tv WE GOT HIM Obama Bin Laden the War On Terror CNN May 2, 2016 8:30pm-10:01pm PDT
panelists for being here, ap andrew as well, thank you for coming back, and andrew's article is in the new york m magazine, and this is first time that you have written in like -- >> a year. >> a year. and you are tanned and rested well, you not tanned, but pale. >> yes. >> and now, one thing the book is not entirely written, because there are details that have been kept secret for fiver years and detail tas you will hear for the first time tonight, and there are other things that will get into the hour ahead, and we are glad that we have it tonight in a special "we got him, president obama and the raid on osama bin laden." what are your future plans? a plane crashed into the world trade center.
>> the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon. >> osama bin laden and the al qaeda network were the threat this country faced. >> the united states is conducted in an operation that killed osama bin laden, the leader of al qaeda. >> this had been a priority from the beginning of my presidency. i made a commitment that i would go after bin laden, wherever he was. >> on the fifth anniversary of the raid that killed osama bin laden, president obama sat down with me in the white house situation room. the first time he ever sat with a reporter in this highly secure room where the nation's most classified secrets are discussed. >> shortly after assuming office, i directed leon panetta who was then head of the cia to prioritize this. >> i met osama bin laden in afghanistan in 1997. it was his first television interview.
[speaking foreign language] back then his name was virtually unknown in the west. [ speaking foreign language ] >> after 9/11, bin laden went into hiding, eluding an intense manhunt. then a breakthrough. in 2010, the cia tracked a man known as the kuwaiti to this home in pakistan, home of the top training academy. the cia linked the kuwaiti to
bin laden after piece iing a ra of information including interrogation of members of al qae qaeda. >> we had seen our intelligence slowly build a case that a high value target was there. we could not definitively say it was bin laden, but there were couriers we know were associated with bin laden. clearly something was going on. >> surveillance showed a family living there who rarely left the property. among them, one man who stood out. they called him the pacer. >> why did they call him the pacer? >> he would walk around the inside of the compound just to get a little with bit of exercise, and so he paced around the compound. >> it was reminiscent of other opportunities i had in previous years. to observe somebody who we thought was bin laden. he has a distinctive look.
he is tall and lanky and his gait was very deliberate and it was something that had struck me that when i saw it, call it instinct or whatever, i said, yeah, i think that is him. >> but they could never get a good indication of whether or not it was in fact bin laden. >> the cia had another problem. if it was bin laden, how would they get to him? they turned to admiral mccraven wo has never given an interview until now. >> as soon as you hit the ground, you became vulnerable. as i looked at the compound, the
distance between them became going to need to fly to the - target >> it was risky, but doable. . especially since the elite seal team would carry out the mission. the pakastanis knew nothing about it. no one knew if bin laden was there, but the time had come to act. >> what are did you feel about the evidence? >> as is always the case in intelligence, it wasn't complete. we couldn't confirm. >> exactly five years ago you were here having a final meeting about the decision. they gave advice. secretary clinton and vice president biden. how did you feel about that? >> what was clear from my advisers is that the important of getting bin laden to defeating al qaeda was critical. the odds that it was bin laden were probably 50-50. there were some dispute within the intelligence agency, but
good reason to think it might be him. part of my thinking was shaped by the extraordinary special force forces and my confidence and bill craven who was heading up our special forces. we had done run-throughs of what the operation looked like. i felt like we had not eliminated the risk, but managed the risk as best we could. after the discussions with the principals, it was clear to me that this was going to be our best chance to get bin laden. if in fact we did not take the action, that he might slip away and might be years before he resurfaced. we knew it was going to cause some significant blowback within pakistan and if it wasn't bin laden, the costs would outweigh the benefits.
we would lose face internationally, because it would be a lot of difficulty to keep it secret once the operation started, but having wei weighed all of that, i thought about the 9/11 families that i met, and their, you know, continuing pain and sense that it was important for us to bring him to justice, and i thought about the fact that during that time we were still monitoring on the ongoing basis plots developed by al qaeda and the importance of us being able to redeuce the threats. >> that particular meeting, the last meeting he sat through and listened to everything and then asked each and every one of us to tell him what he should do. i went through a thorough rehashing of what we heard and how i evaluated it.
