Geraldo Rivera: Reporting the News That Usama Bin Laden's Dead Was a "Profound Privilege"
When I finally got to the hotel at 5a Monday morning after covering and participating in the raucous, spontaneous celebration in front of the White House following the killing of Usama bin Laden, the image that flashed to mind was my wife, Erica, and me talking with the president and first lady just the night before at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. He seemed so relaxed and affable then, so ready to roast Donald Trump and go with the flow of that informal yet high powered event once known as the "nerds prom," but now characterized by the host of Hollywood luminaries who glitter at every table.
In my hotel room after the combination Mardi Gras/New Year's Eve post-bin Laden celebration on Pennsylvania Avenue, my eureka moment was that President Obama knew when he was talking to us at the dinner and later slinging those funny one-liners that he had already authorized the brilliant, but high-risk raid by those Navy Seals to take down the terror mastermind who had wreaked such havoc and
twisted so many lives.
Only bad weather delayed the bold stroke in Pakistan from Saturday to Sunday. Would the president have announced it from the dinner podium if it happened earlier as originally planned?
As it did happen, the confirmation of the death of the world's most wanted man could not have come at a better time for the nation and for me.
For America, because we have become too partisan, angry and divided. We had lost the sense of unity and purpose we shared following the 9/11 attacks.
For me, because it was my profound privilege to be on-the-air doing my live show from Washington, D.C. when the news of his death was confirmed; as I was there in Tora Bora, Afghanistan in December 2001 when the architect of the 9/11 attacks escaped.
Since that chilly day in Tora Bora almost ten years ago, when bin Laden walked into Pakistan and disappeared, he has spread his poison beyond his original victims at Ground Zero, the Pentagon, and that lonely field in Pennsylvania. Because of him and his killer cronies, air travel has become a nightmare; billions have been spent building our enormous security apparatus, and far too many of our heroic armed forces have died or been maimed in the struggle.
But what goes around has come around for the baddest of bad guys. And it has come around for me.
In one dramatic stroke, all those hours spent eating dirt trudging through Afghanistan looking for him; all that time spent away from our wives and children; all the sorrow over our buddies lost, all of it is suddenly redeemed and put right.
There is more fighting ahead. But this is a wonderful moment I will always cherish. Bin Laden is dead. Justice has prevailed. And, I was there to report it.