tv Peter Bergen The Rise and Fall of Osama Bin Laden CSPAN December 21, 2021 5:54am-7:00am EST
along with these television company support cspan2 as a public service. >> hello everyone welcome to the commonwealth club of california. i am brian director for counterterrorism and dangerous organizations on facebook former director of research is a combating terrorism center i am pleased to be your moderator for today's program. now it's my pleasure to our
distinguished speaker documentary producer, cnn national security analyst, vice president for global studies and a fellow at new america author of the new book the rise and fall of osama bin laden. with full disclosure and pleased to say i worked with peter years ago and particularly excited about today's discussion. peter has been called the world's leading expert on osama bin laden as we approach the 20th anniversary of 911 what is the lasting influence of this man and his new book the rise and fall of osama bin laden peter provides the reevaluation of the man responsible for al qaeda's attacks on the united states which precipitated long worse with al qaeda, its allies. peter discusses bin laden on all the dimensions of one of his life. battlefield commander the terrorist leader and as a fugitive. thanks to the exclusive avail members and associates and
documented only recently peter's portrait is why he inspires a new generation of jihadists. today were going to have a conversation with the manner set the on american foreign policy and the u.s. continues to battle today. welcome. >> brian great to be with you. i think you be more sad to say we work together. it's great also you're doing what you are doing on facebook. so many of these terrorist groups have exploited the platform and this is all very important. >> thanks peter. and thanks so much for taking the time for it it's really a pleasure i enjoyed the book. my question is you have written a number of books obviously. the world is your oyster. why this book right now?
>> a few dimensions of that. teach at arizona state in one of the students in the class i think she was 19 at the time, she asked me what's the difference between al qaeda and the taliban. i said that's a really good question there's a lot to impact there. i realize the kids i am teaching at arizona state one born on 911 and they're volunteering to fight in the u.s. military often were not born at 911. for them 911 is just an event is say the korean war is for me. something that happened in history. of course it happens to influence to this day and we are in the middle of the final pull out of afghanistan. the non- combat mission in iraq. that seemed like the 20th anniversary was a good time. i spent decades reporting on bin laden. there are still things and learning from the documents.
the files were released and west point was the first to interpret them. was the lead on that and the world's leading expert on documents. she has her own book coming out in the spring of 2022 about the documents. bin laden did not expect every he'd written, received or sent would fall into enemy hands. that's what he was really thinking. the big discovery in those documents was the bin laden family journal which was written in arabic and not easy to interpret. i had the help of nadia was a new america fellow. that journal really get you inside bin laden's head in the final weeks of his life.
the big thing happening he was extremely concerned he could intervene to get people sing he was one of the leaders this was totally delusional since no one was asking his opinion about it. one of the surprising things for viewers and readers in the book is the extent he relied on his wives to just thinking. when in child psychology, bin laden was selling his two oldest wives and adult son to have almost nightly meetings to discuss what they think about the spring, they're keenly aware 911 was approaching about that. he wanted to make a big statement on the terrorist front. he was considering issued some kind of apology strangely on behalf of al qaeda.
i know this from all of your work they'd killed tens of thousands. they were cognizant of that fact there thinking of issuing an apology not to the hated american but apology to muslims sing is meant marie brandon. these kinds of, we know a lot more about bin laden. they were only released in full during the trump administration. there's a big documentary i was also able to draw on. i always wanted to write this book tv honest. because i had written the oral history back in 2006. it was a missed opportunity to write the biography. >> the degree to which you
explain, you delved into bin laden as a human being not a mythical hero or villain, leader of al qaeda. going back even before al qaeda this is a man who comes from a large wealthy family. it almost feels to the layperson like it was inevitable bin laden was going to become the man that he was. how did he become the world's most infamous man when his brothers, his sisters, his parents did not. >> that is a good question. it's kind of a controlled experiment where he has 50 ft. siblings, half siblings half sisters and brothers none showed this path. yet they grew up and not the similar circumstances. apologizing in the book i just
am think it is that helpful. i try to lay out to the reader how this happened rather than why this happened. the white question is hard to answer but we often do not know trying to it inside somebody's head. what i've tried to show and i may use the word it's inevitable as a show there's a long sequence of a radicalization it did not happen overnight. none of it was really inevitable. in the book is an attempt to document why the son of a multi billionaire turn into a leader of a group dedicated to killing the mass killing of civilians. this is what the book attempts to do. that's really also why i decided to write it. i don't to compare hitler there's books about hitler and his motivation is a why
question about hitler. the end of the day is not respectable. the last time we had a conversation comment while looked in to americans i often found they were not particularly her why they turned to this. their reasons they might get involved will take the younger brother who killed a 6-year-old boy and two others. if he was here and why would you do he would not have a very articulate explanation. three big rumblings about foreign policy. a lot of people posed foreign policy.
