U.S. had plans for failure, success of bin Laden raid
November 13th, 2013
02:23 PM ET

U.S. had plans for failure, success of bin Laden raid

By Barbara Starr

In the hours before the 2011 raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the CIA delivered a final, crucial 66-page document to the White House.

Thirty-three pages detailed how the mission would be announced to the world if it was a success. But the other 33 pages spelled out what would have happened, and what would been said, if it all went wrong. The plan was carried to the White House in a locked bag by George Little, then-press secretary to CIA director Leon Panetta. Little spoke to CNN Wednesday, just two days before leaving government service as the Pentagon press secretary.

Little said much of the plan for the possible failure of the raid tried to anticipate various scenarios, such as an aircraft carrying the commandos crashing into Pakistan, or U.S. troops getting into a firefight with Pakistani forces. There was also discussion of what the Obama administration would have told the American people and the world, if there had been overwhelming opposition at the compound in Abbottabad, and perhaps some of the U.S. troops had been killed. The troops had been told to anticipate combat at the compound where bin Laden was found hiding and to expect the entire area to be booby-trapped.

When the Navy SEALs did move in to the compound in the early morning hours of May 2, climbing over 18-foot-high walls topped with barbed wire, they went through it quickly, meeting little opposition aside from the firing of AK-47s by a few male occupants at the site.

But in advance of the raid, it was still seen as highly risky, Little said. "Failure could have taken a number of forms. This was not an ironclad intelligence case that bin Laden was there."

That meant there was also a scenario in which President Barack Obama would have had to publicly speak about getting to the compound, but finding out that the man they had been tracking was not bin Laden.

The plan "offered an option to the President in which he could explain the rationale for undertaking the mission, the strong intelligence, the months of specific leads and the years of pursuing bin Laden," Little told CNN. "We would have emphasized (that) given the intelligence we had at the time, that we believed most Americans would have made the same decision" to undertake the raid.

The difficulty for the CIA was that some details of the plan were always supposed to remain classified, such as which U.S. military unit conducted the mission. But Little said he believes that if the raid had failed, Washington still would have had to come clean. "I think we probably at some point would have had to acknowledge what happened," he recently told reporters.

Filed under: Osama bin Laden
soundoff (635 Responses)
  1. boom truck repair near me


    May 7, 2021 at 8:07 pm | Reply
  2. ihop near me


    May 7, 2021 at 3:20 pm | Reply
  3. Organic Wine Company

    I used to be able to find good information from your blog posts.


    May 7, 2021 at 9:03 am | Reply
  4. Forklift For Sale California

    Saved as a favorite, I really like your web site!


    May 7, 2021 at 9:03 am | Reply
  5. parts shop near me


    May 7, 2021 at 6:52 am | Reply
  6. whataburger near me

    It’s hard to come by educated people about this subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    May 7, 2021 at 4:27 am | Reply
  7. Forklift Service


    May 6, 2021 at 11:06 pm | Reply
  8. Forklift Dealer


    May 6, 2021 at 6:32 pm | Reply
  9. English Bitters Beer

    I really love your website.. Great colors & theme. Did you create this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m trying to create my very own blog and would like to know where you got this from or what the theme is called. Thank you!


    May 6, 2021 at 6:16 pm | Reply
  10. Forklift Tires Near Me

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I really hope to check out the same high-grade blog posts from you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my very own website now 😉


    May 6, 2021 at 6:14 pm | Reply
  11. school bus repair shop


    May 6, 2021 at 5:42 pm | Reply
  12. 15 minute covid test near me


    May 6, 2021 at 5:32 pm | Reply
  13. rv dealers near me


    May 6, 2021 at 1:46 pm | Reply
  14. Vsp Providers For Glasses


    May 6, 2021 at 11:49 am | Reply
  15. Eye Doctor Scottsdale


    May 6, 2021 at 10:25 am | Reply
  16. dining near me

    I wanted to thank you for this fantastic read!! I absolutely loved every bit of it. I've got you book marked to look at new stuff you post…


    May 5, 2021 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  17. 4x4 truck repair near me


    May 5, 2021 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  18. chevy express van conversion

    I could not refrain from commenting. Very well written!


