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National Security

Latest Developments: Osama bin Laden's Death

5:02 p.m. See an excerpt of PBS NewsHour's interview with CIA Director Leon Panetta here. Panetta said that President Obama did not see bin Laden's death go down, but heard the 'Geronimo' signal.

4:59 p.m. Check out this bizarre visual tour of Abbottabad, courtesy of that guy who live-tweeted the raid.


4:56 p.m. The Pakistani government has released a tough statement in reponse to criticism from the West over its apparent role in sheltering bin Laden. Pakistan said Tuesday that, in its targeted attack on bin Laden's compound, the United States had made “an unauthorized unilateral action” that would be not be tolerated in the future.

4:49 p.m. House Speaker John Boehner said that the U.S. relationship with Pakistan is "critical to breaking the back of al-Qaida" and called for a closer relationship with Islamabad, NJ's Major Garrett reports.

4:35 p.m. NBC's Luke Russert reports that House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-N.Y., said aid to Pakistan will be re-examined in 2012 appropriations bills.


4:32 p.m. Watch Al Jazeera's video of Libyan opposition leaders reacting to news of bin Laden's death here.

4:29 p.m. Check our guide to the shifting details in the White House narrative of the raid here.

4:18 p.m. Well, that didn't take long: a pro athlete embarrasses himself and his team with a tacky tweet about bin Laden's death.

4:17 p.m. CNN reports the explosion in Kabul was not at the U.S. embassy, but two miles southwest of it. More details to come.


4:09 p.m. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., says the White House should release the pictures of bin Laden's body. "It's not offensive, not ghoulish, not going to scare anybody," he said.

4:07 p.m. More on the reported explosion in Kabul: At about 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time, Jonathan Boone, a correspondent for the U.K. newspaper The Guardian, tweeted,"Midnight in Kabul and a huge explosion." He added, "Mystery phone caller just said bang was at south side of US Embassy..."

4:03 p.m. Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., addressed questions about Pakistan's possible knowledge of bin Laden's presence in their midst this afternoon.

"It's very hard to believe that some elements of the Pakistani government, whether military or intelligence, were not aware of this," he said.

"Initial information about the courier came from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after waterboarding," King added during the 4:00 press briefing.

4:01 p.m. The Senate voted 97-0 to congratulate bin Laden's killers.

4:00 p.m. Check out NJ's George Condon's assessment of how a victory lap could be risky for Obama here.

3:56 p.m. NBC's Luke Russert reports that House members were not shown photos of bin Laden's body in a closed-door meeting with CIA Director Leon Panetta, citing Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.

3:53 p.m. This may or may not be related, but journalists are reporting via Twitter that an explosion has just occurred in Kabul (courtesy of @BreakingNews).

3:50 p.m. Check out Time magazine's interview with CIA Director Leon Panetta on the raid, and why the U.S. didn't loop in Pakistan on its particulars, here.  

3:39 p.m. The Hill reports that the Senate resolution marking bin Laden’s death credits both former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama with the killing of the terrorist leader, noting that Bush launched the mission to bring bin Laden “to justice” and Obama completed it.

3:33 p.m. CIA Director Leon Panetta tells CBS News that U.S. officials assumed "from the beginning" that bin laden would be killed during the raid.

3:30 p.m. Lou Zickar, editor of the Ripon Forum, released the following statement on the possibility that the White House will release photos of bin Laden's body. (Ripon is a group of centrist Republicans.)

“I’d be interested in seeing them, and from what I’ve seen online, others would, too.  But morbid curiosity and a drumbeat by Drudge are not reasons to release these photos.  There should be a strategic reason, as well – one that ties back to the conflict in which we are engaged. 

“To that end, I tend to agree with what some others have said – namely, that the images may do more to incite than inform, and do nothing to mollify the conspiracy theorists who would claim they’ve been photoshopped and it’s not really bin Laden under the sheet.”

3:27 p.m. NJ's Sara Sorcher reports: Some lawmakers have been calling for suspensions of aid to Pakistan, urging the Pakistani government to explain whether it knew anything about bin Laden’s location before continuing to invest billions of dollars in its counterterrorism operations. When asked whether or not Pakistani officials were aware that such criticism is facing them in the U.S. Congress, acting deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner said simply that “they are fully aware of some of the questions.” The administration still sees its relationship with Pakistan as one of “vital cooperation,” Toner said, adding that the fight against extremism is a “shared struggle” even if the two allies “don’t see eye to eye on every issue.”

In Islamabad on Tuesday for a pre-planned trip, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Amb. Marc Grossman said that the U.S., Pakistan and Afghanistan “consider the end of Osama bin Laden on Monday as a shared achievement.”

“This is the end of someone who was violently subverting democratic government in the region and notorious for murderous acts against innocent civilians that made him an enemy of not just the United States, but Pakistan and Afghanistan as well,” he said.

