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Wednesday
May042011

American Bin Laden Hunter Wants Piece of Reward

ABC News(DENVER) -- The samurai sword-wielding American who made headlines around the world over for his dogged, if unusual, one-man quest to capture Osama bin Laden said he served the al Qaeda leader "up on a platter" to the U.S. government and will ask for a portion of the $27 million reward following bin Laden's death Sunday.

"I had a major hand and play in this wonderful thing, getting him out of the mountains and down to the valleys... Someone had to get him out of there.  That's where I came in," Gary Faulkner of Greeley, Colorado, told ABC News.  "I scared the squirrel out of his hole, he popped his head up and he got capped.

"I'm proud of our boys, I'm very proud of our government... They were handed this opportunity on a platter from myself," he said.

Faulkner found himself in the international spotlight last June when he was detained by Pakistani authorities while trying to cross into Afghanistan during his eleventh attempt to track down the world's most wanted man.  He was discovered equipped with a pistol, a samurai sword, night vision goggles and a map.  When he was arrested, Faulkner told police he was intent on avenging the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Pakistani authorities said at the time that they laughed when Faulkner told them about his quest.  Pakistani officials and doctors questioned Faulkner to determine his mental state.  Faulkner's brother told reporters that Faulkner does not have mental problems, though he does have an extensive criminal record of minor offenses stretching back to the 1980s.

Though Faulkner has not been mentioned in the government's detailed account of how the CIA painstakingly tracked down bin Laden, he said on Tuesday that it was the publicity surrounding the June incident that pushed bin Laden out of hiding in the mountains and caves of Afghanistan and into the million-dollar compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Faulkner dismisses U.S. officials who said bin Laden was believed to have lived in the compound for as many as six years.

"He hadn't been living there for no damn six years," Faulkner said.  "I absolutely flushed him out."

Faulkner said that his quest to capture bin Laden was never about the money, but now that it's over, he deserves some compensation.  The U.S. State Department offered a $25 million reward for information leading to bin Laden's capture through the Rewards for Justice program, and an additional $2 million reward was offered by the Airline Pilots Association and the Air Transportation Association.

"It wasn't about me.  I wanted to bring him to justice.  I'm not greedy, but I sold everything I had and I put my life on the line," Faulkner said.

The State Department said it would not comment on whether anyone had asked to receive or had been nominated to receive any or all of the reward.  Faulkner said he planned to file for the money; the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which administers the Rewards for Justice program, does not accept filings.  The U.S. government must nominate an individual to receive all or part of the funds.

Faulkner said that before he heard news of bin Laden's death, he was in the midst of planning his next mission to the Middle East.  While he didn't reveal too many details, he did say this one involved using an ultralight aircraft to come through the "back door" of northern Afghanistan.

"We were gearing up to go back and finish this up," he said.

In previous attempts, Faulkner had tried to use a hang glider to approach bin Laden's suspected cave, but had to call those plans off after disastrous dry runs with the hang glider in Israel.

Now that bin Laden's dead, Faulkner said he's retiring from the bounty hunter business.  Instead, he's basking in the glow he feels for what he said was his integral role in bringing the world's most famous terrorist down.

"I'm on cloud nine," he said.  "To know that I actually had a hand in this...It was a good marriage of myself, the Pakistani government and our government and now the man has been brought to justice not even a year later."

"This is sweet," he added. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

Did a College Class Track Down Bin Laden in 2009?

Comstock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- It seems Osama bin Laden could have been found earlier if U.S. officials had taken seriously a project conducted by a group of UCLA geographers two years ago.

Using a probabilistic model they'd created to predict how animals distribute themselves, professors Thomas Gillespie and John Agnew, along with a class of undergraduates at the University of California, Los Angeles, set out in 2009 to predict bin Laden's location.

The result: an 88.9 percent probability that bin Laden was living in a city less than 300 kilometers (about 200 miles) from Tora Bora, his last known location in Afghanistan.

Within that area: Abbottabad, Pakistan, where bin Laden was located and ultimately killed Sunday night.

Using what they called "life history characteristics," the professors and students predicted that he would be located in a large town, not a cave, and that the building would have high ceilings, more than three rooms, cover from trees, a fence and electricity.

Indeed, when Navy SEALs located bin Laden, the 9/11 mastermind was not hiding in a cave in Afghanistan. He was living in a huge compound in an upscale Pakistani suburb -- just 35 miles from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad and down the street from Pakistan's version of West Point.

