April 11th, 2012
01:44 PM ET

Clinton on bin Laden raid: No one breathed

By Jill Dougherty

Who can forget the photo of President Barack Obama and his Cabinet in the White House Situation Room, all eyes riveted on a monitor out of view of the camera, watching - real time - as Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden?

Many people remarked on the image of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who sat in the middle of the room with her right hand covering her mouth and her eyes wide open.

Almost a year after the raid in Pakistan, Clinton described what it was like to be in that room that night.

"I'm not sure anyone breathed for, you know, 35 or 37 minutes," she said, answering questions Tuesday evening from future officers at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, after a foreign policy speech.

One of the worst moments for her, she said, was when the tail of one of the helicopters participating in the operation got stuck and it took time to get the next reserve helicopter in. "We could see or hear nothing when they (the Navy SEAL team) went into the house. There was no communication or feedback coming, so it was during that time period everyone was particularly focused on just trying to keep calm and keep prepared as to what would happen, and we got the word that they thought they had killed bin Laden."

"It was imperative that we take the body," she continued, "and the decision had to be made to blow up the disabled helicopter which didn't completely work because of the way it was positioned. So the SEALs had to take the women and children out of the house to get them away from the site of where the disabled helicopter was. You didn't want any collateral damage. All of this is happening, you know, the body is going out, the women and children are coming in, the reserve helicopter is on its way but it is not there yet, you know there was a lot of breath-holding and then finally all the helicopters were up and out and on their way back to Afghanistan."

But it wasn't over.

"Then we had to wait to make sure the body really was bin Laden's. You had visual identification but you needed DNA. And there was the immediate DNA and then you had to, you wanted to be absolutely sure and so the second DNA test would take longer but I think everyone was finally comfortable with concluding that, yes, you know, he was there, we did get him, they were sure of it."

At that point, Obama left the Situation Room and went to the Oval Office to address the nation, Clinton said.

After the speech, as she and other officials walked down the Colonnade near the Oval Office, "we heard this roar, we had no idea what it was."

It was cheers and shouts from people - most of them students - who spontaneously had gathered at the gates of the White House.

"Many of them, like many of you, were children when we were attacked and this had been part of your consciousness for as long as you can remember," she told the Naval cadets, referring to the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.

"So listening to those cheers, feeling the relief that came from knowing that it was a job very well done, and for me personally, having the sense that for many of those who lost their loved ones, who had been grievously injured during that attack whom I knew personally that they could, in a way they hadn't been able to the day before, think about the future, and I was very, very pleased."

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  33. eroteme

    Nice to hear Clinton's remembrance of the bin Laden operation. Reminds me of her announcing her expert dodging of bullets a while back. Oops! She did not lie, she said she 'misspoke' when her bullet-dodging incident was found to be untrue.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:07 am | Reply
  34. Kakashi

    Blah blah blah war war war... Is your own family in war all the time??
    Clinton yeah you Clinton you!!

    April 13, 2012 at 7:41 am | Reply
  35. Al queda

    Clinton is a Warmonger bitch!!
    Send you own children to war..

    April 13, 2012 at 7:39 am | Reply
  36. Al queda

    Warmonger Bitch!!

    April 13, 2012 at 7:38 am | Reply
  37. Anon

    Many families of 9/11 victims are demanding a new investigation into the 9/11 attacks (even Geraldo Rivera did a recent story on these families demanding a new investigation). Architects and engineers for 9/11 truth is growing by the thousands (professors at top-tier universities are joining the group in face of losing their jobs). US foreign policy is a conspiracy in itself. 2005 declassified NSA documents proved the Gulf of Tonkin Incident was a fictitious event created to provide a justification to invade vietnam. Operation Northwoods (now declassified and in the public domain) was a planned false-flag attack on US cities that was going to be carried out on innocent Americans and used to generate nationalistic support for an all-out invasion of Cuba during the Cold War, but Kennedy denied the plan. The idea that our government wouldn't engage in a false-flag attack to kill only 3,000 of its civilians is simply laughable. Governments have done it throughout history. Wait, were you lied to about Iraq? Any person involved in politics or intelligence understands that all you have to do to generate support for war is tell the people they are being attacked and denounced the pacifists for lack of patriotism... its simple sociology of nationalism. From a psychological standpoint, it is extremely hard to accept the idea that our own "democratic" government killed some of its own citizens... that's why people get so angry and hateful towards people demanding a new investigation. Look at building 7 fall, and then look at the 9/11 commission report lol.

