When President Obama gave the okay for the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, it wasn’t a unanimous decision for the administration.
Nearly nine months after SEAL Team Six executed the al-Qaeda leader, Vice President Joe Biden admitted that he wasn’t in favor of the raid.
Speaking at a private meeting of Democratic leaders last week, Vice President Biden told colleagues that Barack Obama asked for opinions from throughout the cabinet. Most everyone was unsure of what answer to offer, with only then-CIA Director Leon Panetta being 100 percent for the push. Biden, however, wasn’t so certain.
"Every single person in that room hedged their bet, except Leon Panetta. Leon said 'Go'. Everyone else said 49, 51,” recalled Biden. The meeting in question occurred just days before the May 2, 2011 raid that left bin laden dead and involved input from Obama’s top appointees, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"It got to me," Mr. Biden told said to party leaders in Maryland on Friday. "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."
Biden added that, the next morning, President Obama gave the go-ahead and the mission was underway. “He came down to the diplomatic entrance getting in the helicopter, I believe to go to Michigan, I'm not positive about that, and he turned to Tom Donilon [the National Security Adviser]and said, 'Go,’” recalled the VP.
On May 2, top officials in his cabinet watched remotely from the Situation Room as the execution was carried out.
"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.
After the raid, some critics came after Obama for making the decision, saying the commander-in-chief jumped the gun by ordered an execution rather than bringing the alleged criminal to trial. Speaking from the retreat, Biden said such a move is typical for the president, who is not hesitant to jump to big decision.
When asked if the president "leads from behind," Biden told colleagues, "He just leads. And that's clear."