Rare behind-the-scenes images released by the US Monday showed top Administration officials monitoring Bin Laden's assassination live from the White House Situation Room.
The photographs show both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton intently watching live images of the operation as it unfolds on the screens in front of them.
Tense moments - top officials monitor op (Photo: White House)
The president's counter terror chief, John Brennan, said that Obama had expressed relief that elite forces had finally gotten bin Laden without losing any more American lives.
"It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time in the lives of the people who were assembled here," Brennan said from the White House. "The minutes passed like days."
Obama himself later delivered the news of bin Laden's killing in a dramatic White House statement. "Justice has been done," he declared.
Pakistan faces questions
Senior US officials said bin Laden was killed toward the end of the firefight, which took place in a building at a compound north of Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. His body was put aboard the USS Carl Vinson and then placed into the North Arabian Sea. An official familiar with the operation said bin Laden fired on US forces and was hit by return fire.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because aspects of the operation remain classified.
The official said two dozen SEALs in night-vision goggles dropped into the high-walled compound in Pakistan by sliding down ropes from Chinook helicopters in the overnight raid. The SEALs retrieved bin Laden's body and turned the remaining detainees over to Pakistani authorities.
Expressions of relief gave way to questions about how bin Laden was able to live in a Pakistani city overflowing with military and intelligence personnel.
The administration was investigating who within Pakistan provided support to bin Laden to allow him to live, remarkably, in a fortified compound in a military town, not tucked away in a cave as often rumored.
Critics have long accused elements of Pakistan's security establishment of protecting bin Laden, though Islamabad has always denied it, and did so again.
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