tv Countdown Bin Laden FOX News September 12, 2021 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
elder when he was walking through venice? venice is as blue as it gets. orange county is the only bastion of red that there is. would you rather live in orange county or venice. that's the question. televised. ♪ ♪ >> i remember saying to the cia, my god this could be bin laden. >> killing bin laden would be important to our national security. >> how dangerous did you think it was going to be. >> one way, i thought we were not coming home. >> what did you think was likelihood that bin laden was in the compound? >> some said it was less than 50%. >> you could see the target,
that is it. bin laden is in that house. we're going to get him. >> almost 3,000 people were killed on september 11, 2001. and the hunt for terrorist who masterminded the attacks began that day. it would be long and frustrating. u.s. military and intelligence officers chased a decade's worth of tips and clues to one dead end after another, but they never game up, my new book, countdown bin laden. tells gripping story. it begins with a lead that would put one navy seal face-to-face with the world's most wanted man.
>> we were having a general staff meeting on a number of issues, when we came to the end the group that was involved with the then bin laden hunt held back and said we have to brief you on something. >> leon panetta was director of central intelligence agency, cia bin laden team told him about a fortress in abada bag, pakistan. >> they said, it has 18 foot walls on one side. 12 walls on another side, a 7 to 8 foot wall on third floor. of this compound. >> what made it noteworthy of the owner, a man -- a courier for bin laden.
>> why were bin laden a couriers such a focus for the cia. >> it was the case for a long time, we had been looking for who the couriers were, the key people who brought bin laden's message to the public. and if we could identify the couriers, we then knew we had a good chance of locating bin laden himself. >> it took years, agency uncovered his real ibrahim saed akhmed, they tracked him to the fortress. >> very large compound. probably estimated cost a million, that certainly was not the kind of money the
couriers had, it was hard not to raise the issue this bin could be in the compound. >> his eyes kept returning to a balcony on a top floor with a 7-foot privacy wall, shield outsiders from seeing whoever lived there. cia believed for years this bin was holed up in a cave somewhere, in a remote area of the border, if he turns out to be in. >> it was a clear indication that every lead. possible lead we had on bin laden. for over -- 10 years lead nowhere. >> panetta knew it was the best lead on bin laden in a
long time but we needed to know more, a lot more. >> capturing or killing bin laden. would be important, it does not solve all your problems but it is a high priority. >> one day shy of the 9 anniversary of 9/11, panetta and his team were in oval office, telling president obama about the through lead, top white house national security adviser was there. >> engage background to how the cia came to believe that bin laden meeting at the compound in pakistan. >> they told the president that people living in the compound rarely left, and burned their trash inside, instead of putting it out. of that not all. -- >> that was not all. >> no internet connections
or telephone calls. >> i can remember at the beginning, when we were engaging in 24/7 surveillance. i really felt very hopeful that it was just a matter of time when we would be able to arrive at a conclusion. as to whether bin laden was really there or not. >> cia analyst, studied satellite images and came up with another clue, amount of laundry on a clothes line indicating a third family lived on the compound. a man, a woman and teenage boy lived in the best quarters, one had a curious habit. >> an older gentleman came out, walk in circles quickly.
like a prisoner, and a prison guard, then back in, quickly. i remember saying to the cia, my god this could be bin laden. >> at the agency they started calling him the pacer, they could not get a neighborhood enough look at the man to identify him. >> get me cameras, a telescope, we need a facial i.d. on this individual. they said, it is just very difficult to do. i said, half kiddingly, i said, i see movies where the cia can do this we all kind of smiled. >> they came up with a number of movie-type tactics to try to get dna from people live there one was tap to sewage pipes that was ruled out, and sending in a local nurse, but she was
turned away. >> we don't have any additional evidence. and i finally said, this is not good enough. >> they came back with so-called chart of 30-a, do you remember some of ideas they had. >> one idea was to basically sound an alarm. and try to get everyone to have to come out of the compound. >> they considered throwing a stink bomb into the fortress to see who ran out or installing listening devices in groceries. >> some were -- may have been impractical, they were doing what needed to be done. which is to try to uncover any possibility as to the location of bin laden. >> none of you are coming with us? >> as president obama prepared to leave for
his christmas vacation, he met with a small circle in the white house who knew about bin laden. >> for months, president obama kept the circe8 this circle is knew about this search very tight, secretary of defense was not told. >> this was critical evidence. and we all knew that if that evidence were ever to leak, that the danger was that the bin laden was there, he would be alerted. he would begun. >> panetta briefed the president on laterrest -- latest intel. there was a caveat.
>> this is a not a direct evidence case. it was not a case where we have a picture, not a case, where we have a sound recording or a witness, it was analytical case put together by the cia and other associated intelligence services. >> president obama said there was enough information for cia to draw up a list of options, one thing was off the table, he did not want pakistan involved. >> the reason for that was clear, we were concerned from past relations, that pakistani might leak that kind of sensitive information from the beginning president made clear, we're not going to do this in conjunction with the pa,
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military. >> it had been tightly held at presidential level, they kept it close until my recollection was january. there was going to be a military component or a possibility at that point. chris: admiral michael mullen was chairman joint chiefs of staff, brought in with defense secretary gates and mcbraveen. he wrote the book on these kind kinds of raises. >> it was larger than compounds that we hit. but this is when we do. >> there is no question, if you are looking for best guy to put the plans together it was bill mccraven. chris: you have the big meeting with everyone on february 25, at cia headquarters. >> it pretty much came down
to two very key approaches, one possibility of a b-2 bomber strike on the compound. just destroy the compound. burn it to dust. there was a certain attraction to that, that everyone kind of saw involved little risk. >> too big, too massive, it would have put a hole in the ground, a crater that no doubt a lot of people would have died. chris: the admiral offered another option, a team of navy seals or green berets. >> make it simple, fly from. point a to b . >> it was time for the pull national security council to weigh in. secretary of state hillary clinton was read into the operation. >> how serious was the
getting at-this-point? >> i think everyone around that table realized that we were reaching a point where most important decision of the president of the united statesy it to that point of his presidency was about to be made. chris: he briefs president on option of special forces. >> seals and rangers on helicopters, fly for an hour, get off helicopter, put patrol to objective, you lockdown on the target, you call the bad guy out. >> president looks at mccraven, said, bill can you pull this off. >> i said, sir, i don't know, i won't know until i bring seal operators in and helicopter pilots in and we
rehearse it and find out whether or not the mission that i briefed you on is feasible. chris: building a compound as similar as possible to one in abbottabad in the neighborhoods of north carolina, and assembling a team navy seals to raid it. chris: how does did you think it was going to be? >> one way, i thought we were not coming home.
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laden. ♪ ♪ chris: welcome back to this fox news special. based on my new book, countdown bin laden. in march of 2011. anti-american sentiment was high in pakistan as president obama and his top advisers debated what to do about that compound in abbottabad. they faced 3 big questions, was bin laden there? if so, who was surest and safest way to kill or capture him, and how to deal with the pakistanis. >> in 2008. then senator and candidate obama was asked, if you had the opportunity to take
out bin laden, he was in pakistani -- territory would you do it. >> it united states has al qaeda in our sights and pakistan is unwilling or unable to act we should take him out. >> he was criticized for that. our view, is they were unnoticed. -- on notice. >> it was a risk that if we were not to inform the pakistanis, and we're flying in to abbottabad, the center or westpoint, the pakistani westpoint, a military center, an intelligence center. >> the pakistanis were not our enemy, they were a complicated ally. i knew if seals got on the ground, and pakistanis
showed up we would get in a gunfight with him, and win it would be a bloody battle. >> they planned for every contingency they could imagine, in rural north carolina they started building a full size replica of the compound with satellite imagery taken when the building was under construction in 2005. admiral mcraven knew they must repair as if it was a go. he received a message to head back to virginia beach, head quarters for seal team six, the briefing was unusual. >> we found a thing, the thing is in a house, and the house is in a bowl in the mountains, and the mountains in a country, you are going to go and get the thing.
what is the thing, we can't tell you. where it the bowl, can't tell you. how are we getting there. we can't tell you, what is our air support, none. that is how it started. there were guards at the door. >> the cia debriefer or briefer comes out, first thing he passes out nondisclosure statements. >> did it get your attention. >> it did, we had done it before, it was more intense. this is a high profile mission. chris: they soon found out how high profile. >> this is the closest we've been to osama bin laden. laden. >> mission was nowhere near approved, o'neal and fellow seals had to show washington not a repeat of the disaster mission during the iran hostage crisis.
