Guy Benson
President Barack Obama will visit Ground Zero on Thursday to pay his respects, meet with families of the fallen, and mark a historic American accomplishment: Tracking down and killing the leader of a group responsible for the unhealed gash in lower Manhattan. The president’s predecessor, George W. Bush, will not join him at the ceremony, having politely declined Obama’s magnanimous invitation. Bush is maintaining his stated post-presidency preference to remain out of the political spotlight. Although he won’t be physically present to help mark the demise of Osama bin Laden – the man he’d famously vowed to bring to justice “dead or alive” – Americans owe President Bush a debt of gratitude for instituting a slate of controversial policies that ultimately helped execute that very goal.

Many in the chattering class are crowing about last weekend’s spectacular raid in Pakistan as if it’s an exclusive political victory for President Obama. The current administration does deserve a great deal of praise for planning and directing the successful operation. The plan took political courage: it involved an unannounced incursion into the sovereign territory of a nominal US ally, and it put dozens of elite American warriors’ lives in peril. A bombing or a drone strike would have been far less risky – but it also may have left unsettled the question of whether our top target had been dispatched. The job needed to be done the hard way, and Obama saw it through. Bravo.

Seeking to score cheap political points, some on the left have bragged that Obama did the job Bush was unable to do. This is an unfair, unseemly, and inaccurate attack. In the narrowest sense, yes, the mission was undeniably carried out on Obama’s watch, but evidence continues to mount that it could not have occurred without crucial intelligence gleaned through policies enacted by the Bush administration after September 11, 2001. Specifically, Osama bin Laden was found because the United States military exploited actionable intelligence extracted by subjecting terrorists to enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) in secret CIA prisons, by questioning enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, and by capturing a top al Qaeda source in Iraq.

As long as some liberals remain intent on keeping political score, it must be pointed out that all three sources of these indispensible data points were direct or indirect results of Bush policies – EITs, Gitmo, and the Iraq war – that much of the American Left, including Barack Obama, fought tooth and nail.


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography