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National Security / National Security

Latest Developments: Osama bin Laden's Death

May 5, 2011

1:05 p.m. National Journal reporter Chris Strohm reports from the Pentagon that the U.S. says it recovered five videos of Osama bin Laden during the raid that killed him. At least one of the videos shows bin Laden watching himself on television; his beard and hair are gray.

12:39 p.m. The five videos show Osama bin Laden watching news coverage of himself, according to an Associated Press report.

12:28 p.m. CNN reports that the Pentagon on Saturday will release five videos showing Osama bin Laden at his compound.

 

Saturday, 9:50 a.m. The Associated Press reports that video showing Osama bin Laden's everyday life at his Abbottabad compound could be released Saturday.

5:50 p.m. Al-Qaida considered attacking U.S. trains and transit hubs, according to information gathered at the compound where U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden, NBC reports.

1:51 p.m. Here's video of Obama laying a wreath at the 9/11 memorial site:

 

1:36 p.m. Meanwhile, Vice President Biden is doing a similar, though smaller, memorial service at the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C.

1:30 p.m. This just in: Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is questioning the differences between the accounts he heard privately from the CIA after the raid on Sunday and those he has heard in public from Obama's counterterrorism advisor John Brennan since then. NJ's Michael Hirsh reports.

1:20 p.m. The ceremony took place in the shade of the Survivor Tree, a tree that was originally planted at the World Trade Center in the 1970 bit was severely damaged during the attack. It was discovered in the rubble in October 2001 at a height of 8 feet. After being nursed back to health at the New York City Parks and Recreation Department’s Arthur Ross Nursery, it was replanted and has grown to a new height of about 30 feet.

1:16 p.m. Obama just laid a wreath of red, white and blue flowers on a wooden tripod and stood quietly with his eyes closed and hands clasped in front of his body. He then walked over to a group of family members of 9/11 victims to hug and speak to them.

One of those family members was Payton Wall,  a 14-year-old girl who lost her father, Glen James Wall, in the World Trade Center attack and wrote a letter to Obama recently about about how she has handled the loss. Obama requested that she be included in the ceremony, and when the White House called her mother, she had no idea that her daughter had written the President. Payton, her mother, her sister and her friend, who also lost her father on 9/11, received the first hugs from Obama after he laid the wreath.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this item included a misspelling of Payton Wall's name due to erroneous information provided by the White House.

1:01 p.m. Other politicians who will join Obama at the wreath-laying ceremony include Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey, as well as New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

12:53 p.m. President Obama just visited the First Precinct police station in lower Manhattan. "I am here basically to shake your hand and say how proud I am of all of you," he told officers. On bin Laden's death: It "sent a signal that we have never forgotten the extraordinary sacrifices that were made on 9/11."

12:27 p.m. Here are President Obama's full remarks to the firefighters:

"Well, listen, the main reason I came here is because I heard the food is pretty good.  (Laughter.) 

"But to the Commissioner, to Mayor Giuliani -- who obviously performed heroic acts almost 10 years ago -- but most of all, to all of you, I wanted to just come up here to thank you.

"This is a symbolic site of the extraordinary sacrifice that was made on that terrible day almost 10 years ago.  Obviously we can't bring back your friends that were lost, and I know that each and every one of you not only grieve for them, but have also over the last 10 years dealt with their family, their children, trying to give them comfort, trying to give them support. 

"What happened on Sunday, because of the courage of our military and the outstanding work of our intelligence, sent a message around the world, but also sent a message here back home that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say; that our commitment to making sure that justice is done is something that transcended politics, transcended party; it didn’t matter which administration was in, it didn’t matter who was in charge, we were going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act -- that they received justice.

"So it’s some comfort, I hope, to all of you to know that when those guys took those extraordinary risks going into Pakistan, that they were doing it in part because of the sacrifices that were made in the States.  They were doing it in the name of your brothers that were lost. 

"And finally, let me just say that, although 9/11 obviously was a high water mark of courage for the New York Fire Department and a symbol of the sacrifice, you guys are making sacrifices every single day.  It doesn’t get as much notoriety, it doesn’t get as much attention, but every time you run into a burning building, every time that you are saving lives, you're making a difference.  And that's part of what makes this city great and that's part of what makes this country great.

"So I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the American people for the sacrifices that you make every single day.  And I just want to let you know that you're always going to have a President and an administration who’s got your back the way you’ve got the backs of the people of New York over these last many years.

"So God bless you.  God bless the United States of America. 

"And with that, I'm going to try some of that food.  All right?  Appreciate you.  Thank you."

12:22 p.m. The Washington Post has an awesome breakdown of that famous situation room photo taken during the raid, from who everyone is to what their body language suggests.

12:14 p.m. President Obama began his visit to Ground Zero by having lunch with members of the “Pride of Midtown” Firehouse (Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9), who lost 15 members of their group, the largest number of any New York firehouse, on 9/11. He spoke to the firefighters, saying "When we say we will never forget, we mean what we say."

More on Obama's visit, and a video:

10:18 am. Photos taken of the helicopter that malfunctioned during the raid have fueled speculation that it was part of a top-secret stealth helicopter program, since the section of the tail that was photographed doesn't resemble any known U.S. military aircraft, Sara Sorcher reports.