then concluded that i thought that he should take action. >> and by action, you mean the s.e.a.l. raid? >> e yes, i recommended the s.e.a.l. raid. >> he recognized that this was not a slam dunk. >> some of your top advisers were saying don't do the raid. >> it's important to note that everybody thought getting bin laden was important. some thought we should develop more intelligence and take the risk of an additional month or two of intelligence gathering to get a sense of whether or not we could confirm it. but the problem there was that we had no idea wa might be underneath the compound. whether in fact at some point the individual that we were targeting might slip out.
we didn't have 24/7 visuals on the compound, and the fact was that we only saw him when he was taking the walks on the outside of the compound. the other debate was even if going to go after this guy, should we just file a missile and obliterate the compound? i weighed that. obviously the advantage of that was that it didn't put our guys in harm's way, but the problem was that we could not necessarily confirm whether we had captured or killed bin laden. the possibilities of collateral damage were more extensive. >> the best option left was the plan to send the s.e.a.l. team into the compound.
>> you had a lot of confidence in bill mccraven? >> incredible confidence. bill mccraven is as impressive and effective, cool individual as i know in any field. he was out of central casting if a lot of ways. these guys had been through a lot of harrowing moments, and bill mccraven had supervised a number of tough situation, and maybe he was as nervous as everybody else was, and he sure didn't show it, and that certainly helped all of us. >> april 28th, the president ended the meeting and retired for the night. it was 7:00 p.m. he would give his answer the following morning. when did you nak -- make the decision? >> in a situation like this, you
are leaning in a certain direction, and i had been inclined to take the shot faurly early on in the discussions. you hold back the decision until you have to make it. in the end, what i very much appreciated to the degree to which we had an honest debate. i could say by the time i made the decision that everybody had had their say and that we had all of the information that we couldt get. we had not looked at it through the rose-colored glasses. we knew the risks involved. we had prepared as well as we could. and it was in that way embl emblematic of presidential decision-making. you are always working with probabilities, and you make a decision based not only 100% certainty, but with the best information that you have got.
>> jimmy carter made another decision making a one-time president. did you think about that? >> yes. if i hadn't on my own, it was raised by a number of advisers. >> when the president left the sit room that night, he left open the question about whether or not he would approve it. what's up? ♪ ♪ ♪ does nobody use a turn signal anymore? ♪ ...one of many pieces in my i havlife.hma... so when my asthma symptoms kept coming back on my long-term control medicine. i talked to my doctor and found a missing piece in my asthma treatment with breo. once-daily breo prevents asthma symptoms.
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as the president was ready to take off. we all agreed that the intelligence was soiled and sound and not dispositive. the operational plan was solid and sound. and that this was the best opportunity we had ever had. >> you look at the president and his national security team. the decisions they had to make with incomplete intelligence. regardless of what your politics are, you would have been proud of the way the president and his national team can handle this very, very difficult and ambiguous situation. there was never a discussion about politics and how it would affect his political career. at least i never saw any of those in the situation room. >> the s.e.a.l. team was ready, but weather conditions would delay the start of the mission. >> there was low-lying fog we knew we would fly through. while it wasn't a huge problem, i knew waiting until sunday we would be in a better position to go ahead and conduct the
operationness and i did not want to rush to failure on the thing. >> the raid was set for sunday, but the president needed to attend the white house correspondent's dinner. this is never before seen footage of the president preparing to give his speech with the raid looming the next day. he puts on a good game face. poking fun at donald trump. >> you fired gary busey. these are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night. well-handled, sir. >> thousands of miles away at jalalabad, the s.e.a.l. team was ready and wait iing. >> i had come up with a plan that said i understood pakistan pretty well. we could probably figure out a way to get out that we had not gotten to a large firefight. the president cautioned me and
directed me to fight our way out if we had to. we built up a package that i kept on the other side of the border in afghanistan. if all of the sudden, we got into the engagement, and i needed fire support or additional lift to get the guys out, the president assured that i had the resources to do that. >> and when you say a package, that means more helicopters and quick reaction force and more people to come in? >> right. i was 100% confident. i trusted the guys on the ground, and we had, you know, plan a, plan b, plan c, and plan d, and we had thought through all of the potential consequences of the actions of where the risk points would be, and i knew how to handle those risks. we moved out on sunday. >> there was no moon that night. >> no moon that night. >> and the electricity was off
in islala bshgislalabad. we planned it to have no moonlight. that was part of the mission. we wanted to come in under darkness. we did not plan to have the electricity off. >> the mission was under way. the president and advisers met in "the situation room" to wait for word on the mission. once the s.e.a.l. team arrived, they crowded into a smaller room across the hall where they can watch a live drone feed of the raid. >> why did you come into this room? >> this is where we actually had a live view of what was happening. so as you can see, it was a small conference room. we were jammed up in here. one of our key guys was sitting here.
