President Barack Obama, whose decisions led to the death of Osama bin Laden, did his nation a great service, performed an important task in the War on Terror, and will secure for himself a place in history for doing so.
And he couldn’t have done any of it without adopting President George W. Bush’s positions — positions that he campaigned against, stood in opposition to, and publicly opposed.
Without enhanced interrogation techniques and the fight against terror in Iraq, President Obama would not have been able to order our troops to kill Osama bin Laden.
Here’s how it all tracks down: Sheikh Abu Ahmed turned out to be the single most important name to secure in the attempt to track and kill Osama bin Laden. Sheikh Abu Ahmed had been previously known as Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. (Abu Ahmed is actually of Kuwaiti dissent.) Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti became known to U.S. officials through the enhanced interrogations of detainees, some of whom were captured in that “illegitimate” war in Iraq.
Beginning in early 2002 (under President Bush), multiple detainees in the CIA’s secret prisons told interrogators of Abu Ahmed. None other than Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (al Qaeda’s third in command and the “architect” of the 9/11 attacks) also confirmed knowing Abu Ahmed.
Then in 2004, Hassan Ghul was captured battling anti-terror forces in Iraq. Ghul told the CIA that Abu Ahmed was crucial to al Qaeda. Ghul implicated Abu Ahmed as close to Faraj al-Libi (who had replaced Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as al Qaeda’s third in command). Ghul was referred to by an Obama administration official as the “linchpin” in connecting the dots to identify Osama’s courier, Abu Ahmed.
In 2005, Abu Ahmed informed al-Libi that al-Libi had been chosen to replace Mohammed. But when al-Libi was captured and interrogated through enhanced techniques, he revealed to authorities all they needed to know — that the courier for bin Laden was the man that would lead them to him.
Connecting the dots was crucial — and took years. Doing so was made even more difficult by then-Senator Barack Obama, who opposed and worked publicly against phone taps of terrorists and eventually helped blow the story of our phone taps onto the pages of The New York Times. Afterwards, Osama bin Laden stopped using phones. His couriers became the only way he communicated with his lieutenants.
President Obama campaigned against the use of phone taps of terrorists, he campaigned for the shut down of the very secret prisons that coughed up the name of the courier, and after being elected, he went so far as to imply that his attorney general, Eric Holder, was ready to arrest the CIA operatives and military special forces personnel who had conducted enhanced interrogations.
Yet this key piece of information that led to the capture and execution of our worst enemy was obtained exclusively through those very means that President Obama demeaned, mocked, and ordered shut down.
There is no doubt that President Obama made the right call to send in the Navy Seals to extricate the corpse of Osama bin Laden. His decision to do so with a surgically precise strike showed special wisdom in that members of his own national security team opposed him in meetings running up to making the decision. He was right in calling on the Seals because they are unlike any other special forces in all of military history. And he was right in reducing the collateral damage or the risk of any by not using predator drones and bombs.
History will remember him as the person who captured and killed the worst terrorist of the past 20 years.
But he did so standing on the shoulders of a president who took political backlash, foul media coverage and a toxically poisoned electorate (poisoned largely by the efforts of Obama) to do what was right, to press forward in obtaining the critical pieces of data that set up the capture and death of bin Laden.
President Obama owes his success to a man he directly undermined nearly the entire time he was putting the pieces in place for Obama’s biggest national security achievement.
President Obama owes an apology to President Bush.
He also owes a huge debt of thanks to the men and women of the CIA and Special Forces who used enhanced interrogation techniques, and to the men and women who fought and died in Iraq to bring him the necessary information.
And how about you? Have you hugged a waterboarder today?
Kevin McCullough is the nationally syndicated host of “The Kevin McCullough Show” weekdays (7-9am EST) & “Baldwin/McCullough Radio” Saturdays (9-11pm EST) on 289 stations. His newest best-selling hardcover from Thomas Nelson Publishers “No He Can’t: How Barack Obama is Dismantling Hope and Change” is in stores now.