The official White House account of Osama bin Laden’s demise has seen more slapdash cosmetic surgery over the past week than your average “Real Housewives” reality-show star. President Obama’s allies attribute the bungled “narrative” (their word, not mine) to the “Fog of War.” But each passing day — and each new set of hapless revisions — shows that what really ails the administration is the Fog of Fog.
Errors happen. Miscommunications happen. Confusing the name of which of bin Laden’s myriad sons died (Hamza, not Khalid), for example, is no biggie.
But the hourly revamping of key details of Sunday’s raid suggests something far beyond the usual realm of situational uncertainty that accompanies any military operation. The Navy SEALs did their job spectacularly. The civilians tasked with letting the world know about the mission, however, have performed like amateur dinner theater actors in a tragi-comic production of “Rashomon-meets-The Blind Men and the Elephant-meets-Keystone Kops.”
Incapable of straightforward answers, Team Obama’s clarity-challenged civilians have led nauseated news-watchers through more twists and turns than San Francisco’s Lombard Street.
Take your Dramamine, and let’s review.
Take One: Bin Laden died in a bloody firefight.
On Sunday night, Obama dramatically told the world that “after a firefight,” our brave men in uniform “killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”
Embellishing the story the next morning, White House deputy national security adviser John Brennan said at his briefing that bin Laden “was engaged in a firefight with those that entered the area of the house he was in. … And whether or not he got off any rounds, I quite frankly don’t know. … It was a firefight. He, therefore, was killed in that firefight.”
Take Two: Bin Laden did not engage in a firefight.
The day after Brennan disclosed such vivid details, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney walked them back Michael Jackson-style. Bin Laden, he said in version 2.0, “was not armed.” Brennan had clearly implied that bin Laden “resisted” with arms. Carney amended the narrative by insisting that “resistance does not require a firearm.” How exactly bin Laden resisted, Carney would not say.
It’s been all downhill, uphill, K-turns and 180s ever since. Fasten your seatbelts:
Take Three: Bin Laden’s wife died after her feckless husband used her as a human shield.
Take Four: Bin Laden’s wife did not die, wasn’t used as a human shield and was only shot in the leg. Someone else’s wife was killed, somewhere else in the house.
Take Five: A transport helicopter experienced “mechanical failure” and was forced to make a hard landing during the mission.
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