Lindsey Graham (R-SC) offered one of the most gracious Republican assessments of President Obama’s role in overseeing the killing of Osama Bin Laden, telling reporters on Tuesday that he made a “bold and right decision” to send in a special forces team.
“The president made the correct decision to send boots on the ground,” he said at a pen and pad briefing with the Senate press. “His concern was that an airstrike, while it may accomplish the job, you could never prove that we got Bin Laden. He had three options and I want to compliment the President for making what I thought a bold and right decision. Candidate Obama said in 2008 if we find Bin Laden in Pakistan and we believe the Pakistanis are unreliable or can’t help I reserve unto myself as President the ability to go after this guy. He made the correct decision.”
TPM SLIDESHOW: Osama Bin Laden: 9/11 Mastermind, Longtime U.S. Enemy Killed In PakistanAsked about the political impact on the President of the operation, Graham noted that there was plenty of credit to go around even while Obama deserved the nation’s gratitude.
“I think the President deserves credit for making a bold decision,” he said. “It’s like the Cold War: no one President brought it to conclusion. President Bush’s team deserves credit for putting infrastructure in place that led to this day, but hat’s off to President Obama.”
Nonetheless, Graham said that while he was certain that the evidence available showed Bin Laden was killed on Sunday, he was concerned that burying the body at sea could make it more difficult to quell conspiracy theories that he was still alive.
“The one thing about the Islamic burial of Bin Laden — that’s smart, but don’t allow the sensitivity to rush you into making decisions that maybe in hindsight were not the best to make to close the deal,” he said. “I thought holding onto the body for a period of time to allow some independent analysis would help us make the case. … It’s not that big a deal, it’s just something to think about in the future.”