Jimmy Carter was ultimately undone by a hostage crisis and the word Somalia still haunts Bill Clinton’s legacy. While the weekend rescue of a hostage held by Somali pirates was of a much smaller scale and under totally different circumstances than those events, President Obama must be relieved that it is behind him, a success. And now that it’s over, it seems the president was more involved than he initially let on.
In fact, aides said [Sunday], Obama had been briefed 17 times since he returned from his trip abroad, including several times from the White House Situation Room. And without giving too many details, senior White House officials made it clear that Obama had provided the authority for the rescue.
“The president’s focus was on saving and protecting the life of the captain,” one adviser said. Friday evening, after a National Security Council telephone update, Obama granted U.S. forces what aides called “the authority to use appropriate force to save the life of the captain.” On Saturday at 9:20 a.m., Obama went further, giving authority to an “additional set of U.S. forces to engage in potential emergency actions.”
A top military official, Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, commander of the Fifth Fleet, explained that Obama issued a standing order that the military was to act if the captain’s life was in immediate danger.