“Geronimo … Geronimo. E.K.I.A. Enemy Killed in Action.”
The time in Abbottabad, Pakistan, was approximately 1 a.m. local time (3:51 p.m. EST) when Navy Adm. William McRaven, then the commander of SEAL Team 6, relayed word that Osama bin Laden had been killed.
At 4:06 p.m. on May 1, 2011 (12:36 a.m., May 2, in Pakistan), the White House’s official photographer, Pete Souza, took the following iconic photograph of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and the national-security team monitoring Operation Neptune Spear in real time.
“I need to watch this,” Obama is said to have remarked, hunkering down in a spare chair in one of the White House’s smaller conference rooms.
Obama entered the room as one of the two SEAL helicopters crash-landed at the bin Laden compound. “I was thinking that this is not an ideal start,” Obama would later tell CNN’s Peter Bergen. He described the call to strike the compound as “emblematic of presidential decision-making.”
“You’re always working with probabilities,” he said, “and you make a decision, not based on 100% certainty, but with the best information that you’ve got.”
[Seated in this picture from left to right: Vice President Biden, the President, Brig. Gen. Webb, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Standing, from left, are: Admiral Mike Mullen, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; Chief of Staff Bill Daley; Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President; Audrey Tomason Director for Counterterrorism; John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.]