RSS
Should Bush get more credit for bin Laden's death?
President Obama ordered the mission that nailed Osama bin Laden. But some say Obama's predecessor deserves praise, too
George W. Bush prioritized the hunt for Osama bin Laden during his two-term presidency, but since the kill happened on Obama's watch, some say Bush may be losing out on well-deserved credit.
George W. Bush prioritized the hunt for Osama bin Laden during his two-term presidency, but since the kill happened on Obama's watch, some say Bush may be losing out on well-deserved credit.
Getty
M

any Republicans praised President Obama for the Pakistan raid that killed Osama bin Laden, after a hunt that lasted nearly 10 years. Others maintain that the White House should have given more credit to George W. Bush, who authorized the interrogations that reportedly proved crucial to tracking down the al Qaeda leader. Sarah Palin thanked Bush and the military for the relentless hunt, but didn't mention Obama by name. Which president deserves the lion's share of the credit for finally getting bin Laden?

Bush is the one who set this in motion: "Honor and credit for the successful execution of the mission" goes to our brave soldiers, says Adam Yoshida at The American Thinker, but "the strategic vision that brought this glorious moment into being was that of George W. Bush." It was Bush's interrogations that first unmasked the courier who eventually led us to bin Laden. President Obama does deserve some credit, but only for abandoning his campaign promise to change course, and instead sticking with the hunt Bush started.
"Bin Laden's death and the vindication of George W. Bush"

Obama succeeded where Bush failed: Bush ignored intelligence warnings about al Qaeda before 9/11, says Paul Kelly in The Australian, and botched his chance to send his military, in force, to get bin Laden at Tora Bora early in the Afghan war. By contrast, Obama rejected a safer bombing operation in favor of a dangerous raid "filled with military traps and potential political humiliation for him," to be sure the job got done. That's why "the demise of bin Laden has come on Obama's watch, not George W. Bush's."
"Justice delayed but finally delivered"

Obviously, both presidents did what needed to be done: "There is plenty of credit to go around," says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. There's no denying that Bush set the hunt for bin Laden in motion, and he pushed it until the day he left office. "But likewise, conservatives should not be miserly in recognition for Obama's role in bin Laden’s assassination." The operation was risky, and Obama boldly made the tough calls required to get the job done.
"Give credit where credit is due — to both presidents"

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week