White House: Bin Laden Was Not Armed, But Did Resist Capture
The White House has clarified several of the basic facts of the assault on Osama bin Laden’s residence, including several items I wrote about yesterday:
White House officials on Tuesday sought to correct the official account of the raid in Pakistan that ended in the killing of Osama bin Laden, saying that the Qaeda leader was not armed and that his wife was not killed.
The new Defense Department narrative released by the White House, and read at a White House news briefing on Tuesday, said that one of Bin Laden’s wives was shot in the leg as she charged members of the commando team on the third floor of the compound.
“In the room with Bin Laden, a woman – Bin Laden’s wife – rushed the U.S. assaulter and was shot in the leg but not killed,” the brief statement said. “Bin Laden was then shot and killed. He was not armed.”
Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, read the narrative in an attempt to correct statements by administration officials who had suggested that Bin Laden was armed during the raid.
Under questioning, Mr. Carney said that the White House stood by its claim on Monday that Bin Laden had resisted capture, but said that “resistance does not require a firearm.” Mr. Carney said that the new narrative was the result of “fresh” information.
“I want to make clear that this is, again, information that is fresh and, you know, we will continue to gather and provide to you details as we get them and we’re able to release them,” Mr. Carney said. “The resistance was throughout, as I said.”
On Monday, John O. Brennan, the top counterterrorism adviser to President Obama, said he believed that Bin Laden’s wife had been killed while trying to shield the terror leader during the 40-minute raid.
But the narrative released Tuesday by Mr. Carney suggested that the woman who died in the raid was part of another family living at the compound. The narrative says that woman was shot and killed on the first floor, not the third floor, where Bin Laden was found and killed.
“On the first floor of Bin Laden’s building, two Al Qaeda couriers were killed along with a woman who was killed in cross-fire,” Mr. Carney said. “Bin Laden and his family were found on the second and third floor of the building. There was concern that Bin Laden would oppose the capture operation, and indeed he resisted.”
Neither the Defense Department narrative nor Mr. Carney made any mention of the woman who was killed having been used as a “human shield” during the firefight, as previously described.
While some may try to make something of this, I think it can largely be attributed to the fog of war and the fact that all the information from the raid hadn’t been fully processed when Brennan spoke, or that he hadn’t been fully briefed. Of course, if that’s the case then he probably shouldn’t have gone into such detail either.