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Entries in Osama Bin Laden (71)

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

Sunday
May082011

Donilon: Pakistan Remains Important U.S. Ally

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Following the killing of Osama bin Laden, a lot of questions have been raised about whether or not Pakistani officials were aware that bin Laden had been hiding out in the town of Abbottabad, in a compound located only a third of a mile away from a military academy of the Pakistani Army.

"The idea that he could be in a suburb essentially of Islamabad is quite remarkable," said former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in an interview with ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour.

"This isn't a time bluster from Pakistan," Rice added. "This is a time for serious analysis of why this happened, why he was hiding in plain sight for apparently as long as he was."

The U.S. did not give Pakistan prior warning about the raid in which Navy SEALs killed bin Laden, and White House national security advisor Tom Donilon said that decision was not based on mistrust, but rather on "operational security." The United States acted on the assumption that bin Laden had an escape plan; if the information leaked, the Al Qaeda leader would vanish once more. There was also the matter of protecting U.S. forces.

"The safety and security of our operators would have been put at issue," Donilon said. "So we didn't share this with anybody, not even our closest ally."

Pakistan remains an important ally of the United States, the national security advisor noted, and its role in the ongoing fight against terrorism should not be so easily dismissed.

The United States also has an immediate interest in preserving the relationship: Pakistan has in its custody all the non-combatants of the Abbottabad compound, including three of Bin Laden's wives. Pakistani officials also took additional material from the compound, according to Donilon, and the United States needs access to it.

Rice said it is possible and probable that high-ranking Pakistani officials did not know bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad. Ignorance, however, is not an excuse.

"If this happens in your country," Rice told Amanpour, "you have an obligation to find out and to do a thorough investigation and to punish anybody who might have been responsible."

Politicians and Americans are now questioning whether the United States should cut off funding to Pakistan. From 2002 to 2010, the United States gave $13.3 billion in security-related aid to Pakistan, and $6 billion for economic assistance. More than $3 billion was requested for 2011.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May072011

GOP Weekly Address: Sen. Brown Commends Military on bin Laden Killing

Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The killing of Osama bin Laden was the main focus of the weekly Republican address, which was delivered on Saturday by U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.).

Senator Brown said while bin Laden’s death can’t compensate for the loss of lives at the hands of the al Qaeda leader, it is “always a victory” when Justice has the final word.

“This was a man who rejoiced in the suffering and death of others, who set in motion all the horror and grief of 9/11 and considered it just a start,” Brown said. “He was a teacher of evil, and now, for him, the lesson is over. It ends not in the fulfillment of some fanatical vision, but in the depths of the Arabian Sea.”

Brown commended members of the U.S. military and the intelligence community for their role in the killing of bin Laden, and said that anyone seeking to do Americans harm will be dealt with.

“The operation was a model of sustained, concentrated military action, and the example will not be lost on other terrorists,” he said. “Any escape they make will be temporary. Any sanctuary they find will be uncovered.  Those who harm or threaten the American people will be dealt with, on our terms, however long it takes.”

The Massachusetts senator said one lesson that can be learned from the killing of bin Laden by Navy SEALs in Pakistan early Monday is that commitment to even the hardest objectives is rewarded.

“We all heard it said that bin Laden was beyond our reach, in some remote corner of the earth, and after almost a decade we could surely never find him. Let me tell you it’s always a mistake to bet against American resourcefulness and determination.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May062011

Obama Tells Troops of Girl Who Lost Father on 9/11

Mario Tama/Getty Images(FORT CAMPBELL, Ky.) -- On Friday, while speaking to soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who recently returned from Afghanistan, President Obama gave moving remarks telling them of a girl who spoke to her father shortly before his death in the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001.

President Obama met with Payton Wall at Ground Zero on Thursday. Wall, who was age four at the time of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, wrote the president a letter after Osama bin Laden was killed.

Obama said "her dad was trapped in the world trade center" so he called home.

"She watched her mom sobbing" and then the phone was passed to her. The teen told Obama that she could barely hear her father, but the words have remained with her.

"Payton, I love you and I will always be watching over you," her father told her, according to the President.

Wall, who was invited to stand behind the president when he laid a wreath at Ground Zero Thursday, got a lot of media attention when the event was concluded. But the girl declined to go into details about what she wrote the president, leaving it to Obama to recount the emotional moment.

"For her and for all of us this week has been a reminder of what we're about as a people," President Obama told the troops, referring to the death after nearly ten years, of Osama bin Laden.

"We're still the America that does the hard things. That does the great things," he said, pointing out that the 101st Airborne Division is the outfit that dropped behind enemy lines on D-Day and went to Little Rock to desegregate schools. "That was you," he said to the soldiers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May062011

Condoleezza Rice: 2007 Mission for Osama bin Laden 'Didn't Materialize'

Donna Svennevik/ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the last time the Bush administration had serious intelligence on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, he was thought to be around Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in the summer of 2007, she tells ABC's Christiane Amanpour in an interview scheduled to air Sunday on This Week. The government believed it might have located bin Laden at a meeting with other al Qaeda members and militants but ended up empty handed, Rice said.

