The White House clearly blessed the dramatic reconstruction of the mission by Nicholas Schmidle in The New Yorker — so vividly descriptive of the Seals’ looks, quotes and thoughts that Schmidle had to clarify after the piece was published that he had not actually talked to any of them.
“I’ll just say that the 23 Seals on the mission that evening were not the only ones who were listening to their radio communications,” Schmidle said, answering readers’ questions in a live chat, after taking flak for leaving some with the impression that he had interviewed the heroes when he wrote in his account that it was based on “some of their recollections.”
The White House is also counting on the Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal big-screen version of the killing of Bin Laden to counter Obama’s growing reputation as ineffectual. The Sony film by the Oscar-winning pair who made “The Hurt Locker” will no doubt reflect the president’s cool, gutsy decision against shaky odds. Just as Obamaland was hoping, the movie is scheduled to open on Oct. 12, 2012 — perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost to a campaign that has grown tougher.
The moviemakers are getting top-level access to the most classified mission in history from an administration that has tried to throw more people in jail for leaking classified information than the Bush administration.
It was clear that the White House had outsourced the job of manning up the president’s image to Hollywood when Boal got welcomed to the upper echelons of the White House and the Pentagon and showed up recently — to the surprise of some military officers — at a C.I.A. ceremony celebrating the hero Seals.
Dowd finishes on a triumphal note: at least this time, something had been achieved.
Really? Bin Lādin played no real command and control role in al-Qā'ida operations. Hell, he didn't even have the Internet. The raid that killed him put a serious dent in the already troubled relationship between the US and Pakistan. According to several accounts, the Bush administration didn't actively pursue bin Lādin, but Obama sent a special forces team into Pakistan to murder him on a mission that seemed from the start to be tailored for media exploitation.
As the Atlantic points out, the mission was to kill him, which is in line with the Obama administration's policy of killing suspected terrorists instead of capturing them and trying to bring them to trial. Back in 2010, President Obama's administration even argued that they have the right to have American citizens killed and do so secretly, without any due process. That went largely unnoticed, but the fallout from killing bin Lādin is an ongoing complication US-Pakistani relations.
A year later, it's hard to see what killing bin Lādin achieved. Except, of course, that a movie featuring President Obama as a tough leader who brings America's enemies to justice will be in theaters during the presidential campaign. So the President of the United States had a man killed and sacrificed his country's relationship with Pakistan so he could make a movie that would help him get re-elected.
I hope the critics like it. If they don't, Obama can have them killed.