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National Security / national security

Live Blog: Unfolding Details of Osama bin Laden's Death; The World Reacts

On May 2, the day after Osama bin Laden was killed by American forces, Afghans watch television coverage of his death in a restaurant in Kabul, Afghanistan.(Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

May 2, 2011

10:45 p.m. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has an op-ed in Tuesday morning's Washington Post defending his country's role in Osama bin Laden's death.

"Although the events of Sunday were not a joint operation, a decade of cooperation and partnership between the United States and Pakistan led up to the elimination of Osama bin Laden as a continuing threat to the civilized world," Zardari writes. "And we in Pakistan take some satisfaction that our early assistance in identifying an al-Qaida courier ultimately led to this day."

8:33 p.m. Speaking before a bipartisan group of congressional party and committee leaders, President Obama called for maintaining the sense of national unity that was pervasive last night when it was announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed.

 

While acknowledging "the difficulties" the two parties will face in the coming months on many policy battles, Obama said he hoped the country and Capitol Hill could maintain cooperative spirit displayed during January's shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., and last week's deadly outbreak of storms in the South.

"Tonight, it is my fervent hope that we can harness some of that unity, some of that pride, to confront the many challenges we still face," Obama said.

7:35 p.m. The White House just released a list of world leaders that President Obama has been in contact with since yesterday's announcement of the death of Osama Bin Laden.

According to the White House, Obama has spoken with: Mexican President Felipe Calderon, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Chilean President Sebastian Piñera, Colombian President Juan Santos, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy

The photo below was taken on Sunday by White House photographer Pete Souza before Obama addressed the media on the bin Laden mission.

Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office

6:52 p.m. Thursday, President Obama will mark the death of Osama Bin Laden by visiting the site where the Twin Towers were toppled, the White House has advised reporters.

6:52 p.m. Thursday, President Obama will mark the death of Osama Bin Laden by visiting the site where the Twin Towers were toppled, the White House has advised reporters.

6:38 p.m. Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., who was briefed on Bin Laden’s death said reports that bin Laden used his wife as a shield are false, saying it is important for accounts of the event to be “accurate.”

5:55 p.m. Rudy Giuliani, the mayor of New York City during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, tells ABC News he felt relieved at the news bin Laden had been killed, recalling that he "wanted to be the one" to kill him himself.

5:46 p.m. NBC reports that some of the critical intelligence that led to bin Laden's capture came from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, citing a senior intelligence official.

5:40 p.m. Barely a day after his death, publishers are scrambling to put out bin Laden-related books, the Wall Street Journal reports.

5:31 p.m. During the raid on bin Laden’s compound, U.S. troops secured documents that may reveal the whereabouts of al-Qaida’s No. 2., Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Washington Post reports. Al-Zawahiri is widely expected to assume command of the organization now that bin Laden is dead, and he will be the United States’ new target. “That’s where we’re going next,” one U.S. official involved in planning the operation told the Post.

5:18 p.m. The White House has released a series of dramatic photos from the Situation Room yesterday as the attack on bin Laden's compound unfolded.

5:16 p.m. See the transcript of ABC News' interview with former Vice President Dick Cheney about bin Laden's death here.

5:12 p.m. The New Yorker looks back at bin Laden cartoons over the years.

5:10 p.m. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said he was “delighted” by the news that bin Laden was killed but cast suspicion on Pakistan’s cooperation with the United States. Powell said he had been “reasonably sure that he was in Pakistan, not Afghanistan,” but was surprised by how large bin Laden’s accommodations were.

“The question that’s going to be asked is did nobody else notice this,” Powell said on CNN. “Twelve-foot walls, with very little traffic going in and out of it, with barbed wire on top…it sure sounds as if somebody should have noticed.”

5:00 p.m. Bin Laden was buried between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. Eastern Time in the North Arabian Sea off the USS Carl Vinson, the Navy reports.

The burial followed traditional Muslim burial customs, and bin Laden's body was washed and placed in a white sheet, a Navy official said.

"The body was placed in a weighted bag. A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker," the official added.

No country would accept the remains to be buried on land, the official said (although politically a sea burial is preferable, as no grave shrine can be made by his followers).

Still, the burial is likely to raise eyebrows among those affected by the terror attacks bin Laden launched. A 9/11 widow told CNN's Anderson Cooper she felt hurt by the fact that bin Laden was given a proper burial, when her husband and thousands of others were given no such respect.

4:53 p.m. Check out the 10 most-tweeted bible verses in response to bin Laden's death, courtesy of Atlantic.com. Number 1: "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice" (Proverbs 24:17).

4:50 p.m. In the wake of the jubilation that followed the news Osama bin Laden was killed last night, the Wall Street Journal looks into the science of revenge. Check out their story here to figure out why so many took to the streets to celebrate his death.

4:46 p.m. Some lighter consequences of yesterday's news: NYMag.com reports that Miley Cyrus's 2009 hit "Party in the U.S.A." has become the Osama bin Laden death anthem, apparently.

4:42 p.m. The news of bin Laden's death caused a spike in Internet traffic -- with traffic surging by 24 percent globally and 28 percent in North America -- PCMag.com reports.

