CIA Chief Leon Panetta gives TIME’s Swampland some insight into the various courses of action considered in the days before the raid of Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan.
Long before Panetta ordered Vice Admiral William McRaven, head of the Joint Special Forces Command, to undertake the mission at 1:22 p.m. on Friday, the CIA had been gaming out how to structure the raid. Months prior, the U.S. had considered expanding the assault to include coordination with other countries, notably Pakistan. But the CIA ruled out participating with its nominal South Asian ally early on because “it was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission. They might alert the targets,” Panetta says.
The U.S. also considered running a high-altitude bombing raid from B-2 bombers or launching a “direct shot” with cruise missiles but ruled out those options because of the possibility of “too much collateral,” Panetta says. The direct-shot option was still on the table as late as last Thursday as the CIA and then the White House grappled with how much risk to take on the mission.
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