New details about the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, unearthed today by the Associated Press, reveal just how badly the much-celebrated mission started out. While it's been widely reported that one of the Black Hawk helicopters sent to bin Laden's compounds made a hard--and loud--landing, the new report by the AP says this forced the SEALs to completely change their plans for a stealthy surprise assault. The AP's report contains other revelations as well. We also learn that the White House decided to launch the operation on the moonless May night that it did because too many American officials had been briefed on the plan and a press leak could foil the entire operation, and that the U.S. knew the raid was a "one-shot deal" since fallout in Pakistan would prevent a second attempt.
U.S. officials briefed on the operation tell the AP that had everything gone to plan, some SEALs would have slid down ropes into the compound's courtyard from a helicopter hovering overhead while others would have touched down on the roof from a second helicopter. The two SEAL teams would have run a "squeeze play" on bin Laden in a matter of minutes by sneaking into the compound from the roof and ground floor simultaneously, their weapons silenced, just as they had practiced in two training models of the compound.