Behind the scenes during the bin Laden mission...
This White House photo of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, is now all over the internet. It was taken in the Situation Room of the White House, on Sunday, May 1, 2011, during the hours when the mission to kill Osama bin Laden was in progress.
The New York Times reports that during the hours when the attack was being planned and then monitored at the White House, "a staffer went to Costco and came back with a mix of provisions - turkey pita wraps, cold shrimp, potato chips, soda."
The Times adds that on Sunday, "White House officials canceled all West Wing tours so unsuspecting tourists and visiting celebrities wouldn’t accidentally run into all the high-level national security officials holed up in the Situation Room all afternoon monitoring the feeds..."
First Lady Michelle Obama, meanwhile, was away from the White House on Sunday evening, dining out in DC just hours before her husband appeared on global television to make his world-changing announcement at 11:35 PM. Mrs. Obama reportedly dined with three friends at the BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant in the Palisades. The group tried a variety of dishes, including the Rhode Island golden tilefish, halibut, clams, the beet salad and coconut cream pie, according to the gossip mavens at the Washington Examiner.
UPDATE, May 5: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking during a visit to Rome, announced today that she believes that when the photo was taken, she was staving off an allergy attack, rather responding to the events onscreen, mortified, with her hand over her mouth.
"Those were 38 of the most intense minutes. I have no idea what any of us were looking at that particular millisecond when the picture was taken," Clinton said. "I am somewhat sheepishly concerned that it was my preventing one of my early spring allergic coughs. So, it may have no great meaning whatsoever."
*In the photo with the President and Vice President are Joe Biden, along with from left: Brigadier General Marshall B. “Brad” Webb, Assistant Commanding General, Joint Special Operations Command; Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Standing, from left, are: Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; Chief of Staff Bill Daley; Tony Binken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President; Audrey Tomason Director for Counterterrorism; John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
*Official White House Photo by Pete Souza; a classified document seen in the photograph has been obscured.