So Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports that White House officials are walking back key details disclosed by Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan at his bin Laden briefing yesterday.
The administration account has now been “modified.” You know all that sensational stuff about bin Laden having a gun and using one of his wives as a human shield? Never mind:
The White House backed away Monday evening from key details in its narrative about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, including claims by senior U.S. officials that the Al Qaeda leader had a weapon and may have fired it during a gun battle with U.S. forces.
Officials also retreated from claims that one of bin Laden’s wives was killed in the raid and that bin Laden was using her as a human shield before she was shot by U.S. forces.
…At a Pentagon briefing earlier in the day, a senior defense official said bin Laden used a woman as a human shield so he could fire shots. “He was firing behind her,” the official said.
In another background briefing early Monday morning, a senior administration official also said bin Laden put up a fight. “He did resist the assault force. And he was killed in a firefight,” the official said.
However, during a background, off-camera briefing for television reporters later Monday, a senior White House official said bin Laden was not armed when he was killed, apparently by the U.S. raid team.
Another White House official familiar with the TV briefing confirmed the change to POLITICO, adding, “I’m not aware of him having a weapon.”
Why the changes? As the famous situation room photo shows, Brennan was in the room watching the raid video along with President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and others.
He probably disclosed more than he should have and it’s possible his betters were forced to walk back his comments for opsec reasons. What’s your best, good-faith guess?
Unfortunately, the discrepancies are going to be fodder for extremists on both sides of the political aisle. It’s a shame they couldn’t get their story straight and send out someone who had been fully briefed himself on the official narrative before briefing the rest of the world.
2:05pm Eastern White House press secretary Jay Carney used his daily briefing as a do-over on the bin Laden post-op.
Snort-worthy phrase: “We’ve been very clear…”
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