The decision to send an elite military squad into Usama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan to take out the Al Qaeda leader was made after President Obama sought and reviewed several options, with not all his advisers in agreement on the best course of action, sources familiar with the mission told Fox Business.
A small group on Obama's national security team worked on a daily basis on possible responses after U.S. intelligence services got a break in tracking bin Laden's courier and determined in August the terror leader could be living at the compound in Abbottabad.
One option was a bombing mission, something Obama decided against at a National Security Council meeting March 29 because of the possibility of collateral damage, since the compound was in a residential neighborhood, the sources said.
Obama eventually settled on a Navy SEALs mission, though there was at least one other option, one that the sources wouldn't discuss but that may have included a Predator drone strike.
With the SEALs mission, Obama was worried that retired Pakistan military officers who lived in the neighborhood could recognize the sound of helicopters approaching, sources said. Some advisers did not favor the SEALs mission, worrying that as intelligence services gathered more information for such a mission they increased the risk of being detected.
Some advisers reportedly also expressed concerns about the mission itself was risky to execute, noting that bin Laden did not stay in one place very long.
Despite these risks, at a national security meeting on Friday morning, the president said "it's a go," authorizing the mission commander to determine the "optimal conditions" for conducting the operation, such as weather. When the commander decided to proceed on Saturday, Obama talked to him for 12 minutes that morning before telling him "Godspeed," the sources said, but then cloudy conditions in Pakistan on Saturday forced commanders to move the mission to Sunday.
On Sunday, as they waited for word of how the mission was going, the president was "steady," sources said, describing him as not showing a lot of emotion throughout the process, even when hearing the military code signaling that bin Laden had been killed.
Fox Business' Peter Barnes contributed to this report.