LAS VEGAS — George W. Bush says he was “not overjoyed” when President Barack Obama told him Osama bin Laden was dead because the campaign to track down the al-Qaida leader was done not “out of hatred, but to exact judgment.”
The former president who initiated the hunt for bin Laden after 9/11 made his first candid public comments on bin Laden’s killing Wednesday at a conference of hedge fund managers in Las Vegas, ABC News reported Friday.
Bush said he was eating souffle at a restaurant when he received the call from Obama, according to an ABC News contributor at the conference. Bush said he went home to take the call and, “Obama simply said, ‘Osama Bin Laden is dead.’”
Bush told the audience of about 1,800 people that Obama described the secret U.S. mission to raid bin Laden’s compound in detail, and Bush told the president that the decision to put the plan into motion was a “good call.”
But he said he was “not overjoyed,” explaining that the search for bin Laden was done not “out of hatred but to exact judgment.”
“The intelligence services deserve a lot of credit. They built a mosaic of information, piece by piece,” Bush said, claiming no credit for himself.
Bush has kept a low profile since bin Laden’s death May 1. He has declined interview requests and declined Obama’s invitation to join him at a ceremony at ground zero.