Former official: Biden was against raid

A former senior administration official involved in deliberations on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden said Tuesday that Vice President Biden did not back the operation.

The official, who took part in deliberations on whether to approve the operation in Pakistan, said Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary Manafort sought to hurt Clinton 2016 campaign efforts in key states: NYT MORE, then secretary of State, and then-CIA Director Leon Panetta both backed the raid — but that Biden did not.

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“I can tell you this, both then-CIA Director Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton favored the raid and they did so in presentations made in the Situation Room,” the former official told The Hill. “Secretary Clinton made her views known. Leon made his position known. And I don't recall the vice president sharing the same view.

“When the president conducted the final meeting on April 28th, he faced a divided set of advisers,” the official added.

Biden, who is considering a run for the White House against Clinton in 2016, offered a different view earlier on Tuesday.

In an appearance honoring former Vice President Walter Mondale, Biden said he privately supported the raid and held back his advice for President Obama until the two were behind closed doors. 

Biden also contradicted the Democratic presidential front-runner's claim that she fully supported the raid.

“I told him my opinion that I thought he should go but to follow his own instincts,” Biden said during a panel discussion with former Mondale at The George Washington University. “I never, on a difficult issue, never say what I think finally until I go up in the Oval [Office] with him alone.”

The former senior administration official conceded that no one knows what Biden may have told Obama behind closed doors. But the official said the vice president was clear about where he stood on the special forces raid to take action against bin Laden.

In his own book on his years in the Obama administration, Panetta also wrote of Biden being against the operation and Clinton supporting it.

“Biden argued that we still did not have enough confidence that bin Laden was in the compound, and he came out firmly in favor of waiting for more information,” Panetta wrote in “Worthy Fights.”

Panetta wrote that Clinton acknowledged more time might provide better intelligence, but concluded “this was a rare opportunity and believed we should seize it.”

Biden’s account on Tuesday also differs from the one he gave in 2012. At that time, he told House Democrats he warned against the operation, one of the most consequential decisions of Obama’s presidency. 

“Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go,” Biden told lawmakers, according to The New York Times