Gates Had ‘Reservations’ About bin Laden Raid

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

“I was very con­cerned,” Gates said in a CBS “60 Min­utes” inter­view that aired tonight. “Frankly, I had real reser­va­tions about the intel­li­gence.” Gates wor­ried that bin Laden was not even in the com­pound and that Amer­i­can lives were at risk, he told CBS cor­re­spon­dent Katie Couric. The intel­li­gence was “cir­cum­stan­tial.” Still, it was like­ly the best lead the Defense Depart­ment and White House had on bin Laden’s where­abouts in a decade, Gates said. “I think every­body agreed that we need­ed to act and act prompt­ly,” he said of Obama’s nation­al secu­ri­ty advisors. 

Gates praised Obama’s deci­sion to move for­ward with the oper­a­tion despite the lack­ing 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,” Gates, who’s worked under eight dif­fer­ent pres­i­den­tial admin­is­tra­tions, said. “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 “pre­ma­ture” to tell whether or not bin Laden’s death will impact 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 the Tal­iban nor al-Qai­da re-emerge 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, Gates will have over­seen wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both at some of the most promis­ing and doubt­ful peri­ods of each war. 

And through it all, Gates 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, up-armored vehi­cle. 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 →