Leaks, Lies, and Libya: How Not to Inform a Nation
While the current administration has strayed far from Barack Obama's 2008 campaign promise that it would be the most transparent government in history, nothing so points to its failure to keep that promise as have events of the past two years.
Starting with the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011, the Obama administration has, in a very real sense, "informed" Americans of current events via selective and random leaks (many of them apparently unintentional). For example, on the day after the bin Laden mission, both the president and the vice president identified SEAL Team 6 as the unit executing the mission.
One might call this a "leak in plain sight," but a leak it was, carrying with it every negative connotation in the word. From the perspective of my military mind, the identification of a specific unit as responsible for the death of bin Laden should, if it ever happened at all, have been the result of intelligence-gathering of the highest order on the part of America's al-Qaeda enemy. That information surely should not have been provided "free of charge" by the nation's commander-in-chief.
What damage, one asks, did the release of that information cause to the national defense? One of the principal elements of information on the enemy, I was always taught, was the identification of the unit with which one was in closest contact (the technical term for this is "order of battle"). This is the most important element of the quintessential "know-your-enemy" adjuration. Armed with this gem of knowledge, one is enabled to exact revenge upon or counter future attacks by an enemy.
How does this apply to SEAL Team 6? Simple -- al-Qaeda now does not have to spend the time or to expend the resources required to ferret out information about who killed its leader. In fact, it is a safe bet that even now, its planners are devising ways to exact revenge against the SEALs and their families. In my view, it is only a matter of time before these brave men and their loved ones become targets of international Islamic terror.
A second discouraging element concerning the events surrounding the bin Laden mission was President Obama's claiming of virtually all the credit for the execution of the mission ("I directed the secretary of defense...," "I directed SEAL Team 6...," etc.). The penalty for Obama's "spiking the football" as he took credit for the bin Laden raid will, of course, be assessed on others.
Recent insider accounts of the planning of the raid indicate that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the Joint Chiefs of Staff virtually ignored Obama when the time came to order the SEALs into action. At least two sources claim that he was playing golf when the raid was launched and that he was brought into the White House Situation Room and told of the mission only after the SEALs' task force had crossed into Pakistani airspace.
Why was Obama not apprised of the launching of the raid? According to those same sources, it was because Valerie Jarrett, Obama's most trusted adviser, had on three previous occasions convinced the president not to launch an attack against bin Laden's compound, despite certain knowledge that he was "at home" and vulnerable. Secretary Panetta and his inner circle clearly understood that Obama would probably never authorize the attack.
This situation mirrored that of the Maersk Alabama incident, in which that ship's captain, Richard Phillips, was being held hostage by three armed pirates in a Maersk Alabama lifeboat. It was only the assessment of the situation by all the on-scene U.S. personnel, the initiative of the commanding officer of the USS Bainbridge, and the marksmanship of the SEAL snipers aboard her that saved the life of Captain Phillips.
The White House was, fortunately for Captain Phillips, kept out of the moment-to-moment decision-making process. The military was beginning to learn that Obama and his minions could not be depended on when crunch-time came, so they acted.
Nevertheless, Obama clearly snatched as much glory unto himself as he thought he could get away with in the aftermath of the Maersk Alabama incident, despite the fact that he was not involved in any of the decision-making that led to the successful conclusion of the standoff.
A more recent example of the Obama style of leadership is that of the events surrounding the September 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. So many lies have been told by administration figures, including the president himself, that the truth is becoming known only through Obama's other signature method of crisis management: leaks.
Almost without exception, official utterances concerning the attack have been false or, at best, misleading. When it became known that the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans had been killed, the first description of the incident contended that the assault was simply the overreaction of a mob protesting a Mohammed-denigrating video. Obama himself stated that this was the case.
It took the better part of a month, but gradually the truth became clear: the assault on the consulate was carried out on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 by a Libyan offshoot of al-Qaeda. The assault was planned and executed with that date in mind, as has become increasingly apparent from unofficial sources within the Department of State and the U.S. intelligence community. In fact, there was no mob outside the consulate; the attack was a discrete event arising from nothing but hatred against America.
So here we have the irony of leaked information providing an accurate account of how four Americans were sacrificed to the ineptitude of an administration that refused numerous requests by both the State Department and military personnel in Libya for a greater security presence in that chaotic country.
Jennifer Rubin, writing in the Washington Post on October 12, sums up the Benghazi situation nicely: "The Libya debacle is not merely a case of inadequate security. It is a case of willful blindness to the progress of al-Qaeda in a locale that the Obama team had boasted was a grand success for its "leading from behind" strategy. The administration, despite every available bit of evidence, continued to cling to a false narrative, and to repeat that narrative to the public, because it refused to recognize that Libya was a terrorist victory, not a U.S. success story."
Finally, and unbelievably, Americans are now being "treated" to a blatantly political movie, SEAL Team SIX: The Raid on bin-Laden (or The Raid), that blends lies and leaks into a deadly combination of political deception. The team writing and shooting the movie, working under the leadership of Obama sycophant/bundler Harvey Weinstein, was granted unprecedented access to highly classified information in the making of The Raid. This reportedly included viewing intelligence documents and interviewing SEALs who were on the raid itself.
That such a paean to America's "Dear Leader" is being shown on national television (the National Geographic Channel) two days prior to the election is clearly no accident. It is, however, a predictable result of how Obama uses "information" -- an admixture of truth, lies, and leaks -- to produce a desirable political result.
One has every reason to suspect that the movie will be both a witches' brew of political puffery and a confirmation of the observation that Barack Obama will stop at nothing to indulge his narcissism -- and to promote his re-election on November 6.
One can only hope that the American public will recognize "The Raid" for what it is -- electioneering at the expense of truth.
-Larry Bailey, Captain (SEAL), USN (Ret.)