The Retelling of the Bin Laden Raid

Photograph by Pete Souza/White House Photo via Getty Images

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, left, President Barack Obama and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, right, attend a meeting in the Situation Room on May 1, 2012 in Washington, DC.

As she introduced President Barack Obama in New Hampshire today, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, suggested that Obama led the mission to kill Osama bin Laden.

That’s a bit further than the president, who is careful in his phrasing, usually goes.

“And let’s not forget, that this is the commander-in-chief who finally led the mission that brought Osama bin Laden to justice,” Shaheen said at a rally in Rochester, New Hampshire.

While Obama, in his typical campaign speech, mentions that the al-Qaeda leader died on his watch — in a Navy SEAL raid on a compound in Pakistan that the president and top advisers followed via remote connections at the White House, he is judicious in how he’s couches it.

Here’s how he put it at a rally earlier today in Windham, New Hampshire.

“In 2008 I promised I would end the war in Iraq — we did,” Obama said. “I said we’d go after al-Qaeda and bin Laden — we did.”

He used almost identical language at the day’s second rally in Rochester, a 25-minute helicopter ride away, as he has at previous events.

The first time the president mentioned bin Laden in a campaign setting, he was even more careful. At a May 11, 2011, fundraiser in Austin, Texas, Obama gave the credit to the military.

“We are taking the fight to al-Qaeda and because of the extraordinary bravery of men and women who wear this nation’s uniform, the outstanding work of our intelligence agencies, Osama bin Laden will never again threaten the United States,” Obama said.


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