Nightly News

Nightly News   |  May 02, 2011

President Obama praises Special Ops

A day after the president announced that a special operatives team had killed the most wanted man in the world, more details emerged about the nerve-wracking mission that only lasted 40 minutes, but launched a new chapter in U.S. history. NBC Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd reports.

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

>>> to our chief white house correspondent, chuck todd , who can report on some of the background that went into this operation and how for this president, saying nothing of his predecessor, this has been a long time coming.

>> reporter: it sure has, brian. it was in august of 2007 , candidate obama talked about the idea if he ever got actual evidence on where to find bin laden , he wouldn't hesitate to go into pakistan. it caused him some problems on the campaign trail, but as president, he found himself doing just that, and as they say, the rest is the first draft of history.

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

>> a day after the president announced that a u.s. team had killed the most wanted man in the world, more details emerge. it all started with a tip last august.

>> after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community , i was briefed on a possible lead to bin laden .

>> reporter: that lead, a courier for osama bin laden owned a fortress like compound that intelligence officials believed had to be protecting someone significant. the national security team considered many plans. including a special forces attack.

>> there were different views we discussed and courses of action.

>> friday morning before exploring the tornado devastation, he gave a meeting. saturday afternoon, he monitoring the operation with live video and audio. the mission lasted 40 minutes. it was nerve-racking, especially since nobody was sure that bin laden was really there.

>> it was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time, i thing, in the lives of the people who were assembled there yesterday. the minutes passed like days.

>> there was even a full-scale replica of the compound built for rehearsals.

>> needless to say, when they hit the compound, they had already trained against it numerous times.

>> two blackhawk helicopters were in the team. they were supposed to however, not land, but one had a mechan mechanical failure and had to land. bin laden was shot and killed, as was a young woman and three others, including the courier. not until then did american officials notify the pakistanis. as the blackhawk helicopters departed, pakistani authorities scrambled fighter jets , but the u.s. team made it safely across the border. not until then did the officials notify the pakistanis. his body was recognized by dna and scarring. and less than 12 hours later, his body was brought to an aircraft carrier and buried at sea.

>> president obama and his national security team acted on the intelligent when it came in, and they deserve a lot of credit, too.

>> reporter: there's video footage of bin laden 's burial at sea. a few people at the white house have seen it, the president has not. i can report the president has talked personally to a couple of the navy s.e.a.l.s that participated in the killing and capture of bin laden .