Obama Talks Bin Laden On 60 Minutes
Last weekend, President Obama announced the death of World Terrorist Osama Bin Laden. While most of us were able to breathe a sigh of relief, there were a lot of questions about the inner workings of the covert operation and surveillance that led to his demise.
Because it would take some time to shoot a movie so we can understand how it all went down, Obama sat down with 60 Minutes over the weekend and discussed the Osama mission, his anxieties, fears and greatest concerns, while explaining his relaxed demeanor at the White House Correspondents dinner while all of this was taking place.
On the decision to have Osama Bin Laden killed
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.
On Keeping the Mission Private
I didn’t tell most people here in the White House. I didn’t tell my own family. It was that important for us to maintain operational security… If I’m not revealing to some of my closest aides what we’re doing then I sure as heck am not going to be revealing it to folks who I don’t know.
On The White House Correspondents Dinner
I made the decision Thursday night, informed my team Friday morning, and then we flew off to look at the tornado damage. To go to Cape Canaveral, to make a commencement speech. And then we had the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday night. So this was in the back of my mind all weekend.[…]Middle. Front.
During the course of the weekend, you know, there was no doubt that this was weighin’ on me. But, you know, something I said during the campaign that I’ve learned over and over again in this job is the Presidency requires you to do more than one thing at a time. And it is important for you to be able to focus on something that matters deeply to you, but still be able to do the things on a daily basis that are makin’ a difference in people’s lives.
On His Fear & Concerns
If I’m sending those guys in and Murphy’s Law applies and something happens, can we still get our guys out?[…]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. My number one concern was: can our guys get in and get out safely?[…]You think about Black Hawk Down. You think about what happened with the Iranian rescue. And I am very sympathetic to the situation for other Presidents where you make a decision, you’re making your best call, your best shot, and something goes wrong — because these are tough, complicated operations… the day before, I was thinking about this quite a bit.
On Why He Decided Not to Release Osama’s Death Photo
It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence. As a propaganda tool. You know, that’s not who we are. You know, we don’t trot out this stuff as trophies. You know, the fact of the matter is this was somebody who was deserving of the justice that he received. And I think Americans and people around the world are glad that he’s gone. But we don’t need to spike the football. And I think that given the graphic nature of these photos, it would create some national security risk. And I’ve discussed this with Bob Gates and Hillary Clinton and my intelligence teams and they all agree.
On The Decision To Bury Bin Laden At Sea
It was a joint decision. We thought it was important to think through ahead of time how we would dispose of the body if he were killed in the compound. And I think that what we tried to do was, consulting with experts in Islamic law and ritual, to find something that was appropriate that was respectful of the body.
Frankly we took more care on this than, obviously, bin Laden took when he killed 3,000 people. He didn’t have much regard for how they were treated and desecrated. But that, again, is something that makes us different. And I think we handled it appropriately.
He also discussed the future relationship between Pakistan and the United States, if he believes the Pakistani government knew Osama was hiding in their midst and was aiding him and more in the full interview.