Former Vice President Joe Biden denied advising then-President Barack Obama “not to go after” Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the ultimately successful 2011 raid when questioned by a reporter Friday, contradicting statements he has made previously.
Biden’s comments on the bin Laden raid come as a number of Democrats are criticizing President Donald Trump over the decision to take out top Iranian military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who is said to be responsible for hundreds of American deaths over the years and was suspected of plotting “imminent” attacks.
Soleimani, Bin Laden, and Joe Biden
Biden, the frontrunner Democratic presidential candidate, issued a tersely worded statement on Thursday following the killing of Soleimani. He condemned Trump for the “hugely escalatory move” and accused him of having “just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox” without having first fully considered the potential consequences.
Fox News reporter Peter Doocy caught up with Biden in Iowa on Friday morning and asked him whether he would have given a similar order if he were president.
“As commander in chief, if you were ever handed a piece of intelligence that said you could stop an imminent attack on Americans — but you have to use an airstrike to take out a terrorist leader — would you pull the trigger?” Doocy asked.
“Well we did — the guy’s name was Osama bin Laden,” Biden replied flippantly and turned to enter his campaign bus.
“Didn’t you tell President Obama not to go after bin Laden that day?” Doocy quickly asked.
“No, I didn’t. I didn’t,” Biden replied. Watch:
FLASHBACK: In 2012, Biden said he was opposed to Bin Laden raid: “Mr. President, my suggestion is don’t go” pic.twitter.com/sdJRG55o7m
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) January 3, 2020
That’s not what he said before
That isn’t exactly the case, however, as Doocy himself pointed out. Indeed, the former vice president was recorded in early 2012 recounting how he had opposed the decision to take out Bin Laden in 2011. Speaking at the 2012 Democratic retreat, Biden recalled the strategy session ahead of the bin Laden raid and how he’d told President Obama, “Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go — we have to do two more things to see if he’s there.”
According to the Washington Examiner, Biden’s opposition was also recalled by several other top Obama administration officials at that time, such as then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, then-Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, and then-CIA Director Leon Panetta, all of whom wrote about Biden’s opposition to the Bin Laden raid in their respective memoirs.
In Clinton’s “Hard Choices” memoir, she wrote, “I respected Bob [Gates] and Joe [Biden]’s concerns about the risks of a raid, but I came to the conclusion that the intelligence was convincing and the risks were outweighed by the benefits of success.”
And then there is former President Obama himself, who told Republican challenger Mitt Romney during a 2012 presidential debate, that “even some in my own party, including my current vice president, had the same critique [of the bin Laden raid] as you did.”