The iconic photo of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound is set in the Situation Room, where an array of generals and top government officials — including, obviously, President Obama — watched the events in Abbottabad unfold in real time. But in a talk with Jim Newton of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Obama’s former body man Reggie Love revealed that he, Obama, and two others spent a large chunk of time during the raid playing cards upstairs.
Love says they must have played “15 hands” of spades in the White House’s private dining room. “Most people were like down in the Situation Room,” he recalls, “but [Obama] was like, ‘I’m not gonna be down there, I can’t watch this entire thing.’”
The “entire thing” lasted around 220 minutes — about 180 minutes of which consisted of helicopter rides to and from the compound, during which nothing was really happening. Sources (a.k.a. people who have played spades) tell Daily Intelligencer that a hand of spades lasts around ten minutes, so fifteen hands would take approximately 150 minutes. So while the timeline is unclear, Obama wasn’t necessarily playing cards upstairs during any of the exciting parts.