(NEW YORK) -- President Obama admits that he “did not lose sleep” over the chance that the high-risk mission he ordered last week could mean the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
However, he also acknowledged in a pre-recorded interview with Steve Kroft that aired Sunday evening on CBS’ 60 Minutes that his chief concern above all others was “can we still get the guys out” if the Navy SEAL raid on the suspected bin Laden hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan went sideways.
Fortunately for the president and the nation, the SEALs got their target -- the most wanted terrorist in the world since orchestrating the attacks against the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001 that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Still, the possibility of failure was also on Obama’s mind.
He told Kroft, “You think about Black Hawk Down. You think about what happened with the Iranian rescue. And I am very sympathetic to the situation for other presidents where you make a decision, you're making your best call, your best shot, and something goes wrong.”
He called the 40 minutes of the actual operation “the longest 40 minutes of my life, with the possible exception of when [daughter] Sasha got meningitis."
Asked by Kroft about those who questioned if bin Laden was actually eliminated, Obama asserted “There is no doubt that we killed Osama bin Laden,” then repeated his earlier assertion that photographic evidence demanded by skeptics would only serve to inflame bin Laden loyalists in the Islamic world.
One question that won’t go away anytime soon is if bin Laden was shielded by sympathetic Pakistanis, given that he lived in the million dollar-compound for as long as six years, just a short drive from the capital of Islamabad and very near the country’s top military academy.
The president declared his belief that “some sort of support network” existed in Pakistan for bin Laden to remain undetected by U.S. intelligence but there was no way of knowing now if people inside the Pakistani government were complicit.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio