'Obama not politicizing bin Laden anniversary'
Barack Obama's top adviser on terrorism brushed aside criticism by the president's political opponents that he has exploited this week's one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden's killing for political gain.world Updated: Apr 29, 2012 21:28 IST
Barack Obama's top adviser on terrorism brushed aside criticism by the president's political opponents that he has exploited this week's one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden's killing for political gain.
"I don't do politics. I don't do the campaign. I am not a Democrat or Republican," said chief White House counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan.
"All that I know is that the president made the decision when he was given the opportunity to take a gutsy decision, to carry out that raid with our special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan," Brennan told ABC television's This Week program.
"The president made that decision. I think the American people are, you know, clearly very appreciative and supportive of that decision. We're safer today as a result," he said.
Brennan noted that Obama took the decision to go forward with the raid against the advice of some of his most senior advisers who had reservations about the operation, which was fraught with peril for the Navy Seals sent into Pakistan to carry it out in the dead of night.
Obama's campaign last week released a video to mark the anniversary and suggested that Osama bin Laden might be alive today had Republicans' soon-to-be presidential nominee Mitt Romney been in the White House.
US Senator John McCain, who lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential election and who remains one of the president's most dogged critics, said last week that the advertisement politicized an issue that ought become fodder for November's presidential campaign.
"Shame on Barack Obama for diminishing the memory of September 11th and the killing of Osama bin Laden by turning into it a cheap political attack ad," he said.
"He's doing a shameless end zone dance to help get himself reelected. No one disputes that the president deserves credit for ordering the raid, but to politicize it in this way is the height of hypocrisy."
In the upcoming presidential campaign, Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is seeking to unseat the Democratic incumbent Obama, mostly for what he says has been faulty stewardship of the economy. But like McCain he also criticizes the president's handling of military and security matters.
Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs meanwhile told NBC television that the success campaign to hunt down and kill bin Laden was "fair game" on the campaign trail.
"Look, just a few years ago President Obama, then a candidate, said in a speech if we have actionable intelligence of a high valued target in Pakistan we'd go in and get that high value target. Mitt Romney said that was foolish. He wouldn't do such a thing. That he wouldn't move heaven and earth to get Osama Bin Laden," Gibbs told NBC's "Meet the Press."
"Barack Obama... was brought actionable intelligence, directed the brave men and women in our military to go in and kill Osama bin Laden," said Gibbs.
"Osama bin Laden no longer walks on this planet today because of that brave decision, and the brave actions by the men and women in our military."