Getting raid story right a challenge

“We provided a great deal of information with great haste in order to inform you. ... And obviously some of the information was, came in piece by piece and is being reviewed and updated and elaborated on,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.

WASHINGTON -- Killing Osama bin Laden was a big victory for the U.S., but how exactly the raid went down is another story -- and another, and another.

Over two days, the White House has offered contradictory versions of events, including misidentifying which of bin Laden's sons was killed and wrongly saying bin Laden's wife died in gunfire, as it tries to sort through what the president's press secretary called the "fog of combat" and produce an accurate account.

Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that officials were trying to get information out as quickly as possible about the complex event witnessed by just a handful of people.

"We provided a great deal of information with great haste in order to inform you. ... And obviously some of the information was, came in piece by piece and is being reviewed and updated and elaborated on," he said.

The circumstances for the Navy SEALs involved hardly lent themselves to careful note-taking, and some of what happened during those 40 minutes in Abbottabad, Pakistan, may never be known.

But the contradictory statements seem certain to raise suspicions about the White House's version of events, given that no independent account from another source is likely to emerge.

The only non-U.S. witnesses to survive the raid are in Pakistani custody.

Some of the White House contradictions and corrections that have emerged so far:

--White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said Monday that bin Laden's son Khalid was killed in the raid. When the White House released a transcript of Brennan's briefing, it substituted the name of a different son, Hamza. The White House said that was a transcription error.

--Brennan said bin Laden's wife died while shielding him from U.S. gunfire. Carney said Tuesday that the wife hadn't died, and was merely shot in the leg, although another woman did die. But it wasn't clear that either of them was trying to shield bin Laden.

--Brennan and other officials suggested that bin Laden was holding a gun and even firing at U.S. forces. Carney said Tuesday that bin Laden was unarmed.