    May 5, 2021 at 10:19 am | Reply
  19. isuzu fvr


    May 5, 2021 at 10:02 am | Reply
  20. aika online private server source

    I need to to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I have you book marked to look at new stuff you post…


    May 5, 2021 at 9:43 am | Reply
  21. strategic group


    May 5, 2021 at 9:39 am | Reply
  22. charbarg.com

    I am sure this article has touched all the internet viewers, its
    really really good piece of writing on building up new

    May 5, 2021 at 6:12 am | Reply
  23. volvo commercial truck

    Saved as a favorite, I love your web site!


    May 5, 2021 at 4:51 am | Reply
  24. Oakley Prescription Sunglasses

    When I originally left a comment I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I receive four emails with the exact same comment. There has to be a way you are able to remove me from that service? Appreciate it!


    May 5, 2021 at 3:21 am | Reply
  25. RV Furniture Near Me


    May 5, 2021 at 2:08 am | Reply
  26. utility van


    May 5, 2021 at 12:22 am | Reply
  27. online anxiety training

    I blog quite often and I seriously thank you for your content. This article has really peaked my interest. I will book mark your site and keep checking for new details about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.


    May 4, 2021 at 11:04 pm | Reply
  28. aika online review

    Aw, this was a very nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I put things off a whole lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.


    May 4, 2021 at 10:38 pm | Reply
  29. clonidine hydrochloride

    cloriquine https://aralenchloroquinex.com/# is chloroquine over the counter

    May 2, 2021 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  30. realtor agents near me

    Hello there, I do believe your website could possibly be having internet browser compatibility issues. When I take a look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from that, fantastic site!


    April 27, 2021 at 10:11 pm | Reply
  31. RV Collision Repair Los Angeles

    Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful post. Thanks for supplying these details.


    April 25, 2021 at 10:26 am | Reply
  32. shopping xvideos

    I love looking through an article that will make people think. Also, thank you for permitting me to comment!


    April 25, 2021 at 10:07 am | Reply
  33. Forklift Extensions California


    April 24, 2021 at 10:25 am | Reply
  34. RV Wraps Los Angeles

    This is a good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate information… Thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!


    April 24, 2021 at 7:25 am | Reply
  35. home for sale coeur d alene idaho

    There is definately a great deal to learn about this subject. I love all of the points you've made.


    April 24, 2021 at 7:21 am | Reply
  36. Kraig Letsche

    Excellent postLearn Spanish Fast for Free


    April 7, 2021 at 10:10 am | Reply
  37. منتديات جدعنة

    أعتقد أنني أبكي. هذا رائع.


    April 4, 2021 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  38. jack casino cincinnati chips

    golden gates casino poker https://casinoxsbonus.com/ $100 free casino no deposit

    March 29, 2021 at 3:46 am | Reply
  39. chumash casino slot list

    hopland sho-ka-wah casino & bingo hopland ca https://casinoxsonline.com/ florida gambling casino

    March 26, 2021 at 10:10 pm | Reply
  40. casino party games

    459 free casino slots https://casinoxsbest.com/ is resorts world casino in ny going to open a poker room?

    March 26, 2021 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  41. us client tree casino play now

    cafe casino no deposit https://casinoxsplay.com/ vegas crest casino bonus

    March 25, 2021 at 9:32 am | Reply
  42. XRumerTest

    Hello. And Bye.

    March 21, 2021 at 1:47 am | Reply
  43. Megalis

    tadalafil tablets for sale tadalafil tablets 40mg

    March 16, 2021 at 2:38 am | Reply
  44. cyclomune

    buy cyclosporine uk cyclosporine emulsion drops

    March 16, 2021 at 2:38 am | Reply
  45. avana

    avana avana tablet

    March 16, 2021 at 1:18 am | Reply
  46. dapoxetine

    priligy priligy 30 mg

    March 16, 2021 at 1:06 am | Reply
  47. Omar Rautio


    March 6, 2021 at 3:03 pm | Reply
  48. Almeta Westley


    March 6, 2021 at 1:50 pm | Reply
  49. Kelly Recht

    Great – I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your site. I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs and related information ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it in the least. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, website theme . a tones way for your client to communicate. Nice task.