there's a certain element at the end you hit a brick wall to some degree there is no rational why reason but there is a process and a document the process. >> may try to get at this question without using the word why. are there some specific forks in the road? what are some of those choices he events took him right and he might have gone left. >> the first some a death of his father. as far as i can tell he had a one-on-one meeting in his entire. his parents divorced when used to had other wives and four siblings. kimberly was dad has dad died in an crash. they did when he was ten he
told his family and the bin laden family journal that he really began to study because of the death of his father. he becomes a religious teenager even in 1970s saudi arabia demands he kept friends about palestine when he was a teenager. it's not typical teenage behavior. in the night he was saying a second prayer, he was fasting, not a regular teenager. somewhat in the muslim brotherhood may or may not of been in the brotherhood in the invasion of afghanistan for a secular dictator in iran by ayatollah, the attack on mecca
by religious zealots. those a very significant year. and traveled to pakistan within two to the soviet invasion. for the first years of the war is going back and forth raising money. and then and 84, he went into afghanistan regretted he had not gone earlier. i think one of the myths the book kind of helps demolish is what ever else he was fighting soviets there is a wonderful book in arabic he published a book and 91. they interviewed a lot of people, he had access to walkie-talkie transmissions. i took the arabs to task for
their mistake. it's a pretty reliable piece of history. and as a young journalist 1988 he visited bin laden. another transformational moment out of the battle grew was called al qaeda. the base became the name of the group. they began meetings to formalize the founding of al qaeda in a more formalized manner. we have the minutes of those meetings which may be anybody taking meetings at a meeting the notetaker could but his her span on it. we have documents but the founding of al qaeda.
bin laden was by his own account. in other eyewitnesses delivering speeches criticizing the united states calling for a boycott of america because of their support for israel. fred longley offered his troops. he had a number of projects which did not go well. when to be in southern yemen which at the time was a state he wanted to overthrow. the saudi government is not in favor of that the unified yemen which is what happened. wanted to go to new zealand in afghanistan what had been defeated but the communist government the afghans did not treat him seriously pray they
saw him as a money got not a military guy. which is exactly right. every military engagement got involved in the battle he was rescued by the afghans. essentially the battle was a fiasco and his men were killed. the strategic failure. this military genius by any stretch. and yet he had a military organization. i think he had a big ego or something. >> peter can i ask you two questions. your book documents to keep periods that contributes to a public understanding of al qaeda in ways i think are contrary to fact. you go at this very hard in the book clarifying volunteers
were militarily insignificant not a major component is key to his mythology going than this point that you just made about 911 as a strategic failure by al qaeda. can you talk about those two pieces? i think those are going to challenge some assumptions. >> certainly. the team on the battlefield they were militarily insignificant that is correct. there are 300 than any given moment. the afghans fighting the soviets to 250,000. need help with fighting to know military experience. there were people if you did
have military experience is number two and al qaeda he was an egyptian policeman in the egyptian army, a lot of egyptian men had. there were people who did understand the battlefield. whatever their understanding that no impact on the war. but that's point number one. point number two like pearl harbor for imperial japan it was attack not a strategic victory. that backfired. this is all a plan and bankrupted. there's no evidence that was actual. the time he believe his own propaganda. he was interviewed he was
comparing americans to the former soviet union. he really believed if we applied enough political pressure to the united states would pull out. instead we invaded afghanistan the basis today in kuwait, but did not exist before 911. so it backfired spectacularly. there are some people who believed did not want to suck us into the war but it was to accept it and made his own failures. >> after 911 when i think about counterfactual's not so much bin laden sources but it is american choices. what explain to people what happened for folks who are listening.
