It was the most iconic facial expression from inside the Situation Room during the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, but days after it was photographed, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dismissed it as an allergic reaction. "It was my preventing one of my early spring allergic coughs," Clinton said a year ago, when asked about the photo. "So it may have no great meaning whatsoever." At the time, it sort of felt like she had robbed the country of a legendary—and legendarily human—reaction to an historic event. It turns out now, the excuse was probably not real, thanks to two new follow-up interviews with Clinton and President Obama.
During last night's hour-long Rock Center with Brian Williams on NBC, the president and secretary of State said the photo depicted the sense of trepidation and concern during the high stakes mission: No mention of pollen. "This picture was taken right as the helicopter was having some problems," President Obama told Williams, in reference to the stealth helicopter that crash landed outside bin Laden's compound. "I remember Hillary putting her hand over her mouth at that point. There's silence at this point in the room."