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Entries in Killed (19)

Monday
May092011

Obama to '60 Minutes': Confident of Bin Laden Raid, Worried for SEALs

The White House/Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- President Obama admits that he “did not lose sleep” over the chance that the high-risk mission he ordered last week could mean the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

However, he also acknowledged in a pre-recorded interview with Steve Kroft that aired Sunday evening on CBS’ 60 Minutes that his chief concern above all others was “can we still get the guys out” if the Navy SEAL raid on the suspected bin Laden hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan went sideways.

Fortunately for the president and the nation, the SEALs got their target -- the most wanted terrorist in the world since orchestrating the attacks against the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001 that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Still, the possibility of failure was also on Obama’s mind.

He told Kroft, “You think about Black Hawk Down.  You think about what happened with the Iranian rescue.  And I am very sympathetic to the situation for other presidents where you make a decision, you're making your best call, your best shot, and something goes wrong.”

He called the 40 minutes of the actual operation “the longest 40 minutes of my life, with the possible exception of when [daughter] Sasha got meningitis."

Asked by Kroft about those who questioned if bin Laden was actually eliminated, Obama asserted “There is no doubt that we killed Osama bin Laden,” then repeated his earlier assertion that photographic evidence demanded by skeptics would only serve to inflame bin Laden loyalists in the Islamic world.

One question that won’t go away anytime soon is if bin Laden was shielded by sympathetic Pakistanis, given that he lived in the million dollar-compound for as long as six years, just a short drive from the capital of Islamabad and very near the country’s top military academy.

The president declared his belief that “some sort of support network” existed in Pakistan for bin Laden to remain undetected by U.S. intelligence but there was no way of knowing now if people inside the Pakistani government were complicit.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May052011

Obama's Ground Zero Appearance Will Be Low-Key, Respectful

Chris Hondros/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- President Obama's appearance Thursday at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan will not be a "victory lap" to celebrate the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who directed the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

Rather, his first visit in three years to what is considered hallowed ground will be subdued and will not include any public remarks.

Just as he had done during the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama will lay a wreath at the site where the World Trade Center towers were brought down by suicide hijackers.  He will also meet with some family members of those killed in the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil.

The president is expected to spend three hours at Ground Zero with Mayor Mike Bloomberg and other officials.

Before his trip there, Obama will meet with New York City firefighters who lost comrades who responded to the fires at the towers on 9/11.

Former President George W. Bush, who visited the site just three days after the 9/11 attacks, declined a White House invitation to join Obama for Thursday's Ground Zero visit.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May052011

Eric Holder: Killing Bin Laden Was 'An Act of National Self-Defense'

Chris Hondros/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration isn't going to apologize for killing an unarmed terrorist, especially one who killed nearly 3,000 unarmed people on Sept. 11, 2001.

Attorney General Eric Holder made it crystal clear Wednesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that killing Osama bin Laden "was justified as an act of national self-defense."

It was revealed after Sunday's raid by the Navy SEALs at the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan that bin Laden was not armed when they found him in a room with one of his wives.  However, after the woman lunged at the SEALs, the decision was made to shoot her and then kill bin Laden.

Holder explained to lawmakers that the al Qaeda leader "was by my estimation and the estimation of the Justice Department a lawful military target and the operation was conducted in a way that was consistent with our law, with our values."

The attorney general backtracked a bit during his testimony when he first said that Special Forces should have allowed bin Laden to surrender if that's what he intended to do.  However, Holder later remarked there would have been a "good basis" for SEALs to take down bin Laden even if the fugitive made some indication that he wanted to surrender.

This explanation probably won't satisfy some scholars of international law who contend that using lethal force against a military target outside a declared combat zone is illegal.  This opinion also applies to the CIA sending predator drones into Pakistan to kill al Qaeda and Taliban operatives, since Islamabad contends it's a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May052011

Lawmakers Respond to Obama’s Decision to Hold Bin Laden Photos

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The reaction on Capitol Hill to President Obama’s decision not to release any photographic evidence of Osama bin Laden’s death has been met mostly with agreement, with top lawmakers in the House of Representatives from both parties deferring to the president’s discretion.

Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, personally opposed releasing the photos and called Obama’s verdict “a great decision.” 

“I came out early and said that I didn’t think that they should be released.  Imagine if we had one of our general officers who were killed by the Taliban or al Qaeda and they put them up on display and spread out the pictures like they were a trophy.  It would inflame the U.S. population, and rightly so,” Rogers, R-Michigan, said Wednesday afternoon.  “This is the right decision.  We have soldiers at risk in combat areas.  We want their job to be easier, not harder.  I think releasing the photos would have made it harder.  He’s dead.  The Taliban may or may not believe it.  We’ve got other actions that I’m sure they’ll believe coming to a town near them real soon.”