>> once the briefing was over, i said okay we have we have a -- nearby let's get to work. chris: seals drilled in their memory, the windows, doors, and height of the ceilings, but they did not know if bin laden was really there or if he booby-trapped the compound. >> we did over and over. we're fast roping every time, you throw the rope up and slide down, intend pain . >> they would use stealth black hawk helicopters, modified to mask noise, heat and movement, the plan remained risky. >> as you work through the mission, how dangerous did you think it was going to be. >> one way. i thought we weren't coming home. >> really thought that. >> i thought so. chris: seals had to pass one
final test from north carolina to another full-scale model. built on a second rate air force base in nevada desert, chosen for similarity to western pakistan, ultimate audition to be recorded and shown to the commander in chief. >> we have images of seals, sometimes paint by hollywood, i was struck by two aspects of the group, one how senior they were. they had a level of experience that was extraordinary, these are big dudes. >> to go to each one of those seals, shake their hand, look them in the eye, ask them, are they confident they can do it. >> these individuals were going into a operation that was high-risk, and may never return. i wanted them to know that they had the confidence and
support of the senior military leader. chris: president biden ordered seals to stage in afghanistan, to be in place if he decided to go ahead. obama considered his options, the appreciate operator discuss their likely fate, oneal nicknames his team the martyrs brigade. >> don't get me wrong, we are going after osama bin laden for the single mom who dropped her kids off to elementary school, and hours later she jumped to her death from a skyscraper, but that was better alternative to what was hapap
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chris: president obama it his team in place, two dozen navy seals ready to risk their lives on a secret mission, 162 miles inside of pakistan. their objective, a compound protected by high walls and barbed wire. >> he went around the table. and discussed it, heard the view of most senior people in the government. >> president call one more meeting, his national security council, including vice president biden and clinton, gates and panetta, could give the commander in chief their final advice. >> if making a decision, go or no go. what did you think was the likelihood that bin laden was in the compound. >> some said it was less than 50%, 40%.
60, one individual said 90% bin laden was there. chris: one adviser who spoke against the raid was joe biden. >> i felt strongly that president was betting his president see. and by that, we're a year and a half from the next election. if he had gotten it wrong, if bin laden were not there or. fouled up, i think my own judgment then it could have cost him his presidency. chris: president put aside all percentages and said it was a 50/50 call whether bin laden was in the compound, he told the team he would let them' his decision in the morning. >> i received an e-mail from the president to ask to gather our team, he walked into the diplomatic room in a wind breaker and getting
ready to go to alabama to view storm damage. chris: president obama made his decision, the raid was a go. >> i remember thinking to myself, wow, that is bold decision. >> i remember saying, bill, i said, i want you to go in. get bin laden and get the hell out. >> with this weighing on your mind, you had to go to white house correspondent dinner, drink, laugh and pretend nothing was going on in the world, how tough was that. >> decision was made we should show up for the dinner. if we didn't people would consider that suspicious. i think everyone did a pretty good job of covering up what of going to happen the next day. chris: including the president himself. who took the opportunity to jab someone in the audience.
donald trump. who pushed the birther theory. >> my approval rating are still high in the country of my birth. so. >> half way around the globe, navy seal rob o'neill wrote good-bye letters to his young daughters, not the girls they were but women they would become. >> she will get married at 27 i think, i wanted to tell her, i'm sorry i'm not there. >> operation dubbed neptune sphere. was hours away. >> they converted our conference room into an trading -- operation center, we had our places in the conference room to be able to conduct that operation and to track it and to feed
that information to the white house situation room. >> the technology that we have you could really detail into an operation around the world. and i don't do well with washington's controlling rudder orders on ships, my main goal was to keep everyone's hands off with the exception of the president. chris: mcraven estimated it would take 3 1/2 round trip, assuming nothing went wrong, in these operations, something always goes wrong.
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chris: the navy seals suited up, ready to fly into pakistan, but with the biggest question still unanswered. was bin laden even inside of the compound? what measures did he take to defend himself, and the wild card, pakistan military. what if they showed up at wrong time? it added up to the biggest question of all, would they come home alive? >> this is real, we're going. that was the briefing that we'll put our gear on. chris: before he got on the black hawk, o'neill called
his father, for what might be the last time. >> called him a lot on the mission. he would say, i wish i was going with you. i thanked him for teaching me stuff. chris: you done normally do that -- didn't normally do that. >> no, i should not have, looking back but i'm going to be dead in two hours. chris: the seals boarded the choppers. >> famous picture in the situation room, in a side room, a group of senior people migrated to that room, atmosphere in the room was tense and focused. >> everyone was just riveted. we practiced it. we're still on the plane. and that relaxes everyone. >> guys that were asleep on a helicopter, i remember looking at my friend,