and the decision it and making i will ask you more pointedly later on. where the midst of this process of withdrawing from afghanistan. there was a moment in bora bora 20 years ago now where the court immediate goal after 911 of disrupting al qaeda and finding bin laden might have been achieved and it was not. >> i do not do a lot of that in the book. let's say we capture, it will be much harder to continue the afghan war mired in a duel but if al qaeda is sidelined. might be hard for the iraq war bin laden had been things that
might have been different. what did not happen why write this book now? one interesting document he released his own account. a very specific kind of account of what bin laden did in the day he escaped and the time. i had always known it was around this time. but to escape the battlefield with bin laden at 11:00 p.m. bin laden disappeared. the reason that is so interesting as we know that was exactly eight half hour time difference between the united states and afghanistan. was arms exactly at this moment donald rumsfeld doing a lengthy discussion about the iraq war plans for the iraq
war plans were 800 pages. he had a week to rewrite them. then he did the briefing that day. literally as the world trade center considered to smolder and i went back to soon the pile would stop smolder. the architect is escaping we do not put extra boots on the ground. lou should've been more soldiers on my account the reason i say that with certainty is unfortunately now is dead special forces officer led the american forces. he counted a total of 70 american special forces and total of 70 that included 12 people from the british special boat service. both of them said there were
about a hundred. if journalist could get there, it's not like they had c-130s. [laughter] and apache helicopters. in fact it matters, interestingly and up to 1500 marines. he put forward a plan to put marines and plans and the plan died on the vine. an alpine warfare it is a naturalist. the point is we did not try. i'm not saying we had tried it would work, but it's got the 14000 feet at 6 miles by 6 miles long. you go into pakistan were it you can eventually escape. it's in the middle of ramadan they were fasting.
the main thing is we just didn't try it in any serious way. it was the bush officials that publicly despite the reinterpretation of what happened when the election came up in 2004 and they began to say we did not know who is there or not. and of course he was. >> it is a crystallization of the refocusing on iraq and the immediate perpetrators of 911. >> al qaeda was disrupted tremendously over not only the immediate aftermath of 911 but the u.s. attack on afghanistan. they have conducted a number of attacks. their affiliates have grown
most famously isis. did he end up being in a safe house in pakistan not far from pakistan's west point. >> yes. >> to what extent where he is hold up there in this safe house to what extent do they run the show for al qaeda during those years? what strings did he actually have to pull? >> to be an outside observer g inside the compound, helped me reconstruct the night he was killed and the way he was living. there are two ways of answering your question, brian. one is if you are running a business without the e-mail and you are relying on messages it's a hard way to run a business.
messages get lost. people ignore your message, it gets lost, i was trying to micromanage the organization but using a method that is hard to micromanage without face-to-face meetings, phone calls or e-mails. he did the bestie could. he blocked the elevation to become the leader of al qaeda in yemen. he told them not to identify himself or al qaeda would be back. one of things he said to everyone he was in contact with, don't try to set up a local islamic state. do not, and to focus on the united states that was a constant theme. he would write 40 page memos to his top deputy.
in the top deputy would disagree with those orders, but take a different path of the organization. you can make the argument he was micromanaging the organization i was still in charge. i was hard for him to manage because he had to communicate in a very constrained way. after constantine people to attack the united states, kill barack obama and biden because he is not prepared to be president. his costly tasking him with things are completely preposterous. when he's moving his army divisions around europe. it did not really exist. it is a complicated picture it is a legal trying to micromanage things to his best
of his ability with the troops he had. >> there is a lesson there for all of us. oftentimes the only insight folks have honor what these people say. and what they say may be deeply divorced from reality. saying you're going to go to the eiffel tower doesn't mean you're going to blow up the eiffel tower. i think it is a stark reminder in my mind for any one of the risks for the analysis we seen out based on statements these folks make. so low you can back it up. >> so true and bin laden famously said he freaked the world out he understood you could say things that were not really true to produce a reaction.
