Obama: Risky plan to get bin Laden was best option

President Barack Obama (CBS/60 Minutes)

President Barack Obama says he knew that sending special forces in helicopters to get Osama bin Laden at his Pakistan compound was risky, but he felt it was the best way to make sure they had their man.

In an interview aired Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” the president said he thought it was very important to be able to be sure.

“In some ways, sending in choppers and actually putting our guys on the ground entailed some greater risks than some other options,” Obama said. “I thought it was important, though, for us to be able to say that we’d definitely got the guy.”

He said he also wanted to avoid “collateral damage” in a residential neighborhood.

Bin Laden’s presence in the neighborhood for about five years has raised questions about who knew about his presence and who was helping him.

“We think that there had to be some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan. But we don’t know who or what that support network was,” Obama said. “We don’t know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government, and that’s something that we have to investigate, and more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate.”

The president said that even with months of intelligence work, the odds bin Laden was in the compound were only about 55-45. But Obama said he had such confidence in the special forces that he decided the risks were outweighed by the benefits.

“Had he not been there, then there would have been some significant consequences,” Obama said. “Obviously, we’re going into the sovereign territory of another country and landing helicopters and conducting a military operation. And so if it turns out that it’s a wealthy, you know, prince from Dubai who’s in this compound and, you know, we’ve sent Special Forces in, we’ve got problems.”

A team of Navy SEALs stormed the compound in the military town of Abbottabad near Islamabad a week ago and killed the al-Qaida leader.

Obama says he was very aware of past military missions that ended tragically — notably the failed 1993 mission of elite U.S. troops in Mogadishu, Somalia, and the unsuccessful attempt to rescue the Iranian hostages in 1980.

“You think about ‘Black Hawk Down,'” he said, referring to the title of a book and movie about the Mogadishu mission. “You think about what happened with the Iranian rescue. And … I am very sympathetic to the situation for other presidents where you make a decision.

“You’re making your best call, your best shot and something goes wrong, because these are tough, complicated operations.”

Obama said the amount of “blood and treasure” the country has spent to avenge the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, weighed heavily in his final decision.

“I said to myself that if we have a good chance of not completely defeating, but badly disabling al-Qaida, then it was worth both the political risks as well as the risks to our men,” he said.

Obama said he made the decision the Thursday night before the raid and kept it a secret from most of his senior aides. He then announced his decision to key staff Friday morning before flying off to survey tornado damage in Alabama and visit Florida, where he made a speech.

Then on Saturday night, he played the role of comedian-in-chief at the White House Correspondents’ Association annual dinner.

“The presidency requires you to do more than one thing at a time,” he said.

A wealth of intelligence about al-Qaida was seized at the compound. Analysts are combing through that data for information about possible planned attacks and other terrorist operatives.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

 

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3 Responses to "Obama: Risky plan to get bin Laden was best option"

  1. jim0001  May 10, 2011 at 7:16 am

    “Thanking Obama for killing Bin Laden is like going into McDonalds and thanking Ronald McDonald for the hamburger.

    It’s the guy cooking the burger that should get
    the credit, not the clown.”

  2. Carl Nemo  May 10, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Listening to Obama’s ‘kampf’ concerning his 40 minutes of sweating the op out is a joke. If he was sweating it was only due to the political ramifications if it was blown. The more this goes on you’d swear he was boots on the ground too, crashing the compound.

    Yeah Jim, a regular “Ronald McDonald” armed with an MP9 and stun grenades serving up healthy ‘polburgers’ to the indiscriminate, unwashed masses back home.

    The cost to America is 3.2 trillion bucks for the past “ten years” while milling about in the Middle East along with the creation of ‘Homeland Insecruity’ and host of other waste and profligacy that we can only imagine to whack this guy and to capture or kill a handful of arch terrorists. The lost human life both to our military and Middle Eastern civilian casualties simply wasn’t worth it and is now responsible for finishing off our nation financially. This demonstrates that our military and political leadership got an A+ in understanding “Sun Tzu”…NOT!

    All of the operations in WWII cost us 4.2 trillion (inflation adjusted) and we waged truly fierce enemies on two fronts and wrapped it up in five years.

    This modern government we have in place has simply turned the endless waging of engineered wars and fighting faceless terrorists into a mighty, tax-draining ‘profit center’. The endless ‘war on drugs’ fits the bill too, both faceless enemies with no one to parley or sign peace accords in order to cease hostilities. These conflicts are a politician’s ‘wet dream’ come true.

    I, as many Americans are tired of hearing of Obama as well as Osama and this never-ending zero sum, boondoggle, known as the ‘war on terror’. Terrorism is a criminal activity and needs to be pursued on an international policing, not military basis. Enough is enough…!

    Carl Nemo **==

  3. jim0001  May 14, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I served in the U.S. military for 36.5 years. Started in a jungle environment, took a tropical break and finished in a sand box. The waste of lives first, the human misery second and then amount of the American treasury flushed into private pockets truly eats at my heart. If the goals are in the interest of OUR shared national goals that constitutes the call to action then I remain always ready to “Stand in the door”.
    But when the call is a call to inaction, with no clear-cut goals in sight and for the apparent reason of enhancing the temporary sujourner in the White Houses’ career, then I have to question our national sanity for allowing the most promising of this country’s future having life and limb squandered.The most mournful, gut wrenching sound is that of “Taps” being played for one of your soldiers. It is even worse when there are no apparent reasons for the sacrifice except political motives and monetary gratification of a treasonous few politicians and executives. Our military is supposed to use an overwhelming decisive force to end a conflict not “pussyfoot” around with never ending ROE and no-fire zones. WWI and WWII posed a clear threat to the world by known enemies. We reacted decisively and ended the threat. Al-Quedia, Taliban and the other radical Islamic cults do also. We need to eliminate the threat. At present the politicians only want to pull it’s tail and not it’s teeth. In my humble opinion the current empty suit in the White House with his band of Chicago mafia brothers constitutes the worst this Country has ever seen…

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