The White House Revises Its Narrative of Bin Laden Capture

The White House Revises Its Narrative of Bin Laden Capture

The White House acted quickly to provide details of Osama bin Laden's capture and killing but now new, more accurate information is emerging.

Published May 4, 2011

In its haste to report the circumstances surrounding Osama bin Laden’s capture, some of the details provided by the president’s chief counterrorism advisor John Brennan earlier this week were inaccurate.


“We provided a great deal of information with great haste in order to inform you and, through you, the American public about the operation and how it transpired and the events that took place there in Pakistan,” White House spokesman Jay Carney explained.  “And obviously some of the information came in piece by piece and is being reviewed and updated and elaborated on.


During a briefing with reporters on Monday, Brennan said that when Navy SEALs entered bin Laden’s Pakistani compound, the Al Qaeda leader was armed and engaged in a firefight with the American forces. In its revised narrative, the White House is saying that bin Laden did try to resist capture, but was unarmed when he was shot and killed. Carney declined to provide any details about the nature of that resistance.


Brennan also said Monday that bin Laden’s wife and other women in the building were used as a human shield to protect him.


“Here is bin Laden, who has been calling for these attacks, living in this million-dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the front, hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield,” he said. “I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years.”


No women were used to shield the terrorist leader, the White House is now saying. Mrs. bin Laden did try to rush one of the U.S. assaulters, however, and was shot in the leg, but not killed. The three other casualties included two Al Qaeda couriers and a woman who were in the building.


Carney said that new details about the operation would continue to emerge and would be provided when cleared for public release. In the meantime, the White House is weighing the pros and cons of releasing photographs of bin Laden that were taken after he was shot and killed. The administration must decide whether fulfilling the public’s desire to see proof will harm the nation’s interests domestically and abroad.


(Photo: Jim Young/Landov)

Written by Joyce Jones


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