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World

Biden advised caution during Bin Laden raid, Obama writes in memoir

  • Joe Biden, while serving as Vice President in the Obama Administration, advised the President to wait before ordering the raid that eventually killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, on the night of the 2nd of May 2011.
Updated 14 Nov 2020

Joe Biden, while serving as Vice President in the Obama Administration, advised the President to wait before ordering the raid that eventually killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, on the night of the 2nd of May 2011.

In former President Barack Obama's new memoir 'A Promised Land', he provides a detailed insight into the events unfolding during the Navy Seals mission that killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in which he wrote that "Joe weighed in against the raid", advising the President to follow his instincts before making a decision.

The former President wrote that once the decision was made, Vice President Biden gave his infallible support; yet this could prove to be a contentious issue, as Republicans have repeatedly claimed that Biden was completely opposed to exterminating Bin Laden.

In his memoir, Obama reflected the accounts of other senior aides present in the White House Situation Room during the raid, including former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, all of whom stated that Biden counselled caution and remained concerned about "the enormous consequences of failure", adding that he advised the President not to repeat the mistakes of the past and to "defer any decision until the intelligence community was more certain that bin Laden was in the compound”.

In highlighting the role that Vice President Biden played in his Administration, Obama recounted that "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".

Former President Obama was hyperaware of the fact that "no matter how thorough the planning, operations like this could go badly wrong. Beyond the risk to the team, he worried that a failed mission might adversely impact the war in Afghanistan", but commented on the deliberations by his senior aides as “a sober, well-reasoned assessment”.

John Brennan, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, favoured mounting the raid but was aware of the risks of such an unprecedented mission; adding that President Obama's decision to go after Bin Laden was one of the “gutsiest calls of any president in memory”.