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Bush Led, Bin Laden Dead, but Where's the Credit?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Osama bin Laden was a) killed by a unit overseen by what New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh denounced as Vice President Dick Cheney's "executive assassination ring," which was b) sent into action based on intel derived from the now-outlawed "enhanced interrogation techniques," which were c) used on detainees captured during the George W. Bush administration, who were d) being held in now-outlawed "secret prisons" or in the intended-to-be-closed Gitmo.

President Obama's deputy national security advisor, John Brennan, confirmed that the death of bin Laden resulted from "a mosaic (of intelligence) appearing over time and by ... people who have been following bin Laden for many, many years." This explains why 81 percent of Republicans give former President George W. Bush "at least some of the credit" for bin Laden's death. U.S. security forces tracked and were able to kill bin Laden through the use of the discredited, maligned, and -- in some cases -- the discontinued terror-fighting policies and practices of Bush.

So how much credit do Democrats give Bush?

Not much. Only 35 percent of Democrats, according to The Washington Post, believe that Bush deserves "at least some of the credit." Yet Obama took advantage of policies the left attacked -- at least under Bush -- as wrong, illegal and immoral.

"Enhanced interrogation techniques" -- The Washington Post's associate editor and foreign affairs columnist, David Ignatius, writes, "Some of the detainees (who gave information that led to bin Laden's location) were subjected to 'enhanced interrogation techniques,' the CIA's formal name for what is now widely viewed as torture."

Gitmo and secret prisons, aka "black sites" (now closed by Obama) -- "The revelation," writes The Associated Press, "that intelligence gleaned from the CIA's so-called black sites helped kill bin Laden was seen as vindication for many intelligence officials who have been repeatedly investigated and criticized for their involvement in a program that involved the harshest interrogation methods in U.S. history."

Rendition, the practice of moving a detainee to a country with more severe interrogation policies -- "Current and former U.S. officials," according to The Associated Press, "say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden's most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed's successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania."

Bush-Cheney "executive assassination ring" -- Navy SEAL Team Six is part of the Joint Special Operations Command. Two years ago, The New Yorker's Pulitzer prize-winning Hersh denounced the JSOC by calling it Bush-Cheney's "executive assassination ring": "It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently. They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days ... they reported directly to the Cheney office. ... Congress has no oversight of it. It's an executive assassination ring, essentially. ... That's been going on, in the name of all of us."

Intel from Bush detainees -- "Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks," writes the AP, "detainees in the CIA's secret prison network told interrogators about an important courier ... who was close to bin Laden. ... Then in 2004, top al-Qaida operative Hassan Ghul was captured in Iraq. ... It was a key break in the hunt for bin Laden's personal courier. 'Hassan Ghul was the linchpin,' a U.S. official said."

For purposes of consistency, even if it's insincere, the all-praise-to-Obama crowd should couch their euphoria: "Yes, we celebrate the death of a villain. But his death in no way validates the use of methods and practices that violate human rights and send the wrong message about our principles and values as a people. The ends do not justify the means."

But, no. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a leading waterboarding-is-torture and Bush-is-evil-and-incompetent critic, raised no reservations and was oblivious to the contradiction: "The death of Osama bin Laden marks the most significant development in our fight against al-Qaida. I salute President Obama, his national security team, Director Panetta, our men and women in the intelligence community and military, and other nations who supported this effort for their leadership in achieving this major accomplishment. ... (T)he death of Osama bin Laden is historic." Impressive.

Finally, Bush-haters deny him credit with the "Bush took his eye off the ball" assertion. After all, Bush did say, "I am truly not that concerned about (bin Laden)." President Obama, however, said much the same thing, assuming -- it turns out incorrectly -- that bin Laden "was in a cave somewhere." To the Bush-haters, "not that concerned" translates, of course, into not giving a rip about bin Laden and abandoning the hunt.

But Bush never quit. He was briefed on bin Laden at least once a week. Two weeks before he left office, Bush confidently predicted that bin Laden would "of course, absolutely" be found by a future president. "We have a lot of people looking for him, a lot of assets out there. He can't run forever."

And on May 1, 2011, Osama bin Laden stopped running. Forever.

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