Obama on ’60 Minutes’: Osama bin Laden mission was ‘worth the risk’
In a pre-taped interview on CBS News’ “60 Minutes” Sunday night, President Barack Obama said that he didn’t regret the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
“As nervous as I was about this whole process, the one thing I didn’t lose sleep over was the possibility of taking bin Laden out,” Obama said. “Justice was done. And I think that anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn’t deserve what he got needs to have their head examined.”
Obama said that the safety of the Navy SEALs was his number one concern in giving the mission to raid bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan the go-ahead. There was not complete certainty of whether bin Laden was inside the compound, and there was no way to know whether the compound contained booby traps or jury-rigged explosives.
He also said that past failures in U.S. military missions abroad, such as the Iranian hostage crisis, served as a warning when he was mulling whether to give the greenlight on the mission to Pakistan.
“You think about what happened with the Iranian rescue, and I am very sympathetic to the situation for other presidents where you make a decision, you make your best call, give it your best shot, and something goes wrong,” he said. “The day before, I was thinking about it quite a bit.”
A big part of being the president means being able to multitask, said Obama, who had a hectic schedule of events between Friday morning, when he gave the greenlight for the mission, and Sunday night, when he announced bin Laden’s death. In that time, he surveyed tornado damage in the southern U.S., attended the White House Correspondents Dinner, visited a shuttle launch, and more.
He said the mission in Pakistan was in the “back, center and front” of his mind the whole time.
“I concluded that it was worth it,” he said of the risk, citing the “enormous blood and treasure” that have been devoted to fighting AQ in the past decade. “If we have a chance of not defeating, but badly disabling al-Qaeda, it was worth not only the political risks, but the risk to our men.”