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Biden was against the bin Laden raid, before he was for it

CHARLOTTE – Vice President Joe Biden highlighted President Barack Obama‘s decision to green light the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden as a key indicator of his qualification to be president — but Biden didn’t mention, as he has in the past, that he advised Obama against going through with the raid at ...

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CHARLOTTE – Vice President Joe Biden highlighted President Barack Obama‘s decision to green light the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden as a key indicator of his qualification to be president — but Biden didn’t mention, as he has in the past, that he advised Obama against going through with the raid at the time.

"Barack understood that the search for bin Laden was about a lot more than taking a monstrous leader off the battlefield. It was about righting an unspeakable wrong, healing a nearly unbearable wound in America’s heart. He also knew the message we had to send to terrorists around the world — if you attack innocent Americans, we will follow you to the ends of the earth. Most of all, the President had faith in our special forces — the finest warriors the world has ever known," Biden said in his speech accepting the Democratic nomination for vice president.

Biden detailed the deliberations over whether or not to take the risk of violating Pakistan’s sovereignty by sending Navy SEALs into Abbottabad to get bin Laden.

"We sat for days in the Situation Room. He listened to the risks and reservations about the raid. And he asked the tough questions. But when Admiral McRaven looked him in the eye and said-‘Sir, we can get this done,’ I knew at that moment Barack had made his decision. His response was decisive. He said, ‘Do it.’ And justice was done," Biden said, referring to Special Operations Command chief Adm. William H. McRaven.

Biden criticized Mitt Romney for saying in 2007 that "it’s not worth moving heaven and earth," to catch one person. "He was wrong. If you understood that America’s heart had to be healed, you would have done exactly what the president did. And you too would have moved heaven and earth — to hunt down bin Laden and bring him to justice."

But Biden never mentioned that just before Obama made that call, the vice president told his boss not to do it.

In January, Biden told a retreat of House Democrats that he was one of the few dissenters in that Situation Room debate over the raid.

Obama said to Biden, "Joe, what do you think?" according to an account of Biden’s remarks in the New York Times. Biden told Obama, "Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go. We have to do two more things to see if he’s there."

Obama made the decision to go the next day.

CHARLOTTE – Vice President Joe Biden highlighted President Barack Obama‘s decision to green light the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden as a key indicator of his qualification to be president — but Biden didn’t mention, as he has in the past, that he advised Obama against going through with the raid at the time.

"Barack understood that the search for bin Laden was about a lot more than taking a monstrous leader off the battlefield. It was about righting an unspeakable wrong, healing a nearly unbearable wound in America’s heart. He also knew the message we had to send to terrorists around the world — if you attack innocent Americans, we will follow you to the ends of the earth. Most of all, the President had faith in our special forces — the finest warriors the world has ever known," Biden said in his speech accepting the Democratic nomination for vice president.

Biden detailed the deliberations over whether or not to take the risk of violating Pakistan’s sovereignty by sending Navy SEALs into Abbottabad to get bin Laden.

"We sat for days in the Situation Room. He listened to the risks and reservations about the raid. And he asked the tough questions. But when Admiral McRaven looked him in the eye and said-‘Sir, we can get this done,’ I knew at that moment Barack had made his decision. His response was decisive. He said, ‘Do it.’ And justice was done," Biden said, referring to Special Operations Command chief Adm. William H. McRaven.

Biden criticized Mitt Romney for saying in 2007 that "it’s not worth moving heaven and earth," to catch one person. "He was wrong. If you understood that America’s heart had to be healed, you would have done exactly what the president did. And you too would have moved heaven and earth — to hunt down bin Laden and bring him to justice."

But Biden never mentioned that just before Obama made that call, the vice president told his boss not to do it.

In January, Biden told a retreat of House Democrats that he was one of the few dissenters in that Situation Room debate over the raid.

Obama said to Biden, "Joe, what do you think?" according to an account of Biden’s remarks in the New York Times. Biden told Obama, "Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go. We have to do two more things to see if he’s there."

Obama made the decision to go the next day.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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