"He was more or less living in plain sight [and] relatively high on the hog," a senior intelligence official told ABC News.

"Caves are cold," Gillespie told Science magazine. "You can't see people walking up to them." But he said bin Laden should have chosen a different home -- "An inconspicuous house would have suited him better."

The bin Laden tracking idea arose during conversations between Gillespie and Agnew in the UCLA geography department in 2009.

Combining satellite information, biogeographic theories and what they knew of bin Laden's travels since Tora Bora, students created a probabilistic model of where he likely was hiding. The group eventually put bin Laden in Parachinar, a Pakistani border town, and pinpointed three possible hideouts.

Gillespie eventually wrote the students' results in a paper and submitted it to the journal MIT International Review.

Despite requests for interviews from TV shows and newspapers, he said he did not hear from the U.S. intelligence community. He told Science magazine, though, that he was not in the practice of finding terrorists.

In 2009, former CIA officer John Kiriakou, an ABC News consultant, said the paper was a "really interesting starting point." A CIA official who had not seen the report said only, "Take it with a huge grain of salt, huge."

So what's up next for Gillespie? "Right now I'm working on the dry forests of Hawaii," he said. "I'm far more interested in getting trees off the endangered species list."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

More than 56 Million Watch Obama's Address on Osama bin Laden's Death

The White House(NEW YORK) -- More than 56 million people watched President Obama's address on the death of Osama bin Laden on Sunday.

The address was carried live from approximately 11:35 PM-11:45 PM ET on nine television networks, including ABC, CBS and NBC.

According to the Nielsen Company, 56,512,179 people tuned in with a combined household rate of 33.9 percent.

Despite the late hour of the broadcast, the speech marks a record when compared to previous televised speeches made by President Obama. The second highest number of viewers watched his speech on Afghanistan in December 2009, with 40,767,124 people tuning in.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

Code Name 'Geronimo' for Osama bin Laden Mission Angers Some Native Americans

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As the country rejoices over the killing of Osama bin Laden, many Native Americans have different reactions: shock, dismay, hurt.

That’s because the Navy SEALs used “Geronimo” as the code name for mission to capture or kill bin Laden.

“It’s another attempt to label Native Americans as terrorists,” said Paula Antoine from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.

“WTF, da gov't code named osama bin laden "Geronimo"! wat kinda [expletive] is that?” is how Cody YoungBear LeClair of Marshalltown, Iowa, put it on his Facebook page.

On Facebook, on Twitter, on Native American websites, in local newspapers and in what appear to be countless conversations on reservations and in schools across the country, Native Americans are genuinely hurt and puzzled by the choice of “Geronimo” as a code name for either bin Laden or the mission to take him out.

White House officials have insisted that the codename "Geronimo" was used as the name only for the mission, not bin Laden himself.

Navy SEALs confirmed the death of bin Laden with the line: “Geronimo E-KIA.” CIA Director Leon Panetta seemed to indicate in an interview Wednesday that "Geronimo" was the name for bin Laden when he described the raid on bin Laden's Pakistan compound.

“Once those teams went into the compound, I can tell you that there was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes where we -- you know, we really didn't know just exactly what was going on. And there were some very tense moments as we were waiting for information. But finally, Adm. McRaven came back and said that he had picked up the word "Geronimo," which was the code word that represented that they got bin Laden,” Panetta told PBS.

 That may be a distinction without a difference to Native American ears.

Geronimo was, of course, the 19th Century Apache leader and warrior who defended his people’s homes and families, often from U.S. forces operating in violation of treaty obligations. He was brave, fierce, elusive. He died a prisoner of the United States in 1909, 23 years after his capture.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

Bin Laden Death Reignites Battle over Waterboarding, 'Enhanced Interrogation'

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The death of Osama bin Laden has reignited debate about interrogation techniques and whether the framework set up during the Bush administration to detain and interrogate suspected terrorists contributed to the eventual capture of the al Qaeda leader.

In the hours after bin Laden's death Sunday, senior Obama administration officials said detainees had provided the nom de guerre of the courier who eventually lead intelligence officers to the compound housing bin Laden. Officials said the courier, who was killed during Sunday's raid, was identified by detainees as a protege of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- considered the mastermind of 9/11 -- and that he might be "living with and protecting" bin Laden.

The senior administration officials provided no information on who conducted the interviews and where they took place. But the comments sparked a debate about whether the information might have been the result of controversial, harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding used by intelligence officials against high-value detainees in secret overseas prisons run by the CIA in the years after 9/11.

