Barack Obama and Steve Kroft
It's still uncertain what the Pakistani government knew about Osama bin Laden's whereabouts, but one thing's for sure: the terrorist leader enjoyed "some sort of support network" in the country, President Barack Obama said on 60 Minutes Sunday.
"We don't know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government, and that's something that we have to investigate and, more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate," the president told the newsmagazine's Steve Kroft.
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A week ago, U.S. Navy SEALs raided bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and killed him, and he was subsequently buried at sea.
Kroft asked him what was the most difficult part of his decision to order the mission.
"My biggest concern was if I'm sending those guys in, and Murphy's Law applies, and something happens, can we still get our guys out?" Obama said. "Point No. 2 was ... this was still a 55/45 situation. We could not say definitively that bin Laden was there. Had he not been there, then would have been significant consequences ... So if it turns out that it's a wealthy prince from Dubai who's in this compound and we've sent Special Forces in, we've got problems."
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The president conceded that past failures of similar missions like "Black Hawk Down" and the Iranian hostage rescue weighed heavily on his decision. But he concluded it was worth it.
"And the reason I concluded it was worth it is that we have devoted enormous blood and treasure in fighting back against al-Qaida -- ever since 2001. And I said to myself if we have a good chance of, not completely defeating, but badly disabling al-Qaida, then it was worth both the political risks as well as the risks to our men," Obama said.
The Associated Press reported that the president's campaign manager e-mailed Obama supporters to watch the program. The note included a link to a listing of all of the network's local affiliates around the country — and another one requesting donations to the president's re-election effort.
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The president — who characterized the Situation Room as "tense" as they watched the mission in real time — appeared on 60 Minutes the same day top administration officials and lawmakers rebutted calls for a cut in U.S. aid to Pakistan. "It was the longest 40 minutes of my life," he said, acknowledging he was nervous as events unfolded.
Obama said he refused to release the photos of bin Laden after the mission because there's no doubt that he's dead and photographs are unnecessary to prove that. He also doesn't want graphic photos of someone shot in the head circulating as "an incitement to additional violence" or "as a propaganda tool."
"That's not who we are, " he said. "We don't need to spike the football."