i was sitting here in my windbre windbreaker and gates was there, and hillary, and we were watching in realtime. >> you came in because you could see here? >> there we could only hear it. here we could see it. mcraven was able to narrate to us what was happening in realtime. >> mcraven was in jalalabad and in close verbal communication with the seals on the ground. >> i was in a small cubby hole. we built a closet for me to be able to communicate with director of the cia leon panetta and the white house came up on the video teleconference as well. >> as the first chopper came in to land, the heat destabilized the chopper and caused it to lose altitude. >> we came in where the helicopters were about to land. it's here where we observed that of the helicopters got damaged.
>> what were you thinking? >> i was thinking this is not an ideal start. >> it was so almost surreal because the stress was intense. we could see the one helicopter's tail clipping the wall and being disabled. your heart was in your throat the whole time we were in there. i never spent a more stressful 30 plus minutes in my life. >> do you remember what you told people in washington when the helicopter went down? >> i think i said we are moving on to plan b. it seemed a lot more dramatic to the guys in the helicopter, but i know a lot of them had been in hard landings and crashes before. i know what i crash looks like and i had a chance to talk to the helicopter pilot ahead of time, because we were concerned that as they came in to conduct the mission and fast rope down into the compound, the helicopter was at eye level with the third deck of the living quarters. the potential that somebody
could have come out to fire a small rocket-propelled grenade or other weapons at the helicopter, and we knew it was a possibility. we had snipers and the helicopter ready to deal with that. the pilot said if i take an rpg or small arms and unless i am killed in the action, i didn't get that helicopter into what we refer to as the animal pen in the open space next to it. i could see they were exiting the helicopter and it was not on fire. >> the white house is watching this all live. they could have reached in and said hey, we don't want this to proceed. >> the white house never interfered with the actual decision. they understood that i was the military commander. >> never occurred to you to abort? >> no, because in our planning, we made sure that we had backup helicopters. my initial concern there was extraction that if something
happened to the helicopter that we could make sure that we got the guys out. and so we had backup helicopters that were setup a wway from the compound, but they could get there quickly. nevertheless, it gave you a little jolt. i think it reminded you that, that no matter how well you plan, there is always going to be something that comes up. >> you are in the room and the chopper goes down. what is the next big event? >> at that point you can see folks going into the building. and there was a well plotted approach and entry and mcraven is narrating what is happening at that point to us. there was immediately some fire, and so we knew that we had engaged someone.
the first s.e.a.l. team kept moving despite the setback. >> the living quarters were barricaded. they had steel gates the guys had to blow down to get through. the guys on the outside swung through initially what appeared to be a door. turned out to be a false door. the compound was built with the purpose of protecting bin laden in ways that we were not able to detect ahead of time. we assumed there would be booby tracks and the whole place could have been loaded with explosives. we had seen this a number of times in iraq where a compound was set to detonate if allied forces came in. so they had to come through another entrance where they got collectively together, and then moved accordingly to get up the three flights of stairs to get to where with bin laden was in the upper the deck. they had engaged one of the facilitators on the bottom floor, and bin laden's son came
moving quickly down, and he was killed on the second deck, and then as they moved up to the third level, the first operator coming up saw bin laden peek in out through the door, and so he and i talked late er that he said i knew immediately it was bin laden. and again, you have to understand that it was dark inside of the house. the operators are wearing night vision goggles so that the view is not perfect, and it is not like daylight. it is very good, but not perfect. the adrenaline is pumpingment and you have come up three flights of stairs and you is had to engage a couple of combatants and now you are at the top of the stairs and there is bin laden, and the operators did what they had planned to do which is they they flowed into the room as a normal practice. >> at that point once that engagement took place, it was fairly quick.
