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Dan Pfeiffer: When I walked in on to West Exec [Avenue, the street between the White House and the Old Executive Office Building], there were like 25 idling Suburbans, which means that there were Cabinet secretaries and other high officials inside, which I thought to be quite strange. I got to the West Wing, and there was not a single person around.
I went downstairs to the Situation Room and see Ben Rhodes and press aides and chiefs of staff of a number of the people from the CIA, DNI, elsewhere eating this disgusting bunch of food—like ranch dip and vegetables. I asked them what was happening? They told me, and I thought they were full of shit. It was a complete, total shock. Then I went right from “Oh, we got bin Laden!” to “How the hell do we get the pool camera into the East Room to ensure that this is actually covered on television?”
Mike Leiter: Everyone was calling everyone. I was honored to call one of the family members of the 9/11 victims; I called the House Homeland Security Committee and Janet Napolitano. While I was in the Situation Room, I overheard one of the White House operators, saying, “Oh, I’m so sorry—I didn’t know you didn’t work for President Clinton anymore. Do you know where I can reach him?” President Obama was calling his predecessors, George W. Bush and President Clinton. The operator is trying to find President Clinton. I looked at him and I said, “Hold on one minute.” And I stepped back into the main room, Hillary was there, and I said, “Madam Secretary, I’m really sorry to bother you, but do you have your husband’s phone number?”
Audrey Tomason: Nick and John Brennan realized that nobody was going to staff the president’s calls. They turned to me and said, “Would you go do that?” So I listened to the president do those six calls that he made—former presidents Bush and Clinton, [UK Prime Minister David] Cameron, Speaker [John] Boehner, Senator [Harry] Reid and Pakistan President Zardari. The other side of the phone calls was very congratulatory.