Recap: “10 Years Later: Operation Neptune Spear”

A composite image on a blue background of three public program participants on a Zoom call.

Last week, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum marked the 10-year anniversary of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound with Robert M. Gates, former secretary of defense, and Leon E. Panetta, former director of the CIA.

In conversation with Clifford Chanin, executive vice president and deputy director for museum programs, Gates and Secretary Panetta discussed how policy, intelligence, and military decision-making converged during the hunt for bin Laden.

In the clips below, Panetta explains his considerations for advising the President to act, despite a complete lack of concrete physical evidence, and Gates shares his opinion of the message that the Operation Neptune Spear raid sent to the rest of the world.

Panetta clip

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“In Congress, you know, when I faced tough decisions, I always had a formula I used which was to just to, kind of, personally ask myself, if I—was talking to an average citizen in my district and told them what I knew about that issue, what would an average citizen say that should be done? And I kind of used that same approach when the president asked me, I said: “Mr. President, if I were to tell an average citizen in my district that we had the best evidence on the location of bin Laden since Tora Bora, what would you do? I think the average citizen would say: ‘You’ve got to go after it. You’ve got to do this or you’ll regret it.’” And that was basically what I said to the President.”

Gates clip

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"One of the significant messages of killing bin Laden was to terrorists, and others around the world, that if you kill Americans, no matter how long it takes, and no matter what it costs, we will exact revenge. We will mete out justice."

For more public programs like these, please visit our past program archive or check 911memorial.org/programs to learn of forthcoming programs.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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