"I don't want to go into this in too much detail because I'm not sure what the sources and methods, issues, are here," Rice said. "Let's just say after very painstaking work, when they were relooking at the entire field of how we might find bin Laden -- because you don't just stumble on Osama bin Laden – there was supposedly this meeting that would take place, perhaps higher level enough for him to come, but in the end it didn't materialize."

Rice's comments come immediately after The New York Times published an article describing the Bush administration's handling of this intelligence in 2007, which is believed to have been the most credible intelligence prior to the mission that killed bin Laden Sunday. In 2007, the U.S. government reportedly obtained information that Osama bin Laden and other high ranking officials of al Qaeda would be meeting in Tora Bora, the same region where allied forces bombed the mountainous terrain in 2001 in a failed attempt track down bin Laden.

"We were constantly having Osama bin Laden sightings," Rice told Amanpour, who pressed the former secretary of state on specific intelligence that bin Laden would attend the 2007 meeting.

A former government official said the military began acting on the intelligence by plotting a large, coordinated bombing mission that would heavily strike the mountainous region along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, according to the New York Times report.

Rice would not discuss any U.S. military operations, citing their still classified nature. CIA Director Leon Panetta last year told ABC News that the last time the United States had good intelligence on bin Laden's location was in the early 2000s.

Amanpour's full interview with Rice can been seen Sunday on ABC's This Week With Christiane Amanpour.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May062011

Sen. Carl Levin 'Deeply Disturbed' About US Aid to Pakistan

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told ABC News he is "deeply disturbed" about U.S. aid to Pakistan and has launched an informal investigation into whether high levels of the Pakistani government knew Osama bin Laden's whereabouts.

"We need these questions about whether or not the top level of the Pakistan government knew or was told by the ISI, their intelligence service, about anything about this suspicious activity for five years in a very, very centralized place," Levin said in an interview with ABC News.

Levin, for one, believes high levels of the Pakistani government had to know where bin Laden was.

"I think at high levels, high levels being the intelligence service, at high levels they knew it," Levin said.  "I can't prove it.  I just think it's counterintuitive not to."

This year alone, the United States gave Pakistan more than $3 billion in military and economic aid.

"Some of it is in our interest.  Some of it seems to be, is not clearly in our interest, and that's why the questions that we are asking the Pakistan government to answer need to be answered," Levin said.

As for the U.S. operation to get bin Laden, Levin said he is unconcerned that details of the story told by the White House have changed.

"There was a firefight on the first floor, and then the most dangerous guy in the world that was being captured on the third floor makes a move, which was an evasive move, guns in his room, big guns, you know, powerful guns," Levin said.  "And here's a man who sends out suicide bombers, who himself was easily expected could have a suicide vest himself and blow up the whole thing."

Levin added, "The bottom line is the right thing was done in the right way." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May052011

Obama to Meet with Navy SEALs Who Killed Osama Bin Laden

MILpictures by Tom Weber(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will personally thank the Navy SEALs team who killed Osama bin Laden, and the president told firefighters in New York City on Thursday that tracking and killing bin Laden showed the world that "when we say 'We never forget,' we mean what we say."

The president will meet the SEALs' elite Team 6 Friday at Fort Campbell, Ky., the second day in a row Obama will leave Washington to commemorate Sunday's precision assassination of bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May052011

Lawmakers to President Obama: Get Out of Afghanistan

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- With the corpse of Public Enemy No. 1 now submerged on the floor of the Arabian Sea, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced new legislation in the House of Representatives on Thursday to require the Obama administration to present an exit strategy for all U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

The bill would require President Obama to transmit to Congress a plan with a timeframe and completion date on the transition of U.S. military and security operations in Afghanistan to the Karzai government, establish a quarterly report from the president on the status of the transition and the cost of remaining in Afghanistan, including increased deficit and public debt, and would oblige the administration to disclose to Congress any savings should the U.S. accelerate redeployment to conclude the transition of operations within six months.

The current plan from the White House would begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan this July, and transition security to the Afghan government in 2014, but the lawmakers are pressing the president for an extensive decrease and a plan to eventually bring all troops home, not just a token withdrawal of a few thousand troops this summer.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May052011

Hillary Clinton Explains Her Expression in Osama Bin Laden Raid Photo

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she has "no idea" what she was watching with President Obama and his national security staff when the photographer snapped a picture showing her with her hand on her mouth and a tense expression.

As of Thursday morning, the photo had been viewed nearly 1.9 million times and is on its way to becoming the most popular on Flickr, according to Wired.

"Those were 38 of the most intense minutes. I have no idea what any of us were looking at that particular millisecond when the picture was taken,” Clinton said of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. "I am somewhat sheepishly concerned that it was my preventing one of my early spring allergic coughs. So, it may have no great meaning whatsoever."

The photo, taken by White House photographer Pete Souza, shows an anxious president and staff receiving updates on the mission taking place in Pakistan. It has garnered much speculation, but the White House has remained mum on the details of what exactly was taking place when it was taken.

Vice President Joe Biden was also reportedly holding his rosary ring.

The White House released eight behind-the-scenes photos on Monday, illustrating the intensity of the situation. The photos show Obama making phone calls throughout the day to keep up with the developments, and meeting with his staff in the Situation Room.

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

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