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Seamans: The Obama Perspective

05/10/11 7:55AM By Bill Seamans
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(HOST)  Commentator Bill Seamans was surprised by how much personal information was revealed in President Obama's "60 Minutes" interview.

(SEAMANS)  The strategic imperative - hunting down and killing Osama bin Laden - and its impact on American security and geopolitics is being analyzed by myriad observers.  It's a highly sophisticated, complex and formalistic story that tests the experience of veteran Washington reporters who have done an admirable job explaining the story.  I note that some also told about the effect the killing of bin Laden had on them personally - a dimension they rarely use in their analyses but one that very effectively illuminated their commentaries on this story.

President Obama gave them more work to do in his interview on "60 Minutes" Sunday evening.  While the technicalities were discussed, I could not help but feel that Obama revealed a degree of his own introspective dimension that was not evident in the usual media stories.  The raid was "the longest 40 minutes of my life - yes, I was nervous."   And Obama revealed that while they could not say definitely that bin Laden was there, he "had an instinct that it was worth doing."  That was the presidential way of saying "I had a gut feeling..."

Obama's inner thoughts surfaced again when he revealed the degree of secrecy he had to impose on the mission.  He told only a few people in the White House who "had to know" but this did not include some of his closest senior aides.  And he did NOT tell his family.  He admitted that there were moments when he wanted to talk to someone about it, but a leak, he said, could have killed the Seals.  Obama gave the order to attack on Friday, and on Saturday he visited the tornado torn south, gave a speech at Cape Canaveral, then back to Washington for the White House Correspondents dinner.  While not saying so, it sounded like a deliberate day of normal presidential activity to cover up the Seal raid that was getting under way.  In public he was Mr. Cool while, as he said, his huge decision weighed so heavily on his mind.

Obama told interviewer Steve Kroft about another personal experience - that he actually saw a model of bin Laden's compound that was brought into the White House situation room to explain the tactics.  He expressed his deep concern, he said, that there was as much intense planning for getting the Seals out safely - as to getting them in.

Yes, he did see bin Laden's body and "I knew it was him!"  Finally, while the interview had been essentially apolitical, I wonder who Obama had in mind when he said about bin Laden - "Anyone who thinks he didn't get what he deserved should have his head examined."

As I said, Obama gave us a more personal perspective on "60 Minutes".
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