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Mission against Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011

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Remarks by the President on Osama Bin Laden
East Room

11:35 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory -- hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.

And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.

On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.

We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda -- an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.

Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort. We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.

Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.

And so shortly after taking office, 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, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.

Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.

Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.

For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.

Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must –- and we will -- remain vigilant at home and abroad.

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done. But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.

Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.

So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.

Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.

We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.

Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.

And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.

The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.

Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

END 11:44 P.M. EDT

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Remarks on the Killing of Usama bin Ladin

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

Treaty Room

Washington, DC

May 2, 2011

 

Well, good morning. As President Obama said last night, Usama bin Ladin 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 Usama bin Ladin’s campaign of terror and violence, from the embassy bombings in Africa, to the strike on the U.S.S. Cole, to the attacks of September 11, 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 places, 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 Usama bin Ladin, 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 that the battle to stop al-Qaida and its syndicate of terror will not end with the death of bin Ladin. 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 supporting an Afghan-led political process that seeks to isolate al-Qaida 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 violent extremism. Indeed, as the President said, bin Ladin had also declared war on 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 Ladin’s death came at a time of great movements toward freedom and democracy, at a time when the people across the Middle East and North Africa are rejecting the extremist narratives 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 will press forward, bolstering our partnerships, strengthening our networks, 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 remains 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.

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Written by John D. Banusiewicz

 

An intelligence-driven U.S. operation in Pakistan killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden yesterday, President Barack Obama announced in a nationally televised address from the White House late last night.

 

“Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan,” Obama said. “A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability.

 

“No Americans were harmed,” he continued. “They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”

 

Obama noted that bin Laden had been al-Qaida’s leader and symbol for more than 20 years and continued to plot attacks against the United States and its allies.

 

“The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al-Qaida, yet his death does not mark the end of our effort,” Obama said. “There is no doubt that al-Qaida will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must, and we will, remain vigilant at home and abroad.”

 

The president revealed that shortly after taking office in January 2009, he ordered CIA Director Leon E. Panetta to make bin Laden’s death or capture the top priority of the U.S. war against the al-Qaida terrorist organization.

“Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground,” he said. The president said he met repeatedly with his national security team as information developed indicating bin Laden was at a compound in Pakistan, and that last week he determined enough information was available and authorized the operation.

The president emphasized that the war against al-Qaida is not a war against Islam.

 

“Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader,” he said. “He was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al-Qaida has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.”

 

Counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped in finding bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding, the president said.

 

Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people. Tonight, I called [Pakistani] President [Asif Ali] Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations, and going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al-Qaida and its affiliates.

 

The president praised those who worked to find bin Laden and those who carried out the operation that killed him.

 

“Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome,” he said. “The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.

 

“We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation,” he continued, “for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.”

 

Former President George W. Bush released a statement after he received a call from Obama:

 

"Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden the leader of the al Qaida network that attacked America on September 11, 2001. I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. They have our everlasting gratitude. This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done."

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Written by Jim Garamone

 

The plan to attack the compound of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was the result of relentless intelligence work and operational professionalism, White House officials, speaking on background, said this morning.

 

The operation was the culmination of years of careful and highly advanced intelligence work, officials said, as officers from the CIA, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency worked as a team to analyze and pinpoint the Pakistani compound where bin Laden was killed.

Once the intelligence pointed precisely to the compound in Abbottabad –- a town 35 miles north of Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad –- the work on the mission began between the intelligence and military communities.

 

“In the end, it was the matchless skill and courage of these Americans that secured this triumph for our country and the world,” one official said.

A small team conducted the helicopter raid on the compound. An official called it a complex operation, noting that the compound was a virtual fortress -– built in 2006 with high walls, razor wire and other defense features. Its suburban location and proximity to Islamabad complicated the operation, the official said.

 

The men who executed this mission accepted this risk, practiced to minimize those risks, and understood the importance of the target to the national security of the United States,” he said. “This operation was a surgical raid by a small team designed to minimize collateral damage and to pose as little risk as possible to noncombatants on the compound or to Pakistani civilians in the neighborhood.

 

U.S. helicopters delivered the team to the compound, and the team was on the ground for less than 40 minutes, an official said. They did not encounter any local authorities. In addition to bin Laden, three adult males were killed in the raid.