4:35 p.m. The news of bin Laden's death brought with it speculation in Washington that Obama was now a sure bet for 2012. Not if history's any guide, writes NJ's George Condon.

4:26 p.m. Atlantic Wire has an interesting post reminding us of the Osama-hunters who will now never get the $25 million reward for his capture.

4:23 p.m. Check out the full transcript of today's Department of Defense briefing here.

4:17 p.m. The United States' code name for bin Laden: Geronimo.

4:15 p.m. CNN confirms bin Laden left a tape to be played upon his death – a so-called “martyr tape.” CNN’s Wolf Blitzer reports it is likely an audio tape, and it will likely be “formally released” shortly.

4:10 p.m. House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor spoke briefly on bin Laden's death Monday afternoon.

Boehner called his death an "important moment in the war against Islamic radicalism" and an "important event for peoples all around the world."

"The tragic events of 9/11 ten years ago reminds us that we’re all Americans," Boehner said. "Last night’s news unified our country in much the same way."

Cantor said, "Success and victory sometimes takes a lot longer than we would like, sometimes it’s a lot harder than we would like, and sometimes it brings about much more tragedy than absolutely we would even believe."

Boehner also warned that the death carries with it the threat of reprisals, noting, "This makes our engagement in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan more important, not less."

4:02 p.m. One of the (initial) ways the U.S. was able to identify Osama: one of his wives (the one who acted as a human shield) said his name as she moved forward to protect him, Time reports, citing a U.S. intelligence official.

3:57 p.m. So what has the war on terror cost the United States in the near-decade since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks? $1.3 trillion (and then some, when you count soft-power and domestic initiatives), NJ's Katy O'Donnell and Kelsey Snell report.

3:54 p.m. A new bin Laden tape recorded shortly before his death is expected to surface soon, the AP reports, citing a U.S. official.

3:47 p.m. Speaking on Al Jazeera, the now-famous tweeter Sohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual) said that Abbottabad is “not only a military town – it is also about tourism. You see foreigners traveling here. You see Afghan refugees… So a person can very easy travel and come to Abbottabad and live here.” Some people in the town are speculating that the electricity was cut off so that the operation could take place in the dark. Citizens there are saying that meant the Pakistani government collaborated in the operation, he said.

3:43 p.m. A Washington state teacher who vowed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that he wouldn’t cut his beard until Osama bin Laden was captured or proven dead shaved Sunday night. Garry Weddle, 50, said he cried upon hearing the news bin Laden had been killed.

3:30 p.m. One of the more startling developments in the bin Laden saga yesterday: an unknowing witness tweeted the raid live. A few examples: "Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)"; and, "Uh oh, now I'm the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it."

3:27 p.m. New York authorities are investigating a suspicious package in Times Square, according to Reuters.

3:23 p.m. An update from our 12:48 p.m. post: Homeland Security advisor John Brennan said in his press briefing Monday that the U.S. believes the woman used as a human shield was bin Laden's wife. But Brennan said it is still unclear whether the woman put herself in front of bin Laden or she was put there by bin Laden, his son, or another man in the room.

2:55 p.m.  Blasts from the (archived) past: Check out National Journal's James Kitfield's November, 2001, article about Osama's learning curve. 

On a related note: Rather than trying to penetrate thickening layers of U.S. security, al-Qaida and its affiliates are increasingly recruiting U.S. citizens remotely, inspiring them to launch terrorist attacks on their homeland. Can the government stop the next attack without alienating American Muslims?

 

2:41 p.m.  Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and his wife joined the crowd cheering the news of bin Laden's death outside the White House last night. The well-known Michigan Democrat said he wanted to soak in the atmosphere, and even took his glasses off to try to remain anonymous. "It was a moment that all Americans wanted to participate in," he told reporters in a conference call.

Levin said in a statement earlier that bin Laden's death will "surely... help puncture the myth of Osama bin Laden." The U.S. military and intelligence community's heroism "is a stark contrast to bin Laden, who while sending his underlings to die or huddle in mountain caves has been living in the comfort of a villa in Pakistan."

In the call, Levin said Obama's caution and thoughtfulness in pursuing bin Laden paid off. "I hope it gives him a boost," Levin said. "He deserves a boost here."

2:39 p.m. There's always the potential for terrorist groups to try to strike out and avenge an operation like this, Brennan said. "But... the al-Qaida narrative is becoming increasingly bankrupt... There is a new wave sweeping through the Middle East right now that puts a premium on individual rights and freedom and dignity...and we're hoping this will send a message to those individuals who are out there that, you know, terrorism and militancy is not the wave of the future.”

 

2:37 p.m.   We have more from Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., on Pakistan's role-- or lack thereof-- in the raid. When asked if the U.S. would continue to issue foreign aid to the country lest it fail to produce more thorough intelligence, Rogers insisted the subject was rooted in rough terrain.

