Monday, October 20th, 2014

Pledge to kill Osama bin Laden earns Promise Kept

The FBI's Most Wanted list was changed to list Osama bin Laden as "Deceased."
The FBI's Most Wanted list was changed to list Osama bin Laden as "Deceased."

We have rated President Barack Obama's 2008 vow to kill Osama bin Laden a Promise Kept in our Obameter database. The promise to "crush" al-Qaida is now rated In the Works.

to put Sunday's dramatic events in perspective, we have pulled together our ratings for seven other promises related to terrorism.

Some of the highlights:

•   In March, we gave Obama a Promise Broken for his vow to "close the detention facility at Guantanamo." On March 7, 2011, the president signed an executive order making a number of changes to policies regarding those detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In a reversal of his previous policy, the order resumed military trials for detainees and established "periodic reviews" for others who were being held without being charged, convicted or designated for transfer.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. blamed Congress for "imposing restrictions that challenge the Executive Branch"s ability to bring to justice terrorists who seek to do Americans harm," and added, "We oppose those restrictions and will continue to seek their repeal."

But, as we said at the time, blame is not the final arbiter of whether a promise is kept or broken. Because it seemed clear Guantanamo would not be closed during Obama's first term, we ruled it was Broken.

•  Obama earned a Promise Kept for his vow to "appoint a deputy national security advisor to be in charge of coordinating all U.S. programs aimed at reducing the risk of nuclear terrorism and weapons proliferation." Gary Samore was installed as National Security Council coordinator for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation within a few days of Obama's Jan. 20, 2009, inauguration.

•  Three other promises have been ruled In the Works, but we realize they some need updating.

We rated the promise to establish new security practices at chemical plants as In The Works after the House passed the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009 by a vote of 230 to 193 on Nov. 6, 2009, and haven't revisited it since.

In January, 2010, we gave the benefit of the doubt to Obama's promise to "redouble our efforts to develop technology that can detect radiation and determine the danger it poses, [working] with the maritime transportation industry to integrate this technology into their operations so as to maximize security without causing economic disruption."Congress had required in the fiscal 2008 spending bill that Department of Homeland Securing affirm that the technology it was testing represents a significant improvement before moving ahead with full deployment. And in June, 2009, the National Research Council said that the gains in accuracy may not justify the cost. But, because the testing was continuing we ruled it In the Works.

We also ruled In the Works, Obama's promise that his administration would "expand the U.S. government's bioforensics program for tracking the source of any biological weapon so that the U.S. will be able to rapidly identify any adversary who uses a biological weapon and respond surely and swiftly."

We'll be updating those promises soon.

•  We rated two promises Stalled. One was to develop an alternative to President George W. Bush's Military Commissions Act on handling detainees, which we rated Stalled on May 20, 2009, after the Obama administration announced May 15 that it would keep the special system designed to prosecute detainees but tweak the law to "restore the commissions as a legitimate forum for prosecution."

Also rated Stalled was Obama's campaign promise to "address the problem in our prisons, where the most disaffected and disconnected Americans are being explicitly targeted for conversion by al-Qaida and its ideological allies." The  January, 2010 ruling was based on the assessment of specialists on terrorist recruitment, who said they were unaware of any specific initiatives at that point by the Obama administration.

•  We ruled that Obama had reached a Compromise on his promise that he would hold a summit on nuclear terrorism in 2009 — his first year in office — "and regularly thereafter." In July, 2009, Obama had announced a plan to host a Global Nuclear Security Summit in March 2010.

We've also done many Truth-O-Meter rulings on claims about terrorism. Here are some of our rulings involving Osama bin Laden:

• In 2008, a flier from the Republican National Committee earned a Pants-On-Fire for a claims that "Barack Obama thinks terrorists just need a good talking to." Among other things, we noted that then candidate Obama had said during a debate with Republican rival John McCain that "If we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act and we will take them out. We will kill bin Laden; we will crush al Qaeda."

• We also ruled Barely True remarks by former New York City mayor Rudy Giulliani that for four days in Denver, during the Democratic convention, "Democrats were afraid to use the words 'Islamic terrorism.'"

• And more recently, Glenn Beck earned a Half True for claiming there were ties between Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda and bin Laden.