 

“There were several women and children at the compound,” the official said. “One woman was killed when she was used as a shield by a male combatant. Two other women were injured.”

 

One of the U.S. helicopters was lost at the compound due to mechanical failure. The crew destroyed it on the ground, and the assault force and crew members boarded the remaining aircraft to leave, an official said.

 

“There’s also no doubt that the death of Osama bin Laden marks the single greatest victory in the U.S.-led campaign to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida,” the official said. “It is a major and essential step in bringing about al-Qaida’s eventual destruction.”

 

Though the organization’s terrorists still are dangerous and al-Qaida may not fragment immediately, an official said, “the loss of bin Laden puts the group on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse.”

 

The United States did not share any intelligence on the raid with any other country, the official said.

 

“We believed it was essential to the security of the operation and our personnel,” he said. “In fact, only a very small group of people inside our own government knew of this operation in advance.” Shortly after the raid, he added, U.S. officials contacted senior Pakistani leaders and told them about the raid and its results.

 

“Since 9/11, the United States has made it clear to Pakistan that we would pursue bin Laden wherever he might be,” the official said. “Pakistan has long understood that we are at war with al-Qaida. The United States had a legal and moral obligation to act on the information it had.”

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Statement to Employees by Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Leon E. Panetta on the Death of Usama Bin Ladin

 

May 2, 2011

 

Today, we have rid the world of the most infamous terrorist of our time. A US strike team stormed a compound in Abottabad, Pakistan and killed Usama Bin Ladin. Thankfully, no Americans were lost, and every effort was taken to avoid civilian casualties.

 

Nothing will ever compensate for the pain and suffering inflicted by this mass murderer and his henchmen. But just as evil never rests, neither does good. May the fact that Usama Bin Ladin no longer inhabits the earth be a source of comfort for the thousands of families, here in America and around the globe, who mourn the victims of al-Qa’ida’s barbarity.

 

Within our Agency family, our thoughts turn to those who died fighting to make this day possible. Our brothers and sisters who gave their lives in the war against al-Qa’ida—from Mike Spann to our heroes at Khowst—are with us, in memory and spirit, at this joyful moment. In all that we do, they are our constant inspiration.

 

My deepest thanks and congratulations go out to the officers of our CounterTerrorism Center and Office of South Asia Analysis for their outstanding expertise, amazing creativity, and excellent tradecraft. I also extend my profound appreciation and absolute respect to the strike team, whose great skill and courage brought our nation this historic triumph.

The raid was the culmination of intense and tireless effort on the part of many dedicated Agency officers over many years. Our men and women designed highly complex, innovative, and forward-leaning clandestine operations that led us to Bin Ladin. One operation would yield intelligence that was carefully analyzed and then used to drive further operations. Along with our partners at NGA, NSA, and ODNI, we applied the full range of our capabilities, collecting intelligence through both human and technical means and subjecting it to the most rigorous analysis by our government’s leading experts on Bin Ladin and his organization.

 

Persistent hard work produced the results that the American people expect of their intelligence service: We gave President Obama and his team accurate, relevant, timely intelligence—providing the information and insight they needed at key points as this mission developed. I offered my personal thanks to the President for his willingness to make the courageous decision to proceed with the operation.

Though Bin Ladin is dead, al-Qa’ida is not. The terrorists almost certainly will attempt to avenge him, and we must—and will—remain vigilant and resolute. But we have struck a heavy blow against the enemy. The only leader they have ever known, whose hateful vision gave rise to their atrocities, is no more. The supposedly uncatchable one has been caught and killed. And we will not rest until every last one of them has been delivered to justice.

 

Remember how you felt in the anxious hours after the attacks of September 11th , and how our Agency vowed to run to ground a vicious foe. Whether you were here at the time or were inspired to serve at CIA in the months and years that followed, take heart in knowing that our Agency is doing its essential job for the American people, and for all humanity. A promise has been kept. And a war will be won.

 

God bless the United States of America.

 

Leon E. Panetta

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Written by Jim Garamone

 

Osama bin Laden received a Muslim ceremony as he was buried at sea, a senior defense official said in Washington, D.C., May 2.

 

The religious rites were performed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in the North Arabian Sea and occurred within 24 hours of the terrorist leader's death, said the official.

