On Thursday, during a speech about the planned pullout of American troops from Afghanistan later this year, Joe Biden awkwardly attempted to explain the reasons for America’s going into Afghanistan in the first place. He appeared to forget Osama bin Laden’s name, pausing for a ridiculously awkward six seconds before it came back to him.
“We went for two reasons. One, to … … … bring Osama bin Laden to the Gates of Hell, as I said at the time. The second reason was to eliminate al-Qaeda’s capacity to deal with more attacks in the United States from that territory. We accomplished both of those objectives,” said Biden.
Some have suggested that Biden appeared to take credit for the raid that killed bin Laden here. That may be a bit of a stretch, but it is worth noting that Joe Biden absolutely opposed the raid that ultimately resulted in bin Laden’s death. He’s even acknowledged this. In 2012, he told the story of how he advised Obama to NOT order the raid. “[Barack Obama] went around the table with all the senior people, including the chiefs of staff, and he said, ‘I have to make a decision. What is your opinion?’ He started with the national security advisor, the Secretary of State, and he ended with me,” Biden recalled. “He said, ‘Joe, what do you think?’ And I said … ‘Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go.’”
Barack Obama confirmed Biden’s opposition to the raid during a debate with Mitt Romney. “When it comes to going after Osama bin Laden, you said, well, any president would make that call. But when you were a candidate in 2008 … you said we shouldn’t move heaven and earth to get one man, and you said we should ask Pakistan for permission. … And even some in my own party, including my current vice president, had the same critique as you did,” Obama said.
As many as six Obama administration officials, including Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, and Robert Gates, also say Biden opposed the raid.
So, it’s no secret that Biden opposed the bin Laden raid, but he’s been trying to rewrite history on this for years. The New York Times noted that “by January 2013, Mr. Biden had begun hedging on whether he had opposed the raid.”
“I remember walking up to his office and saying: ‘Look, follow your instincts. Follow your instincts,’ ” he said in a January 2013 interview.
When asked specifically whether he had advised against the raid, Mr. Biden said: “Let me put it this way: My advice was, follow your instincts, knowing what his instinct was.”
On Tuesday [October 20, 2015], Mr. Biden’s evolution continued. Before an audience at George Washington University, Mr. Biden said he never gave Mr. Obama definitive advice on controversial issues in front of other officials, mindful that he did not want the rest of the team to see a difference between his opinion and that of the president. With others around them, Mr. Biden said he suggested one more pass over the Abbottabad compound with an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone.
After the meeting in the Situation Room, though, Mr. Biden said he privately gave the president his real view. “As we walked out of the room and went upstairs, I told him my opinion, that I said that I thought he should go but to follow his own instincts,” Mr. Biden said Tuesday.
Biden’s revisionist history has continued ever since. While campaigning in Iowa in 2020, Biden was asked outright by Fox News’s Peter Doocy, “Didn’t you tell President Obama not to go after bin Laden?”
Biden replied, “No, I didn’t. I didn’t,” directly contradicting his past account.
What happened between 2012, when Biden said he opposed the raid, and 2013, when his story evolved? Isn’t it obvious? It’s well known that Biden was considering a run for president in 2016. Opposition to the raid would have been a political liability in a primary against Hillary Clinton. So his story evolved. But rather than own his past position and admit he was wrong, he’s been repeatedly trying to put his original story down the Orwellian memory hole. Regardless of whether you believe he was trying to take credit for the raid now, he most certainly has tried to rewrite history, not once owning up to his past opposition to the raid.
Of course, if he’s forgetting Osama bin Laden’s name, I guess one could argue he simply doesn’t remember the facts.