Obama holds rare interview in Situation Room
President Barack Obama has sat for an extraordinarily rare TV interview in the White House Situation Room to air next week on the first anniversary of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
NBC News scored the media coup, which comes as the White House touts the anniversary in a new campaign ad highlighting Obama’s approval of the operation — and questioning whether Republican rival Mitt Romney would have done the same.
“A year later there’s still enormous interest in the events of that day,” said National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor in first official reaction on the interview. “This is another window into that remarkable day.”
NBC described the access to the most secure part of the White House as “a first for network television,” adding that the president, his national security staff and military advisers relived key moments in the dramatic run-up to bin Laden’s demise.
“We want to present the definitive account of what took place leading up to and during the tension-filled hours of the mission targeting Osama bin Laden,” NBC News president Steve Capus said in a statement.
The interview was conducted Thursday and the special broadcast is due to air May 2.
The White House resisted questions about the anniversary, including whether it was politicizing the top-secret crisis center where Obama and his senior aides followed the raid one year ago.
Vietor meanwhile pushed back at suggestion the room itself was too sensitive to be showcased in a high profile media segment.
“The room itself is only classified if the topic being discussed is classified. There are daily meetings in the Situation Room about non-national security issues,” he said.
The Situation Room was created in 1961 during John F. Kennedy’s administration to serve as a super-secure communications nerve center.
In 2007, it underwent a full renovation, and is now comprised of three conference rooms where some two dozen meetings are held each day, according to a video of the facility released by the White House.