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If President Obama had really been courageous…

….wouldn’t he have ordered Osama Bin Laden be taken alive if at all possible?

According to the (very in-depth) report in today’s NY Times:

“American officials insisted they would have taken Bin Laden into custody if he did not resist, although they considered that likelihood remote. “If we had the opportunity to take Bin Laden alive, if he didn’t present any threat, the individuals involved were able and prepared to do that,” Mr. Brennan said.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/03/world/asia/03intel.html?hp

Of course we’ll never know whether Osama Bin Laden could have been taken alive, but instead of the mission parameters described above President Obama should have ordered that every effort be made to extract him while he still had a pulse. Surely OBL could have been whisked off to Gitmo, or some new secret prison could have been set-up (since President Obama dismantled the old secret prisons that actually produced some of the original leads for Sunday’s mission). 

When in our custody at Gitmo (or wherever), OBL would likely have given us at least some intelligence that would have further aided in the protection of American lives and interests.  And “at least some intelligence” may be vastly understating it….having OBL in our custody for a few months might have produced a virtual treasure trove of vital counter-terrorism intel.

But we’ll never know how valuable that intel might have been, because that would have forced our current (Lord help us) Commander-in-Chief to implicitly endorse the utility of both Gitmo and enhanced interrogation. 

You see, word would have eventually gotten out that we had OBL in custody: the raid into a residential Pakistani city, however stealthily executed, would have ensured that.  And once word did get out, the firestorm of questions would have forced this Administration to tell the world-at-large, and his political base at home, “We have him, and we’re keeping him until he’s done telling us what we want to know.” This would have been an incredible reversal in policy, given President Obama’s high-profile, 1/22/09 executive order “banning torture”.

Politically speaking, this was the least-risky choice President Obama could have made.  The courageous choice would have been to order Osama Bin Laden be taken alive if at all possible. 

And once again, our national interests play second-fiddle to President Obama’s political imperatives. 

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