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July 26th, 2012
10:43 AM ET

McRaven on bin Laden raid: One of history's "great intelligence operations"

By Jamie Crawford

While it was one of 11 missions carried out by U.S. Special forces that night, the head of U.S. Special Operations command said the raid that killed Osama bin Laden will go down as one of the "great intelligence operations in history."

Admiral William McRaven spoke Wednesday before an audience at the Aspen Institute Security Conference on a panel discussion moderated by CNN's Wolf Blitzer. The talk was his first interview about the raid with a journalist.


To watch more of Wolf Blitzer’s interview with Admiral William McRaven, tune to “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” on CNN Thursday 4-7pm ET and Saturday 6-7pm ET.

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. mikeVa

    Presidents will forever study this case. President Obama took politics out of the calculation. He put the troops and the mission first. This amazing team will forever live in the case study of intelligence, military action and leadership. Forever.

    Obama nixed the idea of commandos hunkering down to await diplomatic rescue. He worried that the Navy SEALs conducting the mission could end up as hostages of the Pakistanis, and he told McRaven to ensure that the U.S. forces could escape the compound and return to safety, whether or not they encountered Pakistani resistance.

    “Don’t worry about keeping things calm with Pakistan,” Obama said to McRaven. “Worry about getting out.”

    McRaven added additional forces; a second group of SEALs would be prepared to take on any Pakistani forces that might try to intervene.

    The pace of the meetings in the White House—still involving merely a few aides—and at the CIA and JSOC picked up.

    August 17, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  2. Valkyrie612

    I tried to write a book once about some of my experiences in the Navy. I had a retired Army Col. and retired Navy Capt. advise me on what I could and could not talk about. So much had to be removed from the original manuscript that it went from being a Tom Clancy-like novel to a recipe for shepherd's pie. Sure, I could have done what other officers have done and given my stories and information to a writer to do the job for me; but then that would've been treason. Hmm.. I decided to stick to pie recipes. 😉

    Sorry folks, you're going to have to wait about 50 years to find out the details of the raid on Bin Laden. I remember years ago what my commander said when I went on my first classified mission: "Details of this operation will remain classified until 100 years after your dead." I knew he was exaggerating just a little...but I got the message.

    July 30, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  3. Valkyrie612

    So, what do you want to know?

    Just so you know in advance of your questions.... I'm going to answer that. 😉

    July 30, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Valkyrie612

      I'm sorry... I meant I'm NOT going to answer that.

      July 30, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  4. AJ 865

    Idk how you can believe that bin laden died on May 1. We have zero proof of it. We have people inside Pakistan who say bin laden never lived in that compound. We have inside sources from the Bush Administration saying he died a long time ago. It is also very hard to believe we cannot find with our insanely amazing war technology a tall arabian dude in the desert. That's really astonishing isn't it? We also have good evidence of 9/11 being an inside job. We know about the airlift of evil. From what i know, bin Laden was a boogeyman.

    July 27, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Peter Grenader

      You want to post this nonsense on youtube, be my guest. Here, it's not appropriate. I mean, even Fox hasn't gone there on this one. You're wrong. and while I"m at it, 9/11 wasn't an inside job, the Earth is not hollow and the moon is not a spaceship built by aliens to watch their creation: us

      July 29, 2012 at 6:46 am |
  5. Ron C

    Who censored this from the original?

    July 27, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  6. Doug Ericson

    It took 10 years to track down the terrorist madman who took thousands of American lives and cost us 100's of billions of dollars in the meantime. Odds are about equal someone would have bumped into him somewhere in that amount of time. I am glad they finally got him, but to call the effort intelligent is inconsistent with reality. The retired cast of F-Troop could have nailed him quicker.

    July 27, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  7. M P

    I know ADM McRraven personally and can truely say he is a great American and a true professional.

    July 26, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  8. Carl Williams

    Admiral William McRaven interview was one of the best. Honest and Real.

    July 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  9. Phyllis G

    I personally think that you are exposing these men to the enemy.

    July 26, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • SC

      What's wrong with you? It's the reporter's job to ask questions. If the admiral is not smart enough in answering his questions, then they may get exposed. If he is an admiral, he should be able to handle a reporter's questions or I'll be extremely worried whenever he is given any covert assignments.

      July 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Old Soldier

      What you think is wrong and makes no sense. It's just like the dolts who think giving out info about SOF tactics are giving up classified information. The TTP (Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures) used by these SEALS are the same TTP used by all SOF-type units worldwide. Saying we have trained operators who can and do these type operations is in the public domain. Giving out names, photos of the operators, tail numbers of the choppers, noting where they conducted the rehearsals... that would come close to or beyond classified info. We have a history of providing military expertise to dates back prior to WW2. If you look closely at film credits, you will see the names of soldiers assigned to support movie makers. Some even go on to have acting careers, themselves (e.g., George Kennedy was the military adviser on the SGT Bilko TV series, etc) . Those SEALS provided a professional service on a specific date and time. Nothing more. According to the article, this was only one of 12 operations that just resulted in a great success for the USA and the world! Letting the world know we have folks who can do these things (less the BS Hollywood tends to slip into movies) serves as a reminder to not go there! Obviously, many are not sufficiently smart enough (or too idealistic/stupid) to understand what they are up against. The Iraqis underestimated us because they didn't believe we could traverse the vast expanse of the desert... they didn't really understand our GPS and professional military expertise far surpassed theirs (and most anyone in the world). These SEALS, as fantastic as they are, executed a well-planned, rehearsed operation like all SEALS, SOF, Marines, and other military units do on a daily basis. They got lotsa baxxs, and the expertise to get the job done! Now, if we only had a Congress that could do the same.......! Old Soldier, out!

      July 26, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
      • Lee Seligman, USNA '60

        Bravo Zulu, Old Soldier !

        July 27, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  10. manning El Paso, TX

    Admiral William McRaven did a fantastic job and training the Navy Seaman to raid kill Osama bin Laden. There thousand of military missions that go wrong in war this one was a win!

    July 26, 2012 at 12:27 pm |

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