Our view: How does the nation’s top chef turn a heroic former SEAL leader into a holiday scapegoat? It takes a healthy dose of prevarication
Here at Alternative Fact of the Week central command, we give thanks for the season’s bounty of jaw-droppers. Why, in Baltimore alone there was the guy who shouted “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump” during an iconic Jewish musical and claimed it was a protest against Donald Trump and not an act of anti-Semitism. There was the hiring of a new city police commissioner to bring much-needed stability and seasoned professionalism who is on his fourth city in five years. And there was a $1.8 billion gift to help low-income students in Baltimore that was given the richest school in town, Johns Hopkins University, which already has the 28th largest college endowment in the nation.
And since all that stuff was true, technically, none of it is “alternative” at all. But they all sort of sound like they were fabricated, don’t they? But before anyone fills up their weekly limit of dazed and amazed on the mere improbable, let’s trot out the big turkey on the table — how the president of the United States attacked the much-revered former U.S. Navy SEAL who was in charge of the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011 for the most ridiculous and irrational of reasons.
That would be retired Adm. William McRaven who is in military circles the equivalent of Peyton Manning in the NFL or Cal Ripken Jr. in baseball or Michael Jordan in basketball. That’s just the kind of rarified air he inhabits after that successful raid on the bin Laden compound in Pakistan, culminating a 10-year search for the man behind the 9/11 attacks, a momentous event widely viewed as a huge victory in the war on terrorism and an especially proud moment for veterans.
But Admiral McRaven is also plain-spoken and calls them like he sees them. So at a lecture at the University of Texas nine months ago, he told students that President Trump’s attacks on the press as an enemy of the people “may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.” In an interview broadcast last Sunday on Fox News, Mr. Trump was reminded of that observation and, rather than try to explain his views on press freedom, which was the point of interviewer Chris Wallace’s question, he launched into an attack on Mr. McRaven whom he described as a supporter of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, adding:
“And, frankly, wouldn't it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that?"
Not content to let that just sit there, the president stuck to his guns the next day lobbing an extra tweet the military’s way: "Of course we should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did. I pointed him out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center. President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars & they never told us he was living there. Fools!.."
While there’s certainly valid criticism to be offered to a wide range of individuals for the nation’s failure to take more serious action about bin Laden and the threat posed by al-Qaida earlier — a point made clear in the 9/11 Commission Report — how Admiral McRaven could possibly be to blame for that is nothing short of nonsensical. Finding bin Laden after 9/11 was the responsibility of the intelligence community, most prominently the CIA. SEAL Team 6 scrambled within hours of being told where to go. Were the commandos supposed to be doing the CIA’s job, too?
And, by the way, the admiral was never a Hillary Clinton “backer,” a point he restated this week. He has said that he admires two presidents under whom he served, Barack Obama and George W. Bush. He added that he admires “all presidents, regardless of their political party, who uphold the dignity of the office and who use that office to bring the nation together in challenging times.” Guess who doesn’t make that guest list?
Chalk this one up to a president who holds grudges that he seasons with the smallest kernels of facts and then throws it all into a soupy mix sprinkled with deep-fried resentments like the topping on so much green bean casserole — only a lot less tasty.
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