Obama Gave the OK to Fire at Pakistani Troops

President also ordered backup team in case of military confrontation
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2011 3:05 AM CDT
Updated May 10, 2011 7:19 AM CDT
Pakistani military and police officials cordon off a street leading to the final hideout of salin Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden in Abboattabad yesterday.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – President Obama beefed up the assault team targeting Osama bin Laden so the US forces would be capable of battling Pakistani troops to get out of the country once the main crew accomplished their mission. Originally two helicopters of backup forces were to be stationed at the Afghanistan border, 90 minutes away. But President Obama switched orders, insisting the reinforcements accompany the main assault force. “Their instructions were to avoid any confrontation if at all possible," said a senior White House official. "But if they had to return fire to get out, they were authorized to do it.”

The New York Times reports that the original plan was for senior US officials to contact the Pakistani military if confrontation seemed imminent, but Obama thought that would put US troops at too much risk. “Some people may have assumed we could talk our way out of a jam, but given our difficult relationship with Pakistan right now, the president did not want to leave anything to chance," said another senior official. The New York Times also reports that two teams of specialists were on hand: One ready to bury bin Laden if he was killed, the other a group of lawyers, interrogators, and translators who would be called into action if he was captured alive.

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