"Preparations for at-sea [burial] began at 1:10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time and were completed at 2 a.m.," said the official.

 

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

 

"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.

 

Afterward, bin Laden's body was placed onto a flat board, which was then elevated upward on one side and the body slid off into the sea.

The deceased terrorist was buried at sea because no country would accept bin Laden's remains, a senior defense official said.

 

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Defense Department officials are sure it was the body of bin Laden. CIA specialists compared photos of the body with known photos of bin Laden and said with 95-percent certainty it was the terrorist leader, a senior intelligence official said.

 

In addition, bin Laden's wife identified the al-Qaida leader by name while the strike team was still in the compound, said the intelligence official.

 

CIA and other specialists in the intelligence community "performed the initial DNA analysis matching a virtually 100-percent DNA match of the body against the DNA of several of bin Laden's family members," the official added.

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Speaker Boehner Delivers Remarks on the Successful Mission to Bring Justice to Osama bin Laden

 

“The tragic events of 9/11 ten years ago remind us that we’re all Americans, and that what unites us as Americans is far greater than what divides us. And I think last night’s news unified our country in much the same way.

 

“The death of Osama bin Laden is an important moment in the war against radical extremism and terrorism - an important event for peoples all around the world who have been subject to the terror of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

 

“To the families who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001: We will never forget what you lost. For those who have fought and died in the war against terror, and their loved ones: We honor your sacrifice. And to those who seek to destroy freedom by preying on innocent human life: We will not rest until we bring you to justice.

 

“Our fight for freedom and liberty around the globe continues. We face a complex and dangerous terrorist threat even today. It is important that we remain vigilant in our efforts to defeat our terrorist enemies and protect the American people. This makes our engagement in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan more important, not less.

 

I want to congratulate -- and thank -- the hard-working men and women of the United States Armed Services. I want to thank all those involved in the intelligence community for their tireless efforts and perseverance that led to this successful evening.

 

I also want to commend President Obama and President Bush for all their efforts to bring Osama bin Laden to justice.

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STATEMENT BY SENATOR JOHN McCAIN ON THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT OSAMA BIN LADEN HAS BEEN KILLED

May 1, 2011

 

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), made the following statement this evening regarding the announcement made by President Obama that Osama Bin Laden has been killed:

 

I am overjoyed that we finally got the world's top terrorist. The world is a better and more just place now that Osama bin Laden is no longer in it. I hope the families of the victims of the September 11th attacks will sleep easier tonight and every night hence knowing that justice has been done. I commend the President and his team, as well as our men and women in uniform and our intelligence professionals, for this superb achievement.

 

“But while we take heart in the news that Osama bin Laden is dead, we must be mindful that al-Qaeda and its terrorist allies are still lethal and determined enemies, and we must remain vigilant to defeat them.”

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Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following statement on the Senate floor regarding the U.S. mission that killed terrorist Osama bin Laden.

 

“Late last night we learned the news we’d been longing to hear since the worst morning in our memory: an American operation brought Osama bin Laden to justice.

 

“This was an American mission – ordered by President Obama and accomplished by America’s brave and brilliant military and intelligence professionals.

 

“Last night’s news stunned the world – but this operation’s success should surprise no one. America’s special forces and intelligence operatives are the best – the best trained, the best equipped, the best led. Every day of every year, they risk their lives for our sake, for our safety.

 

“They are the most professional and proficient forces on the planet, and yesterday they brought down the most wanted mass murderer on Earth.

 

“Their success is the most significant victory yet in our fight against Al Qaeda and terrorism. It sends a strong and unmistakable message to terrorists who threaten our country, our people and our interests.

“This success is a direct result of President Obama’s leadership, from the national-security priorities he outlined when he took office to the green light he gave our forces this weekend.

 

“President Obama insisted that we refocus on Afghanistan and Pakistan as the central battlefields in our fight against terrorism. Those tremendous military, diplomatic, intelligence and economic efforts are the reason we woke up this morning in a world that is no longer home to Osama bin Laden.

 

“But the end of his life is not the end of this fight. Yesterday’s operation is indeed a measure of justice. But it is only one measure of justice. It absolutely is a definitive victory, but it does not define absolute victory.

 

“America welcomes the success of our fellow citizens’ extraordinary mission. Even as we breathe a sigh of relief, though, we are not relieved of our duty to be vigilant, to be persistent, to defeat our enemy and to make our nation stronger.

