Biden advised against Osama bin Laden raid


US Vice President Joe Biden said he advised President Barack Obama last spring not to immediately authorise the raid on the compound in Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was thought to be hiding.
“My suggestion is, don’t go,” Biden recalled saying when Obama sought his opinion on whether to give Navy SEALs the go-ahead to raid the compound. “We have to do two more things to see if he s there.” Biden recalled the conversation while addressing Democratic members of Congress on Friday at a retreat in Cambridge, Md.
He did not specify which two things he had considered necessary for the operation against bin Laden to proceed.
Biden said Obama also sought opinions from senior advisers, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Biden did not say where the conversations took place, but he recalled that no one was willing to give a definitive answer except then-CIA Director Leon Panetta, who told Obama to move forward with the SEALs operation, Biden said.
“Everyone else said 49, 51, this,” Biden said. “It got to me. He said, Joe, what do you think? and I said, You know, I didn t know we have so many economists around the table. We owe the man a direct answer.” Obama then left the room, saying he would come to a decision, Biden said. The next morning, as Obama was boarding the presidential helicopter, he told National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon, “Go.” As it turned out, the information that bin Laden was hiding at the compound in Abbottabad was correct. The SEALs team killed him there on May 1.
Biden recalled the conversations to make a point about Obama’s strength as a leader. He said Obama made his decision knowing that if the operation went awry, even his most loyal staffers would later say, when books were written, “I didn’t tell him to do that.”
“I hope no one would have done that,” Biden said.
Biden said Obama knew his decision put at stake not only the lives of the SEALs but also the image of the presidency.
“And he pulled the trigger,” he said. “And that is clear to American people. It says less about bin Laden than it does about character, about [Obama] leading from behind. [Obama] doesn’t lead from behind, he just leads. And that is clear.”