Nightly News   |  May 02, 2011

Inside the Situation Room: 'We got him'

Before addressing the nation, President Obama informed his staffers of Osama bin Laden's death. "We got him," he announced, according to a senior aide, as the room broke into applause. NBC's Savannah Guthrie reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> last night, when it happened, a bit in advance, a handful of journalists received phone calls from the white house telling us to get to our offices and studios and a big announcement was coming. and what a long night it was in the office. savannah guthrie is with us. she has exclusive details behind the scenes as to what was unfolding.

>> we learned that the special ops team practiced this raid in early april twice add a mock compound here in u.s. soil. they were prepared to take bin laden alive, but expected him to fight back and die. he was shot twice in the left eye by a commander who saw him and instantly recognized him as osama bin laden .

>> i thing we can all agree, this is a good day for america.

>> the president at a medal of honor ceremony today, one day after ordering u.s. forces to take out america's most wanted terrorist.

>> the world is safer. it's a better place because of the death of osama bin laden .

>> today, aides are describing the incredibly tense moments inside the situation room as nbc first reported, the president was able to monitor the 40-minute operation as it unfolded, getting what a top u.s. official described as audio and visual updates from the ground.

>> it was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time in the lives of the people who were assembled here yesterday.

>> reporter: getting word of bin laden 's capture, a senior aide said applause broke out in the situation room . the president remarked, we got him. then, minutes before midnight , nearly ten years after that awful september day, the president addressed the nation.

>> the american people did not choose this fight. it came to our shores. we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al qaeda 's terror, justice has been done.

>> "usa!"

>> outside the gates, a spontaneous outpouring as people gathered to rejoice.

>> the last thing osama bin laden saw on this earth was a small team of americans who shot him.

>> reporter: officials found bin laden by tracking his longtime trusted courier, in august, finding him in a compund outside of islamabad. valued at over $1 million, but with no phone or internet service . officials believe it was custom built to hide osama bin laden . the president considered four different options, ultimately rejecting a plan to have stealth bomber bombers destroy the plant.

>> the president had to evaluate the strength of the situation and made one of the gutsiest calls of any president in recent memory.

>> reporter: on friday morning, the president gave the official order and then went on with business, touring storm-ravages alabama, giving a commencement speech speech, even giving the annual white house correspondents dinner .

>> people think bin laden is hiding in the hindu cush, but did you know that every day from 4:00 to 5:00, he hosts a show on c-span.

>> they had a code name for success, it was geronimo , i can report tonight the actual transmission from the ground commander to the operational commander in afghanistan, he said for god and country , geronimo , geronimo , geronimo .

>> it was a patriotic outpouring sknrx it started there in the situation room . savannah guthrie with her reporting from the