 

“The leader of Al Qaeda is gone, but his organization is not. We know our enemy is widespread and motivated – and the truth is, it may be more motivated today than it was yesterday.

 

“Our troops continue to fight. Our intelligence professionals continue to work. Their families continue to sacrifice. We continue to support all of them, and each other.

 

“We also pause today to once again lend a shoulder to those whose grief never ends – not with time, not with bin Laden’s demise, not ever.

“This significant measure of justice is but a small measure of comfort to those who lost loved ones at bin Laden’s direction – in America and around the world, in New York and Virginia and Pennsylvania, aboard the U.S.S. Cole, at American embassies in Africa, on trains in London and Madrid, and in so many other places.

 

“Bin Laden’s death does not bring back the thousands of innocent people his thugs killed, or make whole families that will forever be incomplete.

 

“But it is an important milestone that reminds the world America does not suffer the wicked and will not submit to evil. Our resolve is strengthened when it is challenged, and our unity – though it, too, is often tested – is unbreakable.

 

“Because of the hard work of courageous Americans in our military, intelligence, diplomatic and law-enforcement communities, a long and painful chapter in our nation’s history closed yesterday. Today we welcome a spring of new optimism and renewed patriotism.

 

“The chapter now behind us ended with justice. We hope the chapter ahead of us will bring security and peace.

 

“While the nation and the world absorb this crucial development, the work of the Senate continues.

 

“Today we begin a new month and a new work period and a new opportunity to come together to create jobs.

 

“I hope this month will be a productive one. There are several important and time-sensitive items on our plate.

 

“One, I hope to wrap up the small-business jobs bill. This has been on the floor for far too long, and we need to resolve it so we can move on to other matters.

 

“Two, we will have the same debate in the Senate that the American people are having at home. That is the question of whether we should keep giving away money to oil companies who clearly don’t need taxpayer handouts. That will be part of a larger debate we will continue having about how best to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and invest better and smarter in clean energy.

 

“Three, we will vote on the House-passed budget. A majority of the House has embraced it, a majority of the American people has rejected it, and the Senate will soon have its say, too.

 

“Finally, we will confirm judicial nominees, many of whom have waited too long for the Senate to act. If the minority forces us to file cloture on these nominees in order to get to a final vote, I will file cloture. We cannot waste any more time or play these games any longer. The country needs these empty benches filled.

 

“We also have other nominations to confirm, including the Attorney General’s top deputy, Jim Cole.

 

“The Deputy Attorney General runs the day-to-day operations of the Department of Justice. He also is the person who signs the critical warrants that permit our intelligence officials to conduct surveillance on suspected terrorists. But he can’t do that unless the Senate confirms him – so we must do that soon.

 

“Especially given last night’s developments, it is unthinkable that partisanship and legislative ploys are keeping a well-qualified nominee out of this important national-security role.

“A moment ago we began this remarkable new day in the Senate the same way we begin every day in session: with the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag. Its closing words were the powerful closing words of President Obama’s address to the nation last night, and their meaning is even more profound today, the first day of this new era.

 

“Those words – ‘liberty and justice for all’ – represent America’s purpose. This weekend, in the name and pursuit of liberty, heroic Americans halfway around the world secured justice – for an evil man’s victims, for the survivors of his terror, for Americans, for our allies and for the entire world. Liberty and justice, for all.”

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Embassy of Pakistan

Office of the Spokesperson

Press Release

Death of Osama bin Ladin

 

In an intelligence driven operation, Osama Bin Ladin was killed in the surroundings of Abbotabad in the early hours of this morning. This operation was conducted by the US forces in accordance with declared US policy that Osama bin Ladin will be eliminated in a direct action by the US forces, wherever found in the world.

 

Earlier today, President Obama telephoned President Zardari on the successful US operation which resulted in killing of Osama bin Ladin.

Osama bin Ladin’s death illustrates the resolve of the international community including Pakistan to fight and eliminate terrorism. It constitutes a major setback to terrorist organizations around the world.

