M A I N   N E W S

team Obama watched Encounter live

Washington, May 3
For a small group of top US officials assembled at the White House’s Situation Room on Sunday afternoon, it was one of the most anxious periods in their lives, as they monitored on a real-time basis the operation against Osama bin Laden in a mansion in Abbottabad.

According to a report in the New York Times, as the helicopters raced over Pakistani territory, the President and his advisers gathered in the Situation Room of the White House to monitor the operation as it unfolded. Much of the time was spent in silence.

Mr Obama looked “stone faced,” one aide said. Vice- president Joseph R. Biden Jr. fingered his rosary beads. “The minutes passed like days,” recalled John O. Brennan, the White House counter-terrorism chief. The code name for Bin Laden was “Geronimo”.

The President and his advisers watched Leon E. Panetta, the CIA director, on a video screen, narrating from his agency’s headquarters across the Potomac River what was happening in faraway Pakistan. “They’ve reached the target,” he said.

Minutes passed. “We have a visual on Geronimo,” Panetta said. A few minutes later: “Geronimo EKIA”. Enemy Killed In Action.

There was silence in the Situation Room. Finally, the President spoke up. “We got him.”

According to another report, Obama was watching the operation when Laden was shot in the left eye. The footage of the battle is also believed to have shown one of Osama’s wives acting as a human shield to protect him as he blasted away with an AK-47. She died along with three other men, including one of Laden’s sons.

Brennan refused to give details of how this real-time monitoring was done, but did indicate it included visuals. “It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time, I think, in the lives of the people who were assembled here. The minutes passed like days, and the President was very concerned about the security of our personnel,” he said. — Agencies





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