From NBC's Savannah Guthrie and Bob Windrem
Officials tell NBC News that President Barack Obama was able to monitor the assault on the compound that housed Osama Bin Laden in real time Sunday night from the Situation Room.
The president received "audio and visual" updates from the scene as it was unfolding, said one U.S. official.
When the team on the ground reported back that they had killed the organization's leader, at approximately 3:55pm ET on Sunday, applause broke out in the Situation Room.
According to current and former officials, CIA Director Leon Panetta was also able to watch the operation in real time from the CIA, conferring live with Vice Admiral William H. McRaven, head of the Joint Special Operations Command, who was in Afghanistan.
Full video of the assault is unlikely to be released because it contains operations information.
Two moments during the raid were particularly "heartstopping," according to one official.
The first was when the operation's helicopters first arrived at the scene. The plan was for the choppers to hover and lower 12 Seals to the ground rather than land. But one of the choppers stopped working due to a lack of air within the high compound walls.
It made a soft landing (not a crash) on the ground and the raid went forward. At that point a third "emergency" chopper on standby came to the scene.
As the team returned with bin Laden's body, they blew up the broken chopper, which resulted in a "massive explosion." The team exited in two helicopters.
The other tense moment came when the choppers were leaving the country but remained within Pakistani airspace. The Pakistanis, seeing the choppers and not knowing if they were friendly or not, scrambled their fighter jets, causing white knuckles before the helicopters were able to leave.
NBC's Courtney Kube contributed.