- By Robert ZeligerRobert Zeliger is News Editor of Foreign Policy.
Apparently the president’s wife was just as in the dark as the rest of us about the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound May 1. As hard as it is to imagine that President Obama didn’t confide in his wife about what must have been one of the most agonizing periods in his life — the tense lead up to the raid — Michelle Obama says she didn’t know.
I knew something was happening, but when it gets down to that level of secrecy, there’s just a small number of people who know anything … I was actually out to dinner with girlfriends, and I didn’t know until I walked in the door. It was later in the evening, and Barack had his suit on, because he was going to the press conference. And I said, ‘What’s going on?’
Her reaction, when she found out?
I was, like, ‘Wow.’ Then I wanted to know the details: ‘How did it happen? Then what? And then what happened?’ I was probably like every media person … And then I sat down and talked to Malia to make sure she was aware, because the crowds [outside the White House] were starting to form.
Even Joe Biden — with his reputation for not always knowing when to keep his mouth shut — kept the secret from his wife. In a joint AARP Magazine interview with the first lady, Jill Biden said: "Joe left early and was gone all day. Didn’t come home for a meal-nothing. So I knew something was happening, but I thought it was about Libya. [When I heard,] I was grading papers and watching TV."
Coming up on the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the magazine also asked the first lady where she was that day.
I’ll never forget, because it was Malia’s first day of preschool. It was a beautiful, crisp, bright day. And I remember feeling optimistic that my little girl was going off to school, and the world for her was just opening up. We were in the car, and I had NPR on and thought, ‘What does this mean for my daughter’s life now? Has the world fundamentally been changed? Are we now a nation at war?’ So for me it was about the future.
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.| Situation Report |