White House Press Briefing on Osama Bin Laden

Jay Carney is conducting the White House briefing on the killing of Osama bin Laden. You can watch live here, it's just starting. John Brennan is up: (Live-blog)

If they had the ability to take Osama alive, they were prepared to do that. But they thought that was a remote possibility. There was a firefight and he was killed.

Killing Osama was killing the head of a snake. It gives us an opportunity to show the people of Pakistan that al Qaida is something in the past.[More...]

The principals convened mid-day. Obama joined them early afternoon before operation got underway. He left and rejoined the group when it started. They monitored the entire operation on a real-time basis. "The minutes passed like days." Obama was concerned about the security of our personnel. It was very tense. When we were informed that bin Laden was found, there was "a sigh of relief." Refuses to answer whether there was video, but says there were visuals they could track on an ongoing basis.

They did not contact Pakistani officials until our people were out of the Pakistani forces. No Pakistani forces were engaged and no one other than those on the compound were killed.

Won't discuss documents or other evidence recovered from the compound. Says we're examining it.

They had only circumstantial evidence to suggest Osama was there. It was based on targeted analysis of intelligence (sounds like predictive behavior analysis.)

They first identified the courier, then the compound.

Claims not to know whether Osama got his hands on a weapon or whether he fired during the "firefight." He used a woman as a shield. (Sounds to me like Osama did not have a weapon, was not one of the ones engaged in the firefight but was shot after he pulled the woman in front of him.)

There was family at the compound. A female was in the line of fire that reportedly used as a human shield to shield him "from the incoming fire." {Again, it sounds to me like Bin Laden wasn't involved in the firefight.)

There's discussion about what to release to the public: DNA results, photos, etc. They don't want to release information about intelligence operations that would prevent them from using those techniques again in the future.

The residence was in the courier's name. There was debate about what to do. Some people at the table thought there was insubstantial circumstantial evidence to believe Osama was there. The CIA was confident. Brennan supported the decision. The President made a gutsy decision. (says as a compliment, as in courageous, not risky.)

Burial at sea done in accord with Muslim traditions. It took place earlier today. The course of action and subsequent decisions have been developed over the past several months. Over the last several weeks, it was looked at: if he was captured, where would he go, if he was killed, what would we do with him. It was determined his disposal would be by a burial at sea in strict accordance with Muslim customs.

Muslim law requires burial within 24 hours and they would not have been able to do that if they had to deal with foreign governments.

Question: How secure was the white sheet he was buried in? Answer: military burials at sea are common. Was Iman there? Answer: Appropriate people (e.g. religious person) were there.

Won't say who they consulted after his death and before his burial.

Last night they didn't have some of the confirmation. Today they can say with 99.9 percent certainty it was bin Laden.

This was done without consultation with Pakistan. Pakistan is expressing understanding and appreciative there were no casualties outside of the compound.

Calls al Qaida and bin Laden "old news." This will start the demise of al Qaida. Makes it sound like it will be quick.

There were dry runs of the raid, "they had trained against it numerous times."

Outer features of compound were studied intensively. They planned the raid based on where they interpreted people would be. (Translation: predictive behavioral analysis?) The stupid reporter interrupts him just as he's talking about the person who shot bin Laden.

Casualties besides Osama: Courier, courier's brother, bin Laden's son, and bin Laden's wife (not his son's wife.) So bin Laden used his wife as a human shield?

Calls al Qaida "a mortally wounded tiger that may have some life left in it."

The wife: When she fought back and there was an opportunity to get bin laden, she was positioned in a way that indicated she was being used as a shield. He doesn't know whether she placed herself there, whether the son placed her there, or whether Osama put her there. He only knows she was used as a shield (by someone to protect Osama.) The end of Brennan's q and a:

My Translation on the shield issue: Osama didn't use his wife as a shield, she probably voluntarily rushed to protect him. Also sounds like she was armed ("She fought back.") Otherwise they would be talking about what a coward he was. Now the media will trumpet that Osama used his wife as a shield and was a coward when Brennan specifically refused to say that.

Why did no one ask what was done with the couriers' bodies or Osama's wife and son's bodies? Were they also buried at sea? If not, will autopsies be done which might shed some light on their positions when killed?

President Obama will discuss the raid tonight.

< When JSOC, Commandos and Intelligence-Gathering Converge | Clues and Unanswered Questions From Choice of Words at Osama bin Laden Briefing >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Burial at sea avoids (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by MKS on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:33:51 PM EST
    issue of grave robbing etc....