but in the end he died knowing his main goal had happened. it was not a heroic end. at the beginning you talked a little bit about what is his legacy? he is still inspirational which is with al qaeda. he lingers on the time a half life people's attention to bin laden was quicker, and quicker, and quicker. you look at polling data tracked rather neatly with the suicide bombing which is an ironic, bin laden's public approval also created approval for suicide bombing which was a tactic. i think eventually think this line was written by president
bush's speech writer. al qaeda would be aside the unmarked grave, there is a wonderful line. i think 2002 speech congress by george w. bush. we're getting to a point, maybe we are getting to that point. >> is a great discussion you're entered into history. i'm sure will be an inspirational figure the way stalin is still inspirational in some sort. it does not mean his ideas are going to have a huge impact he kind of made it very simple which it's all the united states fault. the united states withdraws its support from the authority government in the middle east everything will change.
he did not achieve what he hoped. >> but would obama say about withdrawal in afghanistan today? >> the would have a split screen and the last day or so that tell a ban on humvees moving into cities. it's that military hardware which they captured from the afghan government paid the split screen on 911 was going to be the taliban on american military hardware taking over i don't know what afghan city which is not an insignificant city. if you look at their successes in the north which is not the taliban stronghold there. they are making the calculation we arty have, in the east. you're going to push from the north and to kabul. in order to do that with the national army, the afghan
special forces are competent but relatively small. : : : my wife said i didn't know he was still alive, these guys are serious fighters and they spend their entire life, bin laden of course he was a got what i wanted it took 20 years and i'm speculating that he would be reveling in this moment. >> i want to come back to this because this is obviously a critical question in contemporary but i want to stay focused on al-qaeda a little bit first, what is the future of al-qaeda once you lose bin laden, there are other leaders
often that experience and how do you see the organization being able to function, it's been ten years there still out there we hear from them occasionally and they conduct attacks, do they have a future, does al-qaeda have legs without osama bin laden. >> he turned sp terrible leader in the black hole of charisma and one of the things in the book which appealed to their self and some detail is the extent and i include myself in this people overestimated how important he was with his organization, turns out he had no role in any planning against united states including 9/11 he had no role which is attacking the united states and use focused on egypt and bin laden
could care less about that somebody has done a survey of bin laden statements in the top statement is anger at the united states and the saudi's and i think egypt is like number 29 down the list were 32 and that was throughout the pure occupation, he spent six months in prison that was right in the middle of the planning attacks on the embassy in africa and when he comes back he's not a big thinker and bin laden for his role of this sonic son because he's objection but he did not play an important part in al-qaeda before 9/11 and after 9/11 using deputy and leader but he managed a pentagon in the less counterterrorism official because you mentioned
he would be much more serious contender of egyptians officials forces officer and he's been with al-qaeda since the beginning, even let's say psychologically there's an organization al-qaeda to a local jihad group in afghanistan and pakistan and has yemen and affiliates in africa and east asia and sometimes you may recall al-qaeda in yemen controlled big chunks of the country that it is now and you may recall when al-shabaab and somalia controlled a big chunk of somalia which is not true now, that could change coveys it up and out of the end of the day we're talking in san francisco and the bay area in washington, d.c. could al-qaeda carry out an attack within the united states and the answer is it's highly unlikely it's only been by a
foreign terrorist organization since 9/11 the united states and that is a pensacola retired by a saudi military officer that killed three sailors in 2019. there is no clear fact directed by al-qaeda or yemen but we had this conversation to years after 9/11 and despite the not able to carry out the terrorist attack in the united states, that is what happened that isn't say if we let afghanistan disappear into a giant civil role and it turns into a vortex among government spaces and a jihad group in the world and upholds and, we seen the movie before and we saw the and iraq and
surprising hearing things from the secretary of state as in joe biden presided over that decision to pull down in december of 2011 and the obama administration is back in the wall devices. when there's some interesting similarities in the playbook and you may recall that whole campaign that al-qaeda in iraq with prisoners released and became the core of isis. and with the taliban the piece negotiation of the television that we essentially got them can government to go along with it even though we didn't prove them in the control over the taliban and every city the taliban goes into is a follow the prison and there were some interesting similarities between the
taliban. >> after and i'm surprised by this, the afghan national art is weaker than the iraqi national army at the time of the 2014 isis campaign and if that is true it is sad. >> peter this is coming up in similar questions folks are asking, what is the alternative you spent 20 years in afghanistan of trillions of dollars, trying to build a government that can fund itself into these sorts of things and yet we see within a matter of weeks or months, it is crumbling, even if it's good money that continues to invest.
>> presidents is different than obama and president trump and president biden in similar and the benefit analysis and the troops, trump wanted to go to 0 and never got there but the percentage was going down and president joe biden is going to be 0 at the end of the month. so certainly very different presidents in a similar conclusion. my answer would be the following were still in south korea 75 years in the hostilities and we are 25000 troops in south korea and it's one of the poorest countries in the world in 1953 and now it's one of the richest and the fact that were in afghanistan is the same but there are similarities in some states, 20 years later some thought long of a time, i went back and looked at the history of south korea and at authoritarian democracy for a long time and for much of the
history of course afghanistan is imperfect democracy and the government were two big mistakes one is creating the television, with the united states as opposed to the actual one that has supported. and that government for many discussions with the taliban, at the end of the day there's going to be peace to the afghan government and the taliban in the piece negotiation of the united states and if we left outside of the u.s. embassy to not get overrun, the problem has been the messaging problem in the sense of 2009 president obama and he also talks about a withdraw for a long time to decide in effect on the taliban, the afghan government, pakistan taken as seriously that were
leaving shortly. i think it could have been a bigger population but the united states is empire project from the beginning and were very and comfortable with aspects and the fact is i do believe we have afghanistan preventing another al-qaeda rise in women who have received the taliban era and i spent time in afghanistan out of the taliban and the population was around 500,000 and now no one knows there is no phone service or internet service and the economic indicators and that can do stuff in the taliban era
and that's not even the taliban with the government that they can, there is no evidence that they're going to be different they have no time for real governance they want to make the world. and they think that is sufficient. i think the good thing afghanistan is one of the youngest countries in the world 70% of the population is under the age of 25 and i don't think for most of those men and women there is no nostalgia for the taliban they know what happened, we will see what will happen for sure is a very naughty civil war and the weakness of the afghan army is one thing but i would look at the militias because our militias, these guys with the brutal civil war and fought the taliban and their ready to do it again instead of the taliban taken over the entire country
with afghanistan to a nasty civil war and we will, we may have to do it again in iraq because afghanistan has a way of not staying there and for our country that is insignificant it's actually paid an outside world and american policy or other attacks. >> when you were going through the documents that were collected and i want to ask you about the rate of the development of the u.s. government understood the rise of bin laden but skipping ahead a little bit what was the relationship between and on the
one hand they would negotiate with us, al-qaeda would not of done that, they have had long-term relationships without getting government and dealt with others and responsible, they had discourse in ways al-qaeda was not. what should we understand as a relationship and what's the same about the al-qaeda and the taliban, what's the difference, we argue are your zone estate students. >> with significant i want to respond to what are the things that you just said which is the taliban piece negotiation i think the taliban had no intention of making peace they won more than negotiating table indo hall than the battlefield and i think it was a very clever and they had to go along with it perhaps but they had no
intention into diverse themselves from al-qaeda according to the united nations in june and they remain very close to the united nations as we see promoting more and hear the official report saying al-qaeda and the taliban are very close and the even said it in al-qaeda with intermarriage so course of taliban makes routes that it wants to restore theocratic state across afghanistan and by that it's al-qaeda's goal and they have a much bigger vision of getting to the united states and i'm just try to summarize the dimensions of what they want. one is a nationalist movement with the piddly religious fundamental aspect to and the commander with moderate hanasono moderate statement.
