The New York Times report details how CIA's general counsel Stephen Preston, National Security Council's legal adviser Mary DeRosa, Pentagon's general counsel Jeh Johnson and Joint Chiefs of Staff legal adviser then-Rear Admiral James Crawford worked in "intense secrecy" to "hammer out rationales intended to overcome any legal obstacles" the May 2011 raid would raise later.
    
The work of the four lawyers was so secretive that the White House did not allow them to consult the administration's top lawyer, Attorney General Eric Holder for fear of leaks.
    
Holder was briefed only a day before the raid on May 1, 2011, long after the legal questions had been resolved, the report said.
    
The lawyers "did their own research, wrote memos on highly secure laptops and traded drafts hand-delivered by trusted couriers," it said.
    
Just days before the raid, the lawyers drafted five secret memos in order for them to prove later that they were not inventing after-the-fact reasons for having blessed it.
    
The NYT report said that the legal analysis offered the Obama administration "wide flexibility" to send ground forces onto Pakistani soil without the country's consent, to explicitly authorize a lethal mission, to delay telling Congress until afterward, and to bury a wartime enemy at sea.
    
Just days before the raid, Johnson wrote a memo on the operation violating Pakistani sovereignty. Since the US and Pakistan were not at war, it was against international law for
one country to use force on the other’s soil without consent.
    
The administration, however, feared that the US asking the Pakistani government to arrest Bin Laden or to authorize an American raid would have compromised the operation.

 

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