thinking, you are asleep, literally on the ride to osama bin laden's house, you have ice in your veins. chris: you thought about the speech -- >> that came into my head, 90 minute flight, about 80 minutes in freedom itself was attacked this morning. >> freedom will be defended. >> that again it sunk in, i am on this mission, we're going to kill this guy. chris: o'neill felt a rush of patriotism. >> you could see the target, osama bin laden is in that house it is almost surreal right now to think that, he is in there, we're going to get him. >> we were tracking the helicopters. realized they were over the compound, i everyone understood this was the critical moment, once they
hear those helicopters you have about 90 seconds to be able to repel down. and go in before bin laden is truly alerted to what is happening. chris: the plan they practiced so many times went south quickly. >> i was looking on the big screens there as helicopter came in. and i could see it start to waffle. chris: lead black hawk fought to maintain control, hit the call of the compound. >> i immediately said to bill mcraven, what the hell happened? bill didn't miss a beat. he said we have a back upheld held coming in we are going in with mission, they are repelling, this mission is going on, i remember saying, god bless you, let's do it. >> our pilot realized. if he can't hover i can't hover, i remember my first foot on the ground, i
remember saying i guess we start the war from here. chris: o'neill followed first assault time. >> gunfight, and explosions, they killed two terrorists, i walked -- it was so fast. chris: they were inside of the house, main house, and you don't know what is going on. how tough was that? >> the longest 20 minutes of my life, i think when the team entered main house itself, that there suddenly came silence. >> you are on the stairway from second to third floor, a point man in front of you. >> going up the stairs it was straight a curtain. i think it was -- like a green curtain like a rug someone hung. >> the sales figured there were suicide bombers. >> i thought this is what it
is like to blow up. chris: they charged up the stairs. >> he moved that curtain, he ran to people who thought were suicide bombers, he moved them out of position to absorb the blast. >> you. >> he went this way, i went that way. chris: in front of o'neill the most wanted man in the world, osama bin laden. >> i recognized him. i also at-this-point knew there was one guy left, i recognized his face. >> how did he like. >> in hindsight, scared, his wife, i don't know if he was using her as a shield. chris: he fired. hitting bin laden 3 times. >> i get the call from ground force commander for god and country -- ger an no. ger an no.
>> one of my guys of next to he. >> day went room to room collecting computers, hard drives and a trove of terrorist materials. >> i don't think that i have experienced a better feeling in my life. chris: the mission was not over. seals down a chopper still had to get out alive. >> to race against time. we were supposed to be dead, if we could live for 50 minutes we could
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your finances today. ready to turn your dreams into plans get e*trade and take charge of and your actions into achievements? explore over 75 programs and four-week classes at national university. your future starts today at nu.edu. chris: osama bin laden leader of al qaeda, mastermind of 9/11 was dead. but mission was not over for navy seals, they had to contend with pakistani military. >> we could see pakistani
air force reacting, we planned for that, we could see more reaction from pakistan, we had to move. chris: seals loaded bin laden a body on the working black hawk. and thought about destroying the chopper that crashed. >> we have to figure out how we'll live, they rigged helicopter to blow up, first team that came in, that crashed got on our helicopter with bin laden's body and took off. chris: a back up chopper swooped in to collect o'neill and the rest of the team. >> we're on ride home from a mission where we are supposed to be dead, we could still be shot down, pakistan has to be sending jets at us or something, we're flying out, now a race against time. 85 minutes in. pilot came over and said, for the first time in your life you will be happy to hear this welcome to
afghanistan. >> president on a video with me, he said, bill, do we know this is bin laden. i said, sir, i don't know, i need to i.d. the remains, before i could tell the president of the united states this is bin laden. chris: seals carried the body to the hangar. >> i get to command center, and president said, is it bin laden. i have a seally down next to him, had the said, lit me get this straight. we had 60 million dollars for a helicopter, you done have 10 dollars for a tape measure? >> tonight i can report to the american people and the world, the united states has
conducted an operation that killed osama bin laden. >> they were chanting, usa. usa. cia. cia. i never thought i would hear a joyous crowd yelling cia. cia. it was as a moment i'll never forget. chris: what to do with bin laden's body? therefore a plan. >> we didn't want to bury his body some place ashore. then it would make him a martyr. >> flown to uss carl vincent. wrapped in white cloth, lowered into sea. >> following right protocols, we treated him
better than i think we would have treated us. chris: what did it say about this country capabilities and resolve? >> i think it sent a message to the world that will first and foremost. the united states delivered justice to those who died on 9/11 and to their families. >> no matter how long it takes, if you do harm to american citizens we're going to track you down, find and you bring you to justice. ♪ ♪ chris: after the missioned, cia learned that bin laden was hiding in the abbottabad compound for 5 years, he spent much of that time blotting future terror attacks against the u.s. it is worth remembering now in wake of or chaotic
withdraw from afghanistan, the u.s. accomplished its prime objective in the longest war, bringing the mastermind of 9/11 to justice, members of political, military arms worked together worked together chris: president biden faces a barrage of challenges to this sweeping vaccine mandates, impacting tens of millions of americans. >> this is not about freedom or personal choice. it's about protecting yourself and those around you. chris: as the delta variant surges, the latest offensive in the fight against covid, faces pushback from republicans, accusing the white house of big government overreach. >> to protect my people and to defend their freedom. >> president forgot we live in america. >> these pandemic politics a