New on NewsReal – What Does the Bin Laden Takedown Mean for Obama’s 2012 Prospects?

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Democrats were understandably thrilled that it was their guy, Barack Obama, who finally nailed Osama bin Laden, who has for the past decade been as elusive as he was hated. But just how much of a political boon is the victory for the president? That’s the question asked today by the Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky, who sees it as a major shift away from the Democrats’ dovish image:

But now, the killing of Osama bin Laden is changing this equation dramatically. Alleged Muslim Barack Obama did in two and a half years what Bush couldn’t do in seven and a half. It wasn’t just the result. The nature of the operation is still breathtaking, weeks later, and the risk Obama took, which he conveyed with masterful cool in his 60 Minutes interview, is mind-blowing (imagine if bin Laden hadn’t been there!). You can call the president who oversaw the operation many things, but weak isn’t one of them.

To talk as if there were two separate hunts for bin Laden is an astoundingly dishonest oversimplification. The truth is that American intelligence officials spent years following the key intelligence trail:

Some time after Sept. 11, detainees held by the U.S. told interrogators about a man believed to work as a courier for bin Laden, senior administration officials said. The man was described by detainees as a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and “one of the few Al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin laden.”

Initially, intelligence officials only had the man’s nickname, but they discovered his real name four years ago.

Two years ago, intelligence officials began to identify areas of Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated, and the great security precautions the two men took aroused U.S. suspicions.

Last August, intelligence officials tracked the men to their residence in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a relatively wealthy town 35 miles north of Islamabad where many retired military officers live […]

President Obama was made aware of the compound when it was discovered last year. By mid-February, the intelligence was solid and since mid-March, Obama led five meetings with the National Security Council regarding the issue.

Intelligence officials worked with the U.S. military to plan the operation and a small team accepted the risk and began to train for it.

On April 29, this past Friday, Obama gave the final go ahead.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

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