President Bush confirmed the existence of the prisons in September of 2006, saying that the program had received strict oversight by the CIA's inspector general. But human rights groups said some of the techniques officials had used amounted to torture.

Upon taking office, President Obama signed an executive order barring the use of interrogation techniques not already authorized in the military's U.S. Army Field Manual.

At a hearing Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder was asked if the intelligence that lead to the operation was derived from any enhanced interrogation techniques. "There was a mosaic of sources," he said.

Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., asked the attorney general whether the public could be rest assured that the intelligence did not involve enhanced techniques.

"I do not know," Holder testified.

In an interview with ABC News' Jonathan Karl Monday, former Vice President Dick Cheney was asked about reports that the information might have come directly from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was held by the CIA and later transferred to Guantanamo Bay Cuba. The Bush administration has acknowledged that Mohammed had been subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques while in CIA custody.

Cheney, who has in the past defended the use of the interrogations such as waterboarding, said, "Well, it's an enhanced interrogation program that we put in place back in our first term. And I don't know the details. All I know is what I've seen in the newspaper at this point, but it wouldn't be surprising if in fact that program produced results that ultimately contributed to the success of this venture."

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, who has been a fierce critic of the enhanced interrogation techniques, said, "I don't have any basis to believe that...any leads here were produced by illegal activities on our part. I have no basis to know that. And my views about the fact that torture produces misinformation, not good information, are pretty well known."

Intelligence Committee chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., agreed with Levin, saying Tuesday, "To the best of our knowledge, based on a look, none of it came as a result of harsh interrogation practices."

At a news briefing Tuesday, Obama spokesperson Jay Carney revealed few details on the information gathered from interrogations. "The fact is that no single piece of information led to the successful mission that occurred on Sunday and multiple detainees provided insights into the networks of people that might have been close to bin Laden," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

The Navy SEAL Team 6 Weapons that Brought Down Bin Laden

MILpictures by Tom Weber(NEW YORK) -- As Navy SEAL Team 6 closed in on its prey -- Osama bin Laden -- it likely entered the battle armed with the best weapons and technology available to soldiers anywhere in the world, a military expert and former Navy SEAL fighter told ABC News.

Although tactical details of Sunday's mission remain unconfirmed, ABC News spoke with a former Navy SEAL sniper to learn what equipment and tech toys SEAL teams usually use to take down a target.

"The organizations we're talking about have the resources to get any weapon systems they think are necessary to do the job, and they will bring [anything] they think will give them the greatest advantage in that moment," Richard "Mac" Machowicz, a former Navy SEAL sniper and the host of Spike TV's Deadliest Warrior, told ABC News. "If they get it, and they like it, they'll use it."

The Blackhawk helicopters that carried them to the scene not only hold missiles and large-caliber guns but provide a lookout platform.

"SEALs have developed the ability to send very accurate fire from helicopters," Machowicz said.

Those snipers would have available highly customized rifles tailored to that particular battlefield, he said. Machowicz told ABC News that when he was a sniper, he essentially had eight different sniper rifles tailored to different scenarios.

The SEAL's ground weapons were likely highly specialized too. "The mission dictates the target, the target dictates the weapons and the weapons dictate how they're used," Machowicz said. In the bin Laden scenario, the SEALs would have likely used short-barrel weapons -- such as a shortened M4 or AR-15 assault rifle -- that allow them to easily maneuver in and out of doors, hallways and vehicles.

Machowicz speculates those guns used a large bullet type. "There are new weapons systems that fire the .45 caliber [round] that allows you to deliver a lot more kinetic energy, and you don't need to worry about overpenetration on the target."

In the sky, in-atmosphere satellites (such as predator drones) and space-based satellites convey information to the troops on the ground. Helmet-mounted cameras, which were reportedly worn during the mission to capture bin Laden, also transmitted information to commanders back at base and to the situation room in Washington. This helps the soldiers on the ground to quickly identify their targets, pick up every threat and take them down fast.

The lookout platform from the Blackhawks is extremely important, as the ground soldiers were most likely not using night-vision goggles. "All of the rehearsals for this were most likely done at night so target identification would be natural," said Machowicz. "You don't want to just have night vision on the guys' faces, because the changing light conditions could change how you are able to use that....You don't want guys messing with their night vision when they're supposed to be taking out targets."

Suppressers, which are built into most modern-day weapons, would have also likely been made available to SEAL Team 6. Contrary to popular perception, they not only provide a stealth advantage but also help the team communicate once the bullets start flying. Anyone who has been on a gun range can tell you, gunshots are loud.

