Souza explained the backstory to his picture that’s now known as “The Situation Room Photograph” — showing Obama, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others watching the 2011 raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden ― in a 21-minute video that he shared on Instagram on Friday, the ninth anniversary of the mission.
Souza, who in recent years has used his public profile to mock and call out President Donald Trump and his administration, recalled being told in late April 2011 that “something was brewing” and that he should be ready to work that weekend.
But he didn’t know exactly what was happening, nor when.
“Holy shit, we’re going after Bin Laden,” he said he thought to himself after finally finding out about the special ops mission while photographing a meeting between Obama and his national security team on the day of the raid.
Souza remembered not being nervous but “definitely on doubly high alert, knowing that on this day of all days I was the visual recorder of history.”
He recalled choosing his vantage point as Obama, Clinton and others piled into the room as the mission was underway. Unable to really move around and pushed against a printer, he used his two cameras selectively to not disturb proceedings.
“The mood was tense,” he noted.
Souza hinted at what was happening at the precise moment he took the picture, one of 1,003 he took that day and which had to be partially blurred in order to hide a classified document that was in front of Clinton:
All I can tell you is this. From a public timeline we know that the raid began at around 3:30 p.m. East Coast Time and that the raid lasted a little over 40 minutes. This picture is time-stamped on my camera at 4:05 Eastern Time. So, really, until a minute-by-minute timeline of the mission is declassified, that’s all I can say.
“I’m convinced that I chose the best one, that this is the best picture from the room,” Souza concluded.
Check out the video here: