Biden dishes on bin Laden decision
January 27th, 2012
04:56 PM ET

Biden dishes on bin Laden decision

By Adam Levine, CNN

The mission to get Osama bin Laden seems to be the raid that keeps on giving for the Obama White House.  Whether it is a mention at the top and bottom of the State of the Union address or a highlight in a campaign speech, the president frequently refers to the mission as evidence of his leadership and foreign policy strength.

Vice President Joe Biden jumped on the Obama leadership bandwagon Friday when he revealed that he cautioned the president against signing off on the raid on bin Laden's hideaway. Despite his reservations, Biden said the president made the decision all alone.

Speaking to a meeting of congressional Democrats in Maryland, Biden shared a few new details about the tense decision-making process preceding the president's approval for the daring Pakistan raid by special operations forces.

Biden said that for a four-to-six week period in early 2011 only six people knew that bin Laden might be hiding in the military town of Abbottabad, Pakistan. When enough information finally surfaced, the president convened his national security staff on April 28.

“The president, he went around the table, with all the senior people, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and he said, 'I have to make a decision, what is your opinion?' He started with the national security adviser, the secretary of state, and he ended with me. Every single person in that room hedged their bet, except (then-CIA Director) Leon Panetta. Leon said go," Biden recalled.

Biden told the president, "My suggestion is don't go," saying there were more details that had to be checked to ascertain if bin Laden was indeed in the compound.

"You end up having to make decisions based on the moon, will there be enough light. And we had to make a decision,” Biden said.

According to the vice president, Obama left that meeting and said he would make the decision.

"The next morning he came down to the diplomatic entrance, getting in a helicopter I believe to go to Michigan; I'm not positive (about) that. He turned to (national security adviser) Tom Donilon and said 'Go,' " Biden said.

In fact, Obama was leaving for Alabama the morning of April 29, not Michigan. CNN previously reported that Obama gave the order at 8:20 a.m. ET.  Obama boarded the helicopter at 8:30 a.m. ET, according to the White House schedule that day.

John Brennan, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, told reporters last May how the inner circle "debated across the board," so the president could ensure "at the end that he had the views of all the principals."

"He goes around the room, and he wants to hear people’s views. And so you have a circumstantial intelligence case. And so people will see that either there is insufficient circumstantial evidence to go forward with something like this, which involves a unilateral operation in another country to go after somebody you believe is Osama bin Laden - and there were differences of views that were discussed. That’s what the president wanted to know," Brennan said.

The vice president isn’t the only who had second thoughts about pulling the trigger. Robert Gates, then the defense secretary, has also admitted he had reservations about the raid.


Filed under: Al Qaeda • CIA • Gates • Military • Most Wanted • Osama bin Laden • Panetta • Terrorism
soundoff (445 Responses)
  1. HOW TO OVER COME PROCRASTINATION

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    October 18, 2012 at 5:19 am | Reply
  2. kim

    Obama made the right decision.

    January 31, 2012 at 10:25 am | Reply
  3. rk

    hillary for vice prez.....

    January 29, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Reply
  4. Joe theMan

    I think that we should support our president and vice-president. It is presumptious of us " low" people to question the motives or perogatives of our superiors.

    January 29, 2012 at 12:52 am | Reply
    • mamoud

      Wuld u pleeze shougt up udump ameerikan pik.

      January 29, 2012 at 1:02 am | Reply
      • Iranacockuptheirass

        Well l@@ky who it is.....Monkey #1...May 6000 camels put a skid mark on your forheads dumb fuck rag head

        January 29, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
  5. Lorraine Conley

    Joe Biden is LYING , Leon Panetta wasn't only a "go" on Obama's decision as THE CIA AND FBI have to certify those things as the CIA and FBI wouldn't certify Bill Clinton to kill bin Laden – Biden claims Panetta was only Obama adviser urging a 'go' on bin Laden raid http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/01/27/biden-panetta-only-adviser-to-tell-obama-go-on-bin-laden-mission/ ~ 5:05 "... the FBI and the CIA refused to certify it ... " ~ Bill Clinton Blames Others For 911 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYNI5RPOlp4

    January 29, 2012 at 12:09 am | Reply
    • JP0

      Biden is a politician and his lips were moving so it's a given he was lying about something. However, using Fox News as a source to back up your view is a joke. here is no information on Fox News that is not distorted or invented to back up the right wing agenda. Go blow your smoke somewhere else.

