A British newspaper reported Tuesday that current and former U.S. Navy SEALs are criticizing the reelection campaign of their commander in chief for politicizing President Obama’s decision to kill or capture al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in Pakistan a year ago.
A television ad titled, “One Chance,” features former President Bill Clinton praising Obama for ordering a SEAL team into bin Laden’s Pakistani compound last May, while at the same time questioning whether or not a President Mitt Romney would have issued the same order. Romney, in the past, has said the U.S. should be wary before sending forces into Pakistan.
In addition to the ad, the White House is also marking the occasion, Britain’s Daily Mail reported, with interviews on network television and briefings in the Situation Room, as a way to highlight the “gutsy” call to go after bin Laden.
Obama himself, in comments to reporters Tuesday, touted his decision.
“I said that I’d go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him, and I did,” he said. “If there are others who have said one thing and now suggest they’d do something else, then I’d go ahead and let them explain it.”
Ryan Zinke, a former U.S. Navy commander who spent 23 years as a SEAL and led a SEAL Team 6 assault unit, told the Daily Mail, “The decision was a no brainer. I applaud him for making it but I would not overly pat myself on the back for making the right call.
“I think every president would have done the same. He is justified in saying it was his decision but the preparation, the sacrifice – it was a broader team effort,” Zinke, now a Republican state senator in Montana, said.
Besides blasting Obama for politicizing his decision, some critics have also pointed out that it seemed like an odd choice to use Clinton as a narrator, since he, in 1998, reportedly had an opportunity to target bin Laden but decided against it.
“The President and his administration are positioning him as a war president using the SEALs as ammunition. It was predictable,” Zinke said.
Others, including some of the president’s traditional left-leaning allies, have also condemned the ad.
“We should celebrate the fact that they did such a great job. It’s one thing to have an NBC special from the Situation Room… all that to me is perfectly legitimate, but to turn it into a campaign ad is one of the most despicable things you can do,” Arianna Huffington, founder of the liberal Huffington Post, told CBS News Tuesday.
Campaigning in Portsmouth, N.H., Romney yelled, in response to a reporter’s question, “Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order.”
One SEAL, who requested anonymity, told the Daily Mail, “Obama wasn’t in the field, at risk, carrying a gun. As president, at every turn he should be thanking the guys who put their lives on the line to do this. He does so in his official speeches because he speechwriters are smart.
“But the more he tries to take the credit for it, the more the ground operators are saying, ‘Come on, man!’ It really didn’t matter who was president. At the end of the day, they were going to go,” he said, according to the paper.
The paper noted that senior military officials have said Adm. William McRaven, a former SEAL who was then head of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), made the decision to take bin Laden down. Decisions on the tactical level during the operation were made even further down the chain of command, said the Mail.
“Bush should get partial credit for putting the system in place,” Brandon Webb, a former SEAL who spent 13 years on active duty and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, told the paper. “Obama inherited a very robust package with regards to special ops and the intelligence community. But Obama deserves credit because he got bin Laden – you can’t take that away from him.”
Photo credit: U.S. Navy.
© 2012 Newsroom America.