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Homeland Security advisor says Obama's was one of the 'gutsiest calls of any president in recent history'

May 2, 2011 |  4:37 pm


John Brennan, deputy national security advisor for homeland security and counter-terrorism, told the White House press corps Monday that President Obama's decision to greenlight the mission that ended in the death of Osama bin Laden was one of the "gutsiest calls of any president in recent history."

"It was probably the most anxiety-filled periods of times," Brennan said at a White House briefing about the daring 40-minute military raid accomplished in the cloak of darkness. "The minutes passed like days, and the president was very concerned about the security of our personnel."

Brennan said the anxiety remained until word came that all of the Navy SEALs were safe and that it was indeed Bin Laden in the Pakistani compound.

Photos: Osama bin Laden dead

"When we finally were informed that those individuals who were able to go on that compound had found an individual that they believed was Bin Laden, there was a tremendous sigh of relief that what we believed and who we believed was in that compound actually was in that compound and was found. And the president was relieved once we had our people and those remains off target," the senior advisor said.

Although they had gotten their man, Brennan said Bin Laden was not the macho, heroic figure his supporters had advertised him to be.

"Here is Osama, living in a million-dollar compound, hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield," said Brennan, who spent most of his career in the CIA. "It speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years."

One of the women used as a human shield was one of Bin Laden's four wives.

"She served as a shield -- this is my understanding. When she fought back, when there was an opportunity to get to Bin Laden, she was positioned in a way that she was used as a shield," Brennan said. "My understanding was she was one of Bin Laden's wives."

Besides Bin Laden and one of his wives, one of his sons also died with two other men during the firefight. Brennan said the administration was still unsure exactly how they would prove that Bin Laden died before he was buried at sea.

There are photographs of the body with a gunshot wound to the side of the head that shows an individual who is recognizable as Bin Laden, a U.S. government official said

"We are going to continue to look at the information that we have and make sure that we are able to share what we can, because we want to make sure that not only the American people but the world understand exactly what happened," the official said.


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News and jubilation spread fast after Bin Laden's death

Osama bin Laden declared 'deceased' on FBI most wanted posted

-- Tony Pierce

John Brennan, center, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney at a White House news briefing on Monday. Credit: Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press