where we hear that they may have bin laden. >> how was that communicated? >> well, there is a code name that is used. >> i got the code word geronimo whether or not geronimo mend we had captured bin laden or killed him. so, when the word came across and he said for god and contry, geronimo, geronimo, geronimo. i had to go back and ask the question, was geronimo enemy killed in action? and yes, ekia. >> everybody sitting around this table had been through the ups and downs of any war time situation. it's interesting the degree to which nobody cheered or nobody high fived because we couldn't
be sure at that point. >> you said we got him? >> i said i think we got him. but right now, let's get you guys home. >> frankly, i'm watching the clock and watching what is going on around the compound. by this time we have a helicopter down in the compound. the pakistanis are beginning to know something is happening and you can begin to see them trying to figure out what best to do. ♪ >> the s.e.a.l.s were now trying to get out before the pakistani military could respond. >> we began to receive word that the operators had gone down to the second floor and found this treasure trove of hard drives and documents and so, they were trying to pull all this information. so, as 30 minutes turned into 35 and 40 and i think we were finally on target by the time we got off target, about 48
minutes. after about 40 minutes, i was getting anxious because i didn't want to be too long on target and at some point in time, i relayed to the ground force commander, get everything you can but it's time to wrap this up and get out of abod abod. >> and they did. they destroyed the stealth copter that crashed and took bin laden's body along with everything they gathered from the house and took off on one of the back up helicopters. >> when they blew the helicopter, not sure of exactly the consequences, the s.e.a.l.s took the time to bring all of the women and children out of the comboupound as far from the helicopter being blown as possible. >> the helicopters were landing. at some point in time, the president said can you confirm
it's bin laden? and i said i can't until i visually id the body. so, i left the video teleconference with the president and director pinetta. we travelled over to the air field. about time i get into the hanger. the guys had landed. they had off loaded the body, brought it the to the hanger. i unzip the body bag, took a look at bin laden. he didn't look terrific. he had two rounds in his head and his beard was a little shorter but we had several photos and as soon as you pulled the photo close to the face, it was immediately obvious that it was bin laden. one of the interesting stories that comes out of this was i knew bin laden was about 6'4", so, as i removed his remains from the body bag, i looked at it and there was a young
s.e.a.l. standing nearby and i asked the s.e.a.l., i said, son, how tall are you and he said 6'2", i said, good i want you to lie exinthat ton next to the ead he said what, sir? and i said i want to lie next to the remains and he said okay. so, i came back to the headquarters and said mr. president, i can't be certain without dna that it's bin laden but it's probably a 99% chance that it is bin laden and then i said, in fact, i had a young s.e.a.l. lie down next to him and he was 6'4" and the remains were a little taller and there was a pause on the other end of the video conference. and by this time, we had bin laden, the troops were back safely, the mission was for all
intense and purposes, over and the president comes on the video and says, bill, let me get this straight, we had $60 million for a helicopter and you didn't have $10 for a tape measure? and it was one of those light moments in the middle of a very anxious time in our nation's history. and it was again kind of perfectly timed. it loiightened a very tough momt and was the right thing to say. a couple of days later, the president presented me with a tape measure so that next time we did a mission like this, idea arer be prepared. >> the raid was over but the questions were just beginning, especially on the pakistanis. did they know bin laden was hiding there for all these years? and five years later, are we safer? >> i wouldn't suggest we take a victory lap, but if you look at
it an litically, clearly the threat that we faced some many years ago, pre-bin laden raid from al qaeda and its core in particular, has diminished. >> bin laden's death was very important, both strategically and symbolically. >> the al qaeda core is dezin e desinated. here's the plan. you're a financial company that cares, but your logo is old and a little pointy. so you evolve. you simplify.
