'This Week' Transcript: Tom Donilon


So is that new trove of information revealing fresh dangers for Americans around the world? I put that question to the president's national security adviser, Tom Donilon.


AMANPOUR: Mr. Donilon, thank you for joining us.

DONILON: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Firstly, the pictures that have just come out. You've seen them. What do they tell us that we didn't know about Osama bin Laden?

DONILON: I think the principal thing to take away is that he was engaged not just in being a symbolic leader of Al Qaida, but he was involved in the strategic and operational leadership. And let me say just a couple of things about this. Number one, the information was recovered as part of the operation of Sunday night, in addition to taking out Osama bin Laden on Sunday night, our special forces who are trained in this area gathered up as much information as they could before they left the compound.

AMANPOUR: How much?

DONILON: Well, it's a very large cache. The...

AMANPOUR: How would you describe it, in terms of its largeness?

DONILON: I've say two things about it. It's the single largest cache of information that we've gotten from a senior terrorist, number one. And, number two, the CIA is describing it to us as the size of a small college library.

AMANPOUR: Have you found any imminent threat right now, anything that should give concern right now that you're working to counter and neutralize?

DONILON: I don't have anything to tell you this morning. But as we -- as we develop those, obviously, we'll go about the notifications in the appropriate way.

AMANPOUR: Because Al Qaida has said we accept that he's dead and we're going to avenge that. Is there any worry, any fear, any plan that you know of? Are you taking any specific measures to counter any imminent threat?

DONILON: Well, we've thought about that a lot prior to the -- prior to the action. And what I can tell you is this. And the president said it in his address to the nation on Sunday night. This is the most significant achievement we've had in our efforts against Al Qaida.

At the end of last year, we assessed and made public this assessment that the pressure in Al Qaida had driven them to the point where they were as weak as they had been at any time since 2001. This is a really serious blow to them. It's a milestone on our way to strategic defeat.

Having said that, we need to remain vigilant, and we will remain vigilant, and we certainly had thought about that a lot prior to the actions that we took on Sunday.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about the killing of Osama bin Laden. What was the nature of his resistance?

DONILON: He didn't surrender, right, and moved away from our forces, right, you know? And at that point, he's a threat to our forces, given the techniques that we know, and our forces made an absolutely, absolutely appropriate judgment.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you this, though, because it goes to the central part of the story. The success of this mission, you had to, you know, sort of correct some of the -- some of the story lines at the beginning. You've said that the president went down and had an A-to-Z conversation with the special forces. Do you think, in retrospect, would you have done it differently? Would you have allowed that complete briefing of the people who had done it before giving out information?

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