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Obama speaks out

By The Independent Team

Is this the first time that you’ve ever ordered someone killed?

Three days after the killing of former Al Qauda leader Osama bin Laden, US President Barack Obama spoke to CBS TV “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft.

Was this the most satisfying week of your Presidency?

Well, it was certainly one of the most satisfying weeks not only for my Presidency, but I think for the United States since I’ve been President.

Was the decision to launch this attack the most difficult decision that you’ve made as Commander-In-Chief?

Certainly one. You know, every time I send young men and women into a war theatre, that’s a tough decision. And, you know, whenever you go to Walter Reed [Army Medical Center] or Bethesda [Naval Hospital] and you see the price that our young people pay to keep this country safe, that’s a tough decision. Whenever you write a letter to a family who’s lost a loved one. It’s sobering.

This was a very difficult decision, in part because the evidence that we had was not absolutely conclusive.

What was the most difficult part? I mean you had to decide. This was your decision — whether to proceed or not and how to proceed. What was the most difficult part of that decision?

The most difficult part is always the fact that you’re sending guys into harm’s way. And so my number one concern was: if I send them in, can I get them out? Point number two was: as outstanding a job as our intelligence teams did at the end of the day, this was still a 55/45 situation. I mean, we could not say definitively that bin Laden was there. Had he not been there, then there would have been significant consequences.

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 spent Special Forces in — we’ve got problems. So there were risks involved geopolitically in making the decision.

Did you have to suppress the urge to tell someone? Did you wanna tell somebody? Did you wanna tell Michelle? Did you tell Michelle?

You know one of the great successes of this operation was that we were able to keep this thing secret. And it’s a testimony to how seriously everybody took this operation and the understanding that any leak could end up not only compromising the mission, but killing some of the guys that we were sending in there.

I want to go to the Situation Room. What was the mood?


People talking?

Yeah, but doing a lot of listening as well, ‘cause we were able to monitor the situation in real time. Getting reports back from Bill McRaven, the head of our special forces operations, as well as Leon Panetta. And you know, there were big chunks of time in which all we were doin’ was just waiting. And it was the longest 40 minutes of my life with the possible exception of when Sasha got meningitis when she was three months old, and I was waiting for the doctor to tell me that she was all right. It was a very tense situation.

Were you nervous?


What could you see?

As I said, we were monitoring the situation. And we knew as events unfolded what was happening in and around the compound, but we could not get information clearly about what was happening inside the compound.

And that went on for a long time? Could you hear gunfire?

We had a sense of when gunfire and explosions took place.


Yeah. And we also knew when one of the helicopters went down in a way that wasn’t according to plan. And, as you might imagine that made us more tense.

When was the first indication you got that you had found the right place? That bin Laden was in there?

There was a point before folks had left, before we had gotten everybody back on the helicopter and were flying back to base, where they said Geronimo has been killed. And Geronimo was the code name for bin Laden. And now obviously at that point these guys were operating in the dark with all kinds of stuff going on so everybody was cautious. But at that point cautiously optimistic.

When did you start to feel comfortable that bin Laden had been killed?

When they landed we had very strong confirmation at that point that it was him. Photographs had been taken. Facial analysis indicated that in fact it was him. We hadn’t yet done DNA testing, but at that point we were 95 percent sure.

Did you see the pictures?


What was your reaction when you saw them?

It was him.

Is this the first time that you’ve ever ordered someone killed?

Well, keep in mind that, you know, every time I make a decision about launching a missile, every time I make a decision about sending troops into battle, you know, I understand that this will result in people being killed. And that is a sobering fact. But it is one that comes with the job.

This was one man. This is somebody who’s cast a shadow in this place, in the White House for almost a decade.

As nervous as I was about this whole process, the one thing I didn’t lose sleep over was the possibility of taking bin Laden out. Justice was done. And I think that anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn’t deserve what he got needs to have their head examined.

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