Just the Facts

Leave it to the inept Obama White House team to ruin the seminal event in the War on Terror by botching the explanation of the raid that took out Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden with confusing information releases. 

The first rule of disseminating information from large organizations on important events is to assemble the information, develop the narrative, and coordinate the message. The event information is updated as it unfolds and new information arrives, but the important thing is to present a consistent, reliable message from the organization so as to instill trust from those receiving the information. A designated spokesman presenting the message prevents conflicting information from being released that undermines public trust. In the case where information from multiple figures involved in an event is required, individuals are made available to the press as a group to either deliver prepared and vetted remarks, or answer questions with an official spokesman present to keep the group on message. The group is prepped beforehand on any sensitive subjects and each individual is aware of the remarks from the other members. And, of course, it goes without saying that the organization must be truthful at all times as lies are always outed at some point, destroying credibility and undermining effectiveness.

In presenting details on the UBL raid, Team Obama failed miserably on these points by allowing multiple spokesmen to present information fragments along with colorful commentary that the administration has been forced to walk back. Each individual with a part to play has run to the press to give their version of events with no coordination from the White House. Instead of preparing a narrative that allowed each administration figure to present details relevant to their portion of the mission, the White House has been reduced to reconciling conflicting versions of the raid and correcting inaccuracies. So far, we’ve been told there was a firefight when there wasn’t, the targets were armed and firing on the SEAL team when they weren’t, and that UBL was either armed and firing, unarmed but near weapons, or cowardly hiding from his fate behind a woman.

The president is expected to deal with crucial events that directly impact the lives of Americans, and the proper dissemination of information on these events is critical to preventing confusion that could hamper life-saving plans. Imagine if this were another major terrorist attack on America and the Obama team began releasing conflicting information that confused evacuation and safety plans. A panic would likely set in that could lead to unnecessary injuries or deaths. If Obama’s inept crew can’t even get the story straight on a good news event, imagine how screwed up news of an impending disaster would be.

This is an embarrassing episode and heads need to roll. Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan should be shown the door for going off script to add false details in an attempt to heighten the effect of what was already stupendous news. This was a major blunder that no seasoned political professional should ever make. Always stick to the facts at hand. Never try to embellish the information to add your own spin.

Obama has made several diplomatic blunders by refusing to consult State Department Office of Protocol resources available to him for just such purposes, and now he’s blundered by not fully utilizing the his White House communications team. Is this ignorance or willful neglect? Either way is intolerable. Obama’s glaring lack of preparation for the job he now holds continues to surface and belies his carefully constructed image of an intellectual. While there is certainly a learning curve for the presidency, we hope that it is made gradual through past political leadership experience at the governor level. Obama’s learning curve looks like a wall, and over which he doesn’t appear to be able to climb.

In addition to the amateur mistake of not coordinating the message, Obama’s frequent use of the pronoun “I” to describe the UBL raid marred what should have been recognition of a long team effort filled with hard work and frustration in a misguided attempt to score political points that is already backfiring. To hear Obama tell it, he personally collected the intelligence, fueled the choppers, loaded the ammo, and did everything short of actually pulling the trigger. When describing a team effort, always minimize your role and heap credit on others. If this mission had been a failure, you can be certain that Obama’s description would be that “they” did this and “they” did that, while “I” thought we should have waited.

He approved the mission, that’s it. And he didn’t even do that well, dithering for an extra unnecessary day before finally giving the green light. He was indecisive and weak, much like Jimmy Carter, but a lot luckier than Carter. This mission was successful due to the policies George Bush put in place and Obama grudgingly kept in place. Obama just happened to be in place when the event occurred. One good thing about bin Laden’s death is that we don’t have to worry about Eric Holder wanting to hold some misguided show trial to prove something.

The news of bin Laden’s death at the hands of SEAL Team Six is to be celebrated by Americans weary of invasive airport security, loss of civil liberties, and other demeaning aspects of life brought on courtesy of his Al Qaeda terrorist acts. I, for one, hope his death strikes terror through the hearts of other Islamic fanatics bent on our destruction and causes them to reconsider their dedication to America’s demise. The distraction of reconciling the various raid accounts has tarnished what is and should be a triumphal event in the War on Terror and retribution for 9/11.

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