US vice-president changes account of bin Laden raid

Washington, Oct 21 (IANS) US Vice President Joe Biden has offered an account of the decision to launch the raid that killed Osama bin Laden that differed from some of his previous retellings — and from Hillary Clinton’s.

Biden’s remarks on Tuesday came as he considers facing off against the former secretary of state in the 2016 presidential race, and they seem to signal that he sees his earlier stance on the raid as a potential liability.

At an event honouring former Vice President Walter Mondale, Biden said he had privately advised the President to pursue the raid on bin Laden’s compound after initially advising a more cautious approach at a cabinet meeting.

“We walked out of the room and walked upstairs,” Biden said. “I told him my opinion: I thought he should go, but to follow his own instincts,” CNN quoted Biden as saying.

The new account is a significant departure from what he said at a Democratic retreat in January 2012.

“President, my suggestion is, ‘Don’t go,'” Biden said, according to an ABC News report from that time.

The president asked his closest advisers for inputs on how he should respond to intelligence that bin Laden was holed up in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan — intelligence that was anything but certain.

Biden also drew attention in his remarks to the fact that he knew about the intelligence on bin Laden’s location before Clinton did.

“The president and I, and only two others in the administration, knew about Abbottabad as early as August 2010”, Biden said. “We did not go for almost a year to get him. And major players in the cabinet did not know about it till January or February (2011).”

In Clinton’s account, she learned about the intelligence in March 2011.

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