Former Ambassador to Qatar Claims Trump’s Handling of Baghdadi’s Death “Will Return to Haunt Americans”

Dana Shell Smith, who served as ambassador to Qatar July 2014 to June 2017 didn’t have nice things to say about President Trump after he announced the death of ISIS leader Baghdadi.

Smith immediately took to twitter, writing:

This gruesome, vivid and probably exaggerated description of dogs chasing down Baghdadi will endanger our personnel in the region.

When bin Laden was killed, we were careful to be clear that he had been given a proper Muslim burial. Not because we gave a damn about him but because it was important for our relationships in the region and safety of our military and diplomats.

Also, it’s how America rolls. With honor. We don’t delight in death like the terrorists do. This description is horrifying.

Shell Smith then released a full article entitled “How Trump’s Gilding the Lily on Baghdadi Death Will Return to Haunt Americans”

Dana Shell Smith writes on

When the U.S. military kills or captures a senior terrorist who poses an extreme threat to Americans and our friends around the world, the people involved in the operation rightly take a victory lap. The Commander in Chief who had to approve a risky operation, the intelligence community that correctly obtained and analyzed the information needed, the operators and support staff in the military who risked their very lives to execute a complicated plan, all feel a great rush of pride and adrenalin in the  great outcome. I was in the State Department Operations Center during the bin Laden raid in 2011 and not only saw firsthand the elation of the teams throughout our government and military, but felt the joy of victory myself, high-fiving colleagues and pumping the air with our fists in pure pride of our Navy SEALS and the sheer brilliance of the operation.

I have no doubt that the teams throughout our government experienced the same joy and pride this weekend when they accomplished a goal so many of us sought since 2014 when we witnessed the horror of ISIS beheading Jim Foley, Steven Sotloff, and Peter Kassig. Al Baghdadi, like Osama bin Laden, presented a clear and present danger to Americans both because of his role in ISIS and because of his ability to inspire others to use terror in order to achieve political and ideological goals. We owe our military and intelligence community the deepest debt of gratitude, and I hope they will enjoy that victory beer or at least a day off, though I know so many of them will hardly miss a beat getting right back to work on the next task.

As the military and intelligence operation concludes, a parallel effort gets underway: to explain to our fellow citizens, as well as partners and publics around the world what occurred. This may look or feel like something of a victory lap, but in fact it should be a very carefully managed effort to make sure that, in talking about how we eliminated one threat, we are not inadvertently creating others. There are multiple audiences listening closely, and public statements made by the United States at this historical moment will have a reverberating effect in different corners of the world. This is where unfortunately, in my opinion, President Donald Trump made grievous blunders during his announcement and handling of media questions in the wake of the successful al-Baghdadi raid.

Hearing Trump describe so vividly dogs chasing al-Baghdadi and small children, whimpering and crying (a detail that is probably unknown, given that the remote feed would not likely have had audio), and saying he “died like a dog” isn’t simply untraditional or unpleasant. Dogs have a particularly negative connotation for Muslims (as many Americans learned after images of Abu Ghraib), yet Trump went on to describe the dog in detail. But it didn’t even stop there. Trump raved about the Muslim travel ban, discussed al-Baghdadi’s body parts, thanked Russia (not a friend in the region) first, and spoke about seizing oil “because we should be able to take some also.” Trump’s taste for cinema and unscripted drama could endanger Americans and our supporters around the world, limit our ability to conduct future operations, especially with allies in the region, and damage our deserved claim to the moral high ground.

The president is to be commended for authorizing the elimination of a terrible threat. But in choosing a lengthy and overly dramatized presser, oversharing operational details, and throwing red meat to his fan base, Trump created unintended problems for the United States that will require undoing.

In 2011, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Media Engagement, I worked with the National Security Council staff to make sure that our communications strategy surrounding the bin Laden raid would not have unintended consequences overseas. I prepared US Embassy spokespeople working abroad to be able to engage with local audiences in local languages to explain what we had done and why. We knew that almost no one would be surprised that the United States had taken our shot when we could and that most people would even support or understand. We wanted to make sure we retained that support and understanding going forward.

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