Bush, bin Laden, Obama and the Royal Wedding

by Jim Longworth

we became infidels to the man we once supplied with weapons and trained in terrorism,

This is not exactly a news flash, but elected officials cut deals and make decisions based on political ramifications and relationships. JFK gave up our missile base in Turkey in exchange for Khrushchev getting his missiles out of Cuba. Jimmy Carter gave up the Panama Canal in return for Panama’s neutrality. And Reagan traded arms for hostages. But all of that pales in comparison to what the past five Administrations have done to assist, pursue and ultimately kill Osama bin Laden.

In the 1980s, America armed and trained bin Laden’s rebel forces in Afghanistan in order to thwart what we thought was Soviet aggression. Later, OBL became offended by US involvement in the region. Suddenly we became infidels to the man we once supplied with weapons and trained in terrorism, and he was turning those weapons and that training back on us.

Osama’s first World Trade Center attack happened on Bill Clinton’s watch, so Clinton established a special counterintelligence unit known as “Alec Station”, whose sole mission was to track down bin Laden. Strangely enough, though, when Bush Jr. became president, he ignored warnings of an attack by bin Laden that would involve hijacking commercial jetliners. We now know why Bush didn’t pursue that threat, and why he disbanded Alec Station even AFTER Sept. 11, 2001. The Bush family had been in business with the bin Laden family for years, including their involvement in the Carlyle Group, which stood to gain financially from defense contracts during US military build-ups. Not surprisingly, Bush authorized private charter flights for 24 members of the bin Laden family out of the United States on Sept. 13, even though every airport in the nation was shut down, and all flights grounded.

Later, when President Bush learned that all but one of the 9-11 terrorists were Saudis, he attacked and invaded Iraq instead of his buddies in Saudi Arabia.

That misplaced and misdirected war has cost American taxpayers nearly $3 trillion, and has led us into two other conflicts, neither of which Obama has lifted a finger to stop, and all of which continue to enrich our no-bid contractors. Obama is also waging a popularity war here at home, and needed to manufacture some gravitas for himself to raise his sinking poll numbers. And that brings us to May 1, and the attack on bin Laden’s not-so-secret compound in Pakistan.

By the Pentagon’s own admission, Obama has known since last year where bin Laden was living. But there is also reason to believe that both Obama and Bush knew about the terrorist lair long before that. Appearing on “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Oct. 8, 2008, Christiane Amanpour revealed that her source said OBL was living in “a villa in Pakistan,” not in caves as Bush had led us to believe. So it is fair to say that President Obama could have taken out the terrorist prior to May 1. Military experts will tell you that when a raid is imminent, there is a limited window of opportunity for an optimum strike. Such factors as weather, position of the moon and readiness of equipment all come into play. So let’s say that window was three days. My question is, why not order the raid on, say, April 29? Then it occurred to me that our most loyal political ally was, pardon the expression, engaged in the biggest, most expensive media event in history.

The marriage of Prince William and Princess Anorexia cost British taxpayers a fortune. Factoring in the extended government holidays and business shut-downs, the Royal Wedding (which was viewed by over 2 billion people) cost the British economy over $8 billion. Had Obama ordered the Navy SEALs to strike on April 29, one of two things would have happened: Either the Pakistan invasion would have disrupted the Royal Wedding and pissed off our best ally, or none of the 2 billion wedding viewers would have cared about bin Laden’s murder, thus defeating the purpose of Obama’s quest for much needed gravitas.

I make these observations with tongue planted about half way in my cheek, but if I’m correct, and if Obama made the decision to hold off on the raid until after the Royal Wedding, then imagine what would have happened had bin Laden escaped on April 30? He would have been free to carry out his plans for a series of attacks on the anniversary of 9-11.

In any event, Osama is dead, so Obama should bring the troops home, and take a page from the Brit playbook: If you’re going to throw your nation in debt, do it by throwing a wedding, not by waging a war.

Jim Longworth is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Fridays at 6:30 a.m. on ABC 45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 10 p.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).