    March 4, 2021 at 10:23 am | Reply
  50. zithromax antibiotic without prescription

    zithormax https://zithromaxes.com/ zithromax rash

    February 11, 2021 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  51. chloroquine new zealand

    what is chloroquine used for https://chloroquineorigin.com/ what is chloroquine used for

    February 11, 2021 at 2:06 pm | Reply
  52. plaquenil sleep

    does erectile dysfunction end https://plaquenilx.com/ erectile shockwave

    February 11, 2021 at 1:26 pm | Reply
  53. tadalafil pills

    tadalafil citrate liquid https://tadalisxs.com/ tadalafil medication

    February 11, 2021 at 1:20 pm | Reply
  54. Elton Bah

    Earn 500 a Day With Our Passive Income System Doing These 3 Steps: Step 1: Get our ready made niche websites, Step 2: Setup your Paypal account. Step 3: Run our Unlimited Traffic System from our Free 850 sources of traffic and start earning your income in same day.


    February 5, 2021 at 7:56 pm | Reply
  55. Increase Social Plays

    Absolutely written subject matter, Really enjoyed reading through.


    February 1, 2021 at 6:10 pm | Reply
  56. Lewis Lomg

    Well I really enjoyed reading it. This article offered by you is very practical for accurate planning.


    January 28, 2021 at 10:04 pm | Reply
  57. Melissa Bessire

    Do you want get more social network traffic, likes, and retweets? SMM Supreme uses his own panel system to generate social media traffic to any website. Best Quality-Price Ratio on the market with 714928 orders until now. – Facebook Fan Page Likes: $4.50/1000 – Instagram Followers: $0.78/1000 – Youtube Views: $1.62/1000 – Twitter followers: $2.10/1000 – Paypal Deposit – Payeer Deposit – Automatic order processing – 30 minutes to send to customers


    January 27, 2021 at 12:41 pm | Reply
  58. Lamont Ownbey

    Do you want get more social network traffic, likes, and retweets? SMM Supreme uses his own panel system to generate social media traffic to any website. Best Quality-Price Ratio on the market with 714928 orders until now. – Facebook Fan Page Likes: $4.50/1000 – Instagram Followers: $0.78/1000 – Youtube Views: $1.62/1000 – Twitter followers: $2.10/1000 – Paypal Deposit – Payeer Deposit – Automatic order processing – 30 minutes to send to customers


    January 27, 2021 at 2:22 am | Reply
  59. Kandace Fahrenkrug

    Do you want get more social network traffic, likes, subscribers? Our Company provide SMM Services that means (Social Media Marketing) that is directly using social network websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to promote a website. High Quality Services / Our prices are the cheapest in the market, starting at $0.01 / 24/7 Support / API Support for panel leaders / Best prices


    January 26, 2021 at 8:43 pm | Reply
  60. Lamont Ladtkow

    Social network traffic Facebook likes Twitter Followers Instagram Followers and much more


    January 26, 2021 at 4:56 pm | Reply
  61. Blair Nunziato

    Best Marketing Services – Cheapest on Market. SMM Supreme is the Top 5 Best Social Media Website in the World. Best Quality-Price Ratio on the market with 714,928 orders until now. – Facebook Fan Page Likes for $4.50/1000 – Instagram Followers for $0.78/1000 – Youtube Views: $1.62/1000 – Twitter followers: $2.10/1000 – Paypal Deposit – Bitcoin Deposit – Fast order processing – 1 Hour Delivery (Click on the link in the profile for more details)


    January 22, 2021 at 9:25 pm | Reply
  62. Jong Lehnortt

    This is a appropriate weblog for everyone who is would like to find out about this topic. You already know much its virtually hard to argue to you (not that I really would want…HaHa). You actually put a whole new spin with a topic thats been revealed for decades. Great stuff, just excellent!


    January 11, 2021 at 11:50 pm | Reply
  63. make money online today

    Earn 100 commissions of up to 900+ dollars DAILY. 90 Second Set Up – Beta Tested Proven 24-7 AUTOPILOT Income – The Ultimate Work Safe At Home System More details: https://bit.ly/2YfQFcC


    December 26, 2020 at 12:12 pm | Reply
  64. Collette Scadlock

    The subsequent time I learn a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as a lot as this one. I mean, I know it was my option to read, however I really thought youd have something attention-grabbing to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you possibly can repair when you werent too busy on the lookout for attention.