      January 29, 2012 at 5:57 am | Reply
    • mm

      Oh well, if FAUX News said it, it must be true. Ha!

      January 30, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  6. V Turner

    After reading a number of these posts it amazes me how stupid a large percentage of our citizens are or have become. We are definitely in a decline and are becoming a confederacy of dunces. Democrats need to quit worrying about Obama getting credit. The guy could walk on water and the Republicans would say told you he couldn't swim. Both parties are a joke and more concerned about being in power than leading the nation. One day in the not to distant future America will be a has been nation with has been citizens. We are to stupid to survive. Exceptionalism, give me a break. We are totaly unremarkable and destined to the same fate as Rome. The world will survive.

    January 28, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Reply
    • Jonathan Pollard zionist American Spy Traitor laughing at you

      We like our goym dumb and dumber.

      I think you can thank us for this decline. We're using you like cattle. We send you off to war, we have stupid politicians in our pockets like biden – he works for us.

      Hey, dumb Americans. . . .look at my thumb. Gee, you're all dumb.

      ha ha ha ha . . .I'll get back to you after Biden and Obama free me this year and when I'm home in my million dollar home in tel-aviv.

      I can't wait till they let me go home. Spying on you dumb jerk-offs really pays.

      Yipppeeeeeeeee!

      zionism forever – and obama said America will send israel 5 billion dollars every year forever! Yep, you're all so dumb.

      January 28, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Reply
      • Iranacockuptheirass

        Here 's the dumb ass again....May 10000 camels cocks fit in your lying moth as you swallow every drop:::LONG LIVE ISRAEL:::::: and they will....you will always lose sane nigga

        January 28, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Old Sailor

      Very well stated. History does indeed repeat itself. The fate of both Rome and Athens does seem to be our destiny. If we don't change course this century the fall of Rome and Athens will pale in compare to what will be experienced on a global scale.

      January 29, 2012 at 1:00 am | Reply
  7. al

    The righties on this board are real sad pathetic creatures.

    January 28, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  8. julien

    Dumbass W was the one who said Mission Accomplished when it wasn't. Finally someone finally got the sumbitch. The last administration didn't care about getting terrorists.

    January 28, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Reply
  9. strangerq

    GOP is in the pathetic position of asking the American people to both ignore their failure and refuse to give the President any credit for success.

    This is the textbook definition of *SORE LOSER* and this is what the GOP has been reduced to.

    January 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Reply
    • JB

      How many times does this donkey have to tell us he got bin Laden? Is he trying to convince the public or himself? Give the joker credit, even a blind squirrel finds the occasional nut.

      January 28, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Reply
      • flush limballs

        We have found you , can't admit a black dude succeeded lol

        January 28, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
      • Jamie

        Actually Bin Laden's elimination is just one of President Obama's military successes. Further examples are: Gadhafi – also responsible for terrorist acts – has been eliminated with no American casualties and at a fraction of the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the hostage Maersk captain was rescued, and now two more abducted Americans have been rescued in Somalia. Clearly the professionalism, valor and abilities of the servicemen involved in these missions is also a major factor.

        Strangerq is right about sore losers who don't have the character to give POTUS due credit – perhaps JB is the blind squirrel who can't find his nuts....

        January 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  10. Deepen

    Everybody needs to watch "Targeting Bin Laden" on the HIS channel.. it will open your mind and show how bada$$ this mission truly was.. Pres. Obama deserves a lot of credit for this operation.

    January 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Reply
    • Jon

      Hear, Hear I tell you. Obama has done great things. Give him credit. He was handed a bucket of shit when he took office. Im from Texas, I'm republican but I voted for him. I also think Bush fucked it up and Rick Perry is a dickhead. Im re voting Obama

      January 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Reply
  11. GeorgeBos95

    So, Biden has made it clear that he's unable to make the tough calls. Big surprise.

    Obama was fortunate, to be sure. But it comes down to making the right calls at the right time, and he appears to be able to do that.