Rep. Peter King, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told reporters Tuesday that he believed the photos should be released to end any speculation from conspiracy theorists that Bin Laden was not really killed.  But on Wednesday, King said he will “certainly support the president’s decision.”

And Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said on Wednesday that she “supports the president’s decision.”

However, not everyone agreed with the administration’s decision not to release the photos.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a former Air Force lawyer, said he believes President Obama’s decision not to release the images is “a mistake” that will “unnecessarily prolong this debate” over the death of the al Qaeda leader.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is considering mounting a challenge to President Obama in 2012, said that although she agrees with the decision not to release the photos, it is “important for the administration to release definitive proof that identifies Osama bin Laden.”

“The world and the American people need to know that we got our man.  I believe the best evidence would be a DNA match,” Bachmann, R-Minn., said.  “If the administration can release that information, without compromising intelligence, that would be the best proof, and would be better than a photo.  My concern with a photo is that it could incite violence and put U.S. troops in harm’s way.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May042011

Bin Laden's Death Spurs Debate Over Troops' Future in Afghanistan

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gary A. Witte, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment(WASHINGTON) -- Osama bin Laden's death has given new urgency to the voices calling for an end to U.S. involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

The goal of the war in Afghanistan, the longest in U.S. history, has often been said by President Obama to be to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda."

Now that the organization's leader is dead, some argue that the United States should withdraw from a war that costs billions of dollars every year and has led to the deaths of more than 1,500 U.S. troops and more than 8,000 Afghan civilians.  Citing cost concerns, some lawmakers argue that the country should instead turn its attention more closely to domestic budget and economic issues.

"Most people I talk to say that we need to address our nation's budget deficit, and we are spending a lot of money in Afghanistan," said Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla.  "Now that bin Laden has been executed, we must go home."

Opponents of the war also point to the fact that bin Laden was captured in Pakistan, not Afghanistan, through years of intelligence gathering and counter terrorism operations, not military might and the counter insurgency strategy employed in Afghanistan.

The United States is scheduled to draw down its troops in the country in July, but there is no definitive timeframe for a complete pullout.

Two members of the House plan to unveil a bipartisan bill this week that would require the president to submit a withdrawal plan with specific dates.

"The Afghanistan Exit and Accountability Act," co-authored by Reps. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and Jim McGovern, D-Mass., also calls on Obama to identify when and how the United States will hand over security responsibilities to the Afghan people.

But so far, there is little indication from the administration that it plans a shift in its strategy in Afghanistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May042011

Bin Laden Death: Americans Divided Over Credit for Presidents

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- A bipartisan mix of lawmakers and pundits has been heaping credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden on President Obama -- and his two predecessors, Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

But to what extent did presidential leadership play a role in ultimately finding bin Laden, and who deserves the most credit for finally finding the world's most wanted man?

Public displays of unity aside, those questions remain the subject of a subtle, but hot, partisan debate.

Obama claimed credit for himself Sunday night, emphasizing the decision to make the bin Laden manhunt a key objective was his, shortly after he took office more than two years ago.  He didn't mention Bush, who wanted bin Laden "dead or alive," or Clinton, who declared him "public enemy number one."

"I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda," Obama said early in his speech, "even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network."

Moreover, White House aides said Obama's decision to go forward with the dangerous secret operation, based on circumstantial evidence alone, was gutsy and bold.  The odds bin Laden would actually be there were only 60 to 80 percent, Panetta told Time magazine after the fact.

Leading Republicans have publicly praised Obama for his leadership in the moment, and strong majorities of Republican voters in recent polls say they believe the president deserves credit for the mission's success.

But there's a remarkable divide between parties over just how much credit President Bush deserves.  Eighty-one percent of Republicans say Bush deserves some recognition for the successful operation, according to a new Washington Post/Pew Research Center poll.  Only 35 percent of Democrats said they agree.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

Condoleezza Rice on Bin Laden's Death: 'Extraordinary Moment'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- “Extraordinary” -- that’s what former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who spent eight years chasing Osama bin Laden, called the killing of the al Qaeda leader and the news that Navy SEALs had taken him down.

“It really said so much about the United States of America. I remember when President Bush said ‘We will not tire, we will not falter, we will not fail,” she told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview Tuesday for Good Morning America. “He really meant the United States of America. And President Obama and his team are to be congratulated to having brought this to an end.”

