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White House Considered Keeping Bin Laden Raid Secret, Says Former Official

The chopper that crashed in Pakistan and the coming dawn changed the calculus for the White House, former top national security spokesperson Tommy Vietor tells BuzzFeed Brews.

Posted on October 28, 2013, at 8:26 p.m. ET

Akhtar Soomro / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Perhaps the most famous accomplishment of President Obama's time in office was almost kept secret.

Speaking at a BuzzFeed Brews event Monday, former top White House national security communications aide Tommy Vietor said administration officials considered keeping news of Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of U.S. military forces out of the public, at least for a little while.

"I think there was a discussion of 'we should wait and see what happens,'" Vietor said, adding that "sovereignty issues" in regards to Pakistan were part of the discussion.

Ultimately, social media helped push the administration to release news of the bin Laden death when it did, hours after the al-Qaeda leader was killed in 2011.

"There was no option at that point. We parked a helicopter in Pakistan and the sun was coming out," Vietor said. "There were tweets that were out there."

Vietor said he found out about the success of the raid from a photo that remains secret.

"Somebody threw down a headshot of bin Laden with a hole in his skull," he recalled.

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