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the raid is over, bin laden is dead. this never-before-seen footage shows the president as he gets ready to announce it to the world. his senior advisors, who had lived through the raid with him now wait for the final act of the night. ♪ >> good evening. tonight, i can report to the american people and to the world the united states has conducted an operation that killed osama
bin laden, the leader of al qaeda. [ crowd chanting u.s.a.] >> this is the view from the white house as crowds gathered outside once word had leaked of the announcement. did you hear schecheers when yo were walking this way to give your speech? >> i could. almost immediately after the news broke out -- it was a warm evening and people were already lined up outside. [ applause ] you guys did a great job. >> when you were walking down this hall to make the announcement that bin laden is dead, what were you thinking? >> at that point, we were 99%
certain. i was thinking about the families, the 9/11 families that i had talked to, met with. i wanted to make sure that they knew that their government had stood by its promise, its commitment. i thought about the incredible special forces that had carried this out and their curage. i had a chance to visit them a little bit later and what was striking was that unlike hollywood casting a lot of them were in their 40s and gray haired and if you passed them on the street and they were wearing a baseball cap and polo shirt, you'd think that they were just a bad -- worked in an office somewhere. >> did anybody volunteer? >> that's something that we
don't discuss. >> right. but in a way, it was a team effort? >> it was a collective effort and the humility, the comradery, the professionalism with which those guys operate is awe inspiring. i came here for a simple reason, to say thank you on behalf of america. this has been a historic week in the life of our nation. [ applause ] thanks to the incredible skill and curage of countless individuals, intelligence, military over many years. the terrorist leader who struck our nation on 9/11 will never threaten america again. >> well, i very much appreciated
the president took the time to come down and meet with all the members of the team. not just the s.e.a.l.s beutthe helicopter pilots and we had a chance to brief the president and vice president and others on the detail of the mission. so, we had a chance to meet the pile ots and s.e.a.l.s and it w a wonderful moment for me and i hope for the president. >> did he ask who killed bin laden? >> he did not, actually. >> did anyone volunteer? >> no. and i think the president understood everybody was part of this and not just -- can we cut this? it was everybody that has fought in the iraq and afghanistan war after 9/11 and this is why it was an important who killed bin
laden? this was an american effort, an allied effort and i think the president understood that and the members understood that. there may have been one person that pulled the trigger, but there were hundreds of thousands of troops behind this. >> dna evidence later proved the body the s.e.a.l.s brought back was 100% osama bin laden. he was given a burial at sea and almost immediately, questions about the raid began to surface. >> did torture lead to bin laden? >> you know, houston: mission allergy escape. for those who've gone to extremes to escape their unrelenting nasal allergy symptoms...
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. five years after the raid and still lingering questions. first, the courier, the man known as the kuwaiti. analysts link together his link to bin laden, but did torture help? the popular movie "zero dark thirty" depicts water boarding and other forms of torture. in the movie version, this leads to the information on the kuwaiti. but what about in real life? >> i can't confirm or refute that information.
i just can't say that. i wasn't around when it was going on. >> you have no evidence? >> i can't comment on it. i just don't know. >> some of that information, intelligence, came from individuals who were detained and debriefed by the agency. some of that intelligence came from individuals who were subjected to the enhanced interrogation techniques. but as i have said before, you cannot determine cause and effect as far as they wouldn't have given up that information, except for those eits. >> did torture lead to bin laden? >> you know, i do not believe that torture was the key to us getting bin laden. you can argue counter factuals. essentially, you have a mosaic
of intelligence threats that intelligence community was pulling on collectively, all that information led us to point a, point b, point c. what ended up being absolutely critical is hard to disintangle. what i know is that we can go after folks and bring them to justice without resorted torture. >> the senate intelligence committee report found that torture did not lead to bin laden. the other question, did the pakistanis know? >> how could they not have known for almost six years he was next to their military academy? >> that's a good question. i can't answer it. >> then secretary of state
hillary clinton couldn't answer it either. >> there was never any evidence that we could uncover that led directly to the top of the pakistani military and intelligence service. i believe they knew. i believe pakistanis either in service or retired or both knew. it is just too much of a coincidence, peter, that that house, that unusual looking house would be built in that community near the military academy surrounded by retired military professionals. so, no, we couldn't prove it and believe me we tried. but i think that there are a lot of arrows pointing in that direction. >> people are saying, how could the pakistani not have known he was near their military academy for almost six years? >> i think it's hard to say.