and it was a religious fanatic and he was close to bin laden. the differences are less important than the similarities in the documents, you asked about the documents and they show joint operations between al-qaeda and the taliban, the documents show al-qaeda coming to the taliban which is interesting because the taliban is more than al-qaeda and the documents show bin laden before he was killed in letters to al-qaeda and he was the main negotiator for the taliban with the americans. so the documents pretrade a warm relationship and is ten years old now, fast-forward to the un report and password to accounts of al-qaeda being on the front line today i was way skeptical of these groups which i think people make a mistake when
everybody's going to behave like a national actor but a rational actor there is a bunch of taliban and you know who they are they always said the taliban will realize a disaster in the do the right thing and separate themselves from a kinda in the documentary record say that's not true, i do think that was a moment of the missed in 2002 the taliban were defeated and it would've been easier to have a piece negotiation with them then when they were defeated and ready to talk and that was basically not taken. but today they get into a piece negotiation with afghan government. and that was one of the premises a piece negotiation in 2018. >> i have a lot of questions and
i talk about afghanistan all day, let's go to the audience i have been summarizing a few of those questions but there's a couple that are interesting. one is you have any idea why bin laden never attacked israel over palestine. >> that such a great question and one of the people that i quote in the book i asked bin laden that question directly and uses bin laden did not have a good answer to that and it's like he hadn't considered the question, i'm tried to do my best to answer for bin laden, for some reason even the israel started to get about palestine when he was a teenager and focus on the issue calculated the al-qaeda, the fact is that he
did not and why he didn't mistreat, i can add another point, he really thought of new york as a jewish target and about al-qaeda's role and he started a conspiracy theory about the 4000 jews who did not show up to work, both bin laden, bin laden is in the book and he named his daughter who was born a few days after 9/11 sophia, why did he name her sophia, that was the aunt of the prophet mohammed who killed the jew and he told people that he hope his daughter would grow up to kill a jew, it's a profound anti-shiite and very anti-israel but he did not attack israel itself.
>> there are couple questions that pointer politics in the united states right now and the tears that domestically. how do we understand the continued threat from al-qaeda international tears groups like that with the rise of more domestic terrorism the audience may not know but you put in your career you did a lot of work with on domestic terrorism, how do you compare those differences in human go to bin laden coming from american to bin laden. >> interesting question in the america track it's a political balance in jihadist tears since 9/11 have killed 107 people and extremists have killed 111 and my numbers may not be precise but in very close.
the point is terrorism has been a very steady threat in the united states when loan procedure 9/11 and lightning. there's been other forms of political balance of the united states some people forget 1970s 100 hijackings of the united states many for criminal purposes but a lot were political purposes. and there was nationalist who detonated 85 bombs in the 70s and underground with the "black panther", political balance is not various in a constant future of american life. and with it being america bin laden because you can't have training camps in oregon training thousands of people and have a secret organization where people pledge allegiance to bin laden and be very, very hard to
do. and right wing extremist and we also have interestingly and we are tracking the ideological misogyny and we track on youthful attacks in a very conservative methodology in some kind of question around etiology and we don't include it in this not an uptick in the nationalist legal terrorist attacks and you will see small numbers of leftist on the attack. the big problem is the white going attacks and the heavy terrorism attacks and the jihad he terrorist attacks tend to be 49 people and 16 on behalf of isis and they are more lethal
but the fbi only kinda woke up to this recently and you don't really buy that, the fbi anybody in law enforcement has been very concerned of right wing extremism and they are trying to kill as we saw january 6 insurrection, police officers. and that goes back a long way in the right wing crazy world as occupation government and the enemies of the state in law enforcement is being concerned and right on time it is a real issue. >> there are some that argue and i haven't read the book is about to come up but reign of terror, basically is connecting the process of fighting the war on
terror and the impact on the domestic civil discourse is under minding our own political norms, what is her impact of her dedication and focus in 20 years of perpetual war fighting doesn't have the impact on who we are. >> i read the manuscript and spencer is a really smart guy i don't agree with everything that he says i do say way it's hard to trump the actions on tier if you go back 2015 - 2016 americans were pulled on the issue of terrorism and they were asked to question that you would be a victim of terrorism or family member and it was the highest number since after 9/11
during the 2015 - 2016 because of isis in the attack in orlando and the attack of the office party in california, the married couple, isis killed 130 people in paris it was a lot of coverage isis beheaded american journalist and workers jim crowley and others, there was a huge amount of news coverage and trump came up with the idea of the taliban and it made no sense from a factual point of view but is quite popular half of americans thought it was a good idea and i'm not just talking about republicans. the republicans like 80%. the point is trump was able to use that and he didn't really talk about it as a threat receded i think he could've known more of an issue that he was involved in the and devices and is one of his policies, it's
hard to put yourself back in the pre-2016 presidential campaign but terrorism was a big issue and trump tend to do better on the issue than hillary clinton because he had a really simple answer which would have no impact in the tale of man stopped under joe biden is not something like tons of terrorist attacks in the saudi military officer that i described that killed three americans in pensacola and the saudi's carried out an attack menu is not subject to the travel ban this is a solution in search of a problem that he didn't know existed but it was mutual for trout i do think everything has second or third consequent this and trump claimed to sell a bunch of arabs on 9/11 which was untrue but it played well. he was able through the air of
terrorism and real in 2015 and 2016 and it was a political advantage for him. >> i want to come back we only have a few minutes left i want to come back to the notion of the whole picture of osama bin laden and tears mastermind and a family man of audubon was there living with several of his wives, kids from bodyguards, tell us about his life there with american intelligence analyst and special force operators how to attack this compound what consideration do they have to go through as a think about an assault on a compound with 25 people including a bunch of children.
