Leon Panetta: We assumed bin Laden would die in raid

CIA Director Leon Panetta interviewed by CBS News anchor Katie Couric, May 3, 2011. CBS

CIA director Leon Panetta told CBS News anchor Katie Couric on Tuesday that U.S. officials had assumed "from the beginning" that Osama bin Laden would be killed in the raid on his compound, though there were at least initial plans on how to proceed if he was captured.

"We always assume from the beginning that the likelihood was that he was gonna be killed," said Panetta. "But if perchance he were to be captured, I think the approach was to take him quickly to Bagram [Airfield, in Afghanistan], transfer him to a ship offshore, and then have the principals at the White House decide what next steps would be taken."

White House Counterterrorism Adviser John Brennan said at a briefing Monday that "if we had the opportunity to take bin Laden alive, if he didn't present any threat, the individuals involved were able and prepared to do that."

"We had discussed that extensively in a number of meetings in the White House and with the president," he continued. "The concern was that bin Laden would oppose any type of capture operation. Indeed, he did. It was a firefight. He, therefore, was killed in that firefight and that's when the remains were removed."

"But we certainly were planning for the possibility, which we thought was going to be remote, given that he would likely resist arrest, but that we would be able to capture him," added Brennan.

You can see more from Couric's interview with Panetta on Tuesday's CBS Evening News.

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