    Also, no shrine for jihadists (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by MKS on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:34:33 PM EST
    to visit.

    Like all tough decisions based (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by ruffian on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:36:05 PM EST
    on not quite 100% certainty it looks like a good one because it worked. If something had gone wrong and we had a 'Blackhawk Down' scenario, Obama would be under the gun today.

    I heard on NPR that he rejected an option to drop heavy bombs on the compound because of the almost certain civilian casualties. I wholeheartedly agree with that decision.

    Al jazeera (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by star on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:21:51 PM EST
    said the same thing, but the reasoning to NOT bomb the house out of existence was so no conclusive proof of Bin Laden's death will be lost. with out a body to Id , there will always be a specter of doubt if we did indeed get bin laden or not.,
    I do not buy the story of hesitance to shoot out of fear of collateral damage. there was not such fear when Gaddafi's compound was bombed last week killing even children.

    That reasoning makes sense too (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by ruffian on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:25:51 PM EST
    But I don't agree with the Tripoli comparison since Khaddafi is bombing his own people, putting everyone at risk. That is not happening in Pakistan.

    Not saying I agree with what we are doing in Libya. I am on record against it.


    If I am Qaddafi, I would (none / 0) (#45)
    by MKS on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:57:31 PM EST
    be trying to make a deal toot-sweet.

    I think (none / 0) (#52)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon May 02, 2011 at 03:57:56 PM EST
    there's a pretty big difference between bombing the presidential compound in Tripoli and dropping bombs on a Mansion less than 1000 yards from Pakistan's version of West Point- namely the latter could really, really do some damage to an alliance. (Seriously, though- this looks really, really bad for Pakistan- you're pretending to try and catch the guy and he's under a kilometer from what is presumably one of your country's most prestigious military locations?)

    He made the call (none / 0) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:39:39 PM EST
    He took the risk along with those that serve him as their CIC.  I'm sure everyone involved was bordering on tearing their hair out until they got them all out of there.  There are probably some really short fingernails out there today.

    Especially as Obama and (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by MKS on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:58:32 PM EST
    his team monitored the raid in real time and discovered one of the Helicopters was kaput.  That was at the begining of the raid, but the U.S. forces decided to go ahead with the raid anyway....

    White knuckle time at the Whitehouse....


    My husband says that all special ops like (none / 0) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:02:41 PM EST
    this are white knuckle, so I can't imagine the stress of this one.  Or probably the following euphoria when it is a success and you have everyone out.

    Kaput (none / 0) (#56)
    by sj on Mon May 02, 2011 at 05:08:54 PM EST
    Okay, I took that at face value and it just seemed weird to me -- did the helicopter break down?  What kind of weird equipment are we deploying?  huh??

    Then I read this and realized that "kaput" likely equaled "shot down".

    So apparently I'm a little slow...


    Check out this realtime photo (none / 0) (#58)
    by MKS on Mon May 02, 2011 at 06:32:31 PM EST
    of Situation Room.

    The look on Obama's and Hillary's faces says it all.  


    And, bombing Osama's (none / 0) (#7)
    by KeysDan on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:42:01 PM EST
    residence would tend to destroy evidence.  

    BTW, very courageous hiding behind a woman (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by ruffian on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:40:32 PM EST
    if we can believe that is true

    Most terrorists (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:43:30 PM EST
    are cowards so I wouldn't be surprised if it is true.

    it was his wife (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Jeralyn on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:47:54 PM EST
    We have only their word that's what happened at his point. An autopsy on her ought to show something. Come to think of it, why does no one ask where the other bodies went?

    Ask REAL questions (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by star on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:23:52 PM EST
    That is expecting too much of the pack called Journalists these days.

    I was wondering the same thing (none / 0) (#14)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:51:06 PM EST
    and how many. do we know?

    Good question (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:51:31 PM EST
    But because they were all Muslim I'm sure their bodies have been "buried" and I would assume they would also be buried at sea but maybe not.

    I heard a brief mention on NPR of some (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by ruffian on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:56:17 PM EST
    folks protesting because he was not buried pointing toward Mecca. To which I reply: KMA. I'd like to give them a lecture on how some of the burial rites were not observed on 9-11.

    I may not be in the dancing around jubilation camp, but I have my limits.


