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For Past 10 Years US Govt Has Preferred Bin Laden Dead to Captured, According to Bush and Obama Admins
On September 17, 2001, six days after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush issued a still-classified "finding" that gave the CIA "lethal authorities" to deal with the al Qaeda leader and his top lieutenants. Ever since, there was an expectation -- even a preference -- that bin Laden would be killed, not captured, Bush and Obama administration officials said.
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Numerous officials said they knew of no explicit command that bin Laden was not to be taken alive. When he ordered the SEAL raid, Obama had on his desk a written protocol for what would happen if the al Qaeda chief were captured and removed from Pakistan to an unnamed U.S. military installation, the senior White House official said.
But it was vaguer than the rest of the operational plan, and the expectation among most of the people who planned and executed the mission was that bin Laden would be killed. If bin Laden had surrendered, Obama's senior advisers "would have to reconvene and make a decision about what to do with him," said one official, who like many requested anonymity to discuss sensitive national security matters. "It was intentionally left to be decided after the fact."
Richard Armitage, who was deputy secretary of state in Bush's first term, voiced the view that prevailed through two presidencies. "I think we took Osama bin Laden at his word, that he wanted to be a martyr," Armitage told Reuters.
The U.S. government, he said, would do all it could to help bin Laden realize that goal.