>> everybody expected to see their they did not know how many people, there was ultimately 27, they could not have known that bin laden had two other kids who were under the age of three with his much younger wife and they probably did not know some of his grandkids were living there. the point is picked up by the new york post when they took it from the book there was too much laundry on the line for the bodyguard in the bodyguards and the families and 16 of allianz and when they saw the amount they said there's a family here that has a lot of kids and adults in that fit with bin laden. you said family man the real-time's headline of the review and the attacks on the right that is betraying was bad
and they change the headline to something more bland like bin laden that the point is it hitler was somewhat nice to his girlfriend, that does not mean he was a great guy either. the idea that somehow the mass murder of bin laden could also be nice to his family and uphold his wives because of the educational containers and advisors. the fact that these ideas are compatible is crazy because we've known that from anyone who studied history that wars with human emotions and human stories and you can't, i'm not attempting to do two-part which is you understand everything you forgive everything, that's not my intent with the book but it does have at his history and i
think as one of the few people in recent decades whose change a sufficient and it doesn't pretend in his kids and grandkids for five years when these living in that compound. >> the intelligence analyst putting together the party package that is simple. >> the fact that the sky and the people that knew him the best in the intelligence community the fact that they don't take a dozen kids and grandkids along for the ride. but for the people who follow bin laden they could tell this was bin laden because this is exactly the way he lived into don with multiple wives and multiple kids exactly the same way he lived in afghanistan and he's replicating. so for them, this is evidence that it really was bin laden and
it was entirely circumstantial in the large family of bin laden. they're not evidence of him not being there. >> after bin laden was killed, his body was dumped into the arabian sea, there was a moment of disbelief in washington and decision-making by president obama when and how to announce that he had been killed. talk to that process. i think it decision-making, i think it's important for one of her only chance is as united states to shape the final legacy. to shape the understanding of how he went out . . .
generate 152011 our agreement is, they agreed they would leave july 2011. one of the reasons obama made the decision he did, what if they leave? turns out is going be forced to leave. the house was on his name is in the bodyguard's be the bodyguards were leaving. they were fed up. so the process of obama getting the decision i cannot get into it because it would take too long, is a very complicated process over a year. you look at the kennedy process during the cuban missile crisis.
we elect presidents to make decisions with imperfect information not perfect information. if the human missile crisis they both made decisions without knowing all the facts for sure at least in obama's case whether. one of the scenes in the book there was a big discussion people you know in the white house situation room others under the discussion of 40% there, 60% there, obama cuts it off that is a 50/50. obama made a decision there is 0% or one 100% there. there's discussion of percentages give a false sense of mathematical rigor trying to put odds on something for he made a decision, that is
what presidents are supposed to do. you are not making difficult decisions of perfect information but you are making difficult decisions with imperfect information paid that's one of the cases. the textbook case of how the process works and of us to president made the right decision. >> we have less than two minutes left. you and the book talking about the bottom line. what happens when chairs are in history? will that happen? >> there is a scene agency at the terrorism center she was a very young colleague a great victory should the worst day is still ahead for them for the young colleague said what is that?
the young colleague said no which was an infamous terrorist group in the 1970s in germany. said the worst day is and people in stand over these people. she was saying it for a fact. but i think he will reseed and reseed and reseed his influence on history he did not get what he wanted. i do think it will fade over time, it will not disappear. but he started off the figure he was in the days and weeks after 911. >> thanks to peter cnn national security analyst vice president for global studies and fellow at new america author of the new book the rise and fall of osama bin laden. want to remind everyone peter's book is available online and at your local bookstore. we also want to thank all of our viewers.