    No room in Helicopters for them? (none / 0) (#22)
    by MKS on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:00:59 PM EST
    And some reports have over 20 others "captured."  Does that mean they were released?--our guys had to get out of there pronto....

    I thought that Pakistan arrested (5.00 / 0) (#25)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:04:15 PM EST
    who we didn't take.  I thought we notified Pakistan after we were in the air, ISI seems to have arrived reportedly pretty quickly.

    One of Osama's surviving wives (none / 0) (#26)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:07:48 PM EST
    identified his body.

    Could they have left her body there? (none / 0) (#39)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:26:04 PM EST
    Left behind I suppose (none / 0) (#21)
    by MKS on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:59:26 PM EST
    So the ISI would know, if they will tell truly.

    Well, (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by lilburro on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:48:55 PM EST
    we can always wait for the real story from Wikileaks...

    Because of the number (none / 0) (#9)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:43:57 PM EST
    of special forces involved I feel very certain that such details that are let out are not propaganda.  Way too many people who could talk and say it isn't so.  They also had many people watching from video feeds, too many witnesses to think for a minute you can lie and get away with it easily as to what took place during the actual exchange of fire.

    -sigh- (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:56:05 PM EST
    I am no longer a gamer.  currently at least.  I feel so less cool. currently (happily) among the unemployed.   long story.  perhaps some snowy night in an open.

    No way! (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:58:31 PM EST
    I'm sorry Captain Howdy.

    dont be (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:02:24 PM EST
    it was a frowny day but the whole thing has, or seems to be - lets not get ahead of ourselves, turned out to be a wonderful thing for me.

    some wonderful Joseph Campbell "path" moments in the last couple of weeks.


    yes let's leave this for (none / 0) (#28)
    by Jeralyn on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:12:33 PM EST
    an open thread, thanks.

    I've (none / 0) (#34)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:20:19 PM EST
    missed you. Glad to see you around but sorry to hear about your job situation. Too many people are suffering the same thing.

    If they show us the video feed (none / 0) (#40)
    by Rojas on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:28:59 PM EST
    that cooberates or submit it to a disinterested third party then it's not propaganda.

    I doubt that is going to happen (none / 0) (#42)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:36:59 PM EST
    The military views all such open exposure to be enabling their enemies because it exposes their tactics, their resources, their commonly used weapons and mission planning, their strengths and their weaknesses.

    This ain't the plans for the Stealth Fighter (none / 0) (#61)
    by Rojas on Tue May 03, 2011 at 01:51:20 AM EST
    they will say what they're told to say in a way that puts the what is believed to they're best interest forward.

    I know you are sceptical (none / 0) (#62)
    by Militarytracy on Tue May 03, 2011 at 01:33:42 PM EST
    and that is fine.  It is not my job in this world to cure your scepticism.  I have lived with someone for 14 years now who is active duty and started out in intel a very long time ago.  Where he started colors everything he does too.  Special Ops military missions are carefully watched in the Obama Administration by many eyes.  And the goal is not to hide the truth from you, but to protect their tactics and abilities very carefully.  They are fanatics about it.  And that is because at the end of the day, some of the terrorists they are dealing with are pretty sophisticated and we don't need our soldiers to have any more weaknesses in dealing with this situation than they already have.

    that's not what he said (none / 0) (#30)
    by Jeralyn on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:14:51 PM EST
    he didn't say he was hiding. See updates and new thread.

    finally! (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:45:59 PM EST
    OBL is dead.
    I can come out of hiding.

    LOL (none / 0) (#13)
    by sj on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:50:55 PM EST
    Where've you been?

    thats (none / 0) (#15)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:51:22 PM EST
    a long story.

    I am impressed with the (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by observed on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:39:49 PM EST
    decision to bury him quickly at sea.
    You know that the Bush administration would have released photos of the body, done victory laps, etc.
    They probably would have buried him with a pig.
    I thought at first that they should have shown a photograph of his body, but there seems to be no skepticism that OBL was truly killed, finally.

    You haven't seen Breitbart's comments have you? (none / 0) (#54)
    by ruffian on Mon May 02, 2011 at 04:40:29 PM EST
    Picture of dead OBL is the new long form birth certificate.

    Guess they don't learn, (none / 0) (#59)
    by KeysDan on Mon May 02, 2011 at 06:32:55 PM EST
    Breitbart is going to get cut off at the knees.  Of course, it will then be on to the next thing.

