It was a profile in courage on Obama's part, a tough decision of the kind that we expect of our chief executives.
That said, it must be noted that the raid on bin Laden would not have happened had not Obama and his team made such productive use of the leads and methods and put in place during the Bush administration - most of which came under the harshest of criticism from Obama and his fellow liberals at the time.
For starters, we would not have known where Osama was had it not been for information produced by the waterboarding of Osama's deputy, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (architect of the 9/11 attacks), after his capture in Pakistan in 2003. That "enhanced interrogation" technique (used against KSM and two other senior al-Qaida members) unleashed a flood of information, including the names of the only courier that Osama trusted, one Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. It was that person whose trail eventually led the CIA to Osama's whereabouts. Critics said such interrogations rarely produce reliable information. KSM seems to have proven them wrong.
Moreover, the waterboarding took place while KSM was "loaned out" into the custody of allies in an undisclosed foreign location, a process known as "rendition." That process, like waterboarding, was harshly criticized during the Bush years by the Obamas and Pelosis of the world.
Fast forwarding a bit, one of President Obama's first official actions, on his second day in office, was to shut down the CIA's "high-value interrogation program." He then sicced his Justice Department under Eric Holder on the CIA to reopen criminal investigations against our own interrogators - even though career prosecutors had concluded years earlier in the 2000s that no crimes had taken place and there was nothing to prosecute, according to last week's Washington Post. And shortly afterward, Obama used a speech at the National Archives to accuse the men and women of the CIA of "torture," adding that their techniques had "undermined" the war on terror.
Yet now it appears certain that the biggest coup of Obama's career could not have taken place without the information gleaned by the very tactics he once decried. Tactics criticized for "shredding the Constitution" when performed by the Bush/Cheney administration are now seen as generators of actionable intelligence by Obama, although his administration still has qualms against using the techniques themselves.
It's probably too much to expect a public apology from Obama, an admission that he was wrong or that he is learning on the job.
Much more important is that he assure the public that when terrorists are captured after the next attacks they will undergo the same type of harsh interrogations as their predecessors - not be meekly read their Miranda "rights" and provided taxpayer subsizided lawyers like they were no more dangerous that a teenaged shoplifter.
Now that it is he who is ultimately responsible for the safety of this country, President Obama - as opposed to Candidate Obama - is beginning to see the wisdom behind such Bush policies as waterboarding, renditions and detentions at Guantanamo.