Killing Bin Laden

How the raid unfolded at the White House, in Pakistan, and online

Start: (All times EDT. Pakistan is 9 hours ahead)
May 1
11 AM – 1 PM

The White House cancels Sunday’s schedule and orders sandwiches from Costco. President Obama’s advisers begin gathering in the Situation Room. Brigadier General Marshall Webb sets up a video link with a stealth drone flying over Abbottabad
2 PM
Obama returns from a game of golf and meets with advisers to review final preparations
2 PM – 3 PM
Two Black Hawk helicopters lift off from Jalalabad Airfield in Afghanistan carrying 23 SEALs and a dog named Cairo
3 PM – 4 PM
Four backup helicopters take off carrying additional SEALs and fuel
@reallyvirtual tweets: “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)”
4 PM
After reaching Abbottabad, one of the Black Hawks is forced to make an emergency landing inside bin Laden’s compound
Obama enters the Situation Room and is joined by Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and other officials
@reallyvirtual: “Go away helicopter – before I take out my giant swatter :-/”
4 PM – 5 PM
Helo two lands in a field across the street
A demolition team blows through the gate of the animal pen where the first helicopter landed
Three SEALs secure the guesthouse, where they kill bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. SEALs clear the inner courtyard and kill al-Kuwaiti’s brother, Abrar, and Abrar’s wife, Bushra
SEALs from the second helicopter join up with the first team
SEALs move to the second floor, where they find and kill bin Laden’s 23-year-old son
Three SEALs reach the third-floor bedroom where bin Laden hides with two of his wives
A SEAL fires a 5.56mm bullet into bin Laden’s chest and another into his head. He confirms the al-Qaeda leader’s death using a code name: “For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo”
Osama bin Laden is dead
The SEALs spend the next 20 minutes gathering 12 garbage bags’ worth of intelligence
Obama says, “We got him.” Biden, who had been fingering a rosary, says, “We should all go to Mass tonight”
One of the backup helicopters arrives carrying a medic who takes DNA samples from bin Laden’s body. The SEALs destroy the damaged Black Hawk with explosives and leave
6 PM
The helicopters arrive back in Jalalabad. A six-foot-tall SEAL lies next to bin Laden’s body to confirm its height
7 PM
The President is told there’s a “high probability” the body is bin Laden’s
8 PM – 9 PM
A V-22 Osprey carrying bin Laden’s body heads for an aircraft carrier in the north Arabian Sea
9 PM – 10 PM
The White House communications director announces a 10:30 Presidential address on Twitter
@commentkazi is one of the first to speculate: “I’m guessing we got Bin Laden”
10 PM – 11 PM
@keithurbahn, the chief of staff for Donald Rumsfeld: “So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama bin Laden. Hot damn”
Jill Jackson, a CBS News producer, says a congressional aide confirmed bin Laden’s death
Almost 10 percent of all English-language Facebook status updates on May 1 reference bin Laden’s death
Obama finalizes his speech
The first news articles begin appearing online
Obama’s speech is delayed by more than an hour
11 PM – May 2, 12 AM
“Tonight I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden”
@ewstephe: “So when Obama said last week he had ‘better stuff to do’ than talk about his birth certificate… Yeah”
Twitter sees the “highest sustained rates of Tweets ever,” with more than 3,000 per second
@maddow: “In DC. People streaming on foot toward the WH. Car horns honking and much shouting”
@klerner: “This is a night that justifies the Library of Congress archiving all of Twitter”
@lindsaylohan: “Go USA!”
@PegWright: “There is already an Osama Bin Laden is Dead Facebook page. 120,000 Likes and counting”
@stevebruskCNN: “Pres. Bush says Pres. Obama called him tonight to inform him”
@SteveMartinToGo: “Slow news day”
May 2, 12 AM
Thousands gather in Times Square, at the White House, and elsewhere
12 AM – 1 AM
@reallyvirtual: “Uh oh, now I’m the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it”
1 AM – 2 AM
Bin Laden’s body is washed according to Muslim custom, wrapped in a white shroud, and dumped into the sea
The first “Obama got Osama” T-shirts hit the street less than 12 hours after the announcement

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