But the Air Force had actually reported favorable weather in the area around bin Laden’s Pakistan hideout, Miniter said.
The unclassified report of favorable weather “was provided to my by the U.S. Air Force Combat Meteorological Center, and is the same report from the same weather stations that were reviewed by the planners of the mission to kill bin Laden” just prior to the 24-hour delay, Miniter said.
The author, whose past books include multiple New York Times nonfiction best-sellers about Islamists’ war on the United States, challenged the White House to release the official timeline of the raid’s preparations.
“We’ll see whether their official timeline is actually different from my story in any significant way,” said Miniter.
His book’s revelations also threaten to cut to the heart of Obama’s claim of national-security competence.
The president and his deputies frequently tout the successful killing of bin Laden as evidence that his Arab-region policies are working. Vice President Joe Biden has even compressed his stump speech into a nine-word sentence: “Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.”
But Obama’s claims are undermined by the visibly rising power of Islamist political parties, and by Iran’s rush to develop nuclear weapons.
Those parties, principally the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood, are gaining power in Egypt and Tunisia, and also reaching for power in Syria and Afghanistan, long after bin Laden was killed in May 2011. An Islamist party, though a more moderate one, now leads a coalition government in Morocco as well. (RELATED: What Barack Obama can learn from Morocco)
Obama’s policy treats Brotherhood-related parties as potential partners, and focuses U.S. military and economic power against al-Qaida and Iran.
But the Brotherhood’s parties and al-Qaida’s jihadis share a similar goal — Islamic rule over society — even as they differ over how to achieve it.
Brotherhood officials say they can win power via elections, while al-Qaida’s Islamists split from the Brotherhood in the 1970s, claiming the best way to win power in Arab countries is by launching attacks against the United States.
The public’s reaction to evidence of presidential indecision will also likely be sharpened by Obama’s repeated personal claims for credit.
That self-promotion has even prompted a scathing response from some of his political allies. “To turn it [the bin Laden raid] into a campaign ad is one of the most despicable things you can do,” Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, said in April.
Her comment was showcased in an ad from Veterans for a Strong America, a 501(c)(4) lobbying organization that is not required to publicly disclose its donor list.
In response to criticisms, Obama has dialed back his claims of credit — but not his exclusive focus on al-Qaida.
“Not only have we given Iraqis an opportunity to determine their own destiny, but we were able to refocus our attention on al-Qaida, the folks who actually carried out the 9/11 attacks. … We’ve got them on their heels and decimated their leadership, including Osama bin Laden,” the president said during a New Orleans fundraiser on July 15.