A Politico Exclusive: Getting bin Laden - How The Mission Went Down

Tyler Durden's picture

From Politico's Mike Allen

Getting Osama bin Laden: How the mission went down

The helicopter
carrying Navy SEALs malfunctioned as it approached Osama bin Laden’s
compound at about 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday, stalling as it hovered. The pilot
set it down gently inside the walls, then couldn’t get it going again.

It was a heart-stopping moment for President Barack Obama, who had
been monitoring the raid in the White House Situation Room since 1 p.m.,
surrounded by members of his war cabinet.

“Obviously, everyone was thinking about Black Hawk Down and Desert One,” a senior administration official recalled.

The SEALs disembarked.

“The assault team 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 bombs on the crippled chopper and blew it up,
then lifted off in a reinforcement craft just before 4:15 p.m., capping
an astounding 40 minutes that gave the United States a tectonic victory
in the 10-year war on terror touched off by 9/11.

The sick chopper turned out to be a tiny wrinkle in an astounding
military and intelligence triumph. Bin Laden was shot in the face by the
SEALs during a firefight after resisting capture.

He was buried at sea less than 12 hours later. He was 54.

Here’s how the world’s most-hunted man was vanquished, as recounted by senior administration officials:

Contrary to the intelligence community’s long-held belief that bin
Laden was in a lawless “no man’s land” on the Pakistani border, bin
Laden had been hiding in a three-story house in a one-acre compound in
Abbottabad, about 35 miles north of Islamabad, the Pakistani capital.
Officials describe it as a relatively affluent community, with lots of
residents who are retired military.

“Bin Laden was living in a relatively comfortable place: a compound
valued at about $1 million,” a senior U.S. official told POLITICO. “Many
of his foot soldiers are located in some of the remotest regions of
Pakistan and live in austere conditions. You’ve got to wonder if they’re
rethinking their respect for their dead leader. He obviously wasn’t
living as one of them.”

Officials described the raid as the culmination of years of highly
advanced intelligence work that included the National
Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which specializes in imagery and
maps, and the National Security Agency (NSA), the “codemakers and
codebreakers” who can covertly watch and listen to conversations around
the world.

On June 2, 2009, just over four months into his presidency, Obama had
signed a memo to CIA Director Leon Panetta stating “in order to ensure
that we have expanded every effort, I direct you to provide me within 30
days a detailed operation plan for locating and bringing to justice”
bin Laden.

In the biggest break in a global pursuit of bin Laden that stretched
back to the Clinton administration, the U.S. discovered the compound by
following one of the terrorist’s personal couriers, identified by
terrorist detainees as one of the few al Qaeda couriers who bin Laden

“They indicated he might be living
with and protecting bin Laden,” a senior administration official told
reporters on a midnight conference call. “Detainees gave us his nom de
guerre, or his nickname, and identified him as both a protégé of Khalid
Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of September 11th, and a trusted
assistant of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the former number three of al Qaeda who
was captured in 2005.”

Officials didn’t learn the courier’s 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 compound had been relatively secluded when it was built in 2005 — on
the outskirts of the town center, at the end of a narrow dirt road.

“In the last six years, some residential homes have been built nearby,”
an official said on the call. “The main structure, a three-story
building, has few windows facing the outside of the compound. A terrace
on the third floor … has a seven-foot privacy wall. … [T]he property is
valued at approximately $1 million but has no telephone or Internet
service connected to it.”

Everything about the compound signaled that it was being used to hide someone important.

“It has 12- to 18-foot walls topped with barbed wire,” the official
said. “Internal wall sections — internal walls sectioned off different
portions of the compound to provide extra privacy. Access to the
compound is restricted by two security gates, and the residents of the
compound burn their trash, unlike their neighbors, who put the trash out
for collection.

For all their suspicions, U.S. officials never knew for sure that bin Laden was inside.

The White House’s original plan had been to bomb the house, but Obama ultimately decided against that.

“The helicopter raid was riskier. It was more daring,” an official told
POLITICO. “But he wanted proof. He didn’t want to just leave a pile of

Officials knew there were 22 people living there, and Obama wanted to be
sure not to kill civilians unnecessarily. So he ordered officials to
come up with an air-assault plan.

The SEALs held rehearsals of the raid on April 7 and April 13, with officials monitoring the action from Washington.

As the real thing 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.

