The special operations forces grabbed personal computers, thumb drives and electronic equipment during the lightning raid that killed bin Laden, officials told POLITICO.
“They cleaned it out,” one official said. “Can you imagine what’s on Osama bin Laden’s hard drive?”U.S. officials are about to find out. The material is being examined at a secret location in Afghanistan.
“Hundreds of people are going through it now,” an official said, adding that intelligence operatives back in Washington are very excited to find out what they have.
“It’s going to be great even if only 10 percent of it is actionable,” the official said.
Savoring the military and intelligence triumph, officials late Monday described new details about how the mission unfolded:
The SEALs took fire on their way to the compound’s third floor, where bin Laden had been sleeping, officials said. The encounter with bin Laden lasted only seconds, and ended with a kill shot to his face.
The team’s photos of bin Laden are gruesome, complicating officials’ deliberations about whether to release them.
Officials also have images of bin Laden in a white shroud before his burial at sea.
The raid was not supposed to last more than 30 minutes. The forces finished in 38 minutes, even though they lost one of their choppers and had to go to a back-up plan.
Four helicopters were used in the raid. Two went in, and two were in reserve.
Hovering above the compound on the way in, one of the choppers developed a mechanical problem that caused it to lose lift, officials said. The pilot made a controlled landing, according to the officials. When he couldn’t get the bird airborne again, the SEALs blew it up and left in one of the reserves.
Officials described the reaction of the special operators when they were told a number of weeks ago that they had been chosen to train for the mission.
“They were told, ‘We think we found Osama bin Laden, and your job is to kill him,’” an official recalled.
The SEALs started to cheer.
Radioing a commander on Sunday, the team reported the capture with a pre-arranged signal: “Geronimo!”
AP Photo by MIKE ALLEN | 5/2/11 7:51 PM EDT via politico.com