The White House on Tuesday backtracked from claims that Osama bin Laden used his wife as a human shield before he was killed. 

On Tuesday, President Obama's counterterrorism czar, John Brennan, told Fox News that bin Laden's wife was injured, not killed, and that it was unclear whether she and another woman in the compound were trying to shield against or attack U.S. forces. 

"One individual woman was killed, and it appears she was the wife of one of the facilitators who lived in the building with him," Brennan said. 

A day earlier, Brennan suggested one of bin Laden's wives was killed in the raid, and that bin Laden has used her as a human shield. Such an argument could help the U.S. portray bin Laden as acting cowardly in his final moments. 

Speaking at the White House daily press briefing on Monday, Brennan said that a woman"presumed to be [bin Laden's] wife" and one of his sons were shielding the al Qaeda leader. Brennan said the woman was killed along with her husband.

Asked if the woman was in front of bin Laden, Brennan said the woman was engaged "in an effort to try to shield bin Laden." 

Even at the Monday briefing, some of Brennan's comments suggested uncertainty as to what actually happened in the compound where bin Laden was killed. Though he said the woman was shielding bin Laden, Brennan, in response to a direct question about whether bin Laden used her as a human shield, said: "I wasn’t there, so I hesitate to say."