Washington, May 9: US President Barack Obama has admitted that his national security team was divided 55 to 45 over plans to kill Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on May 1.
Obama also acknowledged that he had only circumstantial evidence about bin Laden being inside the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
He said there wasn’t a single photograph or confirmed sighting of the man, and added that he was worried the Navy SEALs would find only a “prince from Dubai” instead of the terrorist leader responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
“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. Had he not been there, then there would have been some significant consequences,” Obama told CBS’s 60 Minutes.
Obama rejected the counsel of several national security advisers, who said the plan to send ground troops deep into Pakistan was too risky.
“I concluded it was worth it. We have devoted enormous blood and treasure in fighting back against al-Qaeda, ever since 2001. And I said to myself that if we have a good chance of not completely defeating but badly disabling al-Qaeda, then it was worth both the political risks as well as the risks to our men, after a pursuit that cost billions of dollars and stretched for nearly a decade,” Obama said.
Obama gave the order to strike on the morning of April 29, a day after his top security advisers went over the arguments and counter-arguments in a meeting in the White House Situation Room.
He expressed surprise over the fact that bin Laden had been hiding in Pakistan since 2005 without the knowledge of Pakistan’s security officials.
He said White House officials believed there had to be “some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan,” though it was unclear who or what that support network was. (ANI)