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US defence secretary was unsure of bin Laden raid
05-17-2011, 11:25 AM
Post: #1
US defence secretary was unsure of bin Laden raid
WASHINGTON: Defence Secretary Robert Gates said he did not have full confidence in the underlying intelligence when US Navy SEALs were conducting the raid on al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad. “I was very concerned, frankly,” he said in an interview on “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday on CBS. “I had real reservations about the intelligence. My worry was the level of uncertainty about whether bin Laden was even in the compound,” he said. “There was not any direct evidence that he was there. It was all circumstantial. But it was the best – information that we had – since probably 2001,” Gates said. The decision to go ahead with the raid by President Barack Obama was “one of the most courageous calls” a president has made, given the uncertainty of the intelligence and the risk involved in the operation, he said. Gates admits to a case of nerves while watching the raid in real time with the president and other officials in the White House situation room. “I think like the rest, I was just transfixed. And, of course, my heart went to my mouth when the helicopter landed in the courtyard, because I knew that was not part of the plan. But these guys were just amazing,” he said. Gates said it was “premature” to say whether bin Laden’s death could accelerate US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, but added that the war could turn the corner by the end of this year “and more troops could come home.” reuters
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