2:39 p.m. Carney issues a warning from the podium to other al-Qaida operatives when asked about the significance of bin Laden's death: "He was an important symbolic figure in this and other al-Qaida leaders out there might be reevaluating their safety and security as a result of what occurred on Sunday because they will be hunted down too. The fight doesn’t stop."

2:34 p.m. Asked about the possible release of photographs of bin Laden’s body, Carney said, “There's sensitivities of the appropriateness in of releasing photographs of Osama bin Laden and the aftermath of this firefight and we're making an evaluation about the need to do that because of the sensitivities involved.” He described the photographs as “gruesome.”

He also described the photographs could be “inflammatory” and said there was a calculation about whether their release could hurt U.S. interests abroad.

2:27 p.m. In the briefing, Carney was asked about whether Obama’s opposition to enhanced interrogation techniques had changed. It has not, Carney said.

“No single piece of information led to the successful mission that occurred Sunday,” Carney said. “And multiple detainees provided insights into the networks of people who might have been close to bin Laden. But reporting from detainees was just a slice of the information gathered by incredibly diligent professionals over the years in the intelligence community.”

2:25 p.m. Asked to further clarify how bin Laden "resisted" U.S. forces since he was not armed, Carney said, “resistance does not require a firearm.” He could not provide furter details.

He also said the narrative posted at 2:11 p.m. was written by the Defense Department.

2:11 p.m.  More comments from Jay Carney on the details of the raid:

"[We] provided a great deal of information with great haste in order to inform you and through you the American public about the operation and how it transpired and the events that took place there in Pakistan. And, obviously, some of the information was -- came in piece by piece and is being reviewed and updated and elaborated on.


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More bin Laden Coverage >>

So what I can tell you -- I have a narrative that I can provide to you on the raid itself. On the bin Laden compound in Pakistan. On orders of the president, a team assaulted a secure compound in an affluent suburb of Islamabad to capture and kill Osama bin Laden. It was conducted by U.S. personnel assaulting on two helicopters. The team methodically cleared the compound moving from room to room in an operation lasting nearly 40 minutes. They were engaged in a firefight throughout the operation and Osama bin Laden was killed by the assaulting force.

In addition to the bin Laden family, two other families resided in the compound; one family on the first floor of the bin Laden building and one family in a second building. The team began the operation on the first floor of the bin Laden house and worked their way to the third floor, a second team cleared the separate building. On the first floor of bin Laden's building, two al-Qaida couriers were killed along with a woman who was killed in crossfire. Bin Laden and his family were found on the second floor of the building. There was concern that bin Laden would oppose the capture operation and indeed he did resist. In the room with bin Laden, a woman, bin Laden's wife, rushed assaulter and was shot in the leg but not killed. Bin Laden was then shot and killed. He was not armed.

Following the firefight, the noncombatants were moved to a safe location as the damaged helicopter was detonated. The team departed the scene via helicopter to the U.S.S. Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea. Aboard the U.S.S. Carl Vinson the burial of bin Laden was done in conformance with Islamic precepts and practices. The deceased's body was washed and then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag, a military officer read prepared religious remarks which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up and the deceased body eased into the sea.

2:05 p.m.  Bin Laden was unarmed, Jay Carney says at White House briefing. The press secretary acknowledges misinformation in early accounts of the raid on bin Laden's compound. 

1:29 p.m. Fox News says that they have confirmed there are two sets of photos of bin Laden: one just after he was killed in the U.S. attack and one at the burial. Stay tuned as we wait for more updated - and press secretary Jay Carney's briefing, which is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

12:44 p.m. The Wikileaks files released by Julian Assange stated very plainly that the U.S. knew bin Laden's trusted courier had moved his family to Abbottabad, Pakistan. It's good news for the U.S. that bin Laden wasn't reading the files. Read more at the Atlantic Wire.

12:28 p.m. Sara Sorcher reports:

While Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday commended the U.S. operation that killed Osama bin Laden, he said he didn't know if any of the information that led to bin Laden's death was gleaned during "enhanced interrogation techniques" specifically.

Holder, a longtime opponent of keeping the Guantanamo Bay prison open, was asked if lawmakers could be assured that the intelligence that led to bin Laden's killing was not the result of "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as those used under the George W. Bush administration to extract information from Guantanamo Bay inmates.

"There was a mosaic of sources that lead to the identification of the people" that ultimately led to the al-Qaida leader, Holder told the House Judiciary Committee.

When pressed further, asking if "any" enhanced interrogation techniques directly led to bin Laden's killing, Holder simply replied: "I do not know." 

Read more here.

12:12 p.m. The Washington Post has a new poll out that shows a small polling bump for President Obama in the wake of bin Laden's death. His approval rate is up to 56 percent, a 9-point bump over mid-April, and the approval of his handling of terrorism is at a career high of 69 percent.

12:09 p.m. Despite proclamations by the Drudge Report that the administration would be releasing photos of bin Laden's body, the White House is pushing back against those claims. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor emails, "There is no update on the decision to release the photos.  I have no idea what the Drudge thing is based on."

