Note:This update comes some 24 hours after our longtime Washington D.C. Insider first outlined shocking details of an Obama administration having been “overruled” by senior military and intelligence officials leading up to the successful attack against terrorist Osama Bin Laden. What follows is further clarification of Insider’s insights surrounding that event.
Q: You stated that President Obama was “overruled” by military/intelligence officials regarding the decision to send in military specialists into the Osama Bin Laden compound. Was that accurate?
A: I was told – in these exact terms, “we overruled him.” (Obama) I have since followed up and received further details on exactly what that meant, as well as the specifics of how Leon Panetta worked around the president’s “persistent hesitation to act.” There appears NOT to have been an outright overruling of any specific position by President Obama, simply because there was no specific position from the president to do so. President Obama was, in this case, as in all others, working as an absentee president.
I was correct in stating there had been a push to invade the compound for several weeks if not months, primarily led by Leon Panetta, Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, David Petraeus, and Jim Clapper. The primary opposition to this plan originated from Valerie Jarrett, and it was her opposition that was enough to create uncertainty within President Obama. Obama would meet with various components of the pro-invasion faction, almost always with Jarrett present, and then often fail to indicate his position. This situation continued for some time, though the division between Jarrett/Obama and the rest intensified more recently, most notably from Hillary Clinton. She was livid over the president’s failure to act, and her office began a campaign of anonymous leaks to the media indicating such. As for Jarrett, her concern rested on two primary fronts. One, that the military action could fail and harm the president’s already weakened standing with both the American public and the world. Second, that the attack would be viewed as an act of aggression against Muslims, and further destabilize conditions in the Middle East.
Q: What changed the president’s position and enabled the attack against Osama Bin Laden to proceed?
A: Nothing changed with the president’s opinion – he continued to avoid having one. Every time military and intelligence officials appeared to make progress in forming a position, Jarrett would intervene and the stalling would begin again. Hillary started the ball really rolling as far as pressuring Obama began, but it was Panetta and Petraeus who ultimately pushed Obama to finally act – sort of. Panetta was receiving significant reports from both his direct CIA sources, as well as Petraeus-originating Intel. Petraeus was threatening to act on his own via a bombing attack. Panetta reported back to the president that a bombing of the compound would result in successful killing of Osama Bin Laden, and little risk to American lives. Initially, as he had done before, the president indicated a willingness to act. But once again, Jarrett intervened, convincing the president that innocent Pakistani lives could be lost in such a bombing attack, and Obama would be left attempting to explain Panetta’s failed policy. Again Obama hesitated – this time openly delaying further meetings to discuss the issue with Panetta. A brief meeting was held at this time with other officials, including Secretary Gates and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but Gates, like Panetta, was unable to push the president to act. It was at this time that Gates indicated to certain Pentagon officials that he may resign earlier than originally indicated – he was that frustrated. Both Panetta and Clinton convinced him to stay on and see the operation through.
What happened from there is what was described by me as a “masterful manipulation” by Leon Panetta. Panetta indicated to Obama that leaks regarding knowledge of Osama Bin Laden’s location were certain to get out sooner rather than later, and action must be taken by the administration or the public backlash to the president’s inaction would be “…significant to the point of political debilitation.” It was at that time that Obama stated an on-ground campaign would be far more acceptable to him than a bombing raid. This was intended as a stalling tactic, and it had originated from Jarrett. Such a campaign would take both time, and present a far greater risk of failure. The president had been instructed by Jarrett to inform Mr., Panetta that he would have sole discretion to act against the Osama Bin Laden compound. Jarrett believed this would further delay Panetta from acting, as the responsibility for failure would then fall almost entirely on him. What Valerie Jarrett, and the president, did not know is that Leon Panetta had already initiated a program that reported to him –and only him, involving a covert on the ground attack against the compound. Basically, the whole damn operation was already ready to go – including the specific team support Intel necessary to engage the enemy within hours of being given notice. Panetta then made plans to proceed with an on-ground assault. This information reached either Hillary Clinton or Robert Gates first (likely via military contacts directly associated with the impending mission) who then informed the other. Those two then met with Panetta, who informed each of them he had been given the authority by the president to proceed with a mission if the opportunity presented itself. Both Gates and Clinton warned Panetta of the implications of that authority – namely he was possibly being made into a scapegoat. Panetta admitted that possibility, but felt the opportunity to get Bin Laden outweighed that risk. During that meeting, Hillary Clinton was first to pledge her full support for Panetta, indicating she would defend him if necessary. Similar support was then followed by Gates. The following day, and with Panetta’s permission, Clinton met in private with Bill Daley and urged him to get the president’s full and open approval of the Panetta plan. Daley agreed such approval would be of great benefit to the action, and instructed Clinton to delay proceeding until he had secured that approval. Daley contacted Clinton within hours of their meeting indicating Jarrett refused to allow the president to give that approval. Daley then informed Clinton that he too would fully support Panetta in his actions, even if it meant disclosing the president’s indecision to the American public should that action fail to produce a successful conclusion. Clinton took that message back to Panetta and the CIA director initiated the 48 hour engagement order. At this point, the President of the United States was not informed of the engagement order – it did not originate from him, and for several hours after the order had been given and the special ops forces were preparing for action into Pakistan from their position in Afghanistan, Daley successfully kept Obama and Jarrett insulated from that order.