Over the past seven weeks, Obama had chaired numerous National Security
Council meetings on the topic, including ones on March 14, March 29,
April 12, April 19 and April 28.

“In the lead up to this operation, the President convened at least 9
meetings with his national security Principals,” a senior administration
official e-mailed reporters. “Principals met formally an additional
five times themselves; and their Deputies met 7 times. This was in
addition to countless briefings on the subject during the President’s
intelligence briefings; and frequent consultations between the [White
House National Security Council], CIA, [Defense Department] and Joint
Staff. The President was actively involved in reviewing all facets of
the operation.”

At an April 19 meeting in the
Situation Room, the president approved the air assault as the course of
action. He ordered the force to fly to the region to conduct it.

Last Thursday, just after his East Room announcement that Panetta would
succeed Robert Gates as Defense Secretary, the president held another
meeting in the Situation Room, and went through everyone’s final

Obama didn’t announce his decision at the meeting, but kept his counsel overnight.

In the White House Diplomatic Room at 8:20 a.m. on Friday, before flying
down to view tornado destruction in Alabama, Obama informed Donilon
that he was authorizing the operation. Also attending the meeting were
Brennan, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley and Deputy National
Security Adviser Denis McDonough.

Donilon signed a written authorization to Panetta, who commanded the
strike team. Donilon convened a principals’ meeting at 3 p.m. to finish
the planning.

The raid was scheduled for Saturday, the day when Obama and most of the
West Wing was due at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
But weather pushed it to Sunday.

Top West Wing staff worked most of the day on the operation. Senior
national-security officials stayed in the Situation Room beginning at 1

The official’s e-mail gave this account of Obama’s day: “2:00pm the
President met with the Principals to review final preparations. … 3:32pm
the President returned to the Sit Room for an additional briefing. …
3:50pm the President first learns that UBL was tentatively identified. …
7:01pm the President learns that there’s a ‘high probability’ the HVT
[high-value target] was [bin Laden]. … 8:30pm the President receives
further briefings.”

In the Situation Room, the president was surrounded by Daley, Donilon,
McDonough, Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 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.

With the team still in the compound, the commander on the ground told a remote commander that they had found bin Laden.

Applause erupted in Washington.

Three other adult males were killed with bin Laden, officials said.

“We believe two were the couriers and the third was bin Laden’s adult
son,” an official said on the call. “There were several women and
children at the compound. One woman was killed when she was used as a
shield by a male combatant. Two other women were injured.”

U.S. forces took photographs of the body, and officials used
facial-recognition technology to compare them with known pictures of bin

It was him.

At 11:35 p.m., Obama stepped into the East Room and told the world: “Justice has been done.”

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Manthong's picture

He did not want to risk collateral damage to nieghboring Costsellobad.

Bill DeBurgh's picture

First big laugh of my day...

Milestones's picture

Author! Author! Bravo        Milestones

Milestones's picture

Author! Author! Bravo        Milestones

Sheens Liver's picture

Chortle, coffee out of my nose moment!

Bananamerican's picture

"DETAILS: Osama Bin Laden 'Shot in the Face' by Navy SEALS"

"officials used facial-recognition technology to compare them with known pictures of bin Laden."

I'm not some conspiracy nut but that must be SOME software!

Maybe Bonzai has some file photos of Bill the Cat he can "before and after" with OBL (or UBL as the case may be...)



Newtons Lawyer's picture

Shot in the face likely means a double tap to the forehead.  In other words, no trial, do not pass go, etc.  They wanted him dead, not captured.  

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

They really expect us to believe everything we hear on the news, I guess.

If you have any experience with Photoshop or make-up, please raise your hand now.  I have extensive PS experience personally, and yes, the photo could easily be faked by taking a picture of someone who has died via shots to the face, and merging the Osama half of the face and the top half of unfortunate face-blasted fellow's photo.

That there is no body, and no trial is MEGA suspicious!  They couldn't use tear gas or something to incapacitate him, huh?  No one wanted that $25m???  WTF?  Dumped at sea.... OK...

hurdygurdypauliepoodle's picture

Actually, only 12 year olds and under believe everything on the news.   It is distorted, dramatized,  sometimes given by big boobed blonde bimbos or ranting and raving idiots rather then somber and intelligent newscasters, played with so CNN and the like can turn 2 minutes of news into hours of drivel.   Adults should be more aware.

