U.S. commandos who attacked Osama bin Laden's compound were operating under rules of engagement that all but assured the Al Qaeda leader would be killed, officials acknowledged as they backed away from their initial account that Bin Laden had been armed and used a woman as a shield.
After saying Monday that the American operatives who raided the compound in Pakistan had orders to capture Bin Laden if he gave himself up, U.S. officials on Tuesday disclosed an important qualifier: The assault force was told to accept a surrender only if it could be sure he didn't have a bomb hidden under his clothing and posed no other danger.
Bin Laden could have surrendered only "if he did not pose any type of threat whatsoever," White House counter-terrorism chief John Brennan said on Fox television, and if U.S. troops "were confident of that in terms of his not having an IED [improvised explosives device] on his body, his not having some type of hidden weapon or whatever."
Added a senior congressional aide briefed on the rules of engagement: "He would have had to have been naked for them to allow him to surrender."
Once troops exchanged fire with Bin Laden allies living in the compound — three men were killed in addition to the Al Qaeda leader — the chances of a surrender were almost nil, experts say.
An excuse to not take OBL alive:
If Bin Laden had been taken alive, it would have posed myriad complications.This almost seems like a James Bond type mission. And Mr. Bond has a license to kill just like that special forces team.
The U.S. probably would have faced questions about the legality of having snatched a prisoner from a sovereign country without that country's permission and whether to treat him as an enemy combatant or pursue a criminal prosecution.
Panetta told Congress last month that Bin Laden probably would have been taken first to Bagram air base in Afghanistan and then the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, an uncomfortable chain of events for an administration that promised to close Guantanamo. And any legal proceeding, whether criminal or military, would have afforded the world's most famous terrorist leader a global platform.
Also there are implications for the White House. The information hasn't been exactly filtered out very well in discussing the details of this raid:
The challenge now is in the telling.It's probably why some details of this story is going to change until the correct information will come out at the right time. Well hopefully!
The White House struggled to craft its account of the audacious raid that killed Osama bin Laden to both a jubilant American public and a skeptical Muslim world, correcting parts of its narrative, withholding others and hesitating to release photos that could be considered too provocative.
"We review this information and make these decisions with the same calculation as we do with so many things — what we're trying to accomplish and does it serve or in any way harm our interests, not just domestically but globally," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
The White House deliberations and disclosures illustrated the public relations challenge for President Barack Obama, eager on the one hand to quickly capitalize on a remarkable military achievement while at the same time seeking a tone that did not gloat or incite the Muslim world. In that environment, Obama tried to portray an air of business as usual even as his administration exulted in the aftermath of the feat carried out by Navy SEALs.
No doubt, the White House sought to carefully manage the story with presidential stagecraft. Obama emerged to make a dramatic statement announcing bin Laden's death Sunday night. On Monday, the White House released a photograph portraying the president and his national security team watching intently at an unseen screen as the raid unfolded 7,000 miles away. And on Thursday, Obama plans to go to the World Trade Center site in New York City to remember victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack by bin Laden's al-Qaida operatives.
Also we already know that this event will be part of a 2012 Obama campaign.