Abbott Bad on Abbottabad
Like every ambitious Texas GOPer, Abbott was at last weekend's Republican Party of Texas Convention in Dallas. At one point, the topic of conversation turned to Operation Neptune Spear, the mission deep in Pakistan ordered by President Barack Obama, in which bin Laden was killed. Wayne Slater at the Dallas Morning News caught this little gem from the attorney general's speech, about the raid on (and you can't make this up) Abbottabad:
Abbott dismissed President Obama’s record on terrorism, saying the president issued "an order that any president would have given. It was the Navy Seals who took out Osama bin Laden."Any president? Oh, really?
Funny, because when President George W. Bush had a prime opportunity to find bin Laden in late 2001, as he was hiding out in Tora Bora in Afghanistan, he punted. Rather than committing a major infantry deployment, Bush instead sent in 48 U.S. Special Forces Troops. This was against intelligence community advice, and has long been seen as a pivotal misstep that allowed bin Laden to escape into Pakistan, where he spent the next few years of his life in seemingly state-sponsored seclusion and security.
And Bush's response? In March, 2012, he said about the man who was supposedly global public enemy number one, "I don't know. I don't really think about him very much. I'm not that concerned." As Media Matters notes, there have been utterly misguided attempts to give him a pass on this statement and, with hindsight, it was patently clear that he was much more interested in the buildup to the war on Iraq.
Moreover, as Time reported in 2011, Tora Bora was not the labyrinthine underground fortress of popular myth, but a bunch of pretty simple caves. Compare the difficulty of that task to sending a kill squad into a supposedly friendly nation.
As for the idea that this was a simple decision, that completely ignores the complex web that is South Asian politics, and the real concern that the US strike could have sent India-Pakistani relations into a nuclear-tipped death spiral.
So where was Abbott when all this was happening? Well, in 2002 (the time of Bush's famous statement) he had just resigned from the Texas Supreme Court to run for attorney general. And how did he first land on the state's highest court? He was appointed to the post in 1995 by then-Gov. George W. Bush.