“Nobody has been harder on Pakistan than me,” he said. “But we have to remember this: There are still some counterterrorism needs we have, mutually beneficial between Pakistan and the United States that really are important to both of us. And yes, we need to be tough for them, yes, I want to know more answers about what did you actually know about Osama bin Laden's whereabouts and what more can you do to support this war on terror? ... So hard questions, yes, but I would be very careful about saying we're going to throw them overboard, given how many other targets that are really critical for us to go after.”  (More from Rogers at 2:02)

2:35 p.m.  Brennan adds that there is still U.S. dialogue with counterterrorism counterparts in Pakistan, who were “understanding” of why the U.S. took unilateral steps and “appreciative” that it was done without having Pakistani causalities. "This is one more incident that we're going to have to deal with and we look forward to continuing to work with our Pakistani colleagues because they are as much, if not more, on the front lines of the battle against terrorism,” he said. For more on Pakistan see 2:26.

 

2:29 p.m.  National Journal's Josh Smith writes that Osama bin Laden’s bid to disconnect himself may have finally been his downfall. The al-Qaida leader had gone decidedly low-tech for more than a decade. Once an avid user of satellite phones, bin Laden stopped after a near-miss in 1998. He had more lately relied on old-fashioned couriers to get his message out and learn about what was going on.

It did work, for a long time. For years, the most sophisticated satellites, smart bombs, and electronic monitoring equipment couldn’t find America’s most wanted. But in the end, it just looked too odd for such a big home (see post 1:30), even in rural Pakistan, to have no telephone or Internet service.

 

2:26 p.m.  On Pakistan:  “We’ve had differences of view with Pakistani government on counterterrorism cooperation, areas of cooperation,” Brennan said. But at the same time, “Pakistan has been responsible for capturing and killing more terrorists inside of Pakistan than any country and it’s by a wide margin. And there have been many, many brave Pakistanis...who have given their lives because of the tat terrorism scourge in the country." (For more recent commentary on Pakistan see post 2:02.)

2:23  p.m. Brennan said Obama’s reaction upon hearing the news of bin Laden's death was simply: “We got him.”

 

2:20 p.m.  Releasing proof of death is still "something to be determined," Brennan said. “We are going to do everything we can to make sure that nobody has any basis to try to deny that we got Osama bin Laden," he added.  The administration wants to ensure that releasing evidence does not compromise their ability to use it for intelligence in the future.

 

2:17 p.m.  Brennan said that the infamous battle in the stronghold of Tora Bora in 2001 was the last time the U.S. had very credible information about where bin Laden was located. "A number of leads have been pursued over the years," he said.

"I think what this operation demonstrates is that there are some very, very good people who have been following bin Laden for many, many years. They have been very peristent. They have pulled on every thread and as a result of that diligence, they were able to track this and build a body of evidence that suggested he was at that compound. It was much greater confidence we had in this body of information than we've had since Tora Bora. Still though, it was nothing that confirmed that bin Laden was at that compound and, therefore, when President Obama was faced with the opportunity to act upon this, the president had to evaluate the strength of the information and then made what I believe was one of the most gutsiest calls of any president in recent memory."

 

2:11 p.m.  Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan, appearing at Monday’s White House press briefing, told reporters that the forces dispatched to kill bin Laden had prepared for the remote possibility that the al-Qaida leader would not resist arrest and allowed troops to take him alive.

Ultimately, though, Brennan said, it came down to an issue of keeping Americans safe. “We were not going to put our people at risk. The president put a premium on making sure our personnel were protected, and we were not going to give bin laden or any of his cohorts the opportunity to carry out lethal fire on any of our forces,” Brennan said.

Asked about what bin Laden’s death meant for the future of the war on terror, Brennan said it would cause “important reverberations throughout al-Qaida by “decapitating the head of the snake.”

The U.S. will “try to take advantage of the this opportunity that we have to demonstrate to the Pakistani people, to the people in the area, that al-Qaida is something in the past,” Brennan said.

 

2:02 p.m. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, praised the handling of the U.S. mission to kill bin Laden in yet another show of bipartisanship in the aftermath of the operation. However, he did say that in Pakistan, "we know there are some incredibly bad people there. Of the 20 senior leaders of al-Qaida, at least a dozen of them we believe to be traveling around Pakistan somewhere. So it is incredibly important to us that we maintain a relationship so that we can pursue those targets that we know are posing a threat to the U.S. So that's a balance."

Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., said that for years, Pakistani officials had insisted bin Laden was not in Pakistan. "One hand, they do give us very helpful intelligence assistance and military assistance. On the other hand, we have a lot of reason to believe that elements of their intelligence community continue to be very closely in touch with and perhaps supportive of terrorist groups that are fighting us and the Afghans in Afghanistan. This will be a time of real pressure... to basically prove to us that they did not know that Osama bin Laden was there."

 

1:49 p.m.   In an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, former Obama national security advisor Jim Jones cast doubt upon the possibility that Pakistan is an unwavering ally of the U.S. 

“I very much enjoyed my time as national security adviser with my interlocutors over [in Pakistan]. But...I always had the impression...they haven't crossed that threshold to make that commitment. We all understand some of the reasons why or why they think that is. But it really is, I think, a moment in time now where Pakistan, for its own good, should make that decision and as I said grasp the extended hand that the administration and other countries have offered them over the last couple of years.”

Jones said the administration has “bent over backwards” to build trust and confidence between Pakistan and the U.S., paid for with “our most precious treasure” – American men and women in uniform.

Jones also didn’t seem to buy that Pakistan knew nothing of bin Laden’s whereabouts. “My personal view is that they certainly probably were aware of it, for whatever reasons they chose not to disclose it,” he said. “But it does raise a lot of questions, no doubt about that."

