Mark Bowden, the author of Black Hawk Down and, most recently, of The Finish: The Killing Of Osama Bin Laden (for which he interviewed President Barack Obama), claimed on CNN last night that Obama and his political team are actively playing down al Qaeda for political gain:

Erin Burnett: “Our next guest, this covers Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama in their roles as Commander in Chief, OutFront tonight, Mark Bowden. The best-selling author of Black Hawk Down who’s out with a new book The Finish: The Killing Of Osama Bin Laden. And there are great parts in this. I wanna ask about a couple of things in there that I read that were just riveting to me. Because I can't get enough of this story. But I wanted to start, first of all, with, with, I mean you had a chance to talk exclusively with the President about this decision making and what went through his head. You’ve reported on how he basically makes the decision personally on these drone attacks and who they’re gonna go kill. Are you surprised at how this administration has handled the Libya storyline?”

Mark Bowden: “No. And I’m not surprised because I think that the political staff, the White House staff, that surrounds a president is always looking to present him and their own administration in the best possible light. And, I think that they probably do -- or did, shy away from presenting this as an Al Qaeda attack just because of perceptions of, you know, that organization still being alive, still being a threat. And so I don't know for a fact, but it makes sense to me.”

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