Joe Biden advised Barack Obama to wait before ordering the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan that killed al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, according to a new memoir, “A Promised Land”, by the former US president, set to be released on 17 November, and cited by The Guardian.
“Joe weighed in against the raid,” writes Obama in reference to the discussion over the Navy Seals mission that he ordered on the night of 1-2 May 2011.
Joe Biden himself earlier stated that during group discussion of whether to proceed with the raid, he advised Obama to take more time, saying: “Don’t go.”
Nevertheless, according to Obama, his vice-president, currently the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, immediately supported his decision to go ahead with the Bin Laden raid as planned, saying “follow your instincts”.
A ‘50-50 Call’
The account given by Barack Obama in his memoir is said to mirror those offered by other senior aides who were in the White House Situation Room at the time.
Obama is reported by the outlet as writing in his book that Biden was concerned about “the enormous consequences of failure” and counselled that the president “should defer any decision until the intelligence community was more certain that bin Laden was in the compound”.
“As had been true in every major decision I’d made as president, I appreciated Joe’s willingness to buck the prevailing mood and ask tough questions, often in the interest of giving me the space I needed for my own internal deliberations,” says the former president.
Obama also adds that as the Seal team was waiting for orders from him in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, he himself characterised the discussed raid as “a 50-50 call”.
According to Obama, the CIA chief, Leon Panetta, homeland security adviser, John Brennan, and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Adm Mike Mullen, were against procrastinating.
Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, reportedly thought it was a “51-49 call” and “came down on the side of sending in the Seals”.
Writing about the aftermath of the mission, Obama says:
“As the helicopters took off, Joe placed a hand on my shoulder and squeezed, saying “Congratulations, boss”."
On 2 May 2011, as part of Operation Neptune Spear, the US Special Forces raided an al-Qaeda compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killing the world’s most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden almost 10 years after 9/11 terrorist attacks by the Islamist terrorist group against the United States.
John Brennan subsequently referred to Obama’s decision to wipe out Bin Laden one of the “gutsiest calls of any president in memory”.
Biden’s Stance on Osama bin Laden Raid
There has been a contentious ongoing debate on whether Joe Biden advised Barack Obama against the Bin Laden raid in 2011.
The issue came to the forefront during the recent presidential election campaign that pitted Republican Donald Trump against Democratic opponent Joe Biden.
Republicans invoked Biden’s purported scepticism over the raid that killed Osama bin Laden to question Democratic presidential hopeful’s leadership instincts.
In the wake of criticism over the drone strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Donald Trump had tweeted to say that Biden had opposed the mission to take out Osama bin Laden.
No one has been more wrong, more often than Biden. He voted FOR the Iraq War, he supported the defense sequester that gutted our military, he opposed the mission to take out Osama bin Laden, he opposed killing Soleimani, he oversaw the rise of ISIS, and he cheered the rise of...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 18, 2020
Barack Obama’s memoir, “A Promised Land”, is the first of a planned two volumes detailing the 44th US president's tenure in the White House from 2009 to 2017. Obama served two terms and was the country's first African American leader.
There’s no feeling like finishing a book, and I’m proud of this one. In A Promised Land, I try to provide an honest accounting of my presidency, the forces we grapple with as a nation, and how we can heal our divisions and make democracy work for everybody. pic.twitter.com/T1QSZVDvOm— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 17, 2020
Obama said in a tweet following the announcement of the publication of the book that he sought to "provide an honest accounting of my presidency, the forces we grapple with as a nation, and how we can heal our divisions and make democracy work for everybody".
The book wraps up with events connected with the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011.