Obama watched soundless video feed of Osama raid

Washington: US President Barack Obama and his key national security team in the White House situation room watched a soundless video feed of the raid on al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden at his hideout in Pakistan, a media report has said.

"In the White House Situation Room on Sunday night, the president and his national security team watched a soundless video feed of the raid," eminent author and journalist Bob Woodward wrote in `The Washington Post`, bringing to light the several unknown aspects of the covert US operation that killed Osama on May 2.

Woodward also wrote how Laden was measured for his height after he was shot dead by the Navy SEALs.

"When bin Laden`s corpse was laid out, one of the Navy SEALs was asked to stretch out next to it to compare heights.

The SEAL was 6 feet tall. The body was several inches taller," he said.

"After the information was relayed to Obama, he turned to his advisers and said, "We donated a USD 60 million helicopter to this operation. Could we not afford to buy a tape measure?" the report said.

Woodward wrote it was a telephone conversation last year between Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, the pseudonym for a Pakistani known to US intelligence as the main courier for bin Laden and his old friend that gave the US intelligence agencies a big lead which finally ended up in the Abbottabad compound.

"Where have you been? inquired the friend. We`ve missed you. What`s going on in your life? And what are you doing now? Kuwaiti`s response was vague but heavy with portent: "I`m back with the people I was with before".

There was a pause, as if the friend knew that Kuwaiti`s words meant he had returned to bin Laden`s inner circle, and was perhaps at the side of the al-Qaeda leader himself. The friend replied, "May God facilitate".

"This is where you start the movie about the hunt for bin Laden," a US official was quoted as saying by The Post.

Using a vast number of human and technical sources, officials tracked Kuwaiti to a third compound in Abbottabad.

"The main three-storey building, which had no telephone lines or internet service, was impenetrable to eavesdropping technology deployed by the National Security Agency," it said.

"US officials were stunned to realise that whenever Kuwaiti or others left the compound to make a call, they drove some 90 minutes away before even placing a battery in a cell phone.

Turning on the phone made it susceptible to the kind of electronic surveillance that the residents of the compound clearly wished to avoid," it said.

As a CIA safe house kept a close watch on the activities of this building, they found one tall man walking in the courtyard, which was later nicknamed "pacer", who never left the compound.

"His routine suggested he was not just a shut-in but almost a prisoner," it said.

At some point the White House sought the services of National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to determine the pacer`s height.

The agency came back and reported that the height of the pacer was between five-foot-eight and six-foot-eight.