Adm. Mike Mullen reflects on 10th anniversary of Osama bin Laden raid

"If bin Laden or his people had gotten wind of any potential operation there, he would have been gone," former Joint Chiefs chair, Adm. Mike Mullen, told Martha Raddatz.
6:13 | 05/02/21

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Transcript for Adm. Mike Mullen reflects on 10th anniversary of Osama bin Laden raid
Went to Afghanistan to get terrorist. The terrorists who attacked us on nine elevenths. We said we would follow some of them lined with gates is. To do it we delivered justice to but life. We degraded to terrorist threat of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. And after twenty years of valued. Valor and sacrifice. It's time to bring those troops home. It was in fact ten years ago this very weekend when Joseph Biden was a vice president. That US Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden and his secret and daring raid on a compound in Pakistan. That raid coming after one of the most intense manhunts in history. There is one report as of yet unconfirmed that a plane. Has hit of the World Trade Center. Osama bin Laden with the most wanted man on earth. Escaping from the mountains of Afghanistan. Even as US intelligence and military scoured dose rugged mountains. But on May first when he 1110. Years after hijacked airliners brought down the world trade towers and it chunk of the Pentagon. Sure run a mile. And Geronimo meant. We got Benoit killed. Admiral Mike Mullen was the chairman of the joint chiefs at the time. That's him behind President Obama in the White House as they watched the Navy SEALs descend on bin Laden's compound in real time. There was a lot of risk we felt comfortable that we could get in and out of Pakistan without. Being detected in a timely way. We felt we could get into the compound. And for -- it was personal he was in the Pentagon a decade earlier when one of the hijacked planes slammed into it. The plane flew in under. Basically under my office my two assistants looked out the window and saw seven point 27 Y and under their feet. The navy lost 42 people that day among the nearly 200 killed in the attack on the Pentagon. Ten years later it was the navy that would dominate that raid on the bin Laden compound. Mullen meeting goes seals before they headed into Pakistan. Sort of a final dress rehearsal and I went to it involves upwards of 48 to fifty CO olds and and I specifically. Met and shook hands and looked every operator in the IA to. One express my gratitude to. You know are they raided ago and I was very confident that they work. But in the days leading up to the raid secrecy. Was Paramount. You need to keep this very very close goes. If bin Laden urged people or gotten wind of any potential operation there he would have been gone and Mike Mullen and all those involved in the raid. Knew how to keep the secret. Please welcome the president of the United States of America. Just 24 hours prior to the raid. President Obama and others involved in the operation were app the white house correspondents'. Dinner. Even the joke about what was believed to be the failure to find bin Laden did not throw the president. It's hiding in the Hindu because they did you know that every day from fortified he hosts a show on C span. Remember taking pictures with you seeing you I knew U pretty well I never would have known anything but. I think what what made ought made it all worked at the white house correspondents' dinner news is we reacted it's as if everything was normal parents. That was the plan. But not everything went according to plan there was this harrowing moment when one of the helicopters tail sections hit a compound wall. Back picture captures a lot of intensity. It was incredibly intense and it almost froze the place. But as Mullen and then Vice President Biden clutched their Catholic rosary rings. This still of that helicopter pilot saved the day. Minutes later the Navy SEALs entered the compound and took out bin Laden. And right after we heard Geronimo I looked down to the vice president and he's getting his wallet out. And he's put he's about to put his rosary and you know into his wallet. I turned him and I said mr. vice president I've got. 48 or 49. American sailors and soldiers illegally in a country. I've still got to fly him out I've got to get him back to. Jalalabad. And then I've got to fly them through Pakistani airspace. To get the body out to an aircraft carrier very. Please put that ring back on its its now's not the time to stop Bryant. I suspect he put that ring back on heated hours later with the mission fully complete. Mullen left the White House to celebrations. Echoing around him. I left alone and should. And I watched. By the Rose Garden. And I could hear out in Lafayette square this chance USA and you answer. Dominated by young boys so and that sort of women who at his house significant. Bit these young. Men and women who had been. Nine or ten I think when. When towers were taken down that it was such an extraordinary moment for the vamp. And that really that that was the moment for leave it kinda raised it to how significant. This really Watters. Indeed it was and eventually led to the demise of al-Qaeda. I asked the admiral how he feels about president Biden's decision to withdraw all US forces after twenty years. He said while he has concerns. It is the right decision it's time to come how.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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