60 Minutes aired the interview Steve Kroft conducted with President Obama on Wednesday at the White House in which the Commander-in-Chief discussed the successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden.
“I felt very strongly there was a strategic imperative to go after him,” the President said even though he admitted they had no photograph and no direct evidence of bin Laden’s presence.
The President also said he was “about as active as any project that I’ve been involved with since I’ve been President… I was not involved with designing the initial plan but each iteration they’d bring to me, make a full presentation, we would ask questions. We had multiple meetings in the Situation Room where we actually had a model of the compound and we would discuss how this operation might proceed and what various options there were.”
Later, Kroft asked for the President’s thoughts about the compound in Pakistan.
“I think we were surprised when we learned this compound had been there for five or six years, and it was in an area in which you would think that potentially he would attract some attention. So yes, the answer is that we were surprised that he could maintain a compound for that long without there being a tip off.”
Kroft also asked about the concerns Obama before the mission.
“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 significant consequences.
Obviously, we’re going into the sovereign territory of another country and landing helicopters and conducting a military operation. And so if it turns out that it’s a wealthy, you know, prince from Dubai who’s in this compound, and, you know, we’ve sent Special Forces in — we’ve got problems. So there were risks involved geopolitically in making the decision.
But my number one concern was: can our guys get in and get out safely.”