 

1:39 p.m. The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan released some videos of deployed troops’ reactions to the news of Osama bin Laden’s death. Check them out here.

 

1:35 p.m. Scott Wheeler, who heads the National Republican Trust PAC, tells National Journal’s Lindsey Boerma that bin Laden’s death serves to favor Obama politically, but that Republicans maintain an unplayed hand that could boost their stature for 2012.

Bin Laden’s death “absolutely helps [Obama] get reelected, but what would hurt him is if he overplays it,” Wheeler said. “As the story unfolds and we find out more and more about the information—it was a SEAL team that went in, and those are the guys who deserve the credit. …And [the administration] got their information by water boarding, which throws a whole monkey wrench into the Democrats’ narrative that torture doesn’t work, because now it’s led to death of bin Laden... When the jubilation calms down and Obama finishes his victory lap claiming credit for something he had very little to do with, the cold reality of that will hit him."

 

1:30 p.m.  Make sure to check out the photos and blueprint of bin Laden's compound as provided by the U.S. government. The walls were up to 18-feet high, with barbed wire and opaque windows. Though clearly trying to be discreet and secure, bin Laden was living "rather comfortably." The compound was valued at around $1 million dollars and was eight times the size of any other in the neighborhood. Bin Laden and his family were living on the second and third floor of the main building. Two other families resided in the other building and on the first floor of the bin Laden building.

 

1:26 p.m. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg held a press conference at Ground Zero just a few moments ago to celebrate the triumph of his city over the terror attacks carried out by al-Qaida. He also praised both President Obama and former President George W. Bush. Watch and read some excerpts of his remarks:

“In the dark days that followed September 11th, we made a solemn commitment to the dead and to the living that we would bring to justice those responsible for killing more than 2900 innocent people. Yesterday, Osama bin Laden found out that America keeps its commitments. Today we have come to the site that terrorists attacked in 1993 and again in 2001, to reaffirm our commitments to all those we lost, to the future that we believe in, and to a more peaceful and just world. And we come to say with gratitude for the courageous men and women who made it possible that the forces of freedom and justice have once again prevailed over those who used terror to pursue tyranny. Osama bin Laden is dead. And the world trade center site is teeming with new life. Osama bin Laden is dead, and lower Manhattan is pulsing with new activity. Osama bin Laden is dead, and New York City’s spirit has never been stronger. The construction you see here is a rebuke to those who seek to destroy our freedoms and liberties. Nothing will ever return our loved ones, but we are rebuilding from the ashes and tears a monument to the American spirit.”

Bloomberg also assured the citizens of the city that there were “no new immediate threats” against New York in the aftermath of bin Laden’s death. “But there is no doubt that we remain a top target and the killing of bin Laden will not change that. Nor will it distract us from a mission that remains our absolute highest priority, defending our city and country against all those who use violence to attack freedom,” Bloomberg said.

 

1:23 p.m.  Before American forces took out bin Laden in Pakistan Sunday, there were a lot of myths floating around about his whereabouts and habits. NJ’s Yochi J. Dreazen and Sara Sorcher debunk four myths about al Qaida’s leader:

1. MYTH: Bin Laden was hiding in a remote part of Pakistan. TRUTH: He was in an affluent suburb of Abbottabad.

2. MYTH: Bin Laden’s bodyguards would kill him before allowing Americans to do so. TRUTH: Bodyguards did no such thing when the covert team stormed in.

3. MYTH: Bin Laden’s use of human couriers him impossible to track. TRUTH: It was his use of a human courier that gave away his location in the end.

4. MYTH: Pakistani officials didn’t know Bin Laden’s whereabouts. TRUTH: There’s just no way that bin Laden’s compound, so close to many military institutions, would have gone unnoticed.

Read more about the myths and the real truth here.

 

12:48 p.m.  Bringing you some new details on the raid of bin Laden after the Pentagon briefing with senior defense and intelligence officials:

-- Verification of identity: A senior intelligence official said that bin Laden was visually identified on the scene of the compound by the those who conducted the raid. One woman, who was assessed to be one of his wives, identified him by name as Osama bin Laden. Then, CIA specialists compared photos of the body to known photos of bin Laden and were able to detect with 95 percent certainty that it was bin Laden's body. The CIA and other intelligence specialists this morning had DNA analysis "matching a virtual 100 percent match of the body against DNA of several of bin Laden's family members," the official said.

On the scene, bin Laden did resist during the firefight and that he and some other male combatants used women as shields. Most of the 40-minute operation was a firefight, and Bin Laden was killed in the latter part of the  raid. The intelligence official declined to give any details of the last moments of bin Laden's life, saying only: "He died during a firefight."

-- A unilateral U.S. operation: The U.S. did not notify any counterterrorism partners in advance of the operation. Only a small number of people within the U.S. government knew about the preparation. During intelligence gathering, the Pakistanis had no knowledge that the U.S. was interested specifically in this compound, but were able to provide information in the longer term that comprised the "robust" collection of intelligence that eventually "carried the day."

