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Posted at 06:08 AM ET, 05/09/2011

West Wing briefing: In interview, Obama says bin Laden mission made him ‘nervous’

Twice Sunday night, President Obama described himself as “nervous,” a word he rarely uses in reference to himself.

In a candid interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” the president acknowledged the mission he authorized against Osama bin Laden had created some anxiety for him, because he was not sure of the accuracy of the intelligence on bin Laden’s whereabouts or the safety of the operation for U.S. military personnel.

“It was the longest 40 minutes of my life with the possible exception of when Sasha got meningitis when she was three months old, and I was waiting for the doctor to tell me that she was all right. It was a very tense situation,” Obama said, describing his feelings as Navy SEALs entered bin Laden’s compound while Obama and other top officials monitored the raid from the White House Situation Room.

He added, “These guys are going in, you know, the darkness of night. And they don’t know what they’re gonna find there. They don’t know if the building is rigged. They don’t know if, you know, there are explosives that are triggered by a particular door opening. So huge risks that these guys are taking. And so my number one concern was, if I send them in, can I get them out?”

He said what did not make him anxious was authorizing bin Laden’s killing.

“As nervous as I was about this whole process, the one thing I didn’t lose sleep over was the possibility of taking bin Laden out,” he said. “Justice was done. And I think that anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn’t deserve what he got needs to have their head examined.”

Obama today

The president, who flew to Florida last month for the planned, then cancelled launch of the space shuttle Endeavor, will meet with the crew of Discovery. That shuttle flew its final mission in March.

By Perry Bacon Jr.  |  06:08 AM ET, 05/09/2011

 
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