I’m a little too stunned at the moment to think coherently. But this is huge news. I woke up at about 3 a.m. and checked my computer to find tons of emails from news sources, hundreds of tweets, and dozens of facebook posts confirming that Osama Bin-Laden had been killed by US Special Forces in Pakistan.
As an American, I’m ecstatic. This is a major victory for the US. Not it terms of operation security or reducing the threat of terrorism, but in building moral, hope, and in sending terrorist organizations around the world a clear message: no matter how well hidden you think you are, we can find you, we can kill you.
I want to congratulate the Special Force which carried out the mission which extreme professionalism, precision, and determination. We as Americans are indebted to you for doing the job so many of us are unwilling to undertake, and I’d also like to thank the intelligence agents who so tirelessly worked over the past decade to piece together the fragments which ultimately led to tonight. We most likely won’t ever know your names or be able to personally thank you, but, thank you.
Edit: Reading through Mike Allen’s morning blast email (Politico Playbook) provided some great detail of how the raid on the Bin-Laden complex occured.
EXCLUSIVE – THE TICK-TOCK: INSIDE THE SITUATION ROOM – Obama rejected original plan for bombing; wanted proof – Navy SEALS held two rehearsals last month, with war cabinet monitoring from White House – Raid planned for Saturday but pushed off a day because of weather – Chopper stalled as it hovered over the compound – Forces blew it up and left in a reinforcement craft — How the fiery raid went down, as told to Playbook by senior administration officials: The compound — about an acre, with a three-story house – is in Abbottabad, a suburb of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. Officials were very suspicious of the 12- to 18-foot-high walls, and seven-foot wall on the upper balcony. Residents burned their trash, and there was no telephone or Internet connection to the compound, valued at $1 million. But officials never had anything directly proving that Osama bin Laden was living there. The U.S. had discovered the compound by following a personal courier for bin Laden. Officials didn’t learn his name until 2007, then it took two years to find him and track him back to this compound, which was discovered in August 2010. “It was a “Holy cow!” moment,” an official said.
The original plan for the raid was to bomb the house, but President Obama ultimately decided against that. “The helicopter raid was riskier. It was more daring,” an official said. “But he wanted proof. He didn’t want to just leave a pile of rubble.” Officials also knew there were 22 people living there, and Obama wanted to be sure not to kill all the civilians. So he ordered officials to come up with an air-assault plan. The forces held rehearsals of the raid on April 7 and April 13, with officials monitoring the action from Washington.
As the actual raid approached, daily meetings were held of the national security principals, chaired by National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, and their deputies, chaired by John Brennan, the president’s counterterrorism adviser. At an April 19 meeting in the Situation Room, the president approved the assault, in principle, as the course of action. He ordered the force to fly to the region to conduct it. On April 28, just after his East Room announcement that CIA Director Leon Panetta would be succeeding Robert Gates as Defense Secretary, the president held another meeting in the Situation Room, and went through everyone’s final recommendations. He didn’t announce his decision at that time, but kept his counsel overnight.
At 8:20 a.m. Friday, the president informed National Security Adviser Tom Donilon that he was authorizing the operation. Donilon signed a written authorization to CIA Director Leon Panetta, who commanded the strike team. The raid was scheduled for Saturday, but weather pushed it to yesterday. The Navy SEALs arrived at the compound at 3:30 p.m. ET yesterday and were gone by 4:15 p.m. Obama monitored the operation all day from the Situation Room, surrounded by Donilon, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough, Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and others. Panetta was at CIA headquarters, where he had turned his conference room into a command center that gave him constant contact with the tactical leaders of the strike team.
The helicopter carrying the assault force appeared to stall as it hovered over the compound, producing heart-stopping moments for the officials back in Washington. Aides thought fearfully of “Black Hawk Down” and “Desert One,” the failed Iranian hostage rescue mission. The pilot put the bird down gently in the compound, but couldn’t get it going again. The assault force disembarked. “They went ahead and raided the compound, even though they didn’t know if they would have a ride home,” an official said. The special forces put some bombs on the helicopter and blew it up. Bin Laden resisted the assault force, and was shot in the face during a firefight. With the team still in the compound, the commander on the ground told another commander that they had found Osama bin Laden. Applause erupted in Washington. Reinforcements came and picked up the SEALs, who had scavenged every shred and pixel of possible intelligence material from the house. U.S. forces took photographs of the body, and officials used facial-recognition technology to compare them with known pictures of bin Laden. It was him.
Source: Allen, Mike. Playbook. Politico.com http://www.politico.com/playbook/