Martin Bashir | May 01, 2012
>>> it has been a day of surprise visits. while the president arrived unannounced in afghanistan , mitt romney had an unannounced pizza lunch with firefighters here in new york city just hours after saying this on cbs.
>> the idea to try to politicize this and to say, oh, i president obama would have done it one way, mitt romney would have done it another is really disappointing. let's not make the capture or killing of osama bin laden a politically divisive event.
>> absolutely, mr. romney . and yet at a choreographed campaign event moments ago, romney joined america's mayor rudolph giuliani at a new york fire house that lost 11 firefighters on september 11th .
>> i think it is totally appropriate for the president to express to the american people the view that he had an important roll in taking out osama bin laden . i think politicizing it was, and try to draw a distinction between himself and myself was an inappropriate --
>> you notice we had to [ bleep ] out the protester there. i guess romney didn't consider the potential drawbacks of holding his photo ops on the day of citywide occupy protests. with me, professor dyson . political chief vogel and here, the correspondent for the nation. ari, it was unfortunate that mitt romney was heckled in that way. what was your reaction to him saying this morning in all seriousness, this anniversary should not be politicized and yet going to a fire house in new york and eating pizza with firefighters.
>> two reactions to this. one is obviously the hypocrisy, which you just spot lighted. the republican party spent ten years politicizing the osama bin laden was missing, holding the 2004 convention in new york and making a great deal out of 9/11 for political props. that is number one. and some of that continues to this day. number two, we are going to get a substantive debate out of this and that's a good thing. for example, governor romney has said this was an easy call. this was what anyone would do, including former president carter which was meant as a slight. that would suggest that he either disgraes or is not familiar with what many intelligence experts have that, which was that this was a difficult call. a 50/50 or a 40/60 call. that there were very difficult assessments that had to be made about going into an ally or sometime allied nation of pakistan . an issue in the last campaign that romney had criticized obama for. so both on the issue of sovereignty and how you interpret intelligence. what we're seeing is a big difference in the approach to this. a big difference in the understanding of it. that is a good debate to have. one i think that the president obviously wins but that's the debate.
>> i think it was a very difficult decision. rather invently for mitt, rudolph giuliani was actually on the opposite side in 2007 agreeing with the president in advocating a go it alone strategy to get bin laden . take a listen to this.
>> there was no other way to crush al qaeda , no other way to crush the taliban, and no other way to be able to capture bin laden , i think pakistan has unfortunately not been making the efforts they should be making.
>> i think obama is confused as to who are our friends and who are our enemies. he wants to unilaterally bomb a nation which is our friend.
>> with the greatest respect to mr. romney , isn't the fact that bin laden was allowed to live in that compound for something like six, seven, maybe even ten years, undisturbed, proof that pakistan was not a friend of the american government at all in relation to bin laden .
>> it certainly raises that question. and i think there is a legitimate debate about pakistani sovereignty and the sentence to which the pakistanis are aligned with us and our best interests. it is also ironic, if i could pick up on another thing that ari was talking about on, a day when romney is training this fire on obama for politicizing 9/11, he is doing it with giuliani at his side. a man who was criticized by both the left and the right for years for politicizing 9/11 and really making his political legacy out of it and running for president on that legacy in 2008 . so that is sort of ironic. as to whether president obama is taking it a step further by not only campaigning on the death of osama bin laden and suggesting that mitt romney hasn't done the same. there is also a legitimate question to be raised there. but i don't think it is one that will resonate with the american people . there was just such a swelling of pride. to some extent, revenge over the killing of osama bin laden . and i think it is hard to turn that around and use it against president obama no matter how you try to do it.
>> i should explain that we're at images on the right of the screen of the president who arrived in afghanistan at 2:39 p.m . eastern time today. and he is there to meet with president karzai of afghanistan torborg sign an agreement that plots the future of the next ten years for that nation. professor dyson , i want to come to you now. you said and you've said this repeatedly, in many ways, republicans have wanted to denude the president of any achievement of this event. going back to what ken vogel and ari was saying, the fact is this showed enormous strength of character. it was a unilateral action and going into foreign territory with no guarantee of success whatsoever.
>> i think they are absolutely right. the reality is that this was a very risky military venture. he risked a great deal of political cap. hit gone south, his reputation would have followed. he was able to muster the courage to make the decision, the clarity of mind, the lucidity of the decision process and he acted with dispatch. he didn't sit there once having heard about 911 for four or five or six minutes in a classroom and then run for cover . he made an executive decision . he achieved his goal. he announced it to the american people . and he moved on to the next situation. he is cool and calm. not only in domestic situations but in international affairs as well. so i think as mr. vogel indicated, it would be awfully difficult to impugn the dignity of mr. obama in regard to the discretionary use of the osama bin laden killing against him. that was the very focal point for so long for the efforts of america and it became a symbol of how we were being trumped. now with the triumph over a certain segment of terror, president obama cannot be said to be politicizing an event that was central to the politics of american culture .
>> professor dyson , ken vogel thank