12:02 p.m. Some more updates put together by NJ's Sara Sorcher this morning:

Afghan security forces have killed or wounded two dozen fighters who crossed the border from Pakistan in what appears to be the first retaliatory attack for the killing of Osama bin Laden. Meanwhile, the U.S. is examining the trove of material uncovered during the raid that led to his death, and working to ward off revenge attacks in the United States and abroad.

Here's a list of other developments related to the mission against bin Laden:

—The governor of Afghanistan’s northeastern Nuristan province told Reuters that the 25 foreign fighters—including Arabs, Chechens, and Pakistanis—were killed or wounded in a military operation to control border infiltration. The operation was very close to the Pakistan border and was intended to thwart a retaliatory attack after bin Laden’s death, he said. Militants have long used safe havens in Pakistan’s lawless border areas to plot attacks, regroup, funnel fighters into Afghanistan, and smuggle ammonium nitrate over the border to use in roadside bombs.

—Bin Laden’s death may provide renewed impetus for al-Qaida to stage an attack “to counter the impression that it is out of business,” or for the terrorist networks local affiliates to independently attack, former counterterrorism coordinator at the National Security Council, Richard Clarke, said in an op-ed in The New York Times. Al-Qaida affiliates are still recruiting, financing and training terrorists, and have not needed strong direction from bin Laden for several years. The Taliban in Afghanistan, even before bin Laden’s death, announced it would ramp up its attacks this spring.

—The U.S. is still weighing what additional information, if any, to put out about the raid—and this could include pictures or videos, said Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan. “One of the things we have the responsibility to do is to make sure we take measures to guard against any type of adverse reaction to the news of bin Laden's death,” he said Tuesday on CBS's Early Show. “Any other material, whether it be photos or videos or whatever else, we are looking at it and we will make the appropriate decisions,” Brennan said on CNN's American Morning.

—Brennan said that the U.S. is taking “prudent measures” to work with the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and others to be sure that the U.S. understands the threats that “may be out there”—though he said there have been no indications of specific threats that have emerged as a result of the killing. “Right now, we feel confident that we are at the right posture,” he said on ABC’s Good Morning America.

—By "exploiting and reviewing" material obtained during Sunday's raids, the U.S. is investigating "if we can get any insight into any terrorist plot that might be under way so we can take the measures to stop any attack planning," Brennan said. The U.S. is hoping that the material could lead to other members of al-Qaida, give insight into the group's capabilities, and provide information about any support system he may have had in Pakistan, Brennan said.

—Bin Laden was in the compound for the past five or six years, and had virtually no interaction with others outside of that compound, Brennan said. “But yet he seemed to be very active inside the compound. We know he released videos and audios. We know he was in contact with some senior al-Qaida officials,” he said on CBS’s Early Show. “So what we're trying to do now is understand what he had been involved in the last several years, exploit whatever information we were able to get in the compound, and take that information and continue to efforts to destroy al-Qaida.”

Sohaib Athar, the bin Laden neighbor who live-tweeted the raid unaware of the scope of what was happening, described bin Laden's compound on CNN’s American Morning. "I live 2 or 2.5 kilometers from [the compound], so I did not see the helicopters, but I heard the helicopter hovering above my house for a really long time; like five to eight minutes, which is not common in Abbottabad because it doesn’t have a real airport and helicopters just come to drop shipments sometimes. So, if a helicopter is hovering above for that long, it must mean looking at something closely.... At this time, the helicopter was a little suspicious, so I was worried about it,” Athar continued. "Initially I heard a fast car going by on the main road and, a few seconds after that, I heard the explosion that shook my windowpanes and then probably a bomb of some kind.”

11:43 a.m. Our sister publication, The Atlantic, has compiled a list of ten essential long articles on bin Laden and the war on terror from the last decade. Read them here.

11:42 a.m. The Obama administration will brief the entire House this afternoon on the operation which killed Osama bin Laden.  The session, which will be unclassified, is scheduled to take place at 3 PM and feature top officials from the White House, Central Intelligence Agency and Pentagon.

11:24 a.m. National Journalwill be bringing you the latest updates in the death of Osama bin Laden throughout the day. To start off, a few big stories out this morning that are worth a look:

  • The New York Times has an in-depth account of the months and hours leading up to the operation that killed bin Laden, taking you inside the Situation Room with President Obama and senior administration officials the afternoon of the operation.
  • NJ's Yochi J. Dreazen asks, should the war in Afghanistan die with bin Laden? He details the challenges of maintaining a war to defeat al-Qaida when its leader has been killed.
  • Time magazine has the first interview with CIA Chief Leon Panetta since he commanded the operation. In a conversation with Massimo Calabresi, Panetta talks about the fears that Pakistan might tip off bin Laden and the level of confidence his aides had--60 to 80 percent--that bin Laden was actually inside the compound.

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