Hillary Clinton suggests allergies responsible for her appearance in Situation Room photo

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Ticket

The photo above has already attained the status of journalistic history: It shows the Obama administration's senior national security team monitoring the mission targeting Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad. In the shot, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sits with a hand clasped over her mouth as the raid unfolds in real time.

But Clinton suggested Thursday that her seeming emotional reaction to the raid's progress may not come from concern or anticipation; instead, it may have to do with her allergies.

"I am somewhat sheepishly concerned that it was my preventing one of my early spring allergic coughs," she told reporters in Rome. "So, it may have no great meaning whatsoever."

She added that she can't shed any additional light on just what she and her fellow national security advisers were witnessing at just that moment.

"I have no idea what any of us were looking at at that particular millisecond," she said.

The AP notes that there's been plenty of ongoing speculation about the context for the image. However, it doesn't seem like much evidence will emerge to clear these questions up anytime soon: White House officials say that supplying that context in greater detail might compromise intelligence efforts and capabilities.

(Photo of the national security team Sunday evening in the Situation Room: Pete Souza/White House)