President Obama will meet with participants in the Osama bin Laden raid when he travels to Fort Campbell, Ky., on Friday, an administration official said, part of a closed-door effort to express the country’s gratitude.
Administration officials have not identified the approximately two dozen Navy SEALs who dropped from helicopters into the compound in Pakistan early Monday, and it is unlikely the names of the men, from the highly specialized Team 6, will ever be known. White House officials would not specify whether Obama would meet with the SEALs who were on the ground or would instead see participants in the larger operation.
Whoever they are, Obama will see them in private, one day after meeting privately with family members of people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.
“The president met with Admiral [William] McRaven at the White House yesterday to thank him personally in the Oval Office and will have the opportunity to privately thank some of the special operators involved in the operation tomorrow at Fort Campbell,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak freely about the president’s plans.
McRaven, a former SEAL, is the commander of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command, which oversaw the successful raid.
Obama has made limited appearances since announcing bin Laden’s killing in an extraordinary television appearance Sunday night. He met with congressional leaders and conducted already planned presidential business, such as meeting with Hispanic leaders on immigration. Even his trip to Ground Zero Thursday was muted: Obama did not give an address, instead laying a wreath, making impromptu remarks and having relatively quiet meetings with the family members.
At the same time, his advisers significantly dialed back their public remarks about the raid. And Obama, in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” set to air Sunday, said he ruled out releasing a photograph of the deceased bin Laden in part because he did not want the White House to be seen as gloating.
Earlier Friday, Obama will travel to Indianapolis to visit a transmission factory — and return to the subject of the economy, which has largely been eclipsed by the bin Laden news all week.