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"How It Went Down"

"How It Went Down"

TIME Cover: Inside Story of Bin Laden's Last Days

Magazine or Newspaper Article, Time

May 7, 2012

Author: Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School


"'I can only speak with authority through Feb. 15, 2009,' said Michael Hayden, who was George W. Bush's last CIA director. 'But at that point, when people would ask "When's the last time you really knew where he was?" my answer was Tora Bora in 2001.'

Obama's first order to his new CIA Director Leon Panetta in 2009 was to 'make the killing or capture of OBL the top priority of the war against al-Qaeda.' That order grew out of a controversial Obama campaign pledge that 'if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take him out, then we have to act and we will take him out...'

While journalists have provided a number of histories of the events that led to bin Laden's death, the purpose of this analysis is to examine White House decisionmaking for lessons that can be applied to future foreign policy challenges."

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Full text of this publication is available at:,9171,2113156,00.html

For Academic Citation:

Allison, Graham. "How It Went Down." Time, May 7, 2012.

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