May 1, 2011 – the day America’s Most Wanted terrorist suspect, Osama bin Laden is killed in a raid on his identified compound in Abottabad, Pakistan. The raid, performed by a team of Navy SEALS, is watched in real time via video in the Situation Room of the White House by the National Security team, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden … but according to recent information from former Obama “body man” Reggie Love, one rather important participant who ought to have been in the room for the entire operation was in the White House private dining room passing time playing cards. For some reason, the President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief who had to issue the order to kill bin Laden, could not tolerate viewing the operation in which he sent men into harm’s way.
After the raid was completed, bin Laden reportedly dead, President Obama made an appearance in the East Room. He began his address to the nation with these words:
“Tonight I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.”
Obama took his share of the credit for the successful completion of the mission, that night and subsequent nights, days, afternoons, campaign speeches, television appearances, and he will to this day still boast his “I got Osama bin Laden” line.
While due deference is indeed made to the leader of an operation, no matter if he himself doesn’t pull the trigger or launch the missile, the Commander-in-Chief receives his share of credit and yes, blame when an operation turns out to be a failure. However it is rather specious, seemingly an exaggeration for Obama to repeat over and over and over again how he got bin Laden when he couldn’t be bothered to be in the Situation Room at the very time the raid occurred, settling for the intermittent briefing as noted by the timeline of the events issued by the White House.
This iconic photograph was released for one and all to view, of the president and his team in the Situation Room taken during the raid. Most of the commentary I recall from the media about the photo focused on the reaction of Hillary Clinton, the hand over her mouth, a good bit of dissection over just what emotion she was expressing.
But look closely at this photo. I admit to not paying close enough attention then–and only now do I see, because of the words from Reggie Love, that the President is not in the seat that belongs to the Commander-in-Chief. Air Force Brigadier General Brad Webb is in that place. Obama is crouched next to him in the corner on a folding chair; he does not even have a computer nearby to view, as do the others on the team.
We were told by the media this incredible story of the “gutsy call” Obama had to make, with Biden shouting from the top of his lungs at the DNC Convention in 2012 how much “courage and fortitude” he personally witnessed from the President that afternoon. This particular narrative from CNN regarded the “historic nature” of the photo, how it now removed the stereotypical view America had of the Black man as “the threat to America’s safety” and now shows “the Black man as protector.”
Would this piece have been written in the same manner by John Blake had he known Obama’s time spent in the Situation Room during the raid was all but non-existent? That instead he was in the private dining room with Reggie Love, staffer Marvin Nicolson and the man who took the iconic photo, White House photographer Pete Souza, enjoying “fifteen or so” games (not hands) of Spades? Would the film “Zero Dark Thirty” have been considered, let alone actually produced, if this country had been told the truth of the matter at the time?
It has taken more than two years to discover what Barack Obama was doing while the very important and dangerous raid on bin Laden’s compound was underway. Is it going to take two years as well to discover just what Obama was doing while his ambassador was missing and the diplomatic compound was under armed assault in Benghazi?