When President Barrack Obama stood outside the Oval Office on the evening of May 1, 2011, to announce the death of Osama bin Laden, nearly a decade had elapsed since the events of Sept. 11, 2001. In the aftermath of that fateful day, then President George W. Bush and his team began devising a plan to get Bin Laden.
According to Bin Laden’s obituary in The New York Times, a week after 9/11 a reporter asked Bush if he wanted Bin Laden dead. “I want him — I want justice,” the president answered. “And there’s an old poster out West, as I recall, that said, ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive.’”
That was the plan in its simplest form, harkening back to old Western motifs: There’s a wanted man on the loose, and we aim to get ‘em. But in reality, the plan was an incredibly complex operation.
In many of the interviews I’ve heard in the 36 hours since the death of Bin Laden was announced, I’ve noticed a recurring theme: There were thousands of people responsible for this mission to storm the compound 35 miles outside of Islamabad and capture the Al Qaeda leader. While the Navy Seals were doing the heavy lifting, there was also a web of clandestine government agencies gathering information as well as military personnel and high-ranking government officials working together to bring this plan to fruition.