Obama tells of lonely bin Laden decision

2012-05-02 17:39
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

Osama bin Laden's compound

A year after US commandos killed Osama bin Laden, there are few signs left of the compound that housed him for six years in Abbottabad, Pakistan. See all the pics.

kalahari.com

  • The Amateur
    A gripping read that reveals never before published details about the Obama administration's... Now R321.00
    buy now

Washington - US President Barack Obama described the lonely decision he made to mount a Navy SEAL raid to kill Osama bin Laden and called the daring escapade the "most important single day" of his tenure.

In an interview to be broadcast later on Wednesday, Obama talked about the nerve jangling moments he endured as he watched the operation, the cloak of secrecy that enveloped it and the moment he saw a photo of the dead al-Qaeda leader.

"I did choose the risk," Obama told NBC News anchor Brian Williams, in the latest episode of a nearly week-long commemoration of the anniversary of the bin Laden killing.

Obama spoke to Williams in the secure Situation Room in the White House basement, where top officials gathered to watch the raid unfold on a screen, and which was the site of an iconic photograph seen around the world.

Republicans have accused Obama of inappropriately celebrating the anniversary as he seeks to bolster his standing ahead of his reelection fight.

He spoke about how the operation was planned and conducted in utmost secrecy, and how he did not share knowledge of it with many of his staff, or even First Lady Michelle Obama.

"Even a breath of this in the press could have chased bin Laden away," Obama said. "We didn't know at that point whether there might be underground tunnels coming out of that compound that would allow him to escape," he said.

Other top officials told how Obama solicited final recommendations about the operation, before going away to make a final decision himself on whether to move on bin Laden's suspect hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

"It was never contentious because I think everybody understood both the pros and cons of the action," Obama said in the interview to be broadcast a day after he made a secretive trip to Afghanistan on the bin Laden anniversary.

"People who were advocating action understood that if this did not work, if we proved to be wrong, there would be severe geopolitical consequences.

"Most importantly, we might be putting our brave Navy SEALs in danger."

Good call

The president said he collected the conflicting recommendations of his war cabinet before going back to the White House residence to have dinner with his family and retire to his study.

"Well, there is no doubt that you don't sleep as much that evening as you do on a normal night," he said. "I stayed up late and I woke up early."

The next day, he told his subordinates that he had decided to go ahead with the raid.

"You have some serenity in knowing that you've made the best possible decision that you can and, you know, in that situation you just, you do some praying," Obama said.

Members of the war cabinet discussed the moment in interviews when they saw one of the helicopters carrying the Navy SEALS drop over the wall of the compound in a crash landing.

"That helicopter didn't make it to the right spot and everyone went, like, ‘Whoa,'" said Vice President Joe Biden, in an interview to be broadcast on the NBC Rock Center.

Obama said that the only thing he was thinking about was "I really want to get those guys back home safe."

"I want to make sure that the decision I've made has not resulted in them putting their lives at risk in vain, and if I got that part of it right, if I could look myself in the mirror and say as commander in chief I made a good call."

After the SEAL team flew back to a base in Afghanistan, they transmitted photos of the dead al-Qaeda leader, clearly showing he had been shot in the head during the raid.

"I think it's wrong to say that I did a high five, because you have a picture of a dead body and, you know, there's I think regardless of who it is, you always have to be sober about death.

"But understanding the satisfaction for the American people, what it would mean for 9/11 families... I think there was a deep-seated satisfaction for the country at that moment."

Read more on:    osama bin laden  |  barack obama  |  us
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
40 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

An uncomfortable election

The latter few weeks of election 2014, have seen South Africans reeling from an assault on their comfort zone when it comes to voting, writes Daniel Silke

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Note 16GB

GALAXY Note combines the market's largest HD Super AMOLED display,...

From R3899.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.