    January 28, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Reply
    • flush limballs

      If He was unfortunate , then Biden was making the right decision, anything could have happened . One thing we can be thankful for ,Obama was not ,and has not listened to dick chaney . That was Bush's biggest failure

      January 28, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Reply
  12. U.S. Citizen

    To those who say Obama doesn't get any credit, IMO, you are wrong. And–he constantly gives credit to the Seals for carrying out the mission. Reminding the nation of this "success" can be considered a political act. But, let's be clear, the Repubs would do the same thing. Their bogus claims that Obama is weak on national security are pure political acts.

    In the mainstream parradigm, this was about as good as it gets. The military devised the plan, the president weighed the pros and cons with input from different sources and the president, civilian leadership, made the decision and an elite military squad carried it out to near-perfection. Quite a bit different than the attempt to rescue the Iranian hostages under Carter or the failure to get bin Laden in Tora Bora under Bush. However–

    The other side to the story is that this was probably an illegal act. Targeted assassinations are the implementation of the death penalty without a trial. The 9/11 attack was a criminal act and should have been treated accordingly. While not justifying the 9/11 attack (it was wrong) and ignoring the part U.S. policies played in creating Al Qaeda, we are still a nation of laws and our actions are continuing to make us less safe, e.g., the invasion of Iraq and drone attacks for targeted assassinations that kill innocent people (also, probably illegal). The Seals could just as easily captured bin Laden and brought him back to the U.S. for trial.

    January 28, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Reply
    • petena

      Trial? Really? Think about the fiasco that would have created. Even just being burried in US soil would be a mess. This was the best decision for America. We needed to put this to rest so we can focus on the future of our country – not add another headache.

      January 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Reply
      • mildlyevil

        Saddam was caught and given a trial, and he killed way more people than Bin Laden. What's the difference? Should we have just assassinated Saddam? You people who hate the law, and the constitution should just take Obama and relocate. Me, I like the rule of law.

        January 28, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  13. ceg3

    i believe the behind the scenes story that Jarret prodded Obama to procrastinate and saction a personal on the scenes hit rather than a drone to delay, unawares that Panetta had planned for that contingency by practice. Do you really think Obama would have been playing golf if he had know it was going down? Just look at his unhappy (uninformed) expression in the back corner of the room in the photo while the initiators watched the live action. Check Hillory's and Obama's expression! Panetta took the initiative when Obama thought the go ahead would delay things knowing Panetta would take blame if things went bad. Great politics from a great politician!

    January 28, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Reply
  14. Old Sailor

    Susan,

    I am glad to let Obama have the credit for making the decision to go, because he did make that decision and this sailor wants the civilian leadership to make those decisions. At the same time, I am thankfull that he listened to a broad range of people and views before he did so. Taking credit for this decision is not nearly as insulting as Bush's landing on an aircraft carrier (acting as if he were capable of flying a carrier landing himself) and then proclaiming "Mission Accomplished" after committing our military to the hornet's nest of Iraq. Now that was insulting!

    January 28, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  15. Brian

    Man can you imagine if we had another Republican in the White house? Thank lord for Obama, nah hes near from perfect, but I dont think anyone could do much better with a bunch of Republicans who just shout "NO" in the house, and whos policy is to jsut vote down anything Obama proses no matter what it is. So glad he's got an easy election of another 4 years in the white house. GO GINGRICH! lol

    January 28, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Reply
  16. Susan62509

    There is a huge difference between making a yes/no decision vs putting your life in jeopardy. My stomach turns each time I hear Obama credit himself for the death of Bin Laden. 110% credit belongs to our Navy Seals and not doing so is a slap in their face. We can all sit in front of our computers and give our opinions, just like I'm doing, but we weren't involved nor know exactly what happened. IMO, when all the heads were giving their opinions to Obama they also devised a backup plan if it wasn't Bin Laden in that house. Bin Laden's body was dumped in the ocean so fast which raises suspicion. And really, was Obama going to say "NO"? Obama needs to step aside with his ego and give our troops the credit they deserve.