Rice said she was “surprised” to find out that bin Laden was hiding so close to Islamabad and said it raises some important questions for the Pakistani government.

“Questions that really the Pakistanis need to answer not just for us but for themselves. They have been victims of al Qaeda terrorism. They have been victims of terrorism leading to the death of Benazir Bhutto. So I am sure Pakistan will want to understand better why he could hide right there in plain sight,” she said.

Asked whether it’s time for the administration to rethink the mission in Afghanistan – since they caught Osama and so few members of al Qaeda are still there, Rice said “the mission is really finally making some achievements.”

“The reporting is good about what we have achieved over the last several months,” she said.

“We have a chance to leave an Afghanistan that is more secure with better security forces, a more decent Afghan government and then ultimately a safer South Asian region because it’s not just the stability of Afghanistan but the stability of Pakistan that is important too.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

President Obama Heading to Ground Zero on Thursday

Chris Hondros/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will go to New York City Thursday to visit the site of the World Trade Center, where nearly 3,000 people died almost 10 years ago in a terrorist attack believed to have been plotted by Osama bin Laden.

According to the White House, while there, the president will meet with the families of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and mark the death of bin Laden, who was killed by Navy SEALS in a compound in Pakistan on Sunday.

Speaking at a bipartisan dinner in the East Room of the White House Monday night, President Obama called for the unity felt in the wake of the killing of bin Laden to be extended to the upcoming debates on Capitol Hill.

"I know that unity that we felt on 9/11 has frayed a little bit over the years, and I have no illusions about the difficulty of the debates that we’ll have to be engaged in in the weeks and months to come.  But I also know there have been several moments like this during the course of this year that have brought us together as an American family,” he said.

“Last night was one of those moments," he said referring to the announcement of bin Laden's death.  "And so tonight it is my fervent hope that we can harness some of that unity and some of that pride to confront the many challenges that we still face.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

Chief Counterterrorism Adviser: No 'Specific Threats' on US Yet

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- There have been no "specific threats" made against America in the nearly 48 hours since an elite team of Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden, President Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser told ABC News Tuesday morning.

“We’re working very closely with Department of Homeland Security, FBI and others so that we understand here at the White House what those measures are as well as what threats might be out there but right now I think we feel pretty confident that we are at the right posture,” John Brennan said.

Brennan said it is “inconceivable” that bin Laden did not have some sort of support system inside Pakistan -- considering he was hiding about 1,000 feet away from a military academy -- and the administration is investigating if members of the Pakistani government gave him any help.

“At this time, what we’re doing is pursuing the leads and engaging with the Pakistanis and it’s too early to tell what type of support system he had,” Brennan said.

They hope to find out more about that support system in the evidence the SEALs took from the compound.

Brennan also backed up the news that the White House is considering releasing a photo of bin Laden’s corpse as early as Tuesday.

“We are looking at releasing additional information, details about the raid as well as any other types of material, possibly including photos," Brennan said.

“Any types of material related to the raid, we need to make sure that we make the right decisions.   What we don’t want to do is to compromise potential future operations by releasing certain things so we’re looking at all of this and making the right decisions,” he added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

Bin Laden Operation Ended with Coded Message 'Geronimo-E KIA'

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- The first indication for President Obama that Osama bin Laden had been killed came when a Navy SEAL sent back a coded message to Washington that said simply, "Geronimo-E KIA."

Geronimo was the code name for the operation that sent two teams of 12 SEALs by Blackhawk helicopters to a walled compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan, on Sunday to kill or capture the most wanted man in the world.  Anxious White House officials weren't positive that they would find bin Laden in the fortress-like complex and worried that he might leave while the SEALs were en route.

The first encouraging word came at the beginning of the raid, when the SEALS recognized the man who had eluded a U.S. manhunt for a decade.  They sent back the message, "Geronimo."

After a 40-minute search of the compound, punctuated by firefights, bin Laden was dead, and the cryptic "Geronimo-E KIA" code sent relief through the White House.  "E" stood for "enemy" and "KIA" for "killed in action."  Bin Laden was shot twice, once in the head and once in the chest, a senior administration official told ABC News.

The SEALS words, however, were not sufficient proof that the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was finally dead.  As the evidence piled up -- verbal ID, face recognition analysis and DNA matches -- the White House debate continued.  Obama ended the discussion with a terse, "We got him."

White House senior officials on Monday were still sorting through the details of the dramatic U.S. raid on bin Laden in Pakistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio