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
trusted.

“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
rubble.”

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
recommendations.

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
p.m.

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
Laden.

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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AldoHux_IV's picture

Buried the guy at sea eh? Sounds fishy to me.

AldoHux_IV's picture

It sounds like Obama likes playing 'cobra commander' more than a president dedicated to bring the promises he made on the campaign trail to fruition-- well countless dead US and international soldiers, $444billion dollars, 10+ years of state terrorism, and we are no closer to solving society's greater problems.

Who'd a thunk that a nobel peace prize recipient would be more focused on war games than bringing peace-- the assholes over in Sweden should award him the nobel prize in economics-- maybe he'll be able to bomb the economy back into revival-- oh wait the assholes over at the fed are already doing that to the dollar.

Mission accomplished, yes we can, and 4 more years of this crap.

Fix It Again Timmy's picture

Scrambling out of a helicopter with .50 Barrets must have been quite a choreographed ballet...

swmnguy's picture

To: Al Quaeda #2 guys (all 4,378 of you)

From: HR

re.: New Technology Policy, effective as of now

 

All iPhones must be discarded and securely destroyed immediately.  That is all.

 

(Sorry if someone else already came up with this gag hours ago.  I stole it from my 13 year-old son).

unnamed enemy's picture

i think this circus acieved its goals - the masses now believe more than ever that Obama did this to aid his reelection - thus reinforcing the belief that elections matter.

 

The Heart's picture

Story of FAKE Birth Certificate and FAKE Ben laden death scam becoming biggest search term on Google.: OBAMA BIRTH CERTIFICATE IS A FAKE / OSAMA BIN LADEN DEATH A FAKE TOO.

What is really happening as the media-illusionists keep your attention on these lies that are getting more incredible as time goes on?

1. Is it the continued dollar crash?

2. Prep for more war?

3. A possible HAARP manipulation in the Madrid Fault area?

4. More towards the final solution as planed? http://www.zoklet.net/totse/en/politics/international_banking_money_laun...

5. More Distraction from the real possible deal of Comet Elenin and associates or the five other incoming objects this coming fall? http://elenin.org/levy-YU55.php

6. A coming Jericho/Blackjack type exercise/event coming?

7. Iran or Syria to spark a huge region wide war?

8. More tectonic type earth changes?

9. Continued ignorance of the Fukushima radioactive contamination of the entire planet?

10. All of the above?

 

Hummm....things to ponder...days left to make the best of...preparations to do and a one day at a time attitude in prayerful gratitude for the light that shines on all this insanity...and ZH where the more intelligent of the species gathers to comment on it all. Open minded discussion is a good thing.

What was it Spock would say?

-V-Live well and prosper.

 

 

css1971's picture

Wow. Convenient!

Now they can cut the military budget down to 1/10th the size, balance the budget, get rid of the deficit enttirely and get back to a non war footing in the economy!

Better sell my commodities immediately!

 

slewie the pi-rat's picture

well.  that's the end of that, eh, zeroHeadZ?

G Mann's picture

I have a photo to share, I think you know what it is....dont ask me where I got it.  I dont know how to upload it though, I need one person that knows how to upload a photo to PM me and I will give it to them.  No tricks, just a photo of the end result.

mkkby's picture

Anybody remember Jessica Lynch?  That's all that needs to be said.

still kicking's picture

For everyone saying Bin Ladin died years ago of kidney failure, I have one question for you all.  If this guy is a hero in Pakistan and Iran and he can convince thousands of poor, uneducated easily influenced young men to go fight and die for him do you think maybe just maybe he convinced someone to give him a FUCKING KIDNEY?  It's not an exceptionally complicated surgery these days.  Who knows how long that asshole has been dead but I'd bet my left nut it wasn't from kidney failure.  I'm nobody and I could have a new kidney by next week, installed, if I had a complete lack of morals.

laosuwan's picture

When Obama spoke about the killing of bin Laden Sunday night, he was shameless. Every other word was “I.” I am really surprised that Obama didn’t insist that bin Laden be brought to Manhattan to stand trial. Seriously. Obama can puff himself up and shamelessly strut like peacock, claiming credit for the death of Osama bin Laden, but Gd bless our troops. Hats off to the US military that has been relentless, dogged and brave for ten years in their mission to kill that devout bastard.

In fact, it was intelligence gleaned from interrogating Gitmo detainees, specifically Khalid 
Sheik Muhammad, that led to capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden. These are the very techniques that Obama and Holder have stopped and fought to reverse. Obama railed against these interrogations and wanted to prosecute the CIA interrogators who led to this capture.

Obama’s chest pounding leads to some troubling conclusions. If he takes credit, that causes other problems. Remember: when Muslims were killing innocent people in Afghanistan because fringe pastor Terry Jones burned a Koran in Florida, Obama said that Jones should curtail his freedom of expression, implying that he would be responsible if Muslims killed anyone because he burned a Koran. But if we follow Obama’s line of thinking, if Muslims go jihad now and start killing people because of the death of bin Laden, who will be responsible for those deaths? Barack Hussein Obama.