    Please, Please (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:58:14 PM EST
    In an operation like this one everyone had to perform their roles perfectly, or else you have disaster.

    The intel people, the planners, the IT folks, the pilots, the soldiers, and, of course The President. Any one person who didn't perform perfectly could have doomed this mission. To say that this one or that one was more important than others is just, well let's say, misinformed.

    A TEAM did this, and it's the TEAM that should be congratulated.

    Really (none / 0) (#48)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon May 02, 2011 at 03:33:43 PM EST
    And "the team" really does include the guy whose job it is to decide which plan to act on and when.  I think it's pretty ridiculous for people to try to claim that Obama had no significant role in this.

    look (5.00 / 2) (#50)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 02, 2011 at 03:46:09 PM EST
    the test for that is:

    Who do you suppose would have gotten the lion's share of the blame had the mission been a failure?


    And, as a critic of Obama in other areas, and a believer in Truman's, "the buck stops here," I will add, "the credit stops here," also.

    My hat's off to the President.

    Well done, Sir.


    Excellent point. (none / 0) (#51)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon May 02, 2011 at 03:48:19 PM EST
    sorry (none / 0) (#55)
    by Jeralyn on Mon May 02, 2011 at 04:50:35 PM EST
    but Obama gets more credit than just being a team player. Brennan said there was dissension and Obama made the call, calling it extremely gutsy. Since he would have gotten the blame if it went wrong, at least give him the credit.

    "Just?" (none / 0) (#57)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 02, 2011 at 05:24:12 PM EST
    Maybe you didn't read #50?

    npr said it was the result of years of (none / 0) (#1)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:22:59 PM EST
    monitoring and planning and working with obl's "courier."

    weird (none / 0) (#27)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:08:03 PM EST
    that the Socialist Muslim Manchurian Candidate got the guy when the cowboys couldnt.

    I was reading Wonkette (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by lilburro on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:15:30 PM EST
    and there were a number of funny comments, among them:  

    "I think my mother in law picked the wrong day to tell me that Obama was the 'worst president in US history.'"


    poor Dub (none / 0) (#47)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon May 02, 2011 at 03:14:57 PM EST
    like having a nerd steal your lunch money

    Or (none / 0) (#49)
    by lilburro on Mon May 02, 2011 at 03:38:07 PM EST
    "I'm sure our conservative friends are shocked that Bin Laden wasn't killed in Iraq."

    Honestly, Obama didn't do anything. It was the (none / 0) (#32)
    by tigercourse on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:15:50 PM EST
    soldiers on the ground who risked their asses for this.

    Bush (none / 0) (#35)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:20:31 PM EST
    was risking the same asses and not finding him I guess is the point.  I am not particularly reveling in this. just pointing out the the irony.

    It was the competency! Good intel (none / 0) (#60)
    by hairspray on Mon May 02, 2011 at 10:39:06 PM EST
    lasar focus on what was important, putting stellar people in positions unlike Bush who appointed cronies, and approaching the problem from an objective point of view.  Sure glad to hear that this wasn't all about reverence for life (pro-life, that is).

    So (none / 0) (#29)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:13:01 PM EST
    So I assume that since Obama is dead, Al Qaida is permanently disabled, we can mothball those TSA x-ray machines.....what do you mean, nooooo?

    So (none / 0) (#33)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:18:41 PM EST
    So you're saying that Reagan really is responsible for the fall of communism.....

    Personally, I think giving the president credit for Osama's assasination is similar to giving Phil Jackson credit for Michael Jordan's talent.  

    Intelligence did their job and the seals are brave and great.  They get the credit in my book.  The prez was lucky to be in office at the right time.


    I agree (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by star on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:30:58 PM EST
    All he could have done is botch it up by blinking, which he DID NOT DO.. so that is a positive.

    Out of curiousity (none / 0) (#53)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon May 02, 2011 at 04:04:14 PM EST
    if this had gone badly- say two choppers couldn't fly out and 5-10 guys are killed would you have had the same attitidue "Obama shouldn't get any criticism over this its just like when a team loses a game- its the players fault not the coach's) or would you have started in with Carter references?

    Heh! (none / 0) (#44)
    by Nemi on Mon May 02, 2011 at 02:43:59 PM EST
    And while they claim to have cut off the head of the snake, how can we be sure it wasn't a Hydra? And how do we know for sure they got the right head?