Archive for May 4th, 2011

04
May
11

night everyone

Thursday:

9:30 AM The President leaves the White House

10:35 AM Arrives in New York

** Undisclosed **

1:25 PM Participates in a wreath laying ceremony

1:45 PM Meets with 9/11 family members

3:10 PM Leaves New York

4:15 PM Arrives back at the White House

6:00 PM With First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a Cinco de Mayo reception and delivers remarks

04
May
11

“a man of his word”

04
May
11

compare, contrast … you just can’t buy class

New York Times (July, 2009):  …when the library for George W. Bush opens in 2013 on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, visitors will most likely get to see one of his most treasured items: Saddam Hussein’s pistol.

The gun was found in the spider hole where the Iraqi leader was captured in December 2003 by Delta Force soldiers, four of whom later presented the pistol to Mr. Bush. Among the thousands of gifts Mr. Bush received as president, the gun became a favorite….

….For nearly five years, Mr. Bush kept the mounted, glass-encased pistol in the Oval Office or a study, showing it with pride, especially to military officials….

Mr. Bush also [kept] a brick from the Iraq safe house where the Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed by an American air strike in 2006.

…Douglas Brinkley, an author and history professor at Rice University, said the pistol opened a psychological window into Mr. Bush’s view of his presidency. “It represents this Texas notion of the white hats taking out the black hats and keeping the trophy,” Mr. Brinkley said. “It’s a True West magazine kind of pulp western mentality….”

****

President Obama on deciding against the release of post-mortem photos of Osama Bin Laden: “…. that’s not who we are. We don’t trot this stuff out as trophies.”

(Thank you Carol)

04
May
11

“that’s not who we are”

Philip Gourevitch (New Yorker): ….The astonishing raid – long and secretively planned, stealthily launched, boldly and bravely and absolutely perfectly executed – was evidence of an American capability and purpose that we have longed to feel amid all the disappointments of the past decade of war.

Under Obama’s command, the raid on bin Laden … projected a cool and fearless capability. The perfect secrecy of the operation was part of its inspiring style – the total control, even the pitch-perfect relentlessness of Obama’s speech announcing the kill. Publishing trophy photographs is antithetical to that; it’s what our enemies do.

The main argument for releasing a photograph of the punctured scalp of our enemy is that it will provide proof that bin Laden really is dead. In other words, seeing is believing. But does anyone really believe that any more? Believing is believing. People who want, or need, to believe that bin Laden wasn’t shot dead will have no difficulty believing that a picture of his cadaver is a fake, a simple propaganda trick. The release of Obama’s long-form birth certificate didn’t put an end to birtherism, so why would the release of bin Laden’s autopsy video put an end to deatherism?…

At Abu Ghraib, and in far too many theatres of our post-9/11 wars, we compounded the wound that bin Laden and Al Qaeda inflicted on us ten-years ago, with self-inflicted wounds, time and again abandoning our own best principles in the name of defending them. We stooped to fighting terror with terror, and confronting barbarism with barbarism. The assassination of bin Laden allows us to begin turning the page – but surely not if that page is printed with an official trophy photograph of his blasted head.

Full article here

04
May
11

‘there’s no place to hide’

04
May
11

in what respect, charlie?

President Barack Obama meets with Britain’s Prince Charles in the Oval Office, May 4

I’ll behave 😕

04
May
11

‘a moment rich with meaning, justice and, yes, hope’

Andrew Sullivan: ….the idea that this event does not transform the arc of the Obama presidency is to miss the moment.

Obama avoided a plunge into the second Great Depression. He saved the auto industry. His bank bailout may make a profit. He has withdrawn most troops from Iraq. He has ended the ban on openly gay service members. He has appointed two women to the Supreme Court. He muscled universal healthcare through the Congress into law. He ended torture as the law of the land.

Abroad, since his Cairo speech, democratic revolution after revolution has occurred. From Tehran to Tunisia to Egypt, Bahrain, Syria and Yemen, the march of freedom George W Bush imagined has actually swept the region under his successor. Where Obama has failed – Israel/Palestine – he may still prevail.

But the capture and killing of bin Laden eclipses these. It does two things instantly: it tells us that an American named Barack Hussein Obama ordered the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. A man who symbolizes an integrative, tolerant, multicultural future defeated the symbol of a twisted, dark, fundamentalist past.

A man who represents the human continuum of the developing and developed worlds defeated a man who seeks only one world and Shariah rule over all of it. And it also tells those who have been bombarded with lies and rumors and disgusting smears that this president, whatever they have been told, is no weakling, no terror-lover, no alien. He is as American as every new passport holder and every ancient Southern or Yankee family.

…Far from being somehow un-American, this president is only conceivable in America. Which makes this moment so rich with meaning and justice and, yes, hope.

