In Leading from Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him, senior journalist Rich Miniter has written about Obama's fear that the raid by US Navy SEALs on the Abbottabad compound wherein the world's most wanted terrorist was believed to be hiding "might go tragically wrong".
According to Miniter, a source in the Joint Special Operations Command told him that Obama first aborted a mission to kill bin Laden in Jan 2011 and then called off two other missions in Feb and Mar that year.
Miniter has blamed Obama's advisor Valerie Jarrett for all three cancellations. "She worried about a backlash against the president if the operation failed, or even if it succeeded." Due to this, Obama was "studiously undecided" and "... refused to weigh in or commit himself on even small matters related to a possible strike on bin Laden."
However, Hillary Clinton was of the opinion that bin Laden must be killed. "She knew her husband had paid a political price for failing to stop bin Laden before the Sept 11 attacks. She knew Obama's presidency could be mortally wounded if he had bin Laden in his gun sights and didn't fire," Miniter writes.
Despite the CIA's insistence on a military strike on the Abbottabad mansion, "Obama was often disengaged as the bin Laden operation took shape, he left critical decisions to the then-CIA Director Leon Panetta, then-Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton."
Miniter has also thrown light on how a colonel in Pakistan aided the CIA's efforts to trace bin Laden. "A colonel in Pakistan's feared intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI, provided vital help in locating Bin Laden when he walked into the CIA's Islamabad station in August 2010."
"Was this a secret sign that the head of the ISI himself was pointing out bin Laden's hiding place or was the colonel actually the patriot who hated extremism that he claimed to be? Whatever the motivation, the CIA found bin Laden's hiding place within a month of the colonel's visit," the book says.
"The bin Laden compound was akin to an isosceles triangle, carved out of the property of the Kakul Military Academy, Pakistan's West Point. The campus's main building sat some eight hundred yards from bin Laden's castle. The triangular compound was bordered with concrete walls ranging in height from ten to eighteen feet. The main building, a three-story tower, housed the arch terrorist, his wives, and their children," Miniter cites CIA's findings.
Miniter who has previously worked as reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Sunday Times of London and Washington Times mentions Obama's "fourth moment of indecision" just hours before US Navy SEALS and CIA operatives killed bin Laden on May 2, 2011.
Incidentally, the White House avers that Operation Neptune Spear was delayed by a day due to bad weather.