At a press conference this afternoon, John Brennan, Obama’s deputy national-security adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, disclosed more information about the covert mission that led to Osama bin Laden’s death. Calling Al Qaeda a “mortally wounded tiger that still has some life in it,” Brennan said bin Laden’s son Halid was among those killed during the firefight in the compound. The woman who died was presumed to be bin Laden’s wife and was “positioned in a way that indicated she was being used as a shield.” Although he wouldn’t speculate whether bin Laden took her as a shield or whether she volunteered or someone else threw her body in front of him, Brennan said, “It was a method to try to shield bin Laden from incoming fire.”
Watching the conference, Shane Harris, an investigative reporter for the Washingtonian on national security tweeted:
“Listening to Brennan makes me more convinced he’s the real director of the CIA.”
Brennan had high praise for Obama, calling his decision to act on the intel “one of the most gutsiest calls of any president in recent memory.” Brennan predicted that the death of Al Qaeda’s charismatic leader would fracture and likely lead the organization to cannibalize itself from within. He also predicted that momentum in the Middle East was moving toward “a new wave” of change that “puts a premium on individual rights and freedoms and dignity, so Al Qaeda/bin Laden is old news, now is the time to move forward.” Brennan said that Pakistani officials seemed “as surprised as we were” that bin Laden was hiding in plain sight, but that it was “inconceivable” that he had no aid from inside the country.
Watch Brennan discuss the decision to bury bin Laden at sea, the potential for reprisal from terrorist groups, and questions raised about Pakistan:
White House: Osama bin Laden’s death a ‘strategic blow’ to al Qaeda [LAT]
Inconceivable Osama had no support in Pakistan: White House [Reuters]