The moments that this famous photograph captures were extremely tense moments. The Chief Official White House Photographer for President Barack Obama, Pete Souza, took this photograph in the “Situation Room” of the White House at 4:06 PM on May 1, 2011. The Situation Room is a conference hall in the basement of the West Wing of the White House. The US President and his advisers use this room to monitor and deal with crises at home and abroad. From this room, Obama and his team were monitoring a very risky military operation that successfully terminated in the killing of Osama bin Laden, the world’s most dreaded terrorist.
Laden, the mastermind of September 11, 2001, attacks on World Trade Center was hiding inside a building in Abbottabad of Pakistan. Most people had believed that Osama was taking shelter in mountain caves somewhere on Afghanistan-Pakistan border. However, to everyone’s surprise, American security agencies located him in a beautiful garrison town in Abbottabad. Americans were 50 to 80% sure that Osama was hiding in the said building.
The US President had a very tough decision on his hands. And Barack Obama decided to conduct a quick strike to get elusive Osama. Navy Seal Team 6, a special team of the US Navy SEALs, was tasked to “kill or capture Osama” operation. This operation was code named Operation Neptune Spear and the target, Laden, was being referred to as Geronimo. About two dozen members of Navy SEALs were heliborne in the dead of night in Abbottabad.
The SEAL team killed Osama, did a DNA test to verify that they got the right man, bagged the body and got out of Pakistan in less than an hour. Thereafter, the body of Laden was buried in the sea at an undisclosed site.
A classified document seen in this photograph has been obscured by the White House before release of the photograph. The document lies on the keyboard of an open laptop in front of Hillary Clinton. The following people are visible in the photograph:
Seated, from left to right, are:
- Vice President Joe Biden,
- President Barack Obama,
- Brigadier General Marshall Webb, USAF, Assistant Commanding General, Joint Special Operations Command;
- Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor;
- Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State; and
- Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense.
Standing, from left to right, are:
- Admiral Mike Mullen, USN, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff;
- Tom Donilon, National Security Advisor ;
- Bill Daley, Chief of Staff;
- 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;
- James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence.
An Oscar winning film was made on the events of finding and killing Osama Bin Laden. The movie is named Zero Dark Thirty and it was directed by Kathryn Bigelow.
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