>> is there any evidence they knew? >> there's no evidence they knew and i take them at their word. what is also true is that we have in many ways, excellent operation with pakistan, but their interests don't always align with ours. >> and what about the lights that went out at just the right time, when the s.e.a.l.s descended the to the compound. >> there are some that believe we were clever enough to turn the electricity off. that's not true. it certainly helped us in terms of conducting the mission. >> these blackouts are common. >> yes. >> another big question. were the s.e.a.l.s ordered to kill bin laden? >> a lot of people out there think this was a straight kill mission. it was not. we had looked at the possibility that if bin laden came out and
his hands were up and we knew he didn't have a suicide vest on, the rules of engagement for the operators were if you get in there and you know categorically that he is not a threat, his hands are up in the air and you can tell he does not have a suicide vest on, then you have an obligation to capture him and we had a plan to capture him. >> and perhaps the biggest unanswered question, why didn't he fight back? he knew someone was coming and he had guns in his room. we can't read his mind, but why wouldn't he fight back? >> there were a lot of women and children. so, there is the potential he was concerned about his family. as evil as he might have been, he had a family. so, that's a possibility. or maybe it was just the fact that he knew the americans were coming and -- or somebody was coming, probably assumed it was
the americans and the game is over. >> as a s.e.a.l. yourself, it must give you a certain satisfaction that the last thing he saw on earth was a s.e.a.l. >> well, he probably didn't know it was a s.e.a.l., which is fine by us and more importantly, the last thing he saw was an american. >> hopefully at that moment he understood that the american people hadn't forgotten the some 3,000 people who he had killed. p and get up in time. then i found aleve pm. aleve pm is the only one to combine a safe sleep aid plus the 12 hour pain relieving strength of aleve. i'm back. aleve pm for a better am. how fast is it? plenty fast. but it's not how fast you mow, it's how well you mow fast. it's not how fast you mow, it's how well you mow fast. it's not how fast you mow, it's how well you mow fast. ...it's how well you mow fast!
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the threat from bin laden is gone. bought new form of terror has emerged, sprung from the roots of al qaeda. >> we are coming for you, barack obama. >> did the path of bin laden matter? >> i think the president said it well, this is about justice. this wasn't about revenge. it was about justice. all of us who have been fighting this war recognize that the impact of killing bin laden, we didn't expect that it was fundamentally going to change the fight. >> has killing bin laden made us
safer? >> yes, but it obviously does not solve the problem of terrorism generally. >> is isis coming here to the united states? >> well, they certainly want to. they clearly have the west as their enemy. >> do they have the capacity to do a paris-style attack or brussels-style attack. >> they do have that capacity and that's something we worry about a lot. >> the paris-style attack, the brussels' style attack is the challenge we're going to continue to face. >> if you were to describe isis in one word, how would you put it? >> evil. >> opportunistic. >> barbaric. >> doomed. >> overall, i think we can draw a lesson from the bin laden raid that we've got really effective people and a government that
knows how to do this and as long as we operate from a position of confidence and strength and are true to who we are, groups like this or individuals like this can't defeat us. >> the terrorists should know. >> if you come after the united states. >> and you do us harm. >> we will go anywhere. >> we will spend the rest of eturny hunting you down. >> america doesn't forget. >> our reach is long and our memory is long. >> the united states will not rest. >> we will be patient, we will be dogged. but eventually justice will be done. [ crowd chanting "u.s.a."] ♪
we hope you enjoyed peter burgen's in-depth report on the raid and the decision making process by president obama and his team of national security advisors. they all agree america is safer because of bin laden's death but also know the terror threat is by no means over. the ideology has continued with the rise of isis, a group many feel have eclipsed al qaeda in
its brutality and determination to destroy the west. we've seen continued terror attacks abroad and at home. president obama recently ordered more u.s. troops on the ground in syria to help fight isis. peter burgen was given access to the white house so he could speak with president obama on all of this and trump's foreign policy credentials. they begin in the situation room at the white house. >> has killing bin laden made us safer? >> yes. but it obviously doesn't saucol the problem of terrorism generally? what we can definitively say as a consequence of killing bin laden and going after systematically the leadership infrastructure of al qaeda that although you can never say they pose no danger to us, their
ability to mount large scale operations was greatly dimini diminish diminished. and at this point, they're what's remaining of al qaeda in that region is hunkered down and has a great deal of difficulty mounting any complex operations. but as we were already seeing, evan while bin laden was still alive, the methodology that he tried to spread, metastasized in some fashion and we have to remain vigilant and we have built though the kind of hardening of our defenses. that it makes it much more difficult to carry out a 9/11 attack than it was back in 2001. >> how about a paris-style attack? >> the paris-style attack, the
brussels' style attack is the challenge we're going to continue to face. i think that we here, in the united states, face less of a threat than europe. a lot of that has to do with the outstanding work that our military intelligence, department of homeland security do in monitoring those that might threaten us. probably an even larger factor is the degree to which our muslim american citizens and residents are much more incorporated into our society and have been successful and are models of how in a pluralistic society, those of us with different faiths can live together. something that europe has had more of a problem in dealing with. they've ghettoized, not always
