Panetta on bin Laden raid: It had all proven right

(CBS News) The mission to kill Osama bin Laden was run from CIA headquarters. The man in charge that night was Leon Panetta. It was Panetta who described events as they unfolded to the president at the White House last year. In an interview for "60 Minutes," "Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley interviewed Leon Panetta for an insider's view of the plan to get the man that they code-named "Geronimo." An transcript follows:

Pelley: Was there ever a notion of capturing Osama bin Laden in this mission?

Panetta: Yes. There could be a situation that would allow them to capture him. Then they were to make use of that.

Pelley: Where were you gonna take him?

Panetta: We clearly were gonna move him out and put him into a detained area for a while, while we obviously interrogated him, and then made the decision as to what would happen.

60 Minutes: The Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta

Pelley: The president and several others are in the situation room down at the White House. Are they listening to you? Are you narrating what's happening?

Panetta: I'm basically briefing them on kind of what's going on. They're also following it. But I was basically relaying what I was hearing from those who were conducting the operation.

Pelley: What were the exact words that you heard from the SEAL team?

Panetta: The person who was heading up the operation basically said, "You know, I think we have a Geronimo." And I kind of looked around at everybody at operation center and said, "I think--[it] looks like we may have -- Bin Laden really was there. And then he came back [and said], "We think we have Geronimo K.I.A."

Pelley: Killed in action.

Obama, Karzai ink partnership deal
Gallup: Obama approval rating highest since bin Laden killing
Video: Obama tells troops bin Laden got his justice

Panetta: That's correct.

Pelley: What was the scene in the operation center at the CIA at that moment?

Panetta: It wasn't like we were high-fiving. It was more like, frankly, we kind of looked at each other and said all of the work that had been done, all of the questions that had been raised, all of the risks that had been talked about -- that in the end it had all proven right.

Two months after the raid, Panetta moved from the CIA to the Pentagon as defense secretary.

  • Scott Pelley

    Anchor and Managing Editor, "CBS Evening News;" Correspondent, "60 Minutes"

Comments