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Obama played cards during bin Laden raid

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   Aug. 16, 2013 at 8:21 AM   |   Comments

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Aug. 16 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama has said there were long stretches of time during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden where he and his advisors were "just waiting" for word.

Now, we know what did happen during those "big chunks of time" in that nearly 10-hour stretch between the time the team gathered in the situation room until Obama announced bin Laden's death to the nation on May 1, 2011.

Reggie Love, an aide to the president who left the White House in 2011 revealed Obama left the Situation Room to play cards to break the tension.

"Most people were like down in the Situation Room and [Obama] was like, 'I'm not going to be down there, I can't watch this entire thing,'" Love said. "We must have played 15 hands, 15 games of spades."

Marvin Nicholson, another aide to the president, and White House photographer Pete Souza joined Obama in the private dining room for the card game.

Love did not say what time Obama left the room, but Administration officials previously said Obama first met with members of the team for final preparations at 2 p.m. on May 1, and left sometime before the arrival of the Navy SEALs at bin Laden's Abbottabad, Pakistan compound.

The SEALs arrived by helicopter at approximately 3:30 p.m. ET, and the president returned the Situation Room at 3:32.

At 3:50, Obama was informed bin Laden had been tentatively identified, and the SEALs departed the compound 38 minutes later.

"It was the longest 40 minutes of my life," Obama said, in a 2011 interview with 60 Minutes. "It was a very tense situation."

It wasn't until 7:01 p.m. Obama was told there was "a high probability" bin Laden had been killed, and by 9:45 p.m., the White House announced the president would address the country.

Follow @gabbilevy and @UPI on Twitter.
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