John Cook — When you're dealing with the assassination of the world's most-wanted criminal, you might want to actually know what you're talking about. In the space of 36 hours, the official story on what happened to Osama bin Laden has gone from "he went down guns blazing and taking hostages" to "basically we shot him."
The first report on how Osama died came from Barack Obama. In his statement announcing the death, he said, "a small team of Americans carried out the operation.... After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body."
That was true! But within hours, anonymous senior administration officials briefing reporters in a Sunday night conference call changed that characterization—asked precisely how bin Laden was killed, an administration official answered: "As the President said this evening, bin Laden was killed in a firefight as our operators came onto the compound." In the same call, officials raised for the first time the charge that someone at the compound was using a woman as a human shield: "One woman was killed when she was used as a shield by a male combatant."