Former U.S. Attorney Michael Mukasey told Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity on Friday night that the Navy SEAL mission to kill Osama bin Laden was preceded by “a highly lawyered memo” from CIA Director Leon Panetta — one designed to insulate President Barack Obama if the operation failed.
As Mukasey first suggested in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, the Panetta memo appeared calculated to shift any future blame to Naval Special Operations Commander Adm. Bill McRaven.
“The president had a fallback if this didn’t work out,” Hannity said Friday. “He had a ‘CYA’ [Cover Your Ass].”
“There was a memo from Leon Panetta that described the authority that was given to McCraven,” Mukasey explained. “And it was to proceed according to the risks, only according to the risks that had been outlined to the president. And if he encountered anything else, he had to check back. And you better believe that if anything else had been encountered and the mission had failed, then the blame would have fallen on McCraven. That’s what that’s about.”
Asked by Hannity if the memo “was designed to protect the president politically,” Mukasey suggested that “there’s going to be more that comes tumbling out about that escapade. But so far, that memo is enough.”
“One definition of a great leader,” Mukasey added later in the interview, “is somebody who takes less credit than he should and takes more blame than he should. And that’s not what we’ve got now.”
See the Panetta memo:
“Received phone call from Tom Donilon who stated that the President made a decision with regard to AC1 [Abbottabad Compound 1]. The decision is to proceed with the assault. The timing, operational decision making and control are in Admiral McRaven’s hands. The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration. The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out. Those instructions were conveyed to Admiral McRaven at approximately 10:45 am.”