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Long IslandPolitics

King recalls hearing of bin Laden's death

US Rep. Peter King in Grand Central Terminal.

US Rep. Peter King in Grand Central Terminal. (April 20, 2011) Photo Credit: Jefferson Siegel, 2011

Rep. Peter King missed the call alerting him to the news he thought he'd never receive -- that Osama bin Laden was dead.

King first noticed at 10:05 p.m. on Sunday that he had a message on his cellphone. On the voice mail was a message from Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

"I didn't hear it [ring]," King (R-Seaford) said. "I had the phone on vibrate because I was at the kickboxing match at the Glo nightclub in Westbury."

Leiter "said to call the White House," King recalled Monday.

The call was the first indication to King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, that an attack on bin Laden had been in the works. King called back, and Leiter informed him that the man responsible for planning the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington had been killed.

"It took me about three seconds to realize what it meant," King said. "Being on Homeland Security, I know about all the dry leads and dead ends we've had. It wasn't on my radar screen that bin Laden was going to be captured."

The White House began informing congressional leaders of bin Laden's death Sunday after the 9:45 p.m. announcement that President Barack Obama would speak later. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he was watching TV when the news broke.

"I said, 'I'll bet we've got bin Laden,' " Schumer said he told his family. He spoke later with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who received word from the White House.

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