Thursday, January 15, 2009

Obama flip flops on Osama

By Donald Sensing

Despite claiming only a month before the presidential election that killing Osama bin Laden "has to be our biggest national security priority," Barack Obama now says,

... that removing Osama bin Laden from the battlefield was no longer essential and that America's security goals could be achieved merely by keeping al-Qaeda "on the run".

"My preference obviously would be to capture or kill him," he said. "But if we have so tightened the noose that he's in a cave somewhere and can't even communicate with his operatives then we will meet our goal of protecting America."

His comments, in a CBS interview, represent a significant watering down of the "dead or alive" policy pursued by President Bush since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. They also appear to contradict Mr Obama's own statements made in the election campaign.

As recently as October 7, in a presidential debate, Mr Obama said: "We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al-Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority."

Yesterday, the President-elect adopted far less aggressive language, saying his "No 1 priority" was to protect America from further attack.

"I think that we have to so weaken [bin Laden's] infrastructure that, whether he is technically alive or not, he is so pinned down that he cannot function," he said. "And I'm confident that we can keep them on the run and ensure that they cannot train terrorists to attack our homeland."

A huge flip flop? Absolutely. But it also shows that Obama has gotten smarter on this topic since the election. I wrote in 2002 that going after bin Laden personally could not be the focus of attacking al Qaeda or the Islamist terrorist culture.

You may recall, though, that last summer Obama actually threatened to invade Pakistan to get bin Laden.

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