 

Al-Qaeda had declared war on Pakistan. Scores of Al-Qaeda sponsored terrorist attacks resulted in deaths of thousands of innocent Pakistani men, women and children. Almost, 30,000 Pakistani civilians lost their lives in terrorist attacks in the last few years. More than 5,000 Pakistani security and armed forces officials have been martyred in Pakistan’s campaign against Al-Qaeda, other terrorist organizations and affiliates.

Pakistan has played a significant role in efforts to eliminate terrorism. We have had extremely effective intelligence sharing arrangements with several intelligence agencies including that of the US. We will continue to support international efforts against terrorism.

 

It is Pakistan’s stated policy that it will not allow its soil to be used in terrorist attacks against any country. Pakistan’s political leadership, parliament, state institutions and the whole nation are fully united in their resolve to eliminate terrorism.

 

Islamabad

 

2 May 2011

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Associated Press of Pakistan

 

Pakistan on Monday confirmed the death of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in an intelligence-driven military operations conducted by the US army, in the early hours at Abbottabad. A statement from the Foreign Office said the most wanted terrorist mastermind was killed in an operation conducted by the US forces in accordance with declared US policy that Osama bin Ladin will be eliminated in a direct action by the US forces, wherever found in the world. The Foreign Office termed it a major setback to terrorist organizations around the world. The statement said President Obama telephoned President Zardari on the successful US operation which resulted in killing of Osama bin Ladin.

 

Osama bin Ladin's death illustrates the resolve of the international community including Pakistan to fight and eliminate terrorism.

 

The Foreign Office statement said al-Qaeda had declared war on Pakistan. Scores of Al-Qaeda sponsored terrorist attacks resulted in deaths of thousands of innocent Pakistani men, women and children.

 

Almost, 30,000 Pakistani civilians lost their lives in terrorist attacks in the last few years. More than 5,000 Pakistani security and armed forces officials have been martyred in Pakistan's campaign against Al-Qaeda, other terrorist organizations and affiliates.

 

Pakistan has played a significant role in efforts to eliminate terrorism.

 

We have had extremely effective intelligence sharing arrangements with several intelligence agencies including that of the US. We will continue to support international efforts against terrorism.

 

It is Pakistan's stated policy that it will not allow its soil to be used in terrorist attacks against any country. Pakistan's political leadership, parliament, state institutions and the whole nation are fully united in their resolve to eliminate terrorism.

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Karachi's Geo News described a helicopter crash and "heavy firing" on the "late night of May 1" "near the PMA (Pakistan Military Academy 34°10′50″N 73°15′00″E / 34.18056°N 73.25°E / 34.18056; 73.25)- Kakul Road", which forks off toward the northeast from the Karakoram Highway 2.5 northeast of the center of Abbottabad.

 

Bin Laden's compound was four kilometers northeast of the center of Abbottabad, 650 meters southeast of the PMA-Kakul Road, and 1.3 kilometers southwest of the PMA at 34°10′09″N 73°14′33″E / 34.16917°N 73.2425°E / 34.16917; 73.2425. Details of the raid as it was observed from a distance were tweeted by Sohaib Athar, a resident of Abbottabad who at the time did not know what was happening

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GEO Pakistan

 

KARACHI: Banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has confirmed the killing of Osama Bin Laden and issued a threat that TTP will take its revenge, Geo News reported Monday.

TTP’s spokesman in an audio message released hours after the killing of Osama Bin Laden, said ‘Pakistan will be the prime target’.

 

He said the US had been on a man-hunt for Osama and ‘now Pakistani rulers are on our hit-list’.

 

“We had also killed Benazir Bhutto, we killed her in a suicide attack,” the TTP spokesman said, adding, US would be their second target.

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ReallyVirtual - The gunfight lasted perhaps 4-5 minutes, I heard. That was around 10 hours ago. There are no other gunfights that I know of.

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[b]Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan, 5/2/2011
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room[/b]

2:00 P.M. EDT

MR. CARNEY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I just wanted to make one point before we get started. I have with me today John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. And he will take questions from you about the events of last night and yesterday afternoon and what preceded those events.

And then if you have any questions on other subjects I'll do about 10 minutes after Mr. Brennan is finished to take those questions.

[b]I just want to make a point before John comes up that as many of you know, the President, even before he was President, when he was a candidate, had a very clear idea about the approach he would take as President towards Osama bin Laden. In August of 2007, he said, “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will.” In July of 2008, he said, “We must make it clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like bin Laden if we have them in our sights.”[/b]
And he repeated statements like that. Again, I just want to be clear that this is an approach that he always felt that he would take when he was President and then, as John will elaborate, once he took office he made sure that we would revitalize our focus on Osama bin Laden and the hunt for him.

