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Bin Laden Raid: White House Corrects Story, Issues Official Narrative

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WASHINGTON--Osama Bin Laden was not armed during the raid by U.S. forces where he was shot and killed, a woman was not exactly used as a human shield to protect him and his wife was not killed Sunday, White House officials said, correcting the record.


The Defense Department released a narrative on Tuesday--White House Secretary Jay Carney read much of it aloud at his briefing--that was different from the versions put out by administration officials on Monday, the day after the raid in Pakistan.

"In the room with bin Laden, a women - bin Laden's wife - rushed the U.S. assaulter and was shot in the leg but not killed. Bin Laden was then shot and killed. He was not armed," the Defense Department narrative stated.

What gives, Carney was asked.

Carney replied, "Well, what is true is that we provided a great deal of information in a -- with great haste in order to inform you, and through you the American public, about the operation and how it transpired and the events that took place there in Pakistan. And obviously some of the information was -- came in piece by piece and is being reviewed and updated and elaborated on. So what I can tell you, I have a narrative that I can provide to you on the raid itself on the bin Laden compound in Pakistan."

That narrative was provided by the Defense Department. Here it is:

Narrative of Events
Osama Bin Laden Compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan


On orders of the President, a small U.S. team assaulted a secure compound in an affluent suburb of Islamabad to capture or kill Osama bin Laden.

The raid was conducted with U.S. military personnel assaulting on two helicopters. The team methodically cleared the compound moving from room to room in an operation lasting nearly 40 minutes. They were engaged in a firefight throughout the operation and Osama Bin Laden was killed by the assaulting force.

In addition to the bin Laden family, two other families resided in the compound: one family on the first floor of the bin Laden building and one family in a second building. One team began the operation on the first floor of the bin Laden house and worked their way to the third floor; a second team cleared the separate building.

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. 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.

In the room with bin Laden, a women - bin Laden's wife - rushed the U.S. assaulter and was shot in the leg but not killed. Bin Laden was then shot and killed. He was not armed.

Following the firefight, the non-combatants were moved to a safe location as the damaged helicopter was detonated.

The team departed the scene via helicopter to the USS Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea.

Aboard the USS Carl Vinson, the burial of bin Laden was done in conformance with Islamic precepts and practices. The deceased's body was washed and then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag; a military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, and the deceased body eased into the sea.

On Monday, Obama Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan during a briefing twice addressed the detail of Bin Laden hiding behind a woman.

Said Brennan, "Thinking about that from a visual perspective, here is bin Laden, who has been calling for these attacks, living in this million dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the front, hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield. I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years. And so, again, looking at what bin Laden was doing hiding there while he's putting other people out there to carry out attacks again just speaks to I think the nature of the individual he was."

Asked later in the briefing about the woman, Brennan said, "There was family at that compound, and there was a female who was in fact in the line of fire that reportedly was used as a shield to shield bin Laden from the incoming fire."
During the Tuesday briefing, Carney was asked if Bin Laden did not have his hand on a gun, how was he resisting?

"I think resistance does not require a firearm. But the information I gave you is what I -- what I can tell you about it. I'm sure more details will be provided as they come available and we are able to release.

Did he have any weapon?

"He was not armed is what I understand to be true."

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 3, 2011 4:19 PM.

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