-- Living Large: "We don't know how this compound was financed," an official said. Other intelligence indicates that the militant network is having "financial difficulties," and would only spend this amount of money-- about $1 million for the high-security compound-- for probably two of its most senior commanders. Between Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, it was assessed that the former was living in the compound. He was living "relatively speaking, 'high on the hog,'" one official said. It's unclear how this will play out for other militants living in more "dire" conditions in remote locations once they find out about bin Laden's luxury.

-- Burial at sea: A senior defense official said that preparations for bin Laden's at-sea burial began on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea at 1:10 a.m. EST and took approximately 50 minutes. Bin Laden's body was washed, placed in a white sheet, then placed in a weighted bag. A military officer read prepared religious remarks which were translated by a native Arabic speaker. After the words were complete, the body was placed on a flat, white board, tipped up and then the body was eased into the sea. Another senior defense official said that the U.S. "took pains" to ensure that bin Laden was buried according to Muslim tradition and that it was conducted at sea because there was "no land alternative" to burial. There was no country that "was willing to accept the body" in time for burial within 24 hours.

 

12:40 p.m. Tonight at 9 p.m., Sarah Palin will host a live stream “Tribute to the Troops."

 

12:39 p.m. Newt Gingrich released the following statement on bin Laden's death:

"The killing of Osama bin Laden is a significant victory in the long struggle between radical Islamists and modern civilization.

"This victory is a tribute to the patient endurance of American justice.  I commend both President George W. Bush who led the campaign against our enemies through seven long years and President Obama who continued and intensified the campaign in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"We should remember to thank those who made this possible.  Without the courage and professionalism of our men and women in uniform and in the intelligence services, this victory would not have been achieved.

"This victory is only a milestone in a long war.  We must also recognize the long struggle ahead.  Radical Islamism did not start with bin Laden and it will not end with his death.  This is the 32nd year since the Iranian dictatorship seized our diplomats illegally and held them hostage for 444 days.  It has been 28 years since Iranian-supported terrorists killed 241 servicemen in Beirut in 1983.

"As long as there are schools teaching children to hate; as long as there are state-supported terrorist systems; as long as several countries actively recruit children to be suicide bombers; this war will continue.

"The world is a better place without Osama bin Laden, but his just demise cannot erase the loss and suffering of the families and friends of those who died on September 11 or died fighting in the war since September 11.  So while we are celebrating this victory, we should take time to remember and pray for them."

 

12:27 p.m. At the top of a Medal of Honor ceremony honoring two fallen soldiers from the Korean War, President Obama offered these words about bin Laden's death:

"I think we can all agree this is a good day for America. Our country has kept its commitment to see that justice is done. The world is safer. It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden. Today we are reminded that as a nation, there is nothing we can't do when we put our shoulders to the wheel, when we work together, when we remember the sense of unity that defines us as Americans. And we have seen that spirit, that patriotism and the crowds that have gathered here outside the white house, at ground zero in New York and across the country, people holding candles, waving the flag, singing the national anthem, people proud to live in the united states of America. And we're reminded that we are fortunate to have Americans who dedicate their lives to protecting ours. They volunteer. They train. They endure separation from their families. They take extraordinary risks so that we can be safe. They get the job done. We may not always know their names. We may not always know their stories. But they are there, every day, on the front lines of freedom and we are truly blessed."

 

11:58 p.m. President Obama's remarks at the Medal of Honor ceremony, where he is expected to comment again on bin Laden's death, are starting momentarily. You can watch here.

11:56 p.m. Watch video of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaking about bin Laden's death:

11:49 a.m. The Associated Press provides further details about the revelation Sunday night that information from detainees at Guantanamo Bay was used to help track down bin Laden.

"Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden's most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed's successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania," the AP writes.

11:46 a.m. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., issued a statement earlier this hour that said he is requesting to complete his National Guard service in Afghanistan this year to better understand the U.S. mission there:

"As a Lieutenant Colonel in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, I have service obligations that I fulfill each year. Following in the tradition of other lawmakers who have completed their military service requirements overseas, this year I have requested to conduct my annual training in Afghanistan. Doing so will help me to better understand our ongoing mission in that country, and provide me first-hand experience for my duties on the Senate Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs committees.”

 

11:35 a.m. In about 20 minutes, President Obama will award the Medal of Honor to Anthony T. Kaho'ohanohano and Henry Svehla at the White House. He'll make remarks which may include something about bin Laden's death. Stay tuned - we'll post anything relevant he says to the blog.

 

11:25 a.m. It looks like Donald Trump didn't let Obama's jokes about his potential 2012 candidacy at the White House Correspondents Dinner this weekend get to him too much. He just pushed out a statement on Twitter that reads, "I want to personally congratulate President Obama and the men women of the Armed Forces for a job very well done. I am so proud to see Americans standing shoulder to shoulder, waving the American flag in celebration of this great victory.


"We should spend the next several days not debating party politics, but in remembrance of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and those fighting for our freedom. God Bless America."

 

11:21 a.m. After President Obama appeared in the East Room to announce that U.S. forces had killed Osama bin Laden, senior administration officials at the White House briefed reporters for about 20 minutes on details of the operation. Read a transcript of the briefing, provided by the White House, here.