Read full post here

***

Thank you so much for sending me this, Dorothy. Like you, I’d kind of given up on Sullivan, so I found this piece very surprising. And in light of some of the things he has written about the President, I also find it a little bizarre – it seems like he’s finally discovered what we knew all along: this President is a bit on the impressive side 😉

04
May
11

wounded warriors (video added)

President Barack Obama applauds as he takes part in a ceremony welcoming the Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride at the White House, May 4

04
May
11

no photo

CBS: In an interview with Steve Kroft for this Sunday’s “60 Minutes” conduced today, President Obama said he won’t release post-mortem images of Osama bin Laden taken to prove his death.

“It is important to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence or as a propaganda tool,” said the president. “We don’t trot out this stuff as trophies. The fact of the matter is, this is somebody who was deserving of the justice that he received.”

The president said he had discussed the issue with his intelligence team, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and that they agree with the decision…

In explaining his choice not to release the photo, Mr. Obama said that “we don’t need to spike the football.” He said that “given the graphic nature of the photo it would create national security risk.”

The president told Kroft he saw the photos following the raid on the compound and knew that bin Laden had been killed. “We discussed this internally,” he said. “Keep in mind, we are absolutely certain that this was him. We’ve done DNA sampling and testing. And so there is no doubt that we killed Osama bin Laden.”

When Kroft noted that there are people in Pakistan and elsewhere who believe bin Laden is still alive, the president said “we we monitoring worldwide reaction.” “There is no doubt that Osama bin Laden is dead,” he said. “Certainly there is no doubt among al Qaeda members that he is dead. So we don’t think that a photograph in an of itself is going to make any difference.”

There are going to be some folks who deny it,” he added. “The fact of the matter is, you will not see bin Laden walking on this earth again.”

***

Thrilled with this decision, I think it’s the right one. Whatever the President decided here….. damned if he did, damned if he didn’t. If the photo was released of bin Laden with half his skull missing it would have further enraged his supporters …. while others (conspiracy nuts) would have dismissed it as a fake. Now the same nuts will conclude bin Laden isn’t dead. What can you do? Nothing. But decency won out.

***

Update – Steve Benen: ….I don’t have especially strong opinions on this, but on balance, this strikes me as the right call. There are conspiracy theorists who’ll continue to demand proof, but the funny thing about conspiracy theorists is that no level of proof is ever enough. They’d very likely say the photographs were faked, just like the moon landing and the president birth certificate.

And given the potential risks associated with the dissemination of the photos, Obama’s call seems entirely reasonable.

Of course, this is not to say the photos won’t leak anyway. Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have reportedly seen them, and one assumes Intelligence Committee members will soon follow, if this hasn’t already happened. It only takes one staffer with brief access to send the image to a worldwide audience. But so long as the president has a choice, I think he’s making the right one.

Bolstering this judgment, Sarah Palin today argued that releasing the photo would serve as a “warning to others seeking America’s destruction.” She went on criticize “pussy-footing around”.

For what it’s worth, I find it hard to imagine dissemination of the images would discourage terrorists, and it’s ludicrous on its face to suggest those who just killed bin Laden are guilty of “pussy-footing” around.

More here

04
May
11

‘the myth of mr obama’s weakness’

New York Times editorial: President Obama’s display of leadership in directing the killing of Osama bin Laden raises the prospect that American politics can move away from mindless debates over the president’s loyalties and fortitude…

The baseless critique of Mr. Obama as a frightened lamb among the world’s wolves was started in the 2008 campaign when Senators John McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton derided his ability to manage world affairs….

The myth that he was a naïve hand-wringer persisted, despite his decisions to reduce troops in Iraq, strengthen them in Afghanistan and join a coalition to halt the Qaddafi regime’s bloodshed in Libya. His administration took too long to find its footing on Egypt’s transition and in Libya, but it was not because, as the popular conservative blog RedState  said, he is a “trainee president.”

The blog accused Mr. Obama of basing his foreign policy on an “effete, pampered background” and a delight in consensus, and Republican presidential candidates quickly got the idea … just a few weeks ago, Mitt Romney accused him of being timid, tentative, and apologetic, all qualities stemming from “his fundamental disbelief in American exceptionalism.”

One of the subtexts to this argument is that Mr. Obama is not a true American, a thread soaked in the politics of fear and racial intolerance that runs through so much of the anti-Obama right. Donald Trump’s nativist claim that the president is not a citizen had its foreign-policy equivalent last year in Newt Gingrich’s repellent remark that Mr. Obama exhibits “Kenyan, anticolonial behavior.”

But just as releasing a birth certificate marginalized one falsehood, Mr. Obama’s risky and audacious decision to attack the Bin Laden compound in Pakistan has demolished the notion that he cannot make tough decisions or cares primarily about the nation’s image abroad….

Full editorial here




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