Joe Biden advised against raid on Osama bin Laden compound
Published 31/01/2012 | 08:37
VICE President Joe Biden has admitted that he advised Barack Obama against the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, telling the President that he should wait for more information before deploying the Navy SEALs.
Speaking in hushed tones to a gathering of congressional Democrats, Mr Biden gave one of the most detailed accounts yet of how the White House agonised over the decision to move against the world's most-wanted terrorist.
In the days before the May 2 raid into Pakistan, Mr Obama gathered his top intelligence and military advisers, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and went around the room asking their advice.
According to Mr Biden's account, everyone there equivocated except for Leon Panetta, then director of the CIA, who strongly urged the President to give the order to attack.
"Every single person in that room hedged their bet, except Leon Panetta. Leon said 'Go'. Everyone else said 49, 51."
"It got to me," Mr Biden told House Democrats at a gathering Maryland. "I said 'You know, I didn't know we have so many economists around the table. We owe the man a direct answer. Mr President my suggestion is don't go."
The Vice President said he wanted two additional pieces of information to confirm that bin Laden was inside the compound in Abbottabad but did not specify what they were.
Mr Obama decided to sleep on the decision but the next morning, as he prepared to board a helicopter from the White House, gave the order to execute the classified mission.
"He knew what was at stake. Not just the lives of those brave warriors. But literally the presidency. And he pulled the trigger," Mr Biden said.
He directly refuted criticism that the Mr Obama "leads from behind", saying "He just leads. And that's clear."