In a remarkable 36 hours, US President Barack Obama carried a momentous secret and gave no hint of it as he consoled tornado victims, delivered a college commencement address and cracked jokes at a black-tie dinner.
What few insiders knew was that Obama had given the go-ahead on Friday for the military operation that would end with the death of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, target of the world’s most intense manhunt.
After giving his consent, Obama, wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia left the White House on a busy day of travel, with three stops in two states.
In Alabama, one of several southern states battered by fierce tornadoes, Obama assumed his role as consoler in chief.
Next stop: Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Even though Endeavour’s launch had been scrubbed for technical reasons well before Obama left Alabama, he stuck to his schedule, touring NASA facilities and meeting privately with wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a fellow Democrat.
The president also delivered an evening commencement address at Miami Dade College, before returning to Washington.
On Saturday, Obama attended the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner and lobbed a few barbs at Donald Trump.
On Sunday, he headed for the Andrews Air Force Base golf course, playing only nine holes instead of his customary 18, and left after about four hours. Reporters thought the chilly, rainy weather played a part in his decision to leave early, but actually Obama was headed for a meeting to review final preparations for the operation. All became clear when Obama told the nation shortly before midnight that bin Laden had been killed.