Obama Planned to Put Bin Laden on Trial

New book has details on raid, planning
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2012 2:16 PM CDT
In this May 1, 2011, image released by the White House, President Obama and others watch an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House.   (AP Photo/The White House, Pete Souza)

(Newser) – In an excerpt from his new book, The Finish, appearing in Vanity Fair, contributing editor Mark Bowden reveals an inside look at the Osama bin Laden raid. The biggest reveal: In the unlikely event that bin Laden surrendered and was taken alive, President Obama planned to put him on trial in a federal court. "We worked through the legal and political issues that would have been involved, and Congress and the desire to send him to Guantánamo, and to not try him, and Article III," Obama tells Bowden. "But, frankly, my belief was if we had captured him, that I would be in a pretty strong position, politically, here, to argue that displaying due process and rule of law would be our best weapon against al-Qaeda, in preventing him from appearing as a martyr."

Bowden also says that, despite reports to the contrary, most of Obama's top advisers were in favor of the raid. Joe Biden and Robert Gates initially opposed it, but Gates changed his mind. During the decision-making process, Leon Panetta reportedly asked Obama to consider: "What would the average American say if he knew we had the best chance of getting bin Laden since Tora Bora and we didn’t take a shot?" Click for more from the excerpt. (Read more Osama bin Laden stories.)

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