9:34 a.m. Clinton just took questions alongside Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini in Rome, where she traveled for a meeting with leaders of European and Arab countries on Libya:

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter)  We know that the U.S. Government had taken into consideration the possibility of taking into custody Osama bin Ladin in order to interrogate him.  Given that, what happened?  Was his death a mistake? 

SECRETARY CLINTON:  With respect to bin Ladin, he was a sworn enemy of the United States and a danger to all of humanity.  The crimes that he committed not only in our country, but throughout the world, from London to Madrid, from Istanbul to Bali, left thousands of people dead and maimed.  And the majority of the people that he directed the killing of were actually Muslims.  And I think that his ideology of hatred and violence is thankfully being rejected in what we see going on in the Middle East and North Africa as people are protesting, largely peacefully, for a better future for themselves and their children. 

But our view has been that bin Ladin was a clear target for the United States and our allies since, now, nearly 10 years.  The operation was conducted in the highest professional standards, and in a very clear, unmistakable effort to bring an end to his leadership over terror.  I’m not going to comment on any operational details whatsoever.  I have the highest regard for everyone in our government who planned and executed this operation.  And there is no doubt in my mind that his death is going to make not only our country, but the world safer, and empower those around the world who are builders, not destroyers.  But as I also said, and as Franco said, this is not the end.  There is still a lot of work that has to be done and a lot of vigilance that has to be maintained.

9:06 a.m. So much for the analysis of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's "moment of anguish" in a photo taken of the situation room during the Abbottabad raid. ""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," Clinton told Reuters.


9:02 a.m. While in New York today, Obama will also visit the fire house of Engine 54 in New York City. The station lost 15 firefighters at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks.

8:42 a.m. Actor Rob Lowe appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe a few minutes ago and told the story of finding out he was on a test run flight for the 9/11 hijackers who flew a plane into the Pentagon only 11 days before the infamous day. Here's the story he told:

“When we made The West Wing we would shoot in Washington about four times a year. And the flight that went into the Pentagon was the flight I always chose. It was that early morning flight to Los Angeles. So I was on that flight with that crew 11 days before. And I sort of knew them because I took the flight a lot. And about a year and a half, I think, after September 11th, I went to the mailbox and there was a letter from the Attorneys General of Maryland. And they were forwarding a request from the public defender of Zacarias Moussaoui who wanted to depose me...I thought it was April Fools' joke, obviously. But that's how I found out that I was on that flight. It was a dry run.”

8:32 a.m. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., supported President Obama's decision not to release photos of a dead bin Laden. Asked to respond to critics who say that Americans want to see proof that justice was done, she said, "I think those folks need to be reminded, that we’re trying to save lives. This would be a recruiting tool. This would be used among terrorist cells all across the world to try to play on people's emotions and their anti-west, anti-American sentiments. Why would we give the terrorists a recruiting tool if we don't need to? I think that is a much stronger argument than just people’s curiosity."

8:21 a.m. POLL:  With the man behind the 9/11 attacks dead, should the U.S. begin withdrawing soldiers from Afghanistan now? Weigh in here.

8:20 a.m. Islamabad has long played a well-thought-out double game with the United States that's involved handing over some jihadis and protecting others for Pakistan’s own purposes,  NJ’s Michael Hirsh writes. Could Osama bin Laden spend six years ensconced in an obtrusive villa in Abbottabad without anyone in Pakistani officialdom knowing about it? Probably not, Hirsh writes, as CIA officials have known for years that when it came to the really big game, Pakistani authorities were unlikely to be cooperative: Backlash from the Muslim world and their own country could be too great if they were seen as playing stooges to the Americans.

 

So why does Washington provide aid to Pakistan -- and why is Washington virtually certain to continue providing despite the hue and cry in Congress over the bin Laden news? Because Pakistan is a nuclear-armed country that is still mainly secular. NJ reports that Washington has little choice but to support those secular strains and tamp down the Islamist ones, and it can’t do this without the help of the Pakistani government, military, and intelligence apparatus, though it is shot through with Islamist sympathizers.  In the first tangible sign that lawmakers will try to turn their anger at Pakistan into action, Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, who chairs the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, on Wednesday called on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to withhold aid to Pakistan to help flood victims.

8:03 a.m. The New York Times is out with a big story this morning that suggests the raid on bin Laden's compound, described by the administration all week as a "firefight," was much more one-sided than we originally thought. According to a senior administration official who spoke to the Times, the only person in the compound to exchange fire with U.S. forces was bin Laden's courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. Read more here.

8:00 a.m. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was generous with his praise for both President Obama and former President Bush this morning in an interview with CNN. "The president deserves such credit for what he has done, Schumer said. "You know, we saw his style. He's not a chest thumper. He's not going out with the rhetoric, he's thoughtful, and he’s tough and steely. He deserves huge credit and should be here. But that doesn't take away from what George Bush did to lay the groundwork as well. I think most Americans today feel that this is not any kind of political issue. This is an issue to feel good about America."

He also sees optimism for the future of the war on terror, saying that Americans now feel we can win.

7:39 a.m. Good morning. We'll be bringing you the latest developments in Osama bin Laden's death through the end of President Obama's trip to New York to honor 9/11 victims and first responders. He'll arrive in New York at 10:35 a.m. and participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Ground Zero at 1:25 p.m. Vice President Joe Biden will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon at 1:30 p.m. After their respective ceremonies, both will meet with family members of 9/11 victims.

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