 

11:17 a.m. Reports are surfacing that the Obama administration is weighing whether to release the photos of a dead Osama bin Laden, as the Bush administration did with Saddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay Hussein after they were killed in 2003. Pros: it would help settle debates about whether bin Laden was really dead, which are inevitable. Cons: Officials are telling reporters the photos are extremely graphic, since bin Laden was shot in the face.

 

10:53 a.m.  Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that while the U.S. remains "at a heightened state of vigilance," the department does not intend to issue a national terrorism advisory alert at this time. "I have been clear since announcing NTAS [National Terrorism Advisory System] in January that we will only issue alerts when we have specific or credible information to convey to the American public. However, our security posture, which always includes a number of measures both seen and unseen, will continue to respond appropriately to protect the American people from an evolving threat picture both in the coming days and beyond."

 

10:50 a.m.  Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell e-mails a statement:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates "is enormously proud of everyone involved in making yesterday's operation a success. It was an extraordinary achievement."

 

10:47 a.m.  ABC News reports that bin Laden's DNA "was matched with that of one of his sisters who died in Boston and whose brain was kept by the United States."

London's Daily Telegraph reported that bin Laden's sister died from brain cancer in Boston several years ago, and the FBI "subpoenaed her body so that it could later be used to identify the al-Qaeda leader if he was caught."

 

10:38 a.m.  The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg just got off the phone with Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S., who was adamant that Pakistan assisted the U.S. in locating Bin Laden. Haqqani responded to criticism that Pakistan should have been able to locate bin Laden by noting American law enforcement's difficulty in capturing wanted criminals inside the U.S., Goldberg writes:

"He made specific reference to the notorious Boston gangland figure James J. 'Whitey' Bulger. 'If Whitey Bulger can live undetected by American police for so long, why can't Osama Bin Laden live undetected by Pakistani authorities?' Haqqani asked. Bulger, the former head of Boston's Winter Hill gang, was added to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List in mid-1999, two months after Bin Laden himself first appeared on the list. Haqqani continued, 'The fact is, Mafia figures manage to do this sort of thing in Brooklyn, and Pakistan is a country that does not have the highly-developed law enforcement capabilities that your country possesses.' Haqqani went on to say, 'President Obama has answered the question about Pakistan's role. It wouldn't have been possible to get Bin Laden without Pakistan's help. People are piling on this one, but the fact is, it is very plausible for someone to live undetected for long periods of time.'"

For more on Haqqani, see our post at 8:44.

 

10:36 a.m.  Haven't seen a print newspaper today? Here's our gallery of newspaper front pages from this morning.

 

10:28 a.m.  The longest-serving member of the House, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., weighs in:

"Osama Bin Laden’s death will not end the war on terror – far from it," he said in a statement. "As a nation, we must remain vigilant and steadfast as we continue to battle radicalism at home and abroad. But today we can all feel a little better knowing that the evil man behind the deaths of thousands of Americans is dead. It is a good day to be an American and celebrate our national pride.”

See other officials' reaction from last night's news here.

 

10:24 a.m.  The Boston Globe is reporting that Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., said he's being sent to Afghanistan: “I will put out a statement later about my involvement," Brown told the Globe. "I’m going to be going over at some point to do some missions.” The Massachusetts National Guard member wouldn't say if he is being formally deployed.

 

10:20 a.m.  One administration official tells NJ that Obama advisers presented him with the option of bombing the compound. Advisers also presented Obama with plans to conduct raids on the compound on two other occasions, but the plan was rejected by the president, according to a U.S. counterterrorism official.  Drone strikes were not an option considered, the official said.

10:14 a.m.  NJ’s Marc Ambinder takes you inside the operation that killed Osama bin Laden and the secret team that carried out the mission:

"From Ghazi Air Base in Pakistan, the modified MH-60 helicopters made their way to the garrison suburb of Abbottabad, about 30 miles from the center of Islamabad. Aboard were Navy SEALs, flown across the border from Afghanistan, along with tactical signals, intelligence collectors, and navigators using highly classified hyperspectral imagers.

After bursts of fire over 40 minutes, 22 people were killed or captured. One of the dead was Osama bin Laden, done in by a double tap -- boom, boom -- to the left side of his face. His body was aboard the choppers that made the trip back. One had experienced mechanical failure and was destroyed by U.S. forces, military and White House officials tell National Journal.

Were it not for this high-value target, it might have been a routine mission for the specially trained and highly mythologized SEAL Team Six, officially called the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, but known even to the locals at their home base Dam Neck in Virginia as just DevGru."

 

10:11 a.m.  What has changed since 2001? It took nearly 10 years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to kill terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. A lot has changed in the world since 2001. Here's where we were back then.

 

10:10 a.m.  George Pataki, who was serving as New York's governor at the time of the September 11th attacks, called word of bin Laden's death "very gratifying" as he reflected on the suffering of those affected by the terrorist attack nearly 10 years ago.

"In a sense, it just allows them to understand that the sacrifices that their loved ones went through are not in vain, that this great country has prevailed and brought bin Laden to justice, that he has finally met his just fate, and that the freedoms that they died for are very much intact in this country and hopefully on the ascendancy not just in the West but across the globe," he said during an interview on Fox News. "They died because of their beliefs in this country and its freedoms, and those freedoms will ultimately be what leads this world to a safer and much better future."

