(WASHINGTON) — On the campaign trail, President Obama has been touting his administration’s taking out of Osama bin Laden, but during remarks at a Democratic congressional retreat this weekend, Vice President Joe Biden confessed it’s former CIA director Leon Panetta who deserves much of the credit. The Vice President admitted he personally advised President Obama not to launch the mission that ultimately killed Osama bin Laden last spring.
Biden explained that when it came time to make the final decision, he had some lingering uncertainties about whether the 9/11 mastermind was in the suspected compound in Pakistan, and when the president asked his top advisers for their final opinion on the mission, all of them were hesitant, except for the former CIA director, now Defense Secretary Panetta, Biden said.
“Every single person in that room hedged their bet except Leon Panetta. Leon said go. Everyone else said, 49, 51,” Biden said, as he offered the unsolicited details of the decision-making process.
“He got to me. He said, ‘Joe, what do you think?’ And I said, ‘You know, I didn’t know we had so many economists around the table.’ I said, ‘We owe the man a direct answer. Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go. We have to do two more things to see if he’s there,’” Biden recalled.
The vice president did not explain what those “two more things” were. Instead, Obama admitted to “sleeping on” Panetta’s advice for one of the most critical missions in modern American military history, and some 16 hours later, the president gave National Security Adviser Tom Donilon the “go” to launch the daring SEAL raid of the compound.
“He knew what was at stake, not just the lives of those brave warriors, but literally the presidency,” Biden said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Azadeh Ansari and Angela Dewan, CNN
Betsy Klein, CNN
Madeline Holcombe, CNN
Jackie Wattles and Amanda Barnett, CNN