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Campaigns evoke ghost of bin Laden

One year ago today, a group of brave Navy SEALs flew into Pakistan and delivered justice to the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, murders that took 3,000 innocent lives.

Death is never anything that should be celebrated, but the killing of mass murderer Osama bin Laden was warranted. Though he was on the run for a decade, evidence shows he was continuing to patiently scheme on ways to murder more Americans, including President Barack Obama.

The decision to go into Pakistan and attempt to capture bin Laden seems an obvious one this far removed from the event, but it was no sure bet at the time. The United States was acting on the best information it had available, but there were no assurances. Had bin Laden not been holed up in that compound outside Islamabad, America would have incurred a great deal of criticism for conducting a failed military strike inside another sovereign nation without that government’s permission.

The safe choice would have been to wait. Had the president done that, in all likelihood we in the public would still be unaware that the U.S. had had the chance to capture or take out bin Laden.

Those who don’t like Obama politically quickly attempted to minimize his role in the slaying of bin Laden, saying he’d done nothing himself to bring bin Laden to justice. The fact is, Obama did exactly as much as any president could have done. Under no circumstances was a president of the United States going to don body armor, grab a gun and take point with SEAL Team 6 to lead the charge into the compound. President Obama’s job — as it would have been President George W. Bush’s had he still been at the nation’s helm when bin Laden was found — was to decide whether to send the military in.

Obama made the right call. And it was a politically gutsy one. If he had been wrong, he might very well have found himself facing re-election opposition within the Democratic Party as well as the Republican one.

The unfortunate thing is that a year later, the ghost of bin Laden has returned — as a campaign issue.

Obama is citing statements his GOP opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, made in 2007 about it not being worth it to move heaven and earth and spend billions of dollars to get a single individual.

Meanwhile, Romney is taking a swipe back at Obama, saying that “even Jimmy Carter” would have sent special forces in after bin Laden last year, an apparent attempt to associate Obama with the failed 1980 U.S. military mission to free the U.S. citizens who were being held by Iran.

In making these arguments, each is proving the other’s point.

Knowing that a failed mission in Pakistan combined with the nation’s economic woes would virtually guarantee him to be a one-term president, Obama proved his mettle by not blinking on the bin Laden call.

When Romney clarified his initial statement a few days later in 2007, he asserted that while he would go after bin Laden, he knew that killing him would not end the al-Qaida threat because that terror organization is much bigger than just one person, even bin Laden.

The fact is, the world is still a very dangerous place, one that would be even more dangerous if that evil orchestrator of destruction were still alive.