Inside the Situation Room with President Obama as they watched live the operation to take out Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden, the elusive terror mastermind killed by Navy SEALs in an intense firefight, was hunted down based on information first gleaned years ago from detainees at secret CIA prison sites.

Picture below from the Tolbert Report:

President Barack Obama (2nd L) and Vice President Joe Biden (L), along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission againstOsama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. Also pictured are Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (2nd R) and Defense Secretary Robert Gates (R). Please note: A classified document seen in this photograph has been obscured at source. REUTERS/White House/Pete Souza/Handout« Read less

In this image released by the White House and digitally altered by the source to diffuse the paper in front of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House

President Barack Obama listens during a meeting ...

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama listens during one in a series of meetings discussing the mission against Osama bin Laden, in the Situation Room of the White HouseMay 1, 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama talks with members ...

U.S. President Barack Obama talks with members of the national security team at the conclusion of one in a series of meetings discussing the mission againstOsama bin Laden, in the Situation Room of the White House May 1, 2011. Picture taken May 1, 2011.

Michael Scherer of Time Magazine reported yesterday: 

The people who gathered Sunday in the Situation Room know all about high-pressure situations. But this was something else. For 40 minutes, the President and his senior aides could do nothing but watch the video screens and listen to the operation and ensuing firefight on the other side of the world. At Barack Obama’s orders, special operations teams were invading the airspace of a foreign country, targeting a compound with unknown occupants, and hoping to get out unscathed. The target was America’s No. 1 enemy, Osama bin Laden. But no one knew for sure if he was even there.

The President sat stone-faced through much of the events. Several of his aides, however, were pacing. For long periods of time, nobody said a thing, as everyone waited for the next update. In the modern age, Presidents can experience their own military actions like a video game, except that they have no control over the events. They cannot, and would not, intervene to contact the commanders running the operation. So when word came that a helicopter had been grounded, a sign that the plan was already off course, the tension increased. (See pictures of Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan hideout.)

Minutes later, more word came over the transom. “We’ve IDed Geronimo,” said a disembodied voice, using the agreed-upon code name for America’s most wanted enemy, Osama bin Laden. Word then came that Geronimo had been killed. Only when the last helicopter lifted off some minutes later did the President know that his forces had sustained no casualties. (See pictures of people celebrating Osama bin Laden’s death.)

The decision to attack had been made days earlier by the President. He gathered his senior intelligence, military and diplomatic team together in the Situation Room on Thursday afternoon to hear his options. There were already concerns about operational security. At that point, hundreds of people had already been read into the potential whereabouts of bin Laden. Any leak would have ruined the entire mission.

The intelligence professionals said they did not know for sure that bin Laden was in the compound. Obama went around the table asking everyone to state their opinion. He quizzed his staff about worst case scenarios – the possibility of civilian casualties, a hostage situation, a diplomatic blow-up with Pakistan, a downed helicopter. He was presented with three options: Wait to gather more intelligence, attack with targeted bombs from the air, or go in on the ground with troops. The room was divided about 50-50, said a person in the room. John Brennan, the President’s senior counter-terrorism adviser, supported a ground strike, as did the operational people, including Leon Panetta at the CIA. Others called for more time. In the end, about half of the senior aides supported a helicopter assault. The other half said either wait, or strike from above. (See TIME’s al-Qaeda covers.)

Obama left the meeting without signaling his intent. He wanted to sleep on it. At about 8:00 a.m. on Friday, just before he boarded a helicopter that would take him to tour tornado damage in Alabama, Obama called his senior aides into the Diplomatic Room. He told them his decision: A helicopter assault. At that point, the operation was taken out of his hands. He was trusting the fate of his presidency to luck. He was putting his presidency in the hands of history.

U.S. President Barack Obama talks on the phone ...

U.S. President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office before making a statement to the media about the mission against Osama bin Laden, atthe White House May 1, 2011. The president made a series of calls to former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and others to inform them of the successful mission. Picture taken May 1, 2011.

In this image released by the White House, from ...

In this image released by the White House, from left, James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, CIA DirectorLeon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Vice President Joe Biden listen as President Barack Obama delivers a televised speech from the East Room at the White House in Washington on Sunday, May 1, 2011,

In this image released by the White House and ...

In this image released by the White House and digitally altered by the source to diffuse the paper in front of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, Sunday, May 1, 2011, in Washington

Barack Obama, Tom Donilon

In this image released by the White House, President Barack Obama makes a point during one in a series of meetings in the Situation Room of the White Housediscussing the mission against Osama bin Laden, Sunday, May 1, 2011. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon is pictured at right

______________________________________

A crowd of hundreds celebrated out front of the White House after President Obama announced the death of al Qaeda figurehead Osama bin Laden. Chip Reid reports.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: