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Event report “The Operation to kill or capture Osama bin Ladin: a case study in Presidential decision-making.”

last modified Oct 17, 2019 09:17 PM

On Friday 11 October the Forum hosted Nick Rasmussen, Acting Executive Director of the McCain Institute who talked on “The Operation to kill or capture Osama bin Ladin: a case study in Presidential decision-making.”  This talk offered a thrilling and privileged insight into processes behind the Presidential decision to authorise the raid on the compound in Abbotabad.  

Nick drew on his long experience in senior counter-terrorism posts at the White House to bring to life the policy choices from the moment the White House was informed the CIA had possibly identified bin Ladin’s location. 

He showed how the President and his advisors balanced operational risk with political risk and intelligence gaps once the US special forces had developed possible operational options. Nick also described the difficulty of taking decisions based on assessment, showing how a difference of assessment of the likelihood that the location was correct impacted on the National Security Council’s ability to decide whether and when to take action. The talk also gave a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at President Obama’s leadership style.