Details of what happened on the night we killed Bin Laden have been dripping slowly from the White House, but anonymous government sources have just handed the AP the entire story. Every single detail. Even the SEAL dog's name.
SEAL Team 6 had some serious backup—and a war dog named Cairo:
Five aircraft flew from Jalalabad, Afghanistan, with three school-bus-size Chinook helicopters landing in a deserted area roughly two-thirds of the way to bin Laden's compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, two of the officials explained.
Aboard two Black Hawk helicopters were 23 SEALs, an interpreter and a tracking dog named Cairo. Nineteen SEALs would enter the compound, and three of them would find bin Laden, one official said, providing the exact numbers for the first time.
That stealth helicopter? Silent:
The Black Hawks were specially engineered to muffle the tail rotor and engine sound, two officials said. The added weight of the stealth technology meant cargo was calculated to the ounce, with weather factored in. The night of the mission, it was hotter than expected.
That "hotter than expected" weather? Very bad:
The Black Hawk skittered around uncontrollably in the heat-thinned air, forcing the pilot to land. As he did, the tail and rotor got caught on one of the compound's 12-foot walls. The pilot quickly buried the aircraft's nose in the dirt to keep it from tipping over, and the SEALs clambered out into an outer courtyard.
Blowing up the downed stealth chopper took longer than killing Bin Laden:
It took approximately 15 minutes to reach bin Laden, one official said. The next 23 or so were spent blowing up the broken chopper, after rounding up nine women and 18 children to get them out of range of the blast.
And those are just the more tech-heavy details—the story's full of startling political implications, both domestic and foreign. Not only was the mission rushed because the White House feared its own government would leak details to the press, but President Obama himself doesn't know who pulled that final shot—he didn't ask—but instead simply congratulated and thanked the team as a whole.
For the rest of the gut-wrenching account, read the AP's full report.