    April 12, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Reply
    • Normal Person

      Oh god, just stop.
      Every time there's a story about the middle east there's one idiot who has to spew on about this idiotic crap.
      Just grow a brain.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:51 am | Reply
  38. katahdin

    President Obama is a badass and Hillary Clinton is a badass girl.

    April 12, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Reply
    • HotCupofTruth

      Yep, you're right – they are both badass...liars. I'm sure this story from Hillary is just as "embellished" as the one about her having to run through sniper fire...don't be so gullible, moron.

      April 12, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Reply
  39. Spence

    I'm pretty sure that if no one breathed for 35 minutes they would all be dead and America would have a whole new executive branch right now.

    April 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Reply
    • High Timber

      That's a pretty good idea.

      April 12, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  40. michaelfury


    April 12, 2012 at 7:37 am | Reply
  41. michaelfury

    So Madame Secretary, if "many of those who lost their loved ones, who had been grievously injured during that attack" continue to demand a real investigation (not another whitewash) into the events of 9/11, do you support them?


    April 12, 2012 at 7:36 am | Reply
    • Clinton

      oh wow, a nutjob questioning how 9/11 happened on the internet... that's original... here's a tip, why don't you watch the History Channel's investigation into the 9/11 conspiracy where they interview the idiots that put out that documentary trying to say it was an inside job... They even have the idiots that made that tape on there confessing they basically trumped up a bunch of garbage to feed to idiots like you.... I don't know if that makes them dumb or you incredibly stupid. ... in fact... it's a wonder you've survived this long and found your way to the internet... fricken idiot.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Reply
  42. YouBetcha

    So. The election race has begun . And because Obama can't run on his abysmal record – we're going to get Bin Laden replays ad nauseam. Yaaaaawn.

    April 12, 2012 at 2:40 am | Reply
    • Clinton

      YouBetcha – why do you have such a hard time with President Obama? Under his Presidency Bin Laden has been killed, we've pulled out of Iraq, the Auto industry has made a comeback, The economy went from losing hundreds of thousands of jobs every month to adding nearly a quarter million every month... unemployment has fallen... we appear to be on the rebound from the recession... what are you mad about? Seriously with the country heading in the right direction now as opposed to 4 years ago under Bush... what the heck are you mad at Obama for? you're ridiculous.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Reply
      • QDV

        He's upset that Obama didn't say "Mission Accomplished."

        April 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
      • Sic Em Sarah

        I can think of about 15 TRILLION reasons and about as many vacations, golf outings, trips after leisurely trips while people don't have jobs... and the fake unemployment numbers.. Stop sticking to your "party" and use your head. Obama is a DISASTER. So much so even Hilary looks good. God help us when and if she takes over.. you know she wants to...

        April 12, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
      • eroteme

        Yes, and the difference this time will be that the recoveries from our previous recessions have been the natural course of events, when we recover from this one we will credit Obama for his brilliant economic leadeship. And many simplistic voters will line up to re-elect him. And if we re-elect him we will deserve him.

        April 13, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • levi123

      Well at least this time when they said "mission accomplished"it really meant something!

      April 12, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Reply
    • Tibercio

      Even if Obama's record is indeed abysmal, you've got to admit that nailing bin Laden is an absolute victory, worthy of at least a golf clap from even Obama's political opponents.

      April 12, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Reply
  43. shivadass


    Don't let them distract you anymore.
    It's time to Wake Up America.

    April 12, 2012 at 1:41 am | Reply
  44. SayanIndia

    Not a single (especially covert) operation progresses as initially planned, so comes Plan B or C etc.