He was probably shot in the forehead.  A likely place when you are resisting arrest and hiding. 

Everyone can alter a photo, but that doesn't make you an expert.  Also the photo wasn't used to identify him, face recognition software was.   Please note how many people here asked for a picture... as proof!

Bringing the body back to America would have been like a trophy.  Why was it necessary?  As prooof?   Would people want to "view " the body?  (As many people as wanted to see rubble and destruction?)

DNA  kits are avaiable to be portable and to check DNA in a very short period of time.  it may not yet be available to use for the public, but you can be quite sure it can be available for the CIA et al.



We Westerners are disgusted by the lack of compassion of Islams, yet run to the street to cheer just as they have done.  Interesting that we think we are so much better. 

And those calling for 22 people inside to die, when out to kill only Bin Laden,  when just taking him out him alone was the right thing to do.  Why are are people here upset they didn't just bomb it?  ( are they the same people who want proof?)

The people on this thread are not "experts" at much other than conspiracy theories.  Are there many here who can actually prove they are over 12?  Thus far I haven't seen much proof.  If you take off your tinfoil hats every now and then, your heads might not  be so pointy....


Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Bro, I hope they are paying you real good money to sell out your fellow human.

Your post reads like something straight out of a CIA manual, first try to establish sympathy/credibility and then deliver (or in this case, simply repeat) the disinformation.  A lie told often enough, right?

You say: "Adults should be more aware."  And then you go along to explain why you believe every part of the official story, and why people should be LESS skeptical?  WTF?  Kind of an inconsistent message, don't you think?

Why do we need to see the body?  So that we know we aren't being lied to!!!  That this doesn't occur to the MIC (Military Industrial Complex) is patently unbelievable.  They know people will want proof, but 'discard the body in the sea' without so much as a picture released to the public?

hurdygurdypauliepoodle's picture

Yup... the readership here is oficially the tinhat crowd...


(but so sorry you can't recognize intelligence and logic anymore.  I see and serve plenty of you in the soup kitchen I volunteer at though!)

Bringin It's picture

Nice response to the sociopathic.  But will they get it?

Bro, I hope they are paying you real good money to sell out your fellow human.

davidgn's picture

Or maybe this is the real deal after all: spectator.org/archives/2009/03/13/osama-bin-elvis

eurusdog's picture

FMJ rounds would leave a nice little hole in the front. Extensive bruising and would show on the face but other then that, it's the back of the hear that would be jacked up. Even if they weren't using FMJ rounds, it's the back of the head that gets totally messed up. entyr into the eye socket woudl also leave less damage to the front of the face. Either way, ZH has more conspiracy freaks than I had ever thought possible. LMAO

gorillaonyourback's picture



looking for the highest ever, level of graphic artist,  start date NOW please hurry

apply at the White House


TruthInSunshine's picture

No one provided a suitable ending, thus I shall do so:

And they all lived happily ever after. The end.

TheGoodDoctor's picture

OMFG!!!!!!! This is so funny! Thanks for the laugh.

dark pools of soros's picture

Abbottobad, Costsellogood?  Who's on second HVT?

Spirit Of Truth's picture

Obama will be the object of endlessly glowing new stories of his heroism, but is this true?


Call me paranoid, but somehow I suspect otherwise.  Meanwhile, Israel might be on the  verge of taking out Iran's nuclear program:


luciusfargo's picture

At this point, calling you paranoid would be a compliment. 

breezer1's picture

just because you know that you are paranoid doesn't mean someone isn't watching you.

RedMeansGo's picture

reads more like the first draft of the Manchurian Candidate script

serotonindumptruck's picture

This article reads like a poorly written Tom Clancy novel...or something satirical from The Onion.

trav7777's picture

yeah it's piss poor...all this "Navy SEAL" shit like out of the movies.

This isn't the SEALs' mission profile at all.  They were about a thousand miles from water.  Delta guys are who do this crap.  And the CIA has its own specops crew as well.

