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Entries in Osama Bin Laden (71)

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

Senators Seemingly Fooled By Fake Bin Laden Photo

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- For much of Wednesday, the debate raged in Washington: should the Obama administration release photos of a dead Osama bin Laden?

Ultimately, President Obama said no. But that didn't keep a handful of senators from getting duped by what they thought was one of the bin Laden photos.

It all started Wednesday morning as senators left a closed-door classified meeting with CIA boss Leon Panetta.

The top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., told reporters that he had seen photos of bin Laden after the world's most wanted man had been shot in the head. Chambliss wasn't the only one.

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., told Fox-25 TV that he had seen one of the photos, too.

“Listen, I've seen the picture," Brown said in an interview. “He’s definitely dead."

A third senator, New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte, emerged from the Panetta briefing to tell reporters that she, too, had seen the image of a dead bin Laden.

Asked if she had seen any of the bin Laden photos, Ayotte replied, “I have seen one of them.”

She added that it was “clearly his features.”

At the time the claims seemed a bit odd since a number of top senators were telling reporters at the same time they had not seen any photos. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chair of the Intelligence panel, said she had not seen the photos. Same with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, the top Republican on the Armed Services panel.

The confusion grew when Ayotte returned to the Capitol an hour later for a vote, saying that she had been shown the photo by an unnamed colleague on the Armed Services Committee.

Since numerous lawmakers said no Bin Laden photos had been shown at the Panetta briefings -- and since a slew of fake bin Laden photos were circulating on the Internet -- could the senators have been duped? As it turned out, yes.

Come late afternoon Wednesday, it emerged that the supposed bin Laden photo seen by Brown and others was not real.

Brown told Fox-25 that the photo he had seen was not authentic. Chambliss indicated that the photo he had seen was merely an electronic image, not from an official briefing. And Ayotte told ABC News in an interview that she was not sure if the one she saw was authentic or not.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Wednesday
May042011

Sen. Susan Collins: Elevate Terror Threat Level Now

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee told ABC News the federal government should elevate the nation’s threat level for at least a two-week period, until the intelligence community is able to review the impact of Osama bin Laden’s death, as well as materials found at his compound in Pakistan.
 
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Sen. Susan Collins’ Senate committee Wednesday that she “has not been advised” of information that would cause her to raise the threat level, under the new system that Napolitano used to replace the old color-coding system.
 
Collins, R-Maine, disagrees:
 
“I would raise the terror threat level,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told ABC News. “It’s a common sense approach. To do an assessment -- we have all these materials, computer disks, etc., that were seized by our Navy SEALs from the compound. Those need to be fully reviewed and exploited. And until that process, at least an initial review has been completed, and until we have a worldwide intelligence assessment of the impact of bin Laden's death, it just seems prudent to me to temporarily elevate the terror threat level.”
 
“I think it's an important message to send to the American public. It's not an overreaction. It's not telling people to panic. It's just a prudent step to take until we have a better sense of the materials that were seized in the compound.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May042011

Risch: Harsh Interrogations Produced ‘Initial Thread’ that Led to Bin Laden

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The killing of Osama bin Laden has renewed the debate over the Bush-era “enhanced interrogation techniques” that were banned by President Obama, with voices inside the Republican Party -- including many former Bush administration officials -- arguing that critical intelligence came as a result of those special techniques.

In an interview Wednesday with ABC News, Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, cited reports that suspected terrorists in U.S. custody provided the “nom de guerre” of the bin Laden courier who ultimately led American officials to the compound to argue that “enhance interrogation techniques” -- a classification of tactics that includes waterboarding --worked.

“The initial thread that they started to pull on came from enhanced interrogation,” Risch said. “From that you can take it to a debate on where you go with that. But I don't think there's any doubt that it was enhanced interrogation that gave them the initial thread. It's been widely reported that that gave them the nickname, if you would, of an individual -- the proof to be absolutely critical in bringing the whole house of cards down.”

Risch, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also said more details will emerge about the involvement of “every branch of the military” in the operation that killed bin Laden.

