STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Trump's preposterous bin Laden comments

President Trump spoke to Chris Wallace of Fox News on Sunday and made a number of false claims about the ope...

Posted: Nov 20, 2018 4:32 AM
Updated: Nov 20, 2018 4:32 AM

President Trump spoke to Chris Wallace of Fox News on Sunday and made a number of false claims about the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

Wallace mentioned the commander of that operation, retired Admiral Bill McRaven, who has publicly criticized Trump for his denigration of the media.

2016 Presidential election

al Qaeda

Asia

Barack Obama

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Elections (by type)

Elections and campaigns

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government departments and authorities

Intelligence services

International relations and national security

Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

Misc organizations

Misc people

National security

Osama Bin Laden

Pakistan

Political candidates

Political Figures - US

Politics

South Asia

US Federal elections

US Presidential elections

William McRaven

Hillary Clinton

Trump responded that McRaven is a "Hilary Clinton backer and an Obama-backer."

In fact, McRaven took no position on the 2016 presidential election in which Clinton ran against Trump.

McRaven did serve in the US military at a time when President Obama was the president, which makes him no more of an Obama backer than anyone in uniform today is a Trump "backer."

After Trump's Fox interview, McRaven told CNN, "I did not back Hillary Clinton or anyone else. I am a fan of President Obama and President George W. Bush, both of whom I worked for."

McRaven's crime, as far as Trump seems to be concerned, is that he publicly defended former CIA director, John Brennan, in August when the President revoked Brennan's security clearance because of his criticism of Trump.

McRaven has also stood up for the press, which Trump routinely derides as "the enemy of the people." In a speech in Texas last year McRaven said, "This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime."

In Sunday's interview, Trump went on to claim that bin Laden was "living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there."

This is complete nonsense. When I was researching a book about the hunt for bin Laden, I spoke to dozens of key government, intelligence and military officials involved in the bin Laden operation and they all said that the Pakistanis had no clue that al Qaeda's leader was living in the city of Abbottabad, Pakistan where he was found.

On the night of the bin Laden operation, US officials eavesdropped on the communications of top Pakistani officials who were completely surprised by the news that bin Laden was living in Abbottabad.

In the interview Sunday, Trump went on to say, "Wouldn't it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that." This is an appalling smear on the many dozens of men and women at the CIA who dedicated their entire careers to finding bin Laden both before and after 9/11.

The fact is that finding bin Laden took a decade after the 9/11 attacks because he wasn't using any form of electronic communication and relied instead on handheld messages delivered by his trusted courier. As a result, even senior leaders of al Qaeda didn't know where bin Laden was hiding.

The whole issue of the hunt for bin Laden may be a sore subject for Trump because the final countdown for the operation took place during the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner when Obama roasted Trump mercilessly for his penchant for spreading conspiracy theories, such as the so-called "birther" conspiracy, which claimed that Obama wasn't an American citizen.

During a break from rehearsing that speech for the correspondents' dinner, Obama called McRaven for a final status check.

"What do you think about the intel?" Obama asked. The intelligence that bin Laden was living in Abbottabad was entirely circumstantial.

"Well, if he's there, we're going to get him. If he's not, we won't," McRaven answered.

"Exactly! It's 50-50," Obama said, according to reporting from my book about the hunt for bin Laden.

The president wrapped up the call, saying, "I couldn't have any more confidence in you than the confidence I have in you and your force. Godspeed to you and your forces. Please pass on to them my personal thanks for their service and the message that I personally will be following this mission very closely."

The bin Laden raid was, of course, a success. Not only was bin Laden killed, but also thousands of important documents about al Qaeda were recovered during the operation. As a result, it is arguably the most successful special operations mission in American history.

After stepping down from leading the Special Operations Command, McRaven became the chancellor of the University of Texas, where as an undergraduate he had majored in journalism. (He has since retired from that role.)

It's an experience that seems to have shaped McRaven's continuing pushback against Trump's assaults on the press.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 468498

Reported Deaths: 9100
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison31907468
Hinds30552569
DeSoto29532342
Jackson22868335
Rankin21016355
Lee14393214
Madison13961263
Jones13053215
Forrest12879231
Lauderdale11244292
Lowndes10148171
Lamar9972122
Pearl River8569208
Lafayette8008136
Hancock7110107
Oktibbeha6764117
Washington6756146
Neshoba6350200
Monroe6304156
Warren6267159
Panola6036122
Pontotoc599292
Bolivar5960143
Marshall5917115
Union558885
Pike5424133
Lincoln5192127
Alcorn509388
George454766
Scott447392
Leflore4377138
Tippah431780
Itawamba429192
Prentiss429074
Copiah423883
Simpson4238108
Wayne419663
Tate418999
Adams4174109
Yazoo411486
Sunflower4057104
Covington404891
Marion399699
Leake389784
Coahoma385996
Newton360273
Grenada3489100
Stone342657
Tishomingo320987
Attala318285
Jasper308261
Winston298191
Clay282672
Chickasaw277464
Clarke271784
Holmes257685
Calhoun256939
Smith241546
Yalobusha215447
Tallahatchie213849
Walthall203457
Lawrence202431
Greene202045
Perry195053
Amite191251
Webster191141
Noxubee173437
Montgomery168652
Jefferson Davis164041
Carroll158936
Tunica146533
Benton137531
Kemper136538
Claiborne124134
Choctaw123824
Humphreys122036
Franklin114127
Quitman100925
Wilkinson98335
Jefferson85832
Sharkey61620
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 757893

Reported Deaths: 12784
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1082301712
Mobile694251158
Madison47738562
Baldwin35347420
Shelby34758281
Tuscaloosa32576495
Montgomery32249645
Lee21576200
Calhoun19621363
Morgan19061307
Etowah18363413
Marshall17028252
Houston15881337
St. Clair14724270
Limestone13908178
Elmore13812239
Cullman13756228
Lauderdale12909263
Talladega12124200
DeKalb11705220
Walker10047303
Autauga9371119
Blount9272146
Jackson8970132
Coffee8550150
Colbert8229160
Dale8162142
Escambia632298
Tallapoosa6255165
Covington6214153
Chilton6152128
Russell586753
Franklin558292
Chambers5155127
Dallas4569173
Marion4490114
Clarke447070
Pike439188
Geneva415999
Lawrence4002101
Winston399982
Bibb388975
Barbour334667
Marengo317778
Monroe306844
Butler305878
Pickens296166
Henry288550
Randolph288255
Hale282981
Cherokee275649
Fayette268569
Washington241844
Crenshaw226962
Clay219260
Macon211154
Cleburne205746
Lamar184638
Conecuh173337
Lowndes167856
Coosa160031
Wilcox153033
Bullock145642
Perry132430
Sumter122635
Greene117941
Choctaw71925
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 72°
Columbus
Cloudy
71° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 71°
Oxford
Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 68°
Starkville
Cloudy
° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: °
The combo of a no named front and former tropical system Nicholas' leftovers will continue leave us with some pretty decent chances for some showers and thunderstorms over the next several days.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather