From the stunning news of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden last Sunday to yesterday's release of videos from his compound ... this has been an extraordinary and long-awaited week. CBS News national security correspondent David Martin takes a look back:
This of it as a 21st century ogre in his lair: Osama bin Laden hiding from the greatest manhunt in history but still a creature of the information age, reviewing videotapes of the touched-up image he presented to the world.
While he rehearsed his messages with his beard trimmed and dyed, he apparently had no idea U.S. intelligence was closing in on him.
Videos were recovered from his compound by the Navy SEALs who killed him a week ago today - an operation President Obama and his advisers monitored from the White House Situation Room.
In an interview to be aired tonight on "60 Minutes," the president told Steve Kroft what was going through his mind:
"My number one concern was, if I send them in, can I get them out? And a lot of the discussion we had during the course of planning was how do we make sure there's backup? How do we make sure that there's redundancy built into the plan so that we have the best chance of getting our guys out?"
For months, the CIA had been watching a one-acre compound in Pakistan both from overhead satellites and a safe house nearby. Surrounded by high walls and barbed wire, it looked like bin Laden's hideout. But intelligence analysts couldn't be sure. One thing was sure, however: The Pakistanis couldn't be trusted.
"We made the decision that we would not inform them, that we would conduct this operation unilaterally on the part of the United States," said CIA Director Leon Panetta.
To Panetta, it seemed entirely possible the Pakistanis had known bin Laden was there all along: "This was a location that was very close to a military academy. It was close to other, other sensitive military sites. It had been there since almost five years ago. It was very unusual as a compound."
A team of 25 Navy SEALs flew in Black Hawk helicopters specially modified to reduce their noise. As they were about to fast-rope onto the compound, one of the Black Hawks lost lift and had to make an emergency landing.
The president and his advisers, John Brennan among them, could only wait in silence.
"It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time, I think, in the lives of the people who were assembled here yesterday," said Brennan. "The minutes passed like days."
The SEALs found bin Laden in his bedroom and shot him twice - once in the chest and once to the head.
At the White House, the tension broke.
Shortly before midnight, with a cheering crowd gathering outside the White House, the president went on national television:
"Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden."
The SEALs had taken pictures of bin Laden with part of his skull blown away, but the president told "60 Minutes" it was too gruesome to release.
"It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence," Mr. Obama said.
But the administration DID release videos from a trove of laptops, hard drives, CDs, thumb drives and handwritten notes which the SEALs hauled away from bin Laden's compound - the most intelligence ever captured from a senior terrorist.
A task force is working around the clock to analyze and exploit the intelligence, and it may well be that bin Laden's last act was to give up the roadmap that could lead to the final dismantling of his organization.
To add insult to fatal injury, the U.S. government deleted the audio from the released videos so that he could not have one last chance to spread his message.
Bin Laden is gone, buried at sea. Al Qaeda is reeling, without the only leader it has ever known.
But according to Laurence Wright, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his study of bin Laden and al Qaeda, they can never to be forgotten.
"They created an event that will be remembered through history. And unfortunately, they created a precedent, a kind of legacy for other groups that will follow the al Qaeda template," Wright said. "Bin Laden's dead. Al Qaeda will die eventually. But other groups will look to that model and hope to emulate it."