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Presidential Decisionmaking And Error


So in the post below, I expressed my unhappiness with people who - with no meaningful data - built a narrative critical of the White House. I claimed that they did so because they were more interested in selling a narrative than telling the truth.

I still believe that.

But...I've been contacted by someone who I reasonably believe has meaningful data, and who set out for me information that places the White House in a pretty bad position on this. I'll leave it to others who can disclose sources to make more of a public issue of this - but I know enough now to question my own assertions.

It's complicated, but I want to suggest that I was both right (that critics didn't have enough information to make the partisan claims they were making) and wrong (in saying that the White House had performed well).

Sigh. Reality is a cruel bitch sometimes.



Kudos. It isn't easy to admit making mistakes. I'm impressed, actually.

Armed Liberal's defense of President Obama may no longer be intact, but I believe mine still is.

Armed Liberal:

So in the post below, I expressed my unhappiness with people who - with no meaningful data - built a narrative critical of the White House. I claimed that they did so because they were more interested in selling a narrative than telling the truth.
I still believe that.

This is a serious claim of dishonesty and hostility.

I think it's not reasonable to expect you to back it up, because it's a claim about someone else's state of mind. We all wind up with strong opinions that we can't prove about other peoples states of mind. That's the human condition.

I think it is reasonably to ask you to spell out your claim. What is this narrative, and who do you say is selling it?

What a tease!

So, what you're saying is that the people who condemned Obama were right.

What was that about 'not arguing with success,' again?

So those attacking Obama without data were selling a narrative, and those defending him without data were using Occam's Razor.


I suggest some time looking in a mirror.

The irony here is thick. Aside from AL who has some privileged information, we're all STILL operating without any facts. I'd put the touchdown dance on hold until you figure out what you are celebrating. As far as we know everything still went really damned well. Maybe this navy commander went way the hell out on a limb and saved Obama from himself, but i'd really like to hear that story.

"and those defending him without data were using Occam's Razor"

We have some data- 3 dead pirates, 1 live hostage.

Maybe this navy commander went way the hell out on a limb and saved Obama from himself, but i'd really like to hear that story.

For good or ill, we're unlikely to hear it from a credible source until somebody with first-hand knowledge retires. Even then, whoever comes forward had better have a squeaky-clean past. And heaven forfend he should use his middle name.

Interesting. What kind of information would elicit this kind of post? I'm assuming it's not as clear-cut as the White House having given orders to the effect of "under no circumstances are you to harm the pirates" and the captain said "bugger that".

So it's possible the White House vacillated somewhat - "we are going to negotiate our way out of this", then later "okay, just rescue the captain". Eh. I can live with that. We're talking about a rookie president, one who's not exactly noted for his strong decision-making abilities to start with. Honestly, I don't expect his instincts on issues like this to be any good. If this is him second-guessing himself and averting a tragedy/winning a positive outcome, well and good.

On the other hand, if it's bad enough that AL is backing off of his defense of Obama, even before any of the information has come out, it's probably pretty bad, not just Obama musing "gee, it'd be nice if we could come up with a peaceful solution."

I'm in my annual alignment with Mark Buehner. In this day and age, the anonymous sourcing of this post doesn't go to far with me unless A.L. can state that this was an admission against interest (e.g., by a member of the Obama Administration). The people who feed Blackfive don't count no matter how gaudy the uniform.

Happy anniversary Andrew.

This is interesting, if not necessarily new:

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama twice authorized the military to rescue a U.S. captain who was being held by Somali pirates and whose life appeared to be at risk, administration officials said after Sunday's rescue.

The Defense Department twice asked Obama for permission to use military force to rescue Capt. Richard Phillips from a lifeboat off the Somali coast. Obama first gave permission around 8 p.m. Friday, and upgraded it at 9:20 a.m. Saturday. Officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations said the second order was to encompass more military personnel and equipment that arrived in the Indian Ocean to engage the pirates.

The Navy would have had standard orders to defend the life of the hostage unless specifically countermanded (ie- don't shoot under any circumstances).

So- any orders to the Navy on Friday would either be to clarify that authority, or to change to ROE in some other way allowing for an attempt at a rescue.

Now the Saturday order is interesting, because that's when the SEALs showed up.

I find this interesting because the SEALs may have been operating under the auspices of the Special Operations Command. Would the Saturday orders have been either the same as the orders to the Navy (since the SEALs are under a different command) or an order putting the SEALs under naval command?

My gut is telling me their was a jurisdictional component to this story, which could also help explain the SEALs tardy arrival. Or its entirely possible Obama specifically forbade the SEALs to be called in in order not to escalate the situation, which might explain ALs revelation.

Getting warm?

Let's see, the NYTimes publishes a criticism of Obama from senior defense officials. Armed Liberal makes up a defense of Obama's purported motive out of whole cloth and calls people who disagree with him "salesmen," which from a previous post I take to be a euphemism for "whores." He reconsiders his position, but the people who disagree with him are still whores, I mean salesmen. Ad hominem, a homena, ho.

I'm not sure PD Shaw and I are looking at the same thing. He[?] mentions "the NYTimes publishes a criticism of Obama from senior defense officials."

I assume the referent is from Joe Katzman in the previous thread:
The Defense Department twice sought Mr. Obama’s permission to use force to rescue Captain Phillips, most recently on Friday night, senior defense officials said. On Saturday morning, the president agreed, they said, if it appeared that the captain’s life was in imminent danger.
Like, where's the criticism from DoD officials? The criticism is from WoC commenters and anonymous, possibly-DoD, sources. Are we assuming all this criticism is taking off from the Times' information, or—not a rhetorical question—have I missed some further Times story?


The Times could have made up the sources out of whole cloth in order to concoct a hit piece on Obama, is that your suggestion?

My gut is telling me their was a jurisdictional component to this story, which could also help explain the SEALs tardy arrival.

Could you say a bit more about that, Mark? I'd like to think there was a decent reason for the SEALs to take so long getting there, but I don't know of any. Because I'm a whore.

I claimed that they did so because they were more interested in selling a narrative than telling the truth.
What gave it away, the lack of invented conversations?

If I recall correctly, after 9/11 the Special Operations Command became something like a coequal to the other branches of the military and were given the point in the global terrorism war. The SEALS are technically still organized as Navy but they draw their budget and take their orders from SOCOM, so they aren't in the naval chain of command.

In other words the navy can't just whistle them up when they need them, there is a whole chain of events necessary to shake them loose. Little things like how the SEALS will deploy (who pays for the trip essentially) can hang stuff like this up. Disturbing, but true.

I suspect (and I have no proof of this at all) that since this incident wasn't 'terrorism' related, there may have been some foot dragging or at least discussion over whether to allocate a SEAL team for what SOCOM might consider a purely navy piracy issue. Obviously the administration could cut through a lot of red tape in a hurry, and my suspicion is that this is where things got gummed up. Not really hard to believe with a new administration that has to listen to all sides and make a decision when the kids are squabbling.

It's kind of gay to still be making up imaginary stories with Obama as the hero at this stage.

You have given no evidence that you'd have a clue if the services presented themselves to President Obama as squabbling brats, requiring the wise all-father to take time to hear them all out before making the saving decision.

Nor would I. And I don't need to know that.

There's no urgency about this. We can just wait. And such facts as will emerge, will emerge.

Read into what i said however you want David, but that's not what I said. I think it's pretty obvious after this long that i'm no big fan of Obama, and that i'm a huge supporter of the military. I call em like I see em with the information available. And don't particularly give a damn what you think.

But the relevant information is not available.

It's called speculation for a reason David. And you might consider that blade cuts both ways.

This much is certainly true, from David Blue:

"There's no urgency about this. We can just wait. And such facts as will emerge, will emerge."

That will be years away. Meantime, we will make our judgments. I made mine based on a NY Times story, which as far as I'm concerned is more or less the same thing as Andrew's desired admission from senior Democratic Party sources.

It was not a set in stone judgment, but if the information was correct, I believe that it was not an unreasonable judgment. I do have enough respect for Marc, and his sources, that if his source had said "no, the NYT got it wrong again, Obama did everything you could ask for" - then that would have sufficed to change my opinion.

As always, I appreciate Marc's honesty in throwing the result out there, regardless of whether it makes him look good or not.

bgates, I meant the anonymous (and hence possibly-DoD) sources of places like Blackfive.

There is no hit piece in the NY Times. You and PD Shaw have placed a critical interpretation on the facts that the DoD sources gave the paper. That's your reaction to the news that Obama gave permission twice, a fact for which there are any number of explanations (e.g., Buehner's chain-of-command).

I see, Andrew. I misread you. Thanks.

AJL - Andrew, I do read B5, but my source isn't them; it is someone I know from the shooting world who does have connections to the 'operator" community, and who circulated excepts from an email. a) I know this person and trust them, b) I know they have connections at levels that would give them access to this kind of stuff, and c) I am discounting for political spin (which exists, trust me...).

My revised post stands...the outcome was great, and ultimately the WH did the right thing. But if what I saw was valid, it took a while...chalk it up to a learning curve.



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