the “risk profile presented to the President.” If any other risks – no matter how minute – arose, they were “to be brought back to the President for his consideration.” This is ludicrous. It is wiggle room. It was Obama’s way of carving out space for himself in case the mission went bad. If it did, he’d say that there were additional risks of which he hadn’t been informed; he’d been kept in the dark by his military leaders.
A few days later, Mukasey explained to Sean Hannity that:
There was a memo from Leon Panetta that described the authority that was given to McCraven and it was to proceed according to the risks, only according to the risks that had been outline to the president.
And if he encountered anything else, he had to check back. You better believe if anything else had been encountered and the mission had failed, then the blame would have fall own McCraven. That’s what that is about.
Now, just for a second,let’s pretend Mukasey’s interpretation is, well, first, let’s just pretend it’s his. Next, let’s pretend it’s correct, or even plausible. So what? That’s what politicians do. They spin things. They come up with spin contingency plans. Doesn’t everyone know this by now?
Mukasey’s short term boss, Bush Jr., took complete responsibility for his failure to find Bin Ladin. Any day now, we should expect to hear someone telling Sean Hannity that makes Bush’s failure better than Obama’s success. And that won’t be true either.