In the days following the death of Osama bin Laden, the White House’s narrative on the basic facts of the missions evolved and along with it, the news reports. Three days after President Obama confirmed that U.S. forces killed the al-Qaeda leader, there have been numerous accounts and inconsistencies. Below are some of the most glaring.
In a conference call with reporters late Sunday night, senior administration officials mentioned that one unidentified woman living in the compound was used as a human shield and killed in crossfire.
Then in Monday’s press briefing, John Brennan, Obama’s chief counterterrorism advisor, said that Osama used one of his wives as a human shield during the raid.
Later that day, however, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney revised Brennan’s earlier statement, and said that Bin Laden did not, in fact, use one of his wives as a shield.
On Tuesday, Carney revised the story about the mystery woman again, telling reporters during a briefing that Bin Laden’s wife “rushed” U.S. forces when they approached the terrorist leader. The woman, however, was shot in the leg – not killed.
On Monday, the New York Times published a story titled “Obama Calls World ‘Safer’ After Pakistan Raid”. The article stated that the raid consisted of two helicopters, two backups, 79 commandos and a dog.
On Tuesday, the Associated Press ran a story – “Phone Call by Kuwaiti Courier Led to Bin Laden” – that contained a different account of the raid. “Obama tapped two dozen members of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six to carry out a raid with surgical accuracy,” it reads. The AP story cited Brennan as its source.
Also on Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that the mission had been carried out with two Black Hawks and a third helicopter only for emergency support.