CIA Director Leon Panetta sat down with PBS Newshour’s Jim Lehrer, and described how before the successful mission to take out Osama bin Laden, they “were never really certain about whether or not bin Laden was there.”
“We were never able to verify that in fact it was him,” Panetta said. “But when you put all these pieces together, the security precautions, the nature of the compound, some of the additional information that we had gotten, we had the best intelligence case that we ever had on bin Laden since Tora Bora.”
I think it was that information that required that we had an obligation to act. That’s why the President took his steps, the steps that he did,” he said.
Panetta added that there were some “threatening moves” made against the team on the ground, which is why they fired. “The authority here was to kill bin Laden,” he said. “Obviously under the rules of engagement, if he in fact had thrown up his hands, surrendered and didn’t appear to be representing any kind of threat then they were to capture him. But they had full authority to kill him.”
Here’s the full interview: