(CBS News) Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Wednesday he had "no doubts that the SEALs could perform the mission" that killed Osama bin Laden. His concern was whether or not bin Laden was in the compound.
"We didn't have one single piece of hard data that he was actually in that compound, not one," Gates told "CBS this Morning" co-host Charlie Rose. "The whole thing was a circumstantial case built by analysts at CIA."
Gates wanted to bomb and not go in to kill bin Laden. "My view was, 'Let's kill him, but let's use a missile of some kind,'" Gates said. "And, and the reason, the objection to that was, "Well, we couldn't collect any information to exploit."
"If this mission had failed, it could've put the war in Iraq, in Afghanistan, at risk," Gates said. He said Mr. Obama's decision to go through with the raid was a "courageous call."
When President Obama took office, Gates was the only cabinet official he kept from the Bush administration. Gates had no problems moving from one administration to the next and gives the Obama administration high marks on national security.
He said Mr. Obama, "was as aggressive if not more so in going after terrorists and Al Qaeda. I think that the relationship with China has been managed pretty well. So yeah, I think they've done a pretty good job."
Gates left the Pentagon last year, and he's now writing a memoir. He's since become the chancellor of his alma mater, the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.(Watch the interview in the video player above.)