    January 28, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Reply
    • Brian

      Go back and ask for Obamas Birth certificate, your right, the entire Al Qaeda organization just agreed for some conspiracy and give a huge moral and literal victory to the United States all that so he could keep his porn stash and jerk off in his hide out.

      January 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Reply
      • Ivan

        The first six posts on this site are so amateuely planted by disinfo-tel personell that keep trying to perputuate the lie of this dead-turkey story that never happened. We all see through it....DO YOU SEE IT AND DON'T YOU SEE IT AND DON'T YOU SEE IT!

        January 28, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
      • petena

        Why don't you just shut up? What about McCain – Where is his birth certificate. He was born in Panama. We will be in 2018 and you will still be on this subject.

        January 28, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • CHUKWUNONSO ARINZE

      its real bad that one must be prejudiced like yourself on an issue that clearly deserves a congratulations.to sad. i guess if you were d president it wld have been an easy decision right.becos d seal act without orders from above.dey jst knew where bin laden was and oBama is meant to go arrest bin laden physically.lol.u republican make me laf.

      January 28, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Reply
      • My name is Jose Jimenez

        Joseph Smith, the prophet, was the one would guided the mission to its successful conclusion. It's astounding Romney hasn't taken credit for this.

        January 28, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • LibrePenseur

      All or most of the credit should go to the Republicans and the Religious Right for praying to God to have Osama Bin Laden killed. Then come to think of it, the credit should go to God for indirectly killing Bin Laden...lol

      January 28, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Reply
    • Damo

      "And really, was Obama going to say 'NO'?"

      He certainly could have. It was an incredibly risky operation, and had it failed it would have disgraced his Administration, possibly beyond repair. It involved sending US troops into another country that's meant to be our ally to conduct a raid on a compound. Had Osama not been there, can you imagine what would have happened? To say he deserves no credit for this is to say that no politician or military commander deserves credit for anything at all, and that all credit should go to the people that put policies and orders into action. Which is ridiculous. You may as well argue that nobody should blame Osama Bin Ladin for 9/11... after all, he just gave the orders for it to happen, the ones he DID the deed were the hijackers!

      January 28, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Reply
      • goodstuff

        Damo....well said...leaders make decisions on what to do and others carry them out. An army is only as good as its leaders/generals and only as good as its soldiers. Obama make the hard call based on the evidence presented to him and the SEALs carried out the raid. Both should get credit as well as those that planned the assault.

        January 28, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
      • My name is Jose Jimenez

        Maybe nothing if the helicopter hadn't crashed. No one would have even known the Seals had been there.

        January 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
      • flush limballs

        Bush said no.

        January 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • My name is Jose Jimenez

      Obama gave the order and Seal Team carried it out. Is that too difficult to comprehend. If it had gone badly would Seal Team Six been blamed? You already know the answer.

      January 28, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Reply
      • common sense

        Right, the republicans still attack Carter for the failed rescue mission to save the hostages in Iran

        January 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • whoa!

      you idiot, he has always given them credit for the job... that isn't his job... his job is to make the incredibly touch decision to make the mission a go, and that's exactly what he did. he made a great leadership decision... now go back into your cave and prepare your caveman his meal...

      January 28, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Reply
    • Jon

      Are you 5?

      January 28, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Reply
    • Jon

      Brian are you 6 years old?

      January 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Reply
  17. michaelfury

    http://michaelfury.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/pulverized-to-near-power/

    January 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  18. Joe

    Without question, Obama is the worst president since Jimmy Carter. Obama is a complete failure.

    January 28, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Reply
    • Skipper

      I'm assuming you put it that way because GW Bush wasn't really President.....

      January 28, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Reply
    • Rags

      Hey, you're a repug, right? I thought so.

      January 28, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Reply
    • beavertongue

      Yea, and the GOP has some good candidates right now!! Get used to another 4 yrs of Obama.

      January 28, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Reply
    • tonyl

      You are back on smoking weed.

      January 28, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Reply
    • Jon

      So do you guys just figure if you post this 99 times on the Internet, it somehow magically become true?

      January 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Reply
    • U.S. Citizen

      Ignoring whether or not Carter was really a bad president, Bush the Younger is our worst president since Carter. The only thing worse tha Obama are the current Repub candidates.

      January 28, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Reply
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