    December 20, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  65. detectives en antequera

    detectives privados orihuela


    December 11, 2020 at 11:37 pm | Reply
  66. ed medication

    erectile icd 10
    erectile function scale
    erectile prescription pills

    November 26, 2020 at 8:18 pm | Reply

    1 Democrats fight Republicans
    Party system is now crumbling, destroy it

    2 We owe other countries TRILLIONS
    Stop spending money on worthless projects/imports

    3 Unnecessary Laws and Restraints
    Repeal all Irrelevant laws, and Private sector constraints

    4 Failure to protect our borders
    Full recall of all U.S soldiers, reassign to local duty

    5 support of illegal aliens
    Help your citizens FIRST

    6 Taxes on exports and production
    Create business agreements with the private sector rather than taxing them

    December 2, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Reply
    • Derek

      "We owe other countries TRILLIONS."

      Actually, the largest shareholders of American debt are...Americans. We owe trillions to ourselves, mostly.

      February 11, 2014 at 11:21 pm | Reply
  68. Khrdhte Gljtesytr


    November 17, 2013 at 11:27 am | Reply
  69. troo tex-un

    Plan for what happens afterwards? Why would anyone want to do that? A troo leeeder like Dubya just jumps in thar with guns ablazin'. That is how yew get-er-dun. We don't need no thinkin' stuff. Ah, the simple life when you see the world through a fundamentalist Patriotic Christian lens that makes everything black and white, good(white americans) or evil (everbodee else). Yee haww ya'll.

    November 14, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Reply
    • Yakobi

      Gotta love the left-wing reactionaries always ready to "blame Bush for everything".
      Um, genius? Did you read the report was written by the CIA? You know, the same guys who said Hussein was building WMDs.

      November 14, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Reply
      • Ted

        Bush invaded the wrong country. Can't get any dumber than that.

        February 12, 2014 at 6:52 am |
    • pest


      February 14, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  70. Tom

    Quinton ..go to h ...you are a sad person.

    November 14, 2013 at 10:57 am | Reply
  71. Jirex

    Americans are too comfortable to the extent of comparing Osama death with Obamacare.How terrible will it be if Osama is left alive and he tries his evil hands on Iran's nuclear bombs,wiping out thousands of Americans(God forbids).So thank Obama for taking care of osama.

    November 14, 2013 at 7:50 am | Reply
  72. Jirex

    Keep the comments on.Hurray the devil reincarnate is gone.May his soul find 'peace' with satan.

    November 14, 2013 at 7:34 am | Reply
    • Daniel P

      UNTRUE. The Obamaniac is still with us.

      November 14, 2013 at 11:29 am | Reply
    • fookingod

      satan is out. they have a new king

      November 14, 2013 at 11:31 am | Reply
    • Evan

      So sorry, but I think I'll continue thanking the Seal team that conducted the mission instead of one man who "OK'd" it. Don't give credit where credit isn't due. Obama did what any other president would have done. He gave a thumbs up for an operation to kill a known terrorist.

      November 14, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Reply
      • Yakobi

        I disagree with your assertion that any other president would have done the same thing. Certainly Clinton would not have (since he had numerous chances and didn't), and I seriously doubt the milquetoast Gore would have had he been president.

        November 14, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
      • moronotopia

        "Any president would have done the same thing..." LUDICROUS. Obama's decision to go forward was one of the gutsiest by any president in modern times. His on Secretary of Defense was against it. The BEST odds the advisors would give that Osama was even there were no more than 50-50. On top of that the SEALS had to fly in helicopters into a sovereign nation in the dead of night at treetop height. This thing could have gone wrong a million ways from Tuesday... And you forget the ONLY reason the raid was even happening was because Obama made it a point to call CIA head Leon Panetta into the White House and gave him the marching orders to revitalize the hunt for Bin Laden and GET HIM... "Any president??" BALONEY.

        February 11, 2014 at 10:50 pm |
  73. Jack Valenti

    They should have had the same for Obamacare.

