Rich Galen

If the Obama Administration isn't - as they put it - "spiking the football," I'd love to know what they would be doing if they really wanted the President to strut across the global landscape.

Other than showing him in the Situation Room with the joy stick in his hand, controlling the eye-in-the-sky over bin Laden's compound, the White House has taken every measure possible to prove that President Obama's victory lap is warranted.

There was nothing wrong with Obama meeting with the Seals who pulled off the mission, but it occurred during a blizzard of "Look-at-Me" events over the five days following the mission which were becoming wearying.

Then there was the whole "narrative" business. It turns out that nearly everything coming out of the White House in the 48 hours following the mission was shaded, altered, or flat out wrong.

Fox News' James Rosen - a real reporter, not an anchor bunny - published a fully developed piece on Friday about how inept the White House and Pentagon communications shops have been about the killing of bin Laden:

"From the first moments, a good number of the details about bin Laden's killing, on points large and small, have been wrong.

The President described the moment of death as "After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body."

Right after the President spoke to the nation, three senior officials, briefing reporters, described bin Laden's death as the result of his having resisted "the assault force and he was killed in a firefight."

"After a firefight" or "In a firefight?" Seems like a nit, but in its haste to describe raid in its most granular detail, it seems the Administration as winging it.

The business of "the firefight" - how long it lasted, who was involved, and whether women were used by men as human shields became more confused the next day in a Pentagon briefing.

On Monday, Assistant for Homeland Security and Counter-Terrorism, John Brennan was trotted out in the White House briefing room to add immediacy to the "narrative."

According to Rosen's piece, Brennan told the press corps of the breathless minutes in the Situation Room where:

"We were able to monitor the situation in real time and were able to have regular updates and to ensure that we had real-time visibility into the progress of the operation.

"I'm not going to go into details about what type of visuals we had or what type of feeds that were there, but it was -- it gave us the ability to actually track it on an ongoing basis."

The implication that Hillary Clinton's apparently shocked, hand-before-mouth image might have been the moment of bin Laden's death was not that at all. Secretary Clinton said she suffers from allergies and was reacting to that, not a bullet to Osama's head.

On Tuesday, CIA Director Leon Panetta said:

"Once those teams went into the compound, I can tell you that there was a time period of almost twenty or twenty-five minutes where we - you know, we really didn't know just exactly what was going on."

That same day, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that,

"Brennan in his briefing yesterday made a couple of, I guess, misstatements - or statements that later appeared to be somewhat incorrect."

From the head counter-terrorism guy in the White House who was in the room while this thing was going on we expect better than "statements which later appeared to be somewhat incorrect."

Someone with a seat in the James Brady Briefing Room should write an analysis of the range of "incorrectness" acceptable from senior assistants to the President:

-- Slightly incorrect

-- Modestly inconsistent

-- Somewhat mistaken

-- Grossly at odds with the facts.

-- Totally wrong

-- Has resigned to spend more time with his family.

All right. Americans have been subjected to incorrect statements which have been blamed on the "fog of war" probably since the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired at Lexington and Concord in 1775.

In fact, Aeschylus, the Greek father of tragedy, wrote five centuries before Christ, "In war, the first casualty is the truth."

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the James Rosen piece and to a biography of Aeschylus. Also a pretty good Mullfoto from my trip to New Jersey yesterday and a topic-appropriate Catchy Caption of the Day.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.