Gates: Bin Laden Intel Required Prompt Action

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2011 — While acknowl­edg­ing con­cerns about intel­li­gence lead­ing up to the May 1 raid that killed 9/11-attack mas­ter­mind and al-Qai­da leader Osama bin Laden in Pak­istan, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates called Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s deci­sion to move for­ward “gut­sy.”

“I was very con­cerned,” Gates said in an inter­view that aired tonight on the CBS pro­gram “60 Min­utes.” “Frankly, I had real reser­va­tions about the intelligence.” 

Gates told CBS cor­re­spon­dent Katie Couric he wor­ried that bin Laden was not even in the com­pound and that Amer­i­can lives were at risk, not­ing the intel­li­gence was cir­cum­stan­tial. Still, the sec­re­tary said, it like­ly was the best lead the Defense Depart­ment and White House had on bin Laden’s where­abouts in a decade. “I think every­body agreed that we need­ed to act, and act prompt­ly,” he said of Obama’s nation­al secu­ri­ty team. 

Gates praised Obama’s deci­sion to move for­ward with the oper­a­tion despite the lack of cer­tain­ty in the intel­li­gence, call­ing the results a game-chang­er in the war in Afghanistan. “This is one of the most out­ra­geous calls, deci­sions, that I think I’ve ever seen a pres­i­dent make,” said Gates, who has served eight pres­i­dents in his pub­lic life. “For all of the con­cerns I just talked about — the uncer­tain­ty, the intel­li­gence, the con­se­quences of it going bad, the risk, the lives of Amer­i­cans involved — it was a very gut­sy call.” Although it’s still too ear­ly to tell whether bin Laden’s death will affect troop with­draw­al in Afghanistan, Gates said, “I think we could be in a posi­tion by the end of this year where we have turned the cor­ner in Afghanistan and more troops could come home.” 

Gates explained that the mil­i­tant Tal­iban could rec­on­cile with the Afghan gov­ern­ment by year’s end, and the past 18 months of progress could ensure that nei­ther the Tal­iban nor al-Qai­da re-emerges as a threat in Afghanistan. 

The war in Afghanistan is only part of Gates’ his­tor­i­cal tenure as defense sec­re­tary. When he retires lat­er this sum­mer, he not­ed, will have over­seen wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at some of the most promis­ing and doubt­ful peri­ods of each war. And through it all, he said, his high­est pri­or­i­ty was to ensure the safe­ty of troops by mak­ing sure they had what they need­ed to accom­plish their mission. 

“If you’re in a war, and kids’ lives are at stake, you do what­ev­er is nec­es­sary to pro­tect them and help them accom­plish their mis­sion,” Gates said, explain­ing his deci­sion to spend more than $40 bil­lion on the mine-resis­tant, ambush-pro­tect­ed vehi­cle designed specif­i­cal­ly to pro­tect occu­pants from road­side bombs. The MRAP, he not­ed, has saved thou­sands of lives. 

“I think of [troops] as my own sons and daugh­ters,” he said. “I’m the guy that signs the piece of paper that sends them. I’m the guy that signs the con­do­lence let­ters. I’m the guy that vis­its them in the hospital. 

“It’s very emo­tion­al for me,” he con­tin­ued. “They are the best. I want the par­ents, the wives, the spous­es to know that I care about every sin­gle one of them.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →