Initially, as he had done before, the president indicated a willingness to act. Butonce again, Jarrett intervened, convincing the president that innocent Pakistanilives could be lost in such a bombing attack, and Obama would be left attemptingto explain Panetta’s failed policy.Again Obama hesitated – this time openly delaying further meetings to discuss theissue with Panetta. A brief meeting was held at this time with other officials,including Secretary Gates and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but Gates, likePanetta, was unable to push the president to act. It was at this time that Gatesindicated to certain Pentagon officials that he may resign earlier than originallyindicated – he was that frustrated. Both Panetta and Clinton convinced him to stayon and see the operation through.
What happened from there is what was described by me as a “masterfulmanipulation” by Leon Panetta.
Panetta indicated to Obama that leaks regarding knowledge of Osama Bin Laden’slocation were certain to get out sooner rather than later, and action must be taken by the administration or the public backlash to the president’s inaction would be“…significant to the point of political debilitation.”It was at that time that Obama stated an on-ground campaign would be far moreacceptable to him than a bombing raid. This was intended as a stalling tactic, andit had originated from Jarrett. Such a campaign would take both time, and presenta far greater risk of failure. The president had been instructed by Jarrett to informMr., Panetta that he would have sole discretion to act against the Osama Bin Ladencompound. Jarrett believed this would further delay Panetta from acting, as theresponsibility for failure would then fall almost entirely on him.What Valerie Jarrett, and the president, did not know is that Leon Panetta hadalready initiated a program that reported to him –and only him, involving a coverton the ground attack against the compound.Basically, the whole damn operation was already ready to go – including thespecific team support Intel necessary to engage the enemy within hours of beinggiven notice.
Panetta then made plans to proceed with an on-ground assault.
This information reached either Hillary Clinton or Robert Gates first (likely viamilitary contacts directly associated with the impending mission) who theninformed the other. Those two then met with Panetta, who informed each of them