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Joe Biden Was Against Bin Laden Raid Before He Was For It

Vice President Joe Biden maintained in a speech Tuesday that he supported the secret raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, despite him and several other members of the administration saying earlier that he opposed it.

Biden said that Defense Secretary Robert Gates was the only one in the situation room who opposed the 2011 raid. “We walked out of the room and walked upstairs,” Biden said during a roundtable at the University of Minnesota. “I told [President Barack Obama] my opinion: I thought he should go, but to follow his own instincts.”

The problem is that Biden — along with Obama and potential rival 2016 Hillary Clinton — are on the record saying that Biden opposed the raid. In a 2012 speech, Biden spoke of how every advisor in the situation room hedged their bets when Obama asked their opinions on the raid, except for him and CIA Director Leon Panetta.

“He said ‘Joe what do you think?'” Biden recalled. “I said, ‘I didn’t know we had so many economists around the table. We owe the man a direct answer. Mr. President my suggestion is don’t go. We have to do two more things to see if he’s there.'”

Meanwhile, Obama himself said in the 2012 presidential debates that Biden opposed the raid.

You know, after we killed bin Laden I was at ground zero for a memorial and talked to a young women who was four years old when 9/11 happened. And the last conversation she had with her father was him calling from the twin towers, saying “Peyton, I love you and I will always watch over you.” And for the next decade, she was haunted by that conversation. And she said to me, “You know, by finally getting bin Laden, that brought some closure to me.”

And when we do things like that — when we bring those who have harmed us to justice, that sends a message to the world and it tells Peyton that we did not forget her father. And I make that point because that’s the kind of clarity of leadership, and those decisions are not always popular. Those decisions generally — generally are not poll-tested. And even some in my own party, including my current vice president, had the same critique as you did.

Clinton tells the same story in her book “Hard Choices,” saying that Biden was skeptical about the raid: “I respected Bob [Gates] and Joe [Biden]’s concerns about the risks of a raid, but I came to the conclusion that the intelligence was convincing and the risks were outweighed by the benefits of success,” she wrote. “We just had to make sure it worked.”

[Image via White House]
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