How does he reconcile such crippled thinking? Preserving freedom of speech and freedom of expression is just as precious and essential in this war on our civilization as avenging those who died for those very things (our very way of life) in the jihadist attack on America on September 11, 2001.

Besides taking credit, Obama said: “We must also reaffirm that the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims.”

Pure nonsense. Whether we like it or not, Osama bin Laden was a Muslim leader. Whether the Zuhdi Jassers of the world like it or not, Osama was a Muslim leader. Whether the violent Muslims of the world like it or not (and they do), he was a Muslim leader. Muslims in Indonesia were wearing Osama bin Laden t-shirts when we were over there helping them after the tsunami. He was a beloved figure to millions in the Muslim world because of his devotion and purity to the Islamic jihad.

And if he wasn’t a Muslim leader, why was he buried within twenty-four hours of his death “in keeping with Islamic tradition”? We washed and cleaned this monster? Outrageous. He should have been put behind a wall at the 911 Memorial and Museum, the very thing they are doing with the human remains of our loved ones who were killed there.

Also, the question must be raised: if Osama bin Laden was not a Muslim leader, but was instead a “mass murderer of Muslims,” why was the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan protecting him? And they were: Osama was not living in a cave. He was living in a mansion outside of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, and that’s where the American forces found and killed him. Osama was living in a splendid complex, a fortress that was built specifically for him near Islamabad. If that is so, then clearly the ISI, Pakistan’s spy service, knew where he was all along. He has apparently been there since 2005. He was there with his son and his youngest wife. So there is no way that the Pakistani government didn’t know that he was there.

Why now? Why did Pakistan allow this to happen after years of sheltering bin Laden? What did Barack Obama have to give up to the Pakistanis in order to make this campaign-bolstering deal for Osama bin Laden? Amid all the celebrations, there is something worrisome about the death of Osama bin Laden – and that is what we don’t know about it.

laosuwan's picture

When Obama spoke about the killing of bin Laden Sunday night, he was shameless. Every other word was “I.” I am really surprised that Obama didn’t insist that bin Laden be brought to Manhattan to stand trial. Seriously. Obama can puff himself up and shamelessly strut like peacock, claiming credit for the death of Osama bin Laden, but Gd bless our troops. Hats off to the US military that has been relentless, dogged and brave for ten years in their mission to kill that devout bastard.

In fact, it was intelligence gleaned from interrogating Gitmo detainees, specifically Khalid 
Sheik Muhammad, that led to capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden. These are the very techniques that Obama and Holder have stopped and fought to reverse. Obama railed against these interrogations and wanted to prosecute the CIA interrogators who led to this capture.

Obama’s chest pounding leads to some troubling conclusions. If he takes credit, that causes other problems. Remember: when Muslims were killing innocent people in Afghanistan because fringe pastor Terry Jones burned a Koran in Florida, Obama said that Jones should curtail his freedom of expression, implying that he would be responsible if Muslims killed anyone because he burned a Koran. But if we follow Obama’s line of thinking, if Muslims go jihad now and start killing people because of the death of bin Laden, who will be responsible for those deaths? Barack Hussein Obama.

How does he reconcile such crippled thinking? Preserving freedom of speech and freedom of expression is just as precious and essential in this war on our civilization as avenging those who died for those very things (our very way of life) in the jihadist attack on America on September 11, 2001.

Besides taking credit, Obama said: “We must also reaffirm that the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims.”

Pure nonsense. Whether we like it or not, Osama bin Laden was a Muslim leader. Whether the Zuhdi Jassers of the world like it or not, Osama was a Muslim leader. Whether the violent Muslims of the world like it or not (and they do), he was a Muslim leader. Muslims in Indonesia were wearing Osama bin Laden t-shirts when we were over there helping them after the tsunami. He was a beloved figure to millions in the Muslim world because of his devotion and purity to the Islamic jihad.

And if he wasn’t a Muslim leader, why was he buried within twenty-four hours of his death “in keeping with Islamic tradition”? We washed and cleaned this monster? Outrageous. He should have been put behind a wall at the 911 Memorial and Museum, the very thing they are doing with the human remains of our loved ones who were killed there.

Also, the question must be raised: if Osama bin Laden was not a Muslim leader, but was instead a “mass murderer of Muslims,” why was the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan protecting him? And they were: Osama was not living in a cave. He was living in a mansion outside of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, and that’s where the American forces found and killed him. Osama was living in a splendid complex, a fortress that was built specifically for him near Islamabad. If that is so, then clearly the ISI, Pakistan’s spy service, knew where he was all along. He has apparently been there since 2005. He was there with his son and his youngest wife. So there is no way that the Pakistani government didn’t know that he was there.

Why now? Why did Pakistan allow this to happen after years of sheltering bin Laden? What did Barack Obama have to give up to the Pakistanis in order to make this campaign-bolstering deal for Osama bin Laden? Amid all the celebrations, there is something worrisome about the death of Osama bin Laden – and that is what we don’t know about it.