President Obama and other senior administration officials watched a live feed of the 45-minute military operation that led to Osama bin Laden's death on Sunday, according to John Brennan, Obama's national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism.
"Minutes passed like days," Brennan said, describing how he felt as he watched the firefight unfold.
"We were able to monitor in real time basis the progress of the operation from its commencement ... to the extractment of remains," he said. "It was probaly one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time."
The military would have captured bin Laden alive if he hadn't resisted and joined in the firefight with the Navy SEALS who invaded the compound in Pakistan where he was hiding, Brennan added.
He said Obama made "one of the gutsiest calls" of any U.S. president by authorizing the operation and successfully "decapitating the head of the snake known as al Qaeda."
The decision to take out bin Laden on Sunday was not unanimous among Obama's advisers, he confirmed. The military is now investigating whether bin Laden had a support network in Pakistan.
U.S. officials gave bin Laden a proper burial ceremony that conformed to Islamic religious practices – which requires burial within 24 hours of death – before dumping his body in the ocean, he said.
The president is expected to address the killing next at a dinner with a bipartisan group of lawmakers Monday evening.