The U.S. came close to bombing Osama Bin Laden’s secret Pakistani compound in March but the operation was called off because President Obama wanted to make sure there would be proof that Bin Laden had been killed, ABC News reported Monday.
White House Correspondent Jake Tapper reported that Obama originally authorized the development of a plan that would have dropped dozens of 2,000-pound bombs on the al-Qaida leader’s hideaway. But after learning that the compound would have been reduced to rubble as a result—which probably would have prevented the recovery of Bin Laden’s body and increased the number of civilian injuries and deaths—Obama scrapped the plan.
The president wanted proof. And he wanted to minimize collateral damage. So instead the president authorized this incredibly daring and difficult operation, scheduled for a time of
"low loom"—little moon luminosity—so the US helicopters could enter into Pakistan low to the ground and undetected. …
The bombing plan was one of many multiple possible courses of action presented to the president in March and then refined over the course of the next several weeks.
UPDATE at 2 p.m:
The administration is not denying that the March plan was on the table, but officials are pushing back against the notion that Obama hesitated when he had the chance to take out Bin Laden.
“It’s wrong to say it was delayed because of a decision by Obama,” the official said. “They were constantly revising the intelligence and military planning until it was finally ready.” ...
In addition to being potentially destructive of both evidence and civilian life, attacking the compound with B-2 stealth bombers was also determined to be operationally risky. The president and his team, instead, asked that the plan be revised to allow for a Navy SEALs unit to be transported in via helicopter.
Over on main Slate we’re overflowing with original insight and analysis on Bin Laden's death and what it means for the U.S. both at home and abroad.
-Fred Kaplan explains what it means for al-Qaida and for U.S. relations with Afghanistan and Pakistan.
-Christopher Hitchens takes a look at what Bin Laden’s legacy will be.
-Brian Palmer explains why the US buried him at sea.
-John Dickerson tells you how Obama’s focused, hand-on pursuit of the al-Qaida leader paid off.
And for all you visual learners, we’ve got a slideshow of people celebrating the news.