Take 1: Bin Laden died in a bloody firefight.
On Sunday night, Obama dramatically told the world that "after a firefight," our brave men in uniform "killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body."
Embellishing the story the next morning, White House deputy national security adviser John Brennan said at his briefing that bin Laden "was engaged in a firefight with those that entered the area of the house he was in . . . And whether or not he got off any rounds, I quite frankly don't know . . . It was a firefight. He, therefore, was killed in that firefight."
Take 2: Bin Laden did not engage in a firefight.
The day after Brennan disclosed such vivid details, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney walked them back. Bin Laden, he said in version 2.0, "was not armed." Brennan had clearly implied that bin Laden "resisted" with arms. Carney insisted that "resistance does not require a firearm." How exactly bin Laden resisted, Carney wouldn't say.
It's been K-turns and 180s ever since. Fasten your seatbelts:
Take 3: Bin Laden's wife died after her feckless husband used her as a human shield.
Take 4: Bin Laden's wife did not die, wasn't used as a human shield and was only shot in the leg. Someone else's wife was killed, somewhere else in the house.
Take 5: A transport helicopter experienced "mechanical failure" and was forced to make a hard landing during the mission.
Take 6: A top-secret helicopter clipped the bin Laden compound wall, crashed and was purposely exploded after the mission to prevent our enemies from learning more about it.
Take 7: The bin Laden photos would be released to the world as proof of his death.
Take 8: The bin Laden photos would not be released to the world because no one needs proof and it's more important to avoid offending peaceful Muslims who supposedly don't embrace bin Laden as a "true" Muslim in the first place.
Take 9: Bin Laden's compound was a lavish mansion.
Take 10: Bin Laden's compound was a glorified pigsty.
Take 11: Bin Laden's compound had no TV, phone or computer access.
Take 12: Bin Laden's compound was stocked with hard drives, thumb drives, DVDs and computers galore.
Take 13: Er, remember that statement about bin Laden being armed? Then not armed? Well, the new version is that he had an AK-47 "nearby."
Take 14: A gung-ho Obama spearheaded the "gutsy" mission.
Take 15: A reluctant Obama dithered for 16 hours before being persuaded by CIA Director Leon Panetta.
Take 16: Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and close advisers watched the raid unfold in real time -- "minute by minute," according to Carney -- and a gripping insider photo was posted immediately by the White House.
Take 17: Er, they weren't really watching real-time video "minute by minute" because there was at least nearly a half-hour that they "didn't know just exactly what was going on," Panetta clarified.
Take 18: Stalwart Obama's order was to kill, not capture, bin Laden.
Take 19: Sensitive Obama's order was to kill or capture -- and that's why the SEAL team gave him a chance to surrender, upon which he resisted with arms, or actually didn't resist with arms, but sort of resisted without arms, except there was an AK-47 nearby, sort of, or maybe not.
So, while Decisive Obama did tell the SEALs to kill bin Laden and should claim all credit for doing so, Progressive Obama can also be absolved by bleeding hearts because of the painstakingly concocted post facto possibility that bin Laden somehow threatened our military -- telepathically or something -- before being taken out.
Take 20: "We've been as forthcoming with facts as we can be," said an irritated Carney on Wednesday.