    November 14, 2013 at 1:44 am | Reply
  74. dotheflippin'math

    Ok, so it shows the administration was very prepared for any outcome, and how to handle it, politcally, and diplomatically. I hope GWB and any future candidates are taking notes. You don't jump into something w/o a clue what to do afterwards. Ok, Obamacare shows what happens when you don't have a good plan. Apparently, they skipped the part on what to do if the website developers say it's not ready. Sorry, but any tech-savvy CEO, CIO, or IT person knows to expect missed deadlines and bugs. No beginning to end test had been done successfully. Maybe that's more rumor, but, it's clear this wasn't ready to "go live," and shame on those who pushed ahead. I'm a Democrat, and I want affordable healthcare for all Americans, but if takes a few YEARS to hammer it out, so it's truly better than the rip-off system we have now, with our most needy people unable to afford healthcare for themselves, then take the time and do it flippin' right!

    November 13, 2013 at 8:24 pm | Reply
    • Tubbs

      Did you miss the part about the administration lying to the people of the world if this mission had failed?
      This doesn't bother you?

      November 14, 2013 at 4:20 am | Reply
      • Peter

        I missed it, probably because it wasn't there unless you're a deluded conservative who sees the devil in everything a black President does.

        November 14, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  75. USA

    Quinton you are a piece if shi!

    November 13, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Reply
  76. George patton

    long story short, Osama is dead now and his bones are being used as toothpick by sea people.

    November 13, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Reply
    • George patton

      Actually Phunnie boy, the true Ussama bin laden more likely than not died in the mountains of Tora Bora between Afghanistan and Pakistan either late in 2001 or early in 2002 from nephritis from which he suffered gravely. On the other hand, he could have been most brutally murdered by those clowns who we call SEAL TEAM 6 on May 2, 2011. If this is the case, then why didn't they take him alive since he was both sick and unarmed?

      November 13, 2013 at 9:04 pm | Reply
      • George patton

        Phunnie boy, DNA samples taken from children showed Osama fathered them, so your conspiracy theory has no legs to stand. If not Americans, he could have surrendered to governments he trusted, and avoided Navy SEAL all togather.

        November 13, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
      • the REAL George S. Patton

        Obviously, some pantywaist is going around the net impersonating me with his vile, far left, loony conspiracy theories. Best to ignore such a numbskull.

        November 14, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  77. Chris

    66 pages of prepared lies... I wouldn't expect anything less from this administration.

    November 13, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Reply
    • 20-20

      They should have used just one, reading 'Mission Accomplished'.

      November 14, 2013 at 11:37 am | Reply
      • Yakobi

        Let's see...
        Hussein and his evil sons dead–check.
        Iraq no longer a threat to its neighbors–check.
        Iraqis free to elect whomever they want–check.


        November 14, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
  78. Portland tony

    No matter what name you prefer, the man known as: أسامة بن محمد بن عوض بن لادن‎, Usāmah bin Muḥammad bin ‘Awaḍ bin Lādin or Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden is no longer among the living! Nuff said!

    November 13, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Reply
  79. king todd

    You cant fix stupid. especially when they are sitting in their parent basement with an endless amount of video games. oh, and lube.

    November 13, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  80. Quinton

    Unfortunately, none of this tells us whether it was the true Ussama bin Laden who was brutally murdered in Abbotabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011 or an impostor. Most probably, the true Ussama bin Laden died sometime in 2001 or 2002 in the mountains of Tora Bora of kidney failure. Given his frail condition, it's quite dubious that Ussama bin Laden could have survived those ten years or so!

    November 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      Spoken like a true Muslim sheeple.

      November 13, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Reply
    • RMRondo

      Don't try portraying that cowardly, murdering, shadow of a real man as a victim because he is burning in hell right now right next to Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot

      November 13, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Reply
      • Quinton

        Don't forget RMRondo, that he'll soon be joined by the Bushes, both father and son, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, not to mention those sniveling cowards who are operating those cursed drones from the comforts of some air conditiones office here in America, hurling 500 lb. bombs on people who can't defend themselves! Did I mention John McCain and Lindsey Graham?

        November 13, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
      • Yakobi

        Hey, Quinton, look outside–there's a drone flying over your house in North Waziristan.

        November 14, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • huh

      How did the CIA manage to get Bin Laden's family & Al Qaida in on this supposed conspiracy? Surely they would be the last people on planet Earth to conspire with the CIA. Bin Laden's family & Al Qaida publicly say that the SEAL raid that Pres. Obama authorized indeed killed Bin Laden. Your conspiracy theory cannot possibly be true.

      November 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7



CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.