Obama's poker face was sorely tested http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-bin-laden-obama-20110503,0,6668629.story By Peter Nicholas and Christi Parsons, Washington Bureau May 3, 2011 Standing before a roomful of Hollywood celebrities, journalists and politicians, comedian Seth Meyers quipped that Osama bin Laden was hiding in plain sight by hosting an obscure C-SPAN show that no one ever watched. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9mzJhvC-8E One person at the White House Correspondents' Assn. dinner who clearly enjoyed the joke was President Obama. Obama, dressed in a tuxedo, smiled broadly on Saturday night, in possession of a closely guarded secret. He knew where Bin Laden was living and he had already signed his death warrant, ordering a risky raid that would kill the world's most wanted terrorist the following day. All presidents keep secrets, but over a 72-hour span leading to Bin Laden's death, Obama's capacity to keep a poker face was tested as never before. He gave a commencement speech in Miami and golfed with aides in Maryland. He met with victims of deadly storms in Alabama and delivered zingers at the correspondents' dinner in Washington. Through it all he got a steady series of private briefings on the military mission. Nothing leaked. Obama announced the successful outcome of the raid with a dramatic flourish late Sunday night, in a nationally televised East Room address that even some veteran White House aides were unaware was coming. Bin Laden's killing stands as Obama's biggest triumph as commander in chief, a role he has struggled with. The war in Afghanistan is deeply unpopular, while the one in Libya is stalemated. Whatever else happens, though, history will show Obama was the president who felled Bin Laden. The operation was set in motion at 8:20 a.m. Friday in the Diplomatic Room, when Obama told his national security advisor, Tom Donilon, that he wanted to proceed with the raid on the compound north of Islamabad, Pakistan. He then flew south, where he walked through a neighborhood in Tuscaloosa, Ala., that was nearly flattened by a tornado two days before. He told an aide he was overwhelmed by the destruction. Nothing could have been done for the many who were killed, the president said. "They're alongside God at this point," he said. From there he flew to Florida, speaking to graduating students in Miami and meeting with the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour, whose flight was postponed. At 9:45 a.m. Sunday, Obama's motorcade left for Andrews Air Force Base for a round of golf. He played nine holes and spent a little time on the driving range. By 2 p.m., he was back at the White House for a meeting with senior officials to discuss what one aide called "final preparations." Every day, the White House announces a "lid," which means the president is no longer expected to leave the grounds or make any more public appearances. On Sunday, the lid was on about 2:30 p.m. But seven hours later, an announcement came from the White House: Obama would soon make a statement. Standing alone before the cameras in the East Room at 11:35 p.m., the president delivered the news that Osama bin Laden was dead.