In addition to taking out bin Laden, the U.S. mission here produced an unexpected intelligence discovery.
What is described as a "motherlode" of documents, computer discs, and laptops whose hard drives were removed by the Navy Seals and arrived in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, where the material is being studied by the FBI and the CIA.
Said Clarke, "The first thing they are looking for is attack plans, because we know in the past, bin Laden personally went over attack plans, including the 9/11 plan, which he rejected. He said it needed further work before he approved it. So number one is attack plans."
Number two is information that might lead the US to the location of bin Laden's deputy, the Egyptian doctor Ayman al Zawahiri.
"After attack plans," said Clarke, "[they're looking for] the location of his deputies ... where the money is, where the money comes from, where does it live, and how big an organization is al Qaeda central these days? Is it really an organization anymore at all?"
Answers to all those questions may soon come from the material found in Abbottabad, a place where it now appears bin Laden felt safe enough to live for five or six years as the world's most wanted man. U.S. officials say they may begin to get a read-out on some of the seized documents and electronic storage devices as soon as Wednesday.