One of the things the president made clear is that we really did have to go after bin Laden, and I remember sitting down with people at the CIA and saying, “Where the hell is this guy? It’s been over ten years!” And they said, “Every clue we’ve gone after, every lead we’ve gone after, has led nowhere. We don’t know where he is. He could be in a cave. He could be anywhere.”
And I said, “Look, we’re going to form a task force, and we are really going to focus on developing ideas as to how we can get to bin Laden.” And I really was tough on them. The old “you’ve got to beat them up to make sure they’re doing the job.” Our goal was to go after bin Laden. I said, “I want you to come in and brief me every week as to what’s going on, and I do not want you to come into this room and tell me we don’t have anything. That’s unacceptable. I expect you to come in here, and if you don’t have anything, I want five new ideas about how we can try to locate him.” So they did, to their credit. They came up with all kinds of ideas.
We finally had a great lead, which was the couriers to bin Laden. We were able to identify who they were. We identified their faces. And we actually found them in a town called Peshawar and tracked them from Peshawar in Pakistan to a place called Abbottabad, where we found this compound. And once we saw the compound, we knew something was up. This was a compound that was three times the size of other compounds, had 18-foot walls on one side, 12-foot walls on another side, barbed wire at the top. We knew there was high security there. We identified a family — that there was a family living on the third floor that resembled a lot of the members of the family of bin Laden. And so we really thought we had a great breakthrough.