 

10:04 a.m.  In Gaza, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called bin Laden a "martyr" as the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank said it will be "good for peace."

"We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior," Haniyeh told reporters. "We regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood."

Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fatah recently reached an initial agreement to reunite their governments in Gaza and the West Bank, respectively, casting aside differences that have fueled serious fratricidal violence in recent years. This recent difference in opinion over bin Laden's death highlights potential policy rifts within any future Palestinian unity government, and further tensions with Israel.

In Israel, President Shimon Peres called the news of bin Laden’s death a “great piece of news for the free world” and hailed the achievement of the U.S. and Obama. “This man was a mega-murderer, he killed thousands and thousands of people, people who were totally innocent.  He would continue to kill, his purpose in life was to kill anyone who doesn't belong to him.  He tried to murder people and murder nations including the State of Israel. He reached his end,” Peres said in a statement.  Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak praised the U.S. “determination and operational daring” in the mission.

Israel had immediately rejected dealing with any Palestinian government that included Hamas.

 

10:03 a.m. Rep. Steve Rothman, D-N.J., a member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, released this statement:

“With the killing by U.S. forces of one of the most evil men in history, who had the blood of thousands of innocent Americans on his hands, we mark the most significant achievement to date in our fight against al-Qaeda and terrorism. The world has now been reminded that there is no safety or shelter for the enemies of our nation.

“Our gratitude goes to our U.S. military and intelligence in accomplishing this dangerous and complex mission as well as to President Obama for his steadfast leadership in realizing this long sought goal of bringing Osama bin Laden to justice. Our hearts continue to go out to the families of all of the 9/11 victims as well as victims of other terrorist attacks against Americans. We hope that the death of this mass murder will bring some comfort to them.

“However, we as a nation must understand that this is not the end of al-Qaeda or terrorist efforts against the United States and her citizens. And we must continue our international and homeland security diligence with determination.”

9:57 a.m. A radical Islamist group called Osama bin Laden a “martyr” a spokesman for Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) told Agence-France Presse. “If it's true Osama bin Laden is dead, then he died a martyr. He fought for Islam and he fought for the lands colonized by America. Al-Qaeda didn't die with him. Jihad will not be dampened just because he's dead because jihad is a command of the religion, not of individuals.”

A Muslim Brotherhood leader in Cairo stressed that “Islam is not bin Laden… After September 11, there had been a lot of confusion. Terrorism was mixed up with Islam," said Mahmud Ezzat, the Brotherhood's number two official. "In the coming phase, everyone will be looking to the West for just behavior," he added. The U.S. and its allies should now pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, Ezzat said.

 

9:50 a.m. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, said Vice President Joe Biden told him about bin Laden's death late last night.

"I am very glad we finally got the bastard," Graham said in an interview on Fox News. "Joe and I went down memory lane of how long it's taken, and the message is if you do damage or harm to the American people, there's no place you can hide, and no time period will keep you safe, and I congratulated the president and the vice president for their persistence, and the real glory goes to those who risked their lives to bring about justice."

Graham then cautioned that while bin Laden's death was a "momentum builder," the battle is far from over.

"They're going to try to strike back," he said. "The ultimate solution to terrorism is to have people in Afghanistan who reject the Taliban and al-Qaida....You're not going to kill your way out of this war, you have to empower those in the region who will align themselves with you. That's the next step. It's a long journey to get to peace but we've made a giant step forward last night."

The senator, who serves on the Committee on Armed Services, also identified Pakistan as a problem in the region even as it helps America with intelligence and some counter terrorism efforts.

"Pakistan is a mixed message country. They do provide us good intelligence, they have been helpful when it comes to certain terrorist organizations, but the biggest problem we face in Afghanistan is sanctuaries in Pakistan," he said. "I hope we will put pressure on the Pakistani government to do better. How could he be in such a compound without being noticed?"

9:49 a.m. Rep. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who just returned from Afghanistan with a Congressional delegation, offered this statement:

“Nothing can ever restore the moral order undone by Osama bin Laden's horrifying attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, but now Americans can sleep easier knowing that a man of true evil no longer walks this earth,” Murphy said.  “The killing of bin Laden does not erase the damage he did, but it brings us one giant step closer to justice.”

“Our country's best and brightest comprise our special operations forces - today we praise their work and grieve again for those who bin Laden killed,” Murphy added.

Murphy was in Afghanistan with a Congressional delegation where he received briefings on special operations in the region from top special operations leadership.  He also met with troops and attended a memorial service for nine Americans, including one from New Haven, who were killed last week.

 

9:48 a.m. NJ’s Marc Ambinder brings you an incredible insider view of the team that took down bin Laden. Read it here.

9:45 a.m. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared at the State Department this morning to address bin Laden’s death and what it means for U.S. diplomacy. We’d like to draw your attention to the fact that Clinton points out many of the victims of al-Qaida’s terror were Muslim. Also note her message to the Taliban in the fifth paragraph: “You cannot wait us out. You cannot defeat us.” Most important parts of her remarks are bolded.


Bracing for Retaliation


More From National Journal: •Step by Step: How bin Laden was Killed

What This Means for al-Qaida?

