CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen has a must-read article on CNN's Website in which he comprehensively refutes the attempt to swiftboat President Obama on the events that led to the death of Osama bin Laden.
Bergen starts out by demolishing the claim in "Dishonorable Disclosures" that there were numerous leaks about the raid on bin Laden's compound.
In fact, Obama and his national security team made every effort -- successfully -- to keep the intelligence about bin Laden a closely held secret for almost a year, from the time they first identified what they believed might be the al Qaeda leader's hideout in the city of Abbottabad, Pakistan, in August 2010 until May 1, 2011, when the raid was launched to kill him.And if anything had been leaked, you better believe Bergen would have known about it.
The raid itself was conducted as a covert operation under the overall direction of then-CIA Director Leon Panetta.
I have written a book about the hunt for bin Laden during the course of which I was the only journalist granted access by the Pakistanis inside the compound in Abbottabad where bin Laden was killed. I also spoke on the record about the hunt for bin Laden with a variety of current White House, Pentagon and intelligence officials, as well as former Defense Department and CIA officials familiar with aspects of the story.
None of them divulged classified information about the bin Laden operation. Indeed, they went to great pains to avoid doing so.
Bergen also reveals that the White House had planned to wait to announce the raid until he received 100 percent DNA confirmation that bin Laden was indeed dead. However, after one of the choppers used in the raid crashed, Pakistani officials got word that bin Laden was dead, and General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the highest-ranking soldier in Pakistan, told Mike Mullen that the only way to contain Pakistani public opinion was if Washington announced bin Laden was dead.
Bergen then takes on the claim that SEAL Team Six' role was leaked. However, Bergen says, the SEALs' role would be common knowledge to anyone who knows anything about national security.
Perhaps if you had absolutely no knowledge of the U.S. military, or indeed access to Wikipedia where SEAL Team Six has had an entry since 2004, it would be news to you that SEAL Team Six, along with the Army's Delta Force, are America's premier counterterrorism units. Obviously, a mission to take out bin Laden would not be entrusted to any other than these elite units.As for the claim that someone in the States leaked the name of Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who worked with the CIA to find bin Laden, Bergen reveals that Afridi's name surfaced in a July 2011 story in The Guardian. To Bergen's mind, it was obvious the leak came from Pakistan in an apparent attempt to save face over the bin Laden raid.
So the notion that the public naming of the unit that killed bin Laden endangers the lives of its members and their families is overwrought. Members of SEAL Team Six are well able to take care of themselves and their families. And who first leaked the involvement of SEAL Team Six in the bin Laden operation remains unclear.
Bergen also writes that Obama has every right to take credit for making the decision to launch the raid. In fact, Bergen's research reveals that Obama made the decision over strenuous objections from both Joe Biden and Robert Gates. In particular, Gates was worried this could turn into a repeat of the 1979-80 Iran hostage crisis.
This article needs to go viral, if for no other reason because it is as comprehensive a repudiation of this latest swiftboating attempt as has been put together.
9:47 AM PT: Since this made the rec list, I thought I'd share something that also demolishes the credibility of these latest swiftboaters. One of the former officers claims that the White House leaked the use of drones. However, the drone campaign has been common knowledge for some time.