President Barack Obama deserves America's thanks because he made the tough call the other day to get Osama bin Laden, whose terrorists killed thousands of Americans on Sept. 11 almost 10 years ago.
Technically, you might say the CIA got bin Laden, along with the heroic operators of Navy SEAL Team Six who jumped from the helicopters and roped their way down into bin Laden's fortress and pulled the triggers.
But President Obama made the call.
Politics will come back in a day or two. But whether you're a Democrat or a Republican or a libertarian, a dove or a hawk, an Obamanot or a Hopium smoker, can we agree on one thing?
That our president deserves praise.
No, that's not a typo. Obama made the decision to send American troops into Pakistan. He risked inflaming a tenuous relationship with that country.
Bin Laden's fortress was in a neighborhood of senior Pakistan military officers, just 100 yards from a military academy, and the bosses in Pakistan didn't know that bin Laden was their guest?
If Obama had been wrong, if the operation had ended in disaster, he'd be roasted for it.
Even after all the intelligence was weighed, U.S. officials were not 100 percent sure that it really was bin Laden in that fortress compound in the relatively wealthy neighborhood in the suburbs of the Pakistani capital.
There was excellent analysis, yes, years of painstaking and risky brainwork by CIA analysts who worked on a tip squeezed out of another terrorist through "enhanced interrogation," but no real, concrete evidence.
"Still, though, there was nothing that confirmed that bin Laden was at that compound," said Obama's counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, a former CIA senior official.
"And therefore, when President Obama was faced with the opportunity to act upon this, the president had to evaluate the strength of that information and then made what I believe was one of the most gutsiest calls of any president in recent memory," Brennan said in a televised White House briefing.
The success of the mission was also a vindication of Brennan, a bin Laden hunter who was once slated to become Obama's director of the CIA. But Brennan had supported a politically incorrect notion and was quoted as saying that sometimes terrorists who kill American civilians could be squeezed for information. And so Obama caved to the political left and withdrew Brennan's name from consideration.
Brennan's sin? He had supported sending some terror suspects to other nations for interrogation. Though he opposed waterboarding, a report in Newsweek on Monday noted that he had been quoted as saying "we do have to take the gloves off in some areas."
This outraged some Democratic senators and representatives who, like Obama, were appalled at the very existence of the U.S. terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and blamed Republicans and then President George W. Bush for daring to support such horror.
I remember Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat, loudly comparing Guantanamo to the nightmares of the Nazis and the Soviet gulag.
Durbin was just playing politics. He was the designated political attack dog, tasked with ripping the political skin from President Bush. So he ripped, and Obama benefitted politically, and Durbin later apologized for those remarks.
But now it seems that interrogation of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo -- and interrogations at other prisons in other friendly nations -- helped crack the bin Laden case.
Now bin Laden is dead, so most of us are quite pleased. I certainly am. And so we'll accommodate any possible moral outrage and exchange it for the security of public vengeance. We're fickle that way, but predictable.
We want guys like bin Laden gone. But many of us don't want to know the details. We want our hands clean. We want a sense of safety. But we want absolution. We want everything.
Another issue is the confirmation of bin Laden's death. Some just don't believe it. But they wouldn't be satisfied if the head were stuck on a pike at ground zero in New York, where thousands of Americans died on Sept. 11, 2001.
A head on a pike would certainly provide absolute closure. But most of us are fine with reports that he was shot and then buried at sea, respectfully, the body wrapped in white linen, the proper prayers said over him.
"They say they buried this monster at sea," Ernest Strada, the father of one of bin Laden's victims, told Fox News. "They could have buried him in the tears of the people that were shed over these 10 years. There would have been enough to bury him."
Brennan said the White House is still debating whether to release photos of bin Laden's body. I figure they'll certainly be gruesome. But I also figure they'll be released, as the gruesome photos of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's death were eventually released.
"We are going to do everything we can to make sure that nobody has any basis to try to deny that we got Osama bin Laden," Brennan said.
You got him, Mr. Brennan. You and the CIA and SEAL Team Six.
And President Barack Obama.
John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Readers may send him e-mail at email@example.com.