“It isn't surprising I guess but I'm awfully proud of the way that this was planned. I'm awfully proud of the way this was executed. The working together of the intelligence community and the military and obviously -- it hasn't come out yet, but there'll be more of it coming out that -- there wasn't just one military, one branch of the military involved in this.

“Every branch of the military was involved in this. Every branch of the military was involved in this. There'll be more of that coming out in days to come.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May042011

Congress to Examine Use of "Geronimo" in Osama Bin Laden Mission

MILpictures by Tom Weber(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Indian Affairs committee will hold a hearing Thursday on racist Native American stereotypes, a hearing that will now also address the Osama bin Laden mission and the code-name Geronimo.

While the hearing was scheduled before the mission, a committee aide Wednesday said the linking of the name Geronimo with the world’s most wanted man is “inappropriate” and can have a “devastating” impact on kids.

“The hearing was scheduled well before the Osama bin Laden operation became news, but the concerns over the linking of the name of Geronimo, one of the greatest Native American heroes, with the most hated enemies of the United States is an example of the kinds of issues we intended to address at Thursday's hearing,” Loretta Tuell, the committee's chief counsel, said in a statement.

“These inappropriate uses of Native American icons and cultures are prevalent throughout our society, and the impacts to Native and non-Native children are devastating,” Tuell said. “We intend to open the forum to talk about them.”

The Senate committee is chaired by Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii. Thursday’s hearing will examine how Wild West shows, Hollywood films, and Indigenous-themed sports mascots have shaped the perception of Native Americans, according to a press release.

The Obama administration has indicated that the Navy SEALs who killed bin Laden did not use “Geronimo” as the codename for him, but rather it was the code for the act of capturing or killing him.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May042011

Former President Bush Skipping Ground Zero Event with Obama

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former President George W. Bush said thanks but no thanks to an invitation from the White House to join President Obama at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan Thursday to mark the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

It was just three days after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 that brought down the World Trade Center towers that Bush visited the spot forever to be known as Ground Zero.  At the time, he promised the victims' families, first responders and all Americans that the U.S. would hunt down bin Laden and his minions.

In announcing bin Laden's death Sunday, Obama noted the efforts of his predecessor and later asked Bush to travel to New York City on Thursday to appear at the site where the president will meet with family members of some of the victims, as well as with Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

But a Bush spokesman issued a brief statement in response to the invitation, which declared, "President Bush will not be in attendance on Thursday.  He appreciated the invite, but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight.  He continues to celebrate with all Americans this important victory in the war on terror.”

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

Biden’s First Remarks on Death of bin Laden: Calls Mission 'Breathtaking'

Pete Souza/The White House(WASHINGTON) -- In a speech Tuesday night, Vice President Joe Biden made his first remarks on the “staggering undertaking” that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.

“Those brave professionals who tracked and killed Osama bin Laden, it was just actually breathtaking,” Biden said in a keynote address at the Atlantic Council Dinner.  “It was a staggering undertaking, even with no one else other than the American group of military warriors who could do it.  The world is a safer place today not only for the American people, but for all people.”

The vice president commended the intelligence community, CIA and Navy SEALs for their extraordinary work, along with the administration officials and as many as 16 members of Congress who kept a tight lid on the details of the mission in the months leading up to the event.

“What was even more extraordinary was -- and I’m sure former administration officials would appreciate this more than anyone -- there was such an absolute overwhelming desire to accomplish this mission that although for over several months we were in the process of planning it, and there were as many as 16 members of Congress that were briefed on it, not a single solitary thing leaked.”

Biden also expressed gratitude for the support and reactions from across the world, adding that the United States’ thoughts and prayers rested with the innocent victims of terror.

The vice president said the United States’ ability to kill the world’s most wanted man sends a clear message to the world regardless of political affiliation.

“I think one clear message has gone out to the world," he said. "There’s no place to hide. There’s no place you can hide.  [If] the United States decides from one administration to the next that we will, in fact, reach a goal, we reach the goal.  We are determined, and we will relentlessly, without any hesitation follow on that commitment, Democrat or Republican.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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