PICTURES: Newspapers Lead with bin Laden

PICTURES: Worldwide Reactions after Osama bin Laden Killed

"As president Obama said last night, Osama bin Laden is dead. And justice has been done. And today I want to say a few words about what this means for our efforts going forward.

"First, I want to offer my thoughts and prayers to the thousands of families whose loved ones were killed in Osama bin Laden's campaign of terror and violence, from the embassy bombings in Africa the strike on the U.S.S. Cole, to the attack OF September  11th, 2001. And so many more. These were not just attacks against Americans, although we suffered grievous losses. These were attacks against the whole world. In London and Madrid, Bali, Istanbul and many other place, innocent people, most of them Muslims were targeted in markets and mosques, in subway stations and on airplanes. Each attack motivated by a violent ideology that holds no value for human life or regard for human dignity. I know that nothing can make up for the loss of the victims or fill the voids they left. But I hope their families can now find some comfort in the fact that justice has been served.

"Second, I want to join the president in honoring the courage and commitment of the brave men and women who serve our country. And have worked tirelessly and relentlessly for more than a decade to track down and bring Osama bin Laden, this terrorist to justice. From our troops and our intelligence experts, to our diplomats and our law enforcement officials. This has been a broad, deep, very impressive effort. Here at the State Department we have worked to forge a worldwide anti-terror network. We have drawn together the effort and energy of friends, partners and allies on every continent. Our partnerships including our close cooperation with Pakistan have helped put unprecedented pressure on al-Qaida and its leadership. Continued cooperation will be just as important in the days ahead.

"Because even as we mark this milestone, we should not forget the battle to stop al-Qaida and its terror will not end with the death of bin Laden. Indeed, we must take this opportunity to renew our resolve and redouble our efforts. In Afghanistan we will continue taking the fight to al-Qaida and their Taliban allies while working to support the afghan people as they build a stronger government and begin to take responsibility for their own security. We are implementing the strategy for transition approved by NATO at the summit in Lisbon. And we are supporting an afghan led political process that seeks to isolate al qaeda and end the insurgency.

"Our message to the Taliban remains the same. But today it may have even greater resonance. You cannot wait us out. You cannot defeat us. But you can make the choice to abandon al-Qaida and participate in a peaceful, political process. In Pakistan, we are committed to supporting the people and government as they defend their own democracy from violence extremism. Indeed, as the president said, bin Laden had also declared war Pakistan. He had ordered the killings of many innocent Pakistani men, women and children. In recent years the cooperation between our governments, militaries and law enforcement agencies increased pressure on al-Qaida and the Taliban. And this progress must continue.

"And we are committed to our partnership. History will record that bin Laden's death came as a time of great movement towards freedom and democracy. At a time when the people across the Middle East and North Africa are rejecting the extremist narrative and charting a path of peaceful progress based on universal rights and aspirations. There is no better rebuke to al-Qaida and its heinous ideology. All over the world we'll press forward, bolstering our partnership, strengthening our network, investing in a positive vision of peace and progress and relentlessly pursuing the murderers who target innocent people. The fight continues and we will never waver.

"Now I know there are some who doubted this day would ever come. Who questioned our resolve and our reach. But let us remind ourselves this is America. We rise to the challenge. We persevere. And we get the job done. I am reminded especially today of the heroism and humanity that marked the difficult days after 9/11. In New York where I was a senator, our community was devastated. But we pulled through. Ten years later that American spirit remained as powerful as ever and it will continue to prevail. So this is a day, not only for Americans, but also for people all over the world who look to a more peaceful and secure future. Yes, with continued vigilance. But more so with growing hope and renewed faith in what is possible. Thank you all very much."

9:25 a.m. Poor Mike Pence. The Republican representative from Indiana was scheduled to announce his candidacy for governor today, but that announcement was overshadowed by news of bin Laden's death. He released the following statement:

“Today will be remembered by generations of Americans as a day of justice served.

“I commend the U.S. Armed Forces and intelligence community for the action taken to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden. 

“Thanks to their persistence and courage, as well as the Obama and Bush Administrations, justice was served at last.  America will never forget the tragedy of September 11th, but today's news is evidence that justice delayed can be justice served.  Today we are safer than we were yesterday but we must remain vigilant, as there are still those throughout the world who seek to destroy our freedom."

 

9:24 a.m. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, released the following statement: 

"Tonight, I was pleased to hear the announcement that Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda terrorist network, has been killed.  This welcome news follows years of tireless efforts by our government to bring to justice those responsible for attacking this country on September 11, 2001 and the numerous attacks before and since.  I want to thank the members of our military and the intelligence community who made this operation a success and the countless sacrifices made by those who have worked to meet this end.

"I was honored to visit our brave troops in Afghanistan last week, who are doing an impressive job on behalf of all Americans.

"While this is a milestone that we have all awaited, we must remember that al Qaeda and its affiliates are not dependent on one man and we must remain vigilant in our efforts to disrupt and destroy terrorist networks that threaten our Nation and allies.

 

9:19 a.m. NBC's Chuck Todd reports from his Twitter account that commanders relayed the news that they had killed Osama bin Laden by using his code name, Geronimo. "Geronimo is KIA," said the call.

 

9:13

Lindsey Boerma contributed. contributed to this article.

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