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New Book Details Emanuel's Role In Killing Osama Bin Laden

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Jun 13, 2012 9:20PM

A new book about the Obama administration features then-Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as a "relentlessly tough" character, who frequently butt heads with Attorney General Eric Holder on policy issues, especially with regard to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and national security issues. Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency by Newsweek correspondent Daniel Klaidman was released last week.

Chicago Magazine's Carol Feisenthal says Emanuel is depicted as "a one-dimensional ramrod of a character; relentlessly tough, profane, desk-pounding, and loyal to one man, his boss, the President; a centrist focused on getting Obama re-elected—principles and promises be damned."

Feisenthal says Emanuel is "more of a heavyweight on national security issues" than she'd imagined, even deserving credit for "a key role in killing Osama bin Laden" and other top al-Qaeda terrorists.

From the book's prologue:

The two main protagonists in this drama were Rahm Emanuel, Obama's intense and volatile chief of staff, and Holder, Obama's friend. From the beginning Holder had struggled politically. He had been muzzled by Emanuel and the White House message police after some early gaffes, and he had fought increasingly lonely — and often unsuccessful — policy battles. Yet the president had his back. So did Valerie Jarrett, Obama's senior adviser and a longtime friend of the president's.


The disagreement on [key Guantanamo Bay prisoner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] played out against a larger internal war over domestic policy that Emanuel would memorably characterize as "Tammany Hall" versus "the Aspen Institute." The Tammany faction, named for the infamous Democratic Party machine, was made up of the political operatives, the hardheaded realists. Opposing Tammany were the idealists and policy wonks who found a philosophical home at think tanks like the Aspen Institute, known for its lofty seminars dedicated to creating a more just society. In Emanuel's conception, the Aspenites sailed naively against the political tide, fighting for unpopular causes long beyond their ability to prevail, often at the expense of the president's standing.