Cangaroo.TNT's picture

Actually, Seals do not only do amphibious assaults.  Also, a lot of the special operation teams share "assets."  So it could have been a combined force, but lead by the Seals.  In fact, the heli pilots are not Seals.  So, it's just easier to say it was a Seal operation, especially if the operators were predominantly Seals, if not exclusively.

still kicking's picture

Seals carry a lot more fire power than any other special forces units.  Rangers are badasses no doubt, but they don't go in for a firefight, those guys are gone and you are dead before anyone knows they were there.

dark pools of soros's picture

need more Ninjas Pirates & Vikings

Silver Shield's picture

Just how stupid do they think we are burying the most wanted man in the world at sea?!



nabi's picture

They think that we are very stupid, or at least impotent to do anything about it...

Things that go bump's picture

impotent is as impotent does.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Anybody else notice that he was very conveniently "shot in the face" while resisting arrest?

OnTheWaterfront's picture

The Isrealies did the same thing with Eichmans body.

Barry Dingle's picture

These weak, flawed, bullshit narratives are given on purpose. They want to encourage our conspiracy theories because it makes us look stupid, even though we're right. So they introduce these obviously nonsensical bullshit stories in order to provoke us - then they laugh when we point it out. The sheep will believe it and we won't, but the sheep will think we're crazy and won't listen to us. Exactly as planned. The idea is to keep the smart poor guys like us from exposing them until it's too late.

in4mayshun's picture

They don't think we're stupid, they know we're stupid. Did you see all those morons partying last night? They'll accept illegal wars an tyranny much easier now.

chumbawamba's picture

It's now quite clear to me what happened: some 4chan prankster sent it a "tip" that Osama bin Whoagain was holed up in some mansion in Abbotobad (he just made it up but it turns out it's a real place...whoulda thunk?)  So they assemble a crack crew to storm the compound that most closely matched this "intelligence".  These roided up testosterone-laden yahoos, so worked up over killing A-rabs, got ahead of themselves and started shooting through the walls of the helicopter before they even landed, disabling the craft and forcing a crash landing.  To hide evidence of their idiocy, they blow up the helicopter, then proceed to shoot up the place from every imaginable direction.  In the end, they find the place empty, except for some paid staff that long since ran off through the front door, leaving only Fifi the french poodle of the mansion owner to fend for herself.  However, Fifi being no match for the US Navy, she was picked off and then buried at sea, it being agreed that the dog had a striking enough resemblance to their target to call it "Mission Accomplished".

The End.

I am Chumbawamba.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

These roided up testosterone-laden yahoos, so worked up over killing A-rabs, got ahead of themselves and started shooting through the walls of the helicopter before they even landed, disabling the craft and forcing a crash landing. 

Brings new meaning to the term 'premature ejeculation'. :>)

falak pema's picture

Fifi will go down in history as the first doggy martyr to have died for a dude who had one poodle and thirty two feminine doodles...the french should name a dish after this martyr dog, Jeanne of Abbotabad?, to be only eaten on a porcelain plate and not in a take-away doggy bag!

Banjo's picture

chumbawamba: what an awe inspiring "made for TV" moment.

  • "Mission accomplished" indeed.
  • Where is our Jessica Lynch!!

The only thing buried at sea was the truth. Much like after 9/11 the biggest crime scene in the world all the primary evidence of steel girders was shipped off overseas to be melted down.

Finally Osama better not come back in some "Christmas special" just in time to implement some new draconian security measure like airport pat downs or ongoing surveillance monitoring of citizens via Patriot (WOOT!! WHO-AH!!) act extension.


chumbawamba's picture

Oh, don't be such a damn cynic.  Why, I'm sure our Fearless Leader is preparing at this very moment to announce to the nation that, our enemy and head Doer of Evil having been vanquished, the War of Terror is now over and we can all go back to consuming conspicuously and smoking on airplanes.

I am Chumbawamba.

Cathartes Aura's picture

love the poodle reference, subtle. . .

amrka is carrying on with hollywood-style scripted rulership, broadcasting the narratives in minute details so that even the least imaginative can have their minds planted with a pretty picture that will "make sense" to them as this insane machine lumbers forward.

anyone remember the movie Brazil, where the highways were lined with massive "billboards" depicting lovely homes & gardens, and behind the billboards lay chaotic wastelands?

the above post, this scripted fantasy, with all the emotions THERE for you to FEEL, courtesy of the banker.govs that control "reality" (insert trademark)

disabledvet's picture

nope.  "shot in the head."  you "waitin' for Satan," too?  "they GOT him."

Ahmeexnal's picture

So which is it? US has body? Or buried at sea?