Vice President Biden claimed Friday that Leon Panetta was the only member of the inner circle who definitively urged President Obama to green-light the raid on Usama bin Laden's compound, as Biden discussed new details about the behind-the-scenes deliberations.
Biden, speaking to the House Democratic Issues Conference in Maryland, candidly admitted that he told the president not to go forward with the mission. Biden said at the time he thought the administration should do more to find out whether bin Laden was actually inside the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Describing the scene when Obama sought the advice of his top officials on whether to go ahead, Biden said most advisers -- aside from himself and Panetta, the defense secretary who was CIA chief at the time -- didn't offer a clear opinion.
"He went around the table with all the senior people. ... Every single person in that room hedged their bet except Leon Panetta. Leon said, 'go.' Everyone else said 49, 51 (percent in favor)," Biden said.
"It got to me. (Obama) said 'Joe -- what do you think?' I said, 'You know, I didn't know we had so many economists around the table.' I said we owe the man a direct answer. Mr. President, my suggestion is don't go."
Biden recalled the scene to illustrate his point that Obama showed leadership and, in his words, has a "backbone like a ramrod."
Despite the uncertain and conflicting advice, Obama told his national security adviser the next day, "Go," Biden said.
"He knew what was at stake. Not just the lives of those brave warriors, but literally the presidency, and he pulled the trigger," Biden said. "This guy doesn't lead from behind -- he just leads."
Robert Gates, the defense secretary at the time of the raid, has already said publicly that he had reservations about the intelligence pertaining to the bin Laden compound.
It's not clear exactly what every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and key Cabinet members advised.
A defense official said Adm. Mike Mullen who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs at the time, "certainly recognized the risk, but he did not hesitate in offering his advice that we should go."
One U.S. official told Fox News that Gen. James Cartwright, who was vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs at the time, was leaning against a raid and more toward an airstrike in that final meeting.
The official also said that Michael Leiter, then director of the National Counterterrorism Center, was pessimistic on the intelligence.
The official said many in the room were worried about losing their jobs should the mission go wrong. The official added that one of the reasons Panetta came down on the side of approving the raid was he had met with his intelligence team -- and even one of the most pessimistic analysts put a high percentage on the likelihood that bin Laden was indeed in that compound.
Fox News' Justin Fishel contributed to this report.