    April 11, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  45. mullerohana

    "no one breathed for 35 minutes"... oh if only that had been the case.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Reply

    so every time things crap out in usa foreign policy obama pulls out the seal team six success to devert us from the failures .

    so just how is that afghan , iran , syria thing working out ?

    April 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Reply
    • Cheese Wonton

      What exactly do you expect the US to do in Syria? As far as I'm concerned they can get bogged down in a decade long civil war that leaves the country in ruins. It couldn't happen to a more deserving country. Let that miserable nation bleed for a good long time. It's not up to us to finance their freedom, if that is really what they want. Let them bleed their own blood and earn it the hard way. Then they will protect it. If, as I really suspect, it is just a glorified tribal fight, Sunnis against Alawytes and Shiites, let them fight. It's none of our business. The more dead Syrians the better as far as I'm concerned.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Reply

        hey cheese , france has just told the usa that they are out of afghanistan at end of the year and most likely by november , because according to france afghanistan is a trap .

        April 11, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Cheese Wonton

      We could have wrapped up Afghanistan in a year if we had mobilized like we did in WWII and crushed them the way we crushed the Germans and the Japanese. With a committment of troops, and no diversions to Iraq, we could have fought the Taliban without the help of any warlords, and in fact we could have disarmed the warlords along with the Taliban. We would have taken or killed Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora if the fighting was left only to our forces rather than letting a warlord be bought off by bin Laden so he could escape. if you remember, the Soviets never penetrated Tora Bora. We took it in two weeks.
      Where we made our mistake was not to occupy and control the territory we took after defeating Taliban forces. We could have easily done so, but we refused to mobilize and refused to commit all of our forces to Afghanistan until the place was cleaned out completely. In WWII, Aftghanistan would have been a campaign, not the whole war.
      When you are attacked as we were on 9-11 and a nation decides to engage in a war, there are three things that must be done to be successful. Number one, declare war. Number two, mobilize and crush your enemy. When you fight a war, it must be the nation's one and only priority unitl the war is won. Everything else, and I mean everything, just has to wait unitl the war is concluded.
      Number three, demand your enemy surrender unconditionally and make the surrender a formal occasion. That puts the onus on them to behave in defeat, or face a resumption of unrestricted warfare. When Japan was defeated in WWII, the Japanese hated our guts every bit as much as the Taliban hate us. But, unlike Afghanistan, we flooded Japan with soldiers, arrested and imprisoned their surviving leadership, disarmed them completely and took control of Japan. They could hate us all they wanted, they couldn't do a darn thing about it. And who really cared back then what the Japanese thought of u s. They got what was coming. No apologies expected. Wars are always corrosive to civil rights and do bad things to a nation's economy. The smart nation fights their wars with everything they have and gets the war over as quickly as possible.
      We wasted six and a half years piddling around in Afghanistan after the initial invasion, diverting energy to a useless war in Iraq and paying Afghan warlords to do our fighting, often letting outright war criminals call the shots for us while abusing their own people and more often than not double crossing us. That is the situation this president inherited. Now our choices are limited.
      Btw, Frances only aircraft carrier did three combat deployments to the Indian Ocean, covering for our Navy so our carriers could be elsewehere. Their pilots flew in support of our people, and their army tooks some pretty bad casualties in land warfare there. I don't begrudge them anything. Did you know the Swedes also have a battaliion of infantry in Afghanistan fighting for us? Yes, neutral, little Sweden.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Reply
      • rookie

        Hind sight is always 20/20. If we had done this or that, if we had.. if we had........ The fact is it took us over 10 years in Afghanistan and it has not been subdued despite the fact that enemy is ill equiped and unmatched. The soviet invasion was different, they faced opposition aided by US, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, UK............

        April 11, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  47. eldrick1

    At the start of the tape - the graphic describes Mrs. Clinton as Defense Secretary. Did I miss something?

    April 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Reply
  48. rk

    bet after that day, the pakis are'nt breathing well even now....

    April 11, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Reply

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