So, with that, I’d like to invite John up to take your questions. And I will be standing here, if you have questions on other topics. Thank you.

Associated Press.

Q Thank you, sir. I wanted to ask about the specific goal of the raid. Was there a consideration to try to take bin Laden alive, or was the mission to kill him on sight?

MR. BRENNAN: Absolutely it was to prepare for all contingencies. [b]If we had the opportunity to take bin Laden alive, if he didn’t present any threat, the individuals involved were able and prepared to do that. We had discussed that extensively in a number of meetings in the White House and with the President. [color="#FF0000"]The concern was that bin Laden would oppose any type of capture operation. Indeed, he did. It was a firefight. He, therefore, was killed in that firefight and that’s when the remains were removed.[/color][/b]

But we certainly were planning for the possibility, which we thought was going to be remote, given that he would likely resist arrest, but that we would be able to capture him.

Q So you went into the operation believing that the most likely outcome was that he would be killed on sight?

MR. BRENNAN: We were trying to make sure that we were able to accomplish the mission safely and securely for the people who were involved. We were not going to put our people at risk. [b]The President put a premium on making sure that 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 our forces. He was engaged and he was killed in the process. But [color="#FF0000"]if we had the opportunity to take him alive, we would have done that.[/color][/b]

Q And if I could just ask, have you been able to determine how bin Laden was able to hide in this relatively prominent location, and do you believe the Pakistanis when they say that they had no idea that he was there?

MR. BRENNAN: [b]People have been referring to this as hiding in plain sight.[/b] Clearly this was something that was considered as a possibility. Pakistan is a large country. We are looking right now at how he was able to hold out there for so long, and whether or not there was any type of support system within Pakistan that allowed him to stay there.

[b][color="#FF0000"]We know that the people at the compound there were working on his behalf, and that’s how we ultimately found our way to that compound. But we are right now less than 24 hours after this operation, so we are talking with the Pakistanis on a regular basis now, and we're going to pursue all leads to find out exactly what type of support system and benefactors that bin Laden might have had.[/color][/b]

Q But you don’t necessarily take them at their word that they didn’t know?

MR. BRENNAN: We are pursuing all leads in this issue.

Q Just to follow on that, is it really credible that Pakistani authorities had no idea that this compound was being built and that it existed -- such an elaborate compound?

MR. BRENNAN: [b]I think it’s inconceivable that bin Laden did not have a support system in the country that allowed him to remain there for an extended period of time. I am not going to speculate about what type of support he might have had on an official basis inside of Pakistan. We are closely talking to the Pakistanis right now, and again, we are leaving open opportunities to continue to pursue whatever leads might be out there.[/b]

Q And also one of the things that a lot of people think about when they hear this news is what does this mean for the war in Afghanistan? Does it make it easier to wind things down there?

MR. BRENNAN: I think the accomplishment that very brave personnel from the United States government were able to realize yesterday is a defining moment in the war against al Qaeda, the war on terrorism, by decapitating the head of the snake known as al Qaeda. It is going to have, I think, very important reverberations throughout the area, on the al Qaeda network in that area.

This is something that we’ve been after for 15 years, goes back before 9/11. So I think what we’re doing now is going to try to take advantage of this opportunity that we have to demonstrate to the Pakistani people, to the people in the area that al Qaeda is something in the past. And we’re hoping to bury the rest of al Qaeda along with bin Laden.

Q In the Situation Room yesterday, could you describe how you were monitoring the goings-on? It’s been described as a very tense -- understandably, a very tense scene. Were you watching the operation? Were you -- were you listening to it? How were you getting your information?

MR. BRENNAN: The principals convened yesterday around midday. There were others who -- we were here early yesterday morning. [b][color="#FF0000"]The President joined us then early afternoon before the operation got underway. When the operation did get underway, then the President rejoined the group, and we were able to monitor in a real-time basis the progress of the operation from its commencement to its time on target to the extraction of the remains and to then the egress off of the target.[/color][/b]

[b]It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time, I think, in the lives of the people who were assembled here yesterