“The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden,” President Barack Obama has just announced.
Word that Obama would be making an announcement started spreading around 10:30 p.m. EST. (News coverage would eventually cut into the last bit of Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, adding a final, albeit likely unplanned, coda to Obama’s skewering of Trump at Saturday night’s White House Correspondent’s Association dinner.) But Keith Urbahn, chief of staff for the office of the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, appears to be the first to have broken the news that Osama bin Laden, 54, the man responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001, is dead–via his @keithurbahn Twitter feed.
As CNN bounced between various reporters guessing at details and the New York Times website crumbled under a massive flood of clicks (at the time of our first post, it was nearly impossible to get on the site, impossible to access the initial story–a seven-page bin Laden obituary was published shortly thereafter), Urbahn was tweeting what he’s found out from his sources.
For example, he believes it’s unlikely, if the U.S. had an inside intelligence source that bin Laden would have been killed via drone attack.
… And indeed, Obama confirmed that after years ago authorizing Leon Panetta, who, it was reported last week, is about to become Obama’s Secretary of Defense, to make the killing of bin Laden “top priority” in the war against al Qaeda.
“Last August, I was briefed about a possible lead,” Obama said in a speech Sunday evening at about 11:30 p.m. EST. “It took many months to run this thead to ground.” Obama said the U.S. military had found that bin Laden had been “hiding within a compound”–a mansion eight times the size of others nearby–in Abbottabad, Pakistan, an affluent area where many retired military officials lived.
He was killed after a firefight between bin Laden’s forces and “a small team of Americans,” Obama said. Later it was reported that the 40-minute operation was conducted by Navy Seals in helicopters and on the ground. No Americans were harmed, and the U.S. forces killed bin Laden and took possession of his body.
Obama reportedly gave the order to attack the compound in a National Security meeting as the world media watched the Royal wedding.