intentional intentionally, in a way that there's more alienation, more resentment. there are probably more muslims in belgium who don't consider themselves belgium. whereas the overwhelming majority of muslims in america consider themselves american and that is a terrific inocialator against some of the threats. and as we saw in san bernardino, if somebody's willing to die, particularly given the relatively easy access of not just small arms but more sophisticated weaponry, they can do a lot of damage. so, we have to continually remain vigilant and part of what that argus also is that until we defeat or at least greatly shrink the appeal of the ideology that bin laden represented, the notion that the
perversion of islam that we've seen and the notion of a clash of civilizations and that innocence are fair game and that the only way to truly express u fidelity to the faith is to kill nonbleerv nonbelievers. until we're able to defeat that, we're going to continue to have these kinds of struggles. >> donald trump. is here tonight. [ applause ] >> what are your thoughts about if he was to be sitting in this chair about how he would be handling these decisions? >> i don't have those thoughts because i don't expect that to happen. i do think that there is a larger issue though and that is the american people are rightly
worried about isil. this is a barbaric organization that not only ruthlessly kills muslims in its area as well as christians or people of other faiths who stand in their way but they are continually trying to brain wash young people in the western world to kill themselves and kill people around them. so, the american people i think are right to be concerned about it. but i do think that it is important to us to understand the nature of the threat, what works and what doesn't. painting the muslim community with a broad brush does not work. there are our greatest allies in fighting against these organizations. sending in huge numbers of troops to try to impose order on
countries that are very different than ours generally is not going to work. we just don't -- even as great as our military is, we don't have the capacity to maintain massive foot prints all throughout the middle east. one of the things that i think we've done very effectively since bin laden was killed is i've removed 170,000 americans who were in harm's way in iraq and afghanistan, while still being able to prosecute our c teeingals and when it comes to trying to reduce conflict and create a more peaceful and prosperous middle east or south asia, there we have to work with partners on the ground and they have to take responsibility for
their own security and what we've tried to do is build up our ct capacity, build up our special forces capacity, greatly build up our intelligence capacity and our partnering capacity. that's an area where we still have a lot of work to do. but i would say that if i have a mission for myself and for the next president, it's for us to think much more carefully and be much more attentive to how do we create partners in the regions that are responsive to their people; that can conduct basic law enforcement, that can reduce corruption; that provide outlets for political frustration and when terrorist organizations like this spring up, they can go
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. if you don't use drones, and kill thousands of militants, some civilians. did you anticipate this when you began your presidency? >> not completely. drone technology, in some ways, was just being refined and developed as i came in. and i think over the course of several years, our intelligence gathering and the precision and legality of predator strikes inhad creased significantly. it has proven to be an enormously important tool in going after terrorists in remote areas that would be extraordinarily difficult to reach with u.s. personnel.
i think it became clear to me a year, a year 1/2 into my presidency that the legal architecture and the control systems that we've placed on this new tool were not entirely sufficient and i felt it was important for us to start trying to build an internal architecture. because in some ways i think it became so easy to use them without thinking through all the ramifications. >> does it weigh on you? >> absolutely. look, war time weighs on you generally. and one of the things that i've always indicated when asked about predator strikes is to
remind people that when i ordered people into conventional forces into a region, there's tremendous collateral damage. in fact, there's probably fewer civilians that are accidently killed through predator strikes proportionally than there are when we send somebody in. if you look at for example, the bin laden raid, there were people there who may have been related to bin laden but were not themselves terrorist operatives. they got killed. so, what we've try to do is make sure that we are accountable at the highest levels for how we're using predators. that we have a significantly higher standard, higher than in fact we would in a conventional war so that we insist on near
certainty; that not only is the individual that we're trying to strike or the compound that we're trying to strike an active terrorist threat but also that we're avoiding civilian casualties. having said that, you always lose sleep because you know that there's always the possibility and a kinetic action that somebody who shouldn't be killed is killed. i also lose sleep when american troops are killed. and i have to weigh those risks as well. because clearly in some of these areas where terrorists are operating, the risks of us sending personnel in are sniff kn can't -- significantly higher. almost immediately after the news broke out, it was a warm evening and people were already
lined up outside. [ applause ] >> so, what did you think? >> you know, it confirmed for me, not only the strategic importance and the symbolic importance. the message that if you harm america, we will be patient, we will be dogged, but eventually justice will be done. >> but his ideology is continued. isis is sort of doing okay. so, five years later, how do you assess it? >> i don't think the ideology has been extinguished. in many ways the middle east is in a more chaotic situation -- although that's not directly
related to bin laden, it's related to what was unleashed during the arab spring. >> are you surprised by that? it seemed like such a hopeful moment. >> i think all of us were surprised with the direction that the arab spring took. when i came into office i think all of us understood the fridgility of some of these regimes that were unresponsive to their people, not a lot of democratic outlets. there was an ideology that was antiwestern, that was brewing and anti-modern in some cases. but i don't think anybody thought necessarily that it would have been out.
