President Obama says the raid that killed Osama bin Laden produced some of the longest moments of his life, and added up to the "most important single day" of his presidency.
While the raid could also have crippled his presidency -- what if bin Laden had not been in that compound in Pakistan? -- Obama tells NBC News that he took the risk because the military had a good plan.
"The reason I was willing to make that decision of sending in our SEALs to try to capture or kill bin Laden rather than to take some other options was ultimately because I had 100% faith in the Navy SEALs themselves," Obama says.
The president's comments are part of an anniversary documentary on the raid to air tonight on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams. The program, Inside the Situation Room, airs at 9 p.m. ET.
There weren't many people with whom Obama could discuss the risks -- planning the raid was one of the most closely held secrets in Washington history.
Obama didn't even tell wife Michelle.
"This had to be such a close-held operation," Obama said. "There were only a handful of staff in the White House who knew about this."
He added: "Even a breath of this in the press could have chased bin Laden away. We didn't know at that point whether there might be underground tunnels coming out of that compound that would allow him to escape."
The raid took place in the early hours of May 2, 2011, Pakistan time.
Obama also cited the one-year anniversary during yesterday's surprise trip to Afghanistan.
From NBC News:
The killing of the 9/11 mastermind had been years in the making, a mission that Obama's two predecessors had been unable accomplish. President Bill Clinton fired 75 cruise missiles trying to kill bin Laden while President George W. Bush was frustrated by the al-Qaeda leader's ability to evade capture.
After years of hunting bin Laden, the Central Intelligence Agency got its biggest break in late 2010.
Helmed by then CIA Director Leon Panetta, the agency identified the home of bin Laden's courier in the upscale town of Abbottabad, not far from Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. Satellites revealed someone else living at the same compound: a tall man walking in the courtyard that analysts dubbed "The Pacer."
"Ultimately it was a 50/50 proposition as to whether this was actually bin Laden," Obama said.