President Obama apparently played cards during or after the Bin Laden raid according to a close aide.
On May 1, 2011 our time, SEAL Team 6 raided Osama bin Laden’s residential compound in in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and killed the 9/11 mastermind.
In a public forum hosted by UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, former presidential aide Reggie Love described that Sunday as a very long day at the White House and noted that on weekends, the president generally only works a half a day.
Most of the key national security officials were in the White House Situation Room — the scene of that famous iconic photo — monitoring the progress of the SEAL team. At least for some part of the day, however, the president hung out in the private dining room with Love, White House photographer Pete Souza, and another staffer, Marvin Nicholson.
Said Love: “Most people were like down in the Situation Room and [President Obama] was like, ‘I’m not going to be down there, I can’t watch this entire thing.’ So he, myself, Pete… and Marvin… we must have played 15 hands — 15 games of spades.” See embed above (apparently the full interview has been taken down from YouTube).
New York magazine estimates that 15 hands of spades would last 150 minutes, while the SEAL raid on the compound including helicopter travel took about 220 minutes. “So while the timeline is unclear, Obama wasn’t necessarily playing cards upstairs during any of the exciting parts.”
Pinpointing events more specifically, HotAir.com suggests that the presidential card-playing likely happened after the raid. “Bin Laden was killed sometime between 2:30 and 3 p.m. D.C. time (the raid took only 36 minutes), but it wasn’t until 7 p.m. that Obama was told there was a ‘high probability’ that the guy they all thought was Bin Laden was in fact Bin Laden. Nearly four more hours would pass before he addressed the nation. That’s the time frame that I think Love’s referring to — some point between 3 and 10:45 p.m., while the White House was waiting around for DNA confirmation that ‘Geronimo’ was who they thought he was.”
Unless there are more revelations to come, it appears Obama critics don’t have anything to complain about here with the president playing cards during parts of the day when the SEALS conducted their operation. On the other hand, you may recall the scorn and ridicule heaped on former President George W. Bush when he waited just seven minutes to leave the second grade classroom at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Fla., after being informed about the 9/11 attack at the World Trade Center.