One of the biggest gaffes during last night’s presidential debate came from the moderator, CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer, who accidentally referred to the late Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as “Obama bin Laden” while discussing Pakistan. Though this was one of the most talked about moments of the evening, for over twelve hours after the debate, there was no mention of the mistake on CBS News’ website where the posted transcript of the debate omits the exchange.
Well, the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan started off with a bit of a bang. In her opening question, moderator Martha Raddatz asked Mr. Biden whether President Barack Obama’s administration responded properly in its controversial reaction to the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Libya. After calling it a “tragedy” and vowing to hunt down those responsible, Mr. Biden directly went after Mitt Romney.
“When you’re looking at a president, Martha, it seems to me that you should look at his most important responsibility, that’s caring for the national security of the country, and the best way to do that is to take a look at how he’s handled the issues of the day.”
Mr. Biden went on to praise the president for the military operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden and suggested Mitt Romney would not have killed the Al Qaeda leader.
Earlier this week, Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund Inc., a group of former U.S. intelligence and Special Forces personnel, launched a campaign criticizing President Barack Obama for unfairly taking credit for killing Osama bin Laden and leaking national security information for political gain. This is the second high-profile attack on the president from ex-elite military operatives. Last month, Ryan Zinke, a Montana State Senator and former commander of Navy SEAL Team Six, started a super PAC, Special Operations for America, which is dedicated to supporting Mitt Romney and hitting President Obama on leaks and on politicizing Bin Laden’s death. According to Mr. Zinke, these two super PACs are just the first salvo in what will be a sustained assault on the president by high-level ex-soldiers.
“There’s a number of groups out there,” Mr. Zinke told Politicker this morning. “I think what it demonstrates is, there’s a lot of anger, there’s a lot of concern among the former military community.”
Today, Ryan Zinke, an ex-Navy SEAL and Montana State Senator, announced the launch of Special Operations for America, a political action committee dedicated to “the election of Mitt Romney and like-minded candidates.”
“Navy SEAL’s, Special Operations Personnel and Veteran’s across America have been outraged since Barack Obama conveniently took credit for killing Osama Bin Laden for political gain,” a statement announcing the launch of SOFA said. “The active duty military has no voice as they are forbidden to publicly engage in the political campaign process and it is career suicide for senior military leaders to speak out against the President.”
There’s an interesting detail in the Associated Press’ scoop about a new plot by an Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen to mark the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death by blowing up a passenger plane with “an upgrade of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas 2009.” According to AP reporter Adam Goldman, the White House and the CIA both asked the news organization to keep quiet about the upgraded underwear bomb story.
“The AP learned about the thwarted plot last week but agreed to White House and CIA requests not to publish it immediately because the sensitive intelligence operation was still under way,” Mr. Goldman wrote. “Once officials said those concerns were allayed, the AP decided to disclose the plot Monday despite requests from the Obama administration to wait for an official announcement Tuesday.”
The White House offered an aggressive response to today’s letter from Homeland Security Chairman Peter King — based on a New York Times column by Maureen Dowd — which called for an investigation into whether the administration had provided special access to two filmmakers making a movie about the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.
“First of all, the claims are ridiculous,” Press Secretary Jay Carney said this afternoon, according to a transcript. Carney characterized the administration’s cooperation generally as trying to make sure facts are correct, and called it “hardly a novel approach to the media.”
Peter King is not excited about the Hollywood version of the Seal Team Six mission that killed Osama bin Laden.
The chairman of the Homeland Security Committee — who previously praised President Obama for his handling of the mission — sent a letter today questioning whether filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal were reportedly being given unprecedented access to produce a movie about the raid.
After Bin Laden
Governor Cuomo picks up on a front page story in Newsday about Republican efforts to cut anti-terrorism funding for New York City in half.
In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid), Cuomo said “Your leadership is needed to prevent these harmful cuts.”
Congressman Peter King traveled to the C.I.A. headquarters this morning to view the photos of Osama bin Laden.
“Clearly he was shot over the left eye,” King told Fox 5. “So that area of his head is done. And also part of his skull. Other than there are no distortions to the face.”
When President Obama was debating whether to release the photos, King said he’d favor making them public, but deferred to the president’s judgment when the administration decided not to.
“Certainly if it were in black and white it wouldn’t be that bad,” he said after seeing them, but stopped short of calling for their release. “Again, how would this play in the Muslim world? How would this play in the Middle East? I don’t know.”
King said he saw 5 or 6 photos, maybe as many as 7–including shots of Bin Laden’s body in a shroud, and of it being washed, in accordance with Islamic death rites.
Video after the jump.