That means the fancy radios used to get everyone in place until the mission starts get replaced with low-tech out loud shouting once the firing begins and stealth is no longer an option.

One of the other useful tools in a SEAL's kit is the flash bang, or stun grenade. This device works similar to a regular grenade but is nonlethal, while still producing a disorienting amount of sound and light. Volume, noise and power allow you to dominate a room.

"SEALs want to physically and mentally dominate that space from the moment they enter," says Machowicz. "Now what happens, when you're startled, anything that guy does to you just seems so much faster."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

Osama Bin Laden Death Photo: How Gruesome?  

CNN via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- ABC News has learned that the Obama administration possesses a number of photographs of Osama bin Laden’s corpse, taken in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

Officials who have seen the photographs describe them as “gruesome.” Bin Laden has a gunshot wound to his forehead. The insides of his head are visible.

The pictures from Pakistan are of bin Laden in the compound, dead. There are also pictures of his dead son Khaled, the dead courier, and the dead courier’s brother.

The pictures of bin Laden in Afghanistan are from a U.S. military base. The ones from the aircraft carrier are of bin Laden on the deck before and after he was wrapped in a shroud, in keeping with Muslim burial traditions.

Representative Peter King, R-N.Y., said Tuesday afternoon he’s heard the bin Laden death photos aren’t that bad.

“They’re not ghoulish, they’re not going to scare people off, they’re not offensive,” King told reporters after the briefing.  “Nothing more than you expect with a person with a bullet in his head.”

But, as Mr. King acknowledged, he has not seen the photos.  King was speaking after Leon Panetta gave House members a classified briefing, but Panetta did not show the photos at the briefing.

But a source tells ABC News they have seen the photos and disagree with King’s characterization.  

This source, who was shown about a half-dozen of the photos, says they look like photos from “a bad crime scene” -- bloody and “gruesome.”

Maybe it’s a question of how you define gruesome.  The source says, “It’s what you’d expect from somebody shot in the head with a high-caliber bullet.”  To this source -- that ‘s bad.

In fact, after viewing the photos, this source says it would be a mistake to release them -- especially so soon after the mission.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

Gerald Ford Honored with Statue at Capitol

Tom Williams/Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- A statue honoring the late President Gerald Ford was dedicated Tuesday in the rotunda at the U.S. Capitol building.

Speaking at the ceremony on Tuesday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell praised Ford’s leadership during the bitter days after Watergate, when McConnell said Americans had lost confidence in its government.

“That bitterness has yielded to a sense of pride that America, in her resilience, bounced back,” McConnell said. He said that Americans were overcome with “a sense of gratitude to the man who steadied the ship of state when scandal came.”

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi recalled Ford’s 1993 visit to the Capitol, when he celebrated his 90th birthday.

“He was like a rock star,” Pelosi said Tuesday. “Everyone surrounded him.  It was....as he moved through the chamber, it was just...he was engulfed by members.”

Ford, who served as the 38th president, died in 2006 after suffering a number of health complications.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

Senate Honors Military, Intel on Osama Bin Laden Mission

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate – with all senators sitting at their desks in the chamber, a rare sight – passed a resolution Tuesday honoring the members of the military and intelligence communities who carried out the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate was voting on the resolution “not as two parties, not even as 100 senators, but as one body, representing one grateful country.”

The vote was 97-0.

“Those who remember the horror of 9/11 take a certain satisfaction knowing that the last thing Osama bin Laden saw in this world was the small team of Americans who shot him dead,” said the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell.

“Justice has been done and the world has become a better place now that bin Laden is no longer in it,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. “This is a time for national unity and celebration. It is a time to finally close a painful chapter in the history of our nation, even as our larger fight continues. And most of all, it is a time to give thanks and recognition to a distinguished group of our fellow citizens who will forever occupy an honored place in our history.

“I am truly in awe of what these young men have accomplished,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

Report: Are TVs Becoming a Thing of the Past?

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study suggests a growing number of Americans are turning away from their televisions, but they are not tuning out completely.

For the first time in 20 years, the number of American households with TVs has dropped from nearly 99 percent to 96.7 percent. 

The Neilsen company blames two factors.  One is poverty -- growing number of people can't afford the higher tech digital equipment. The other is computer migration -- younger people weaned on laptops are increasingly getting their programming from the internet.

The shift may make Neilsen officials change the way they define television households, to include internet viewers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio