“I would certainly not say that I’m a pacifist or that president Obama is. President Obama’s the one who went after Osama bin Ladin and killed Osama bin Ladin for his attacks on the United States.” Nicholas Burns (on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal).
As I recall, the president ordered Osama bin Ladin captured, not killed. During the mission, a fight ensued and capture became impossible. At least, that’s the way I recall the story being told at the beginning. It’s true that O’Neill is quoted (my source is NY Post) saying, “He [bin Ladin] died afraid. And he knew that we were there to kill him.” But the Post cautions: “other SEALs have challenged O’Neill’s version of events.”
I would like to think that capture became impossible once they encountered resistance. By the way, footnote 2.23 (9/11 Report) addresses the question as to how much the CIA really had to do with bin Ladin before 9/11 (a relationship which some people, as I recall mostly on the left, were hyping at the time).
The footnote states: “In his memoir, Ayman al Zawahiri contemptuously rejects the claim that the Arab mujahideen were financed (even ‘one penny’) or trained by the United States…CIA officials involved in aiding the Afghan resistance regard Bin Ladin and his ‘Arab Afghans’ as having been militarily insignificant in the war and recall having little to do with him. Gary Schroen interview (Mar. 3, 2003)” (page 467).
The footnote maybe has its weaknesses. Specifically: How reliable a source is Zawahiri? And “recall having little to do with him.” It would have been nice for clarity’s sake if it went on to say what that little bit was.