May 4, 2011

White House walks fine line in telling raid story

Jim Kuhnhenn, The Associated Press

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Even as they offered new details or corrected old ones, the White House kept others to themselves. Officials were reluctant, for example, to publicly discuss what Obama and his team were watching so intently in the photo they had promoted the day before.

Fleischer said Obama also faces a challenge as he moves toward his re-election campaign.

"That's where these issues will start to ricochet," Fleischer said, recalling the criticism lobbed at Bush when he mentioned the 9/11 attacks during his 2004 campaign. "A lot of it is unwarranted; presidents should talk about accomplishments."

The success of the raid also raised difficult questions for the administration about whether the use of waterboarding or other harsh interrogation techniques under the Bush administration had elicited some of the intelligence that led to bin Laden's lair. Obama has been a staunch critic of those methods.

"It simply strains credulity to suggest that a piece of information that may or may not have been gathered eight years ago somehow directly led to a successful mission on Sunday," Carney said. "That's just not the case."

In his interview with NBC, Panetta was not as adamant. "They used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of these detainees," he said. "But I'm also saying that, you know, the debate about whether we would have gotten the same information through other approaches I think is always going to be an open question."

As discussions and raid details swirled throughout the administration, Obama himself sought to convey a return to normal Tuesday. He held a Rose Garden event to salute exceptional teachers and met with Hispanic members of Congress to discuss changes in immigration law.

While Obama travels to New York on Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden plans to convene a meeting with congressional negotiators to discuss long-term spending proposals. And on Friday, Obama once again will confront the economic realities that have dogged his presidency when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases April unemployment figures.

"This train never stops," Carney said.

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