and after mubaric left, many were hoping that the fear in the terrorist square, which was more liber liberal. in the sense of believing in civil society and pluralism. ; that that would express itself and clearly it hasn't. there was always the danger, which we knew from the start, that in places where there had been an active supression of civil society and one of the only troo true binding creedo was religious, that there was a danger that it would turn in a negative way. i think very few people anticipated the speed with which a lot of this happened and the extraordinary consequences in
places like syria. >> next you'll hear president obama on his greatest fear. he tells peter burgen about what is keeping him up at night t-mobile is going big for small business. you'll never get charged data overages... ...ever. get your own 24/7 dedicated business account team. and with double the lte coverage in the last year, you can get more done in more places. right now, get 2 lines with 6 gigs each for just 80 bucks... and for a limited time, get a hotspot free. yeah - free. switch your business to t-mobile @work today. i'vand i'm doing just fine. allergies. claritin provides 24-hour relief of symptoms that can be triggered by over 200 allergens.
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shoshow me more like this.e. show me "previously watched." what's recommended for me. x1 makes it easy to find what you love. call or go online and switch to x1. only with xfinity. what keeps you up at night now and what should the next president be most concerned about? >> i think that we have built a incredible structure of cooperation between intelligence, military, law enforcement, that has hardened the american homeland.
and the capacity of an organization like an isil or an al qaeda in the arabian peninsula to carry out a big catastrophic attack is much lower. but as we've seen, you now have a proliferation of groups because of the power of social media there a mechanism to recruit volunteers. that are already located in the west. that are much more difficult, precisely because they don't engage in the same kind of planning. and what that means is that we've got to continue to be vigilant. it means that we've got to go after isil in its core where it
allows itself to maintain the illusion that somehow it's on the march. it's going to be important for us ultimately to take them out of mosul, beraqqa, make sure that they don't have those kinds of safe havens where they can pretend that they're a state in some fashion. that will diminish their appeal. but we're going to have small groups, loan actors, who for some time will continue to find this perverted ideology appealing and we have to be prepared for that. we have to be resilient and not react in ways that makes the problem worse, rather than better. we have to understand that the kinds of special forces and intelligence gathering that we saw in the bin laden raid is going to be more often than not
the tool of choice for a president in dealing with that kind of threat, sending 100,000 troops to invade every country where an organization like this appears is going to be counterproductive and in some ways, feeds the kind of ideology that we're fighting. most important laly, we have to stay true to our values. we have to make sure that we're not engaging in the kind of knee jerk antimuslim sentiment we've heard from some politicians. we've got to make sure that the legal structures around are intelligence gathering and use of predators is subject to oversight. it's not always going to be easy. it's not always going to be perfectly smooth and there are going to be times where, as
president, you make a decision knowing that there are going to be critics and knowing that there's some gray areas and ambiguities that you have to deal with given the reality of the situation. but overall, i think we can draw a lesson from the bin laden raid that we've got really effective people and a government that knows how to do this and as long as we operate from a position of confidence and strength and are true to who we are, groups like this or individuals like this can't defeat us. >> thank you very much, sir. >> thank you. >> we thank president obama for giving us so much of his time and to peter burgen for his excellent reporting and on the fifth anniversary of the bin laden raid, we want to thank the
brave men and women in uniform who helped make that a success and we honor the nearly 3,000 victims from the attacks on september 11th. cnn tonight starts right now. chilling words from the commander and chief. it's not going to be easy for the next president to defeat isis. but who will the next president be? here's donald trump in south bend blasting ted cruz. >> he's choking like a dog because he's losing so badly. we have to put him away tomorrow, folks. we got to get out and vote. >> it has been a rocky road for cruz, clashing face to face with trump supporters today. >> america is a better country -- >> without you. >> thank you for those kind sentiments. let me point out that i have trea