By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

An attempted October surprise

The Bush White House, by all appearances, hasn’t made much of an effort to capture or kill Osama bin Laden since that botched encounter at Tora Bora in late 2001.

Now NPR reports that the administration is going all out to get bin Laden before Bush leaves office.

If you listen to the audio version of the story, you’ll come to the inescapable conclusion that the real goal is to roll up bin Laden even earlier than that — say, a couple of weeks before Election Day.

Shameful.

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18 Comments

  1. Steve

    Far be it from me to defend the Bush administration, but I wouldn’t classify this as “shameful”. I would call it “better late than never”.This is a major piece of unfinished business for the Bush administration, and if he can tie it up, then it would be a good thing not to leave it to the next President.And in this instance, I don’t care if it affects the election – this is Bush’s job to do, and he should do it.

  2. Rick

    I agree I just think he wants to capture him on his watch.

  3. Joel Monka

    I agree with Steve and Rick. Every election since 9/11, including the congressional ones, people have been saying Bush was going to “October surprise” the election. If it were within his power, he’d have done it for his own reelection.

  4. Nial Liszt

    “Both sources say those in the intelligence community and on Capitol Hill are raising questions about the political intent of this new aggressive stance.”Three levels of double-secret sources in one sentence. Thought for sure that Kevin Bacon Degrees would be mentioned in the next paragraph.

  5. Gerard

    I’m starting to feel really sorry for folks like Dan. Soon their Bush Derangement Syndrome will be no more and their world will be hollow.But, out of compassion for their loss, I am hoping that it will be replaced by Palin Derangement Syndrome for the next, say, 12 years.As for chopping Bin Laden, go George go. If it can be done in October, excellent on all counts.So Rovian, so brilliant, so tasty. It seems that there is still something Bush can do to help the Republicans in November.

  6. mike_b1

    The best thing Bush could do for our country is to have himself shot out of one of those gunships over Iraq.Worst. President. Ever.

  7. Gerard

    You’re welcome to your opinion, but history will have a vastly different judgment.

  8. Mark

    I have to chime in with my agreement here.How could capturing a terrorist who perpetrated the deaths of thousands of Americans be considered shameful in any light.If they had captured him in 2003 – good. If they capture him next month – good. If they capture him in 2013 – good.I don’t think Barack Obama supporters should take to hoping we allow terrorists to roam freely about.

  9. Dot Lane

    “You’re welcome to your opinion, but history will have a vastly different judgment.”Yes. History will judge Dick Cheney to be the worst president ever.

  10. acf

    No, he shouldn’t be shot out of one of those gunships. Still the worst president, ever.

  11. Dan Kennedy

    Look, folks — unless there were some efforts that we don’t know about (possible), then we have to go with what’s on the record. From December 2001 until very recently, the Bush administration’s efforts to capture bin Laden have, at best, been on the back burner. I don’t know how you could think it’s anything but shameful to mobilize now, in the midst of a presidential campaign. Not that Bush shouldn’t try — but he should have been trying all along.

  12. Gerard

    Dan, you not only don’t get it, you can’t get it. It is now beyond your capacity.What is “on the record” is that there are a lot of things that are not “on the record.” One could expect that to be so where operations into areas that are nominally part of Pakistan, nominally an ally, are concerned.But even if that were not the case, there is the old, classic American question, “So what?”What upsets you and makes you think it is “shameful” is simply your political bent which is not, I know this might be surprising to you, a credible source of absolute moral authority. I know it makes you feel good, but you really shouldn’t base your happiness on such a slender reed. It could well collapse under the increasing weight of sanctimony.If he is not already dead, it would be a good thing to kill Bin Laden now, kill him tomorrow, kill him in October, kill him on Nov. 2nd, kill him on the twelfth of never. No matter what date you assign to it, and no matter what motives you assign to it, killing him is still a very good thing. As would be arranging things to kill about 1,000 of the closest people to him root and branch. It might be a good thing for the Republicans, but it is without a doubt a good thing for this country to expunge this man from the gene pool. Pour encourger les autres, if nothing else. And should the Democrats win, you will thank something that he was killed before the election since the Democrats seem to have a hard time making the hard decisions of late. Courage isn’t exactly their strong suit, you know.Should they lose it will not be because we just happened to kill this man, but because their policies and their candidates have been weighed and found wanting.In the meantime, you shouldn’t believe everything you hear on NPR. If you got another radio it would be best. You know, the kind with more than one station on the dial.

  13. Nial Liszt

    “Look, folks — unless there were some efforts that we don’t know about (possible), then we have to go with what’s on the record.”What exactly is “the record” for these sort of things, “The Covert Ops Journal”?

  14. Dot Lane

    gerard:Since you know “history will have a vastly different judgment” of George Bush, shouldn’t you also know if Bin Laden is dead and also who will win the election? I’m confused as to how the conservative crystal ball works.”It could well collapse under the increasing weight of sanctimony.”We shouldn’t fear the proton collider…we should fear further comments from gerard which are like the pot calling the kettle a black hole.

  15. Doug Shugarts

    So let’s assume that Bush fails again to locate bin-Laden and ask how McCain would track and attempt to kill him.Palin, presumably speaking for the McCain campaign during her interview with ABC News, dodged the question of whether the U.S. has the right to make cross-border attacks into Pakistan from Afghanistan. This reply, in particular, inspires confidence:PALIN: Now, as for our right to invade, we’re going to work with these countries, building new relationships, working with existing allies, but forging new, also, in order to, Charlie, get to a point in this world where war is not going to be a first option. In fact, war has got to be, a military strike, a last option.The courageous, can’t-blink-and-man-am-I-wired answer would have been a firm ‘yes,’ and would have suggested to the electorate that McCain would act decisively as president.But courage in the McCain camp, Gerard, “isn’t exactly their strong suit, you know.”

  16. Steve

    Dan – say this all comes to pass. Bin Laden is killed or captured in mid-October. Does this help McCain, or does it just burnish Bush’s “legacy”?If bin Laden is “rolled up”, doesn’t this take McCain’s “secret plan” to capture bin Laden away? Doesn’t it make “security issues” less important? And if so, doesn’t this help Obama? Never mind that bush has been implementing Obama’s foreign policy ideas – a timetable for getting out of Iraq (albeit with Maliki’s push), and going into Pakistan to hunt bin Laden. can’t Obama use this as a validation of HIS policies?

  17. mike_b1

    The question I would like the press to ask: If the US isn’t going to respect the boundaries of sovereign nations, why should they respect ours?What’s to stop, for example, Mexican police from crossing the border and killing a US citizen believed to be involved in the drug trade?

  18. R. Scott Buchanan

    Gerard, you appear to have missed a news story or two in the last seven years. The Bush administration chose voluntarily to draw down troop strength in Afghanistan (where OBL had been) and start an unrelated war with a country that did not plausibly pose any credible threat to the United States, and had NOTHING to do with 9/11.Bush and company made a choice. The choice was that nothing in the Tora Bora or Paktia regions was more important than getting revenge on Sadam for making Bush the Elder look like a schmuck for betraying the Shia and the Kurds in 1991. If we’d invested in Afghanistan a fraction of the manpower and treasure wasted in Iraq, claims that this wasn’t timed to burnish the GOP’s tough-guy credentials might at least pass the basic sniff test.This president is many days late and many dollars short, even if our troops do manage to pull off OBL’s capture. America won’t owe Bush, Cheney or any of their lot a scintilla of thanks for having done their duty for a few weeks at the very end of their terms.

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