President Obama tonight announced that U.S. special forces killed Osama Bin Laden earlier today.
Obama, who spoke from the East Room, said the operation included a firefight at a compound in Pakistan where Bin Laden was hiding out.
Obama said he authorized the mission last week after months in which intelligence pointing to Bin Laden’s whereabouts was developed.
Obama, who held no less than five national security meetings on the operation since March, gave the final order to proceed with the operation on on April 29, according to a senior administration official who, along with others, breifed reporters early this morning. The raid was held in the early morning hours.
Osama was found in a large home on a secure compound in an affluent suburb of Islamabad.
Bin Laden, thought to be moving around constantly, appears to have been in the compound for years.
The president appeared to try to take maximum credit for the killing of Bin Laden, noting that he had instructed CIA Director Leon Panetta to make bringing Bin Laden to justice the highest priority in the anti-terrorism fight.
While the hunt for Bin Laden is certainly a priority that predates Obama, the president likely does deserve great credit for authorizing what must have been an extraordinarily dangerous operation that would have involved the infiltration of U.S. forces into Pakistan and the execution of what was likely a highly risky small forces strike.
Obama sought to give credit to Pakistan, saying finding Bin Laden was the result of Pakistan’s assistance in “counterterrorism.” But I’d be very surprised if anyone in the Pakistani leadership, famous for playing a double game of helping us while supporting our enemies, was alerted.
The killing of Bin Laden presents a direct contrast with Jimmy Carter’s failed mission to liberate U.S. hostages in Iran, a debacle which in part led to the failure of his reelection bid.