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The day President Obama said: 'Go get bin Laden'

During his presidency, Barack Obama has undertaken a string of military operations, topped by the raid that killed Osama bin Laden hiding in Pakistan. One expert calls Obama 'one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades.'

By Staff writer / April 29, 2012

President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and members of the national security team watch an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room at the White House on May 1, 2011.

Pete Souza/The White House/AP

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By the morning of April 29, 2011 – a year ago today – President Obama had made up his mind.

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He’d weighed the pros and cons of sending US Navy SEALs to capture or kill Osama bin Laden hiding out with his three wives and children in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Now he’d decided.

“It’s a go,” Obama told his national security advisors, who had to stay mum, sweating out the next couple days before SEAL Team 6 launched their high-risk mission.

Then-CIA Director Leon Panetta (now the Secretary of Defense) remembers those “fingernail-biting moments” May 1, 2011, as officials at the White House waited for word from Abbottabad, especially when one of the US helicopters crash landed inside the compound.

"We knew that there were gunshots and firing, but after that we just didn't know," Sec. Panetta told reporters Friday.

An agonizing 20 minutes later came the message: “Geronimo EKIA" – bin Laden’s code name and "enemy killed in action."

Osama bin Laden: The truth behind the SEAL raid? Five bombshells.

This week, the Obama-ordered demise of bin Laden – the chief mastermind of the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people – has moved from the nationally-unifying event it once was to something heavily tinged with partisan politics.

The Obama reelection campaign has a new video questioning whether Mitt Romney – the presumptive Republican challenger to Obama – would have ordered the mission against bin Laden. It’s based on a few things Mr. Romney said back in 2007.

The Romney camp and others (including Sen. John McCain) have lashed back, accusing Obama of misusing the death of bin Laden as a campaign tool.

Peter Bergen thinks there’s much more than that to how we should see the Obama-ordered end to bin Laden.

Mr. Bergen literally wrote the book on bin Laden. He’s recognized as a major expert on the now-deceased leader of Al Qaeda (one of the few who ever interviewed him) and its terrorist offshoots. His new work – “Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden – from 9/11 to Abbottabad” – is set to release Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of the SEAL Team 6 raid.

Writing in The New York Times the other day, Bergen said Obama “has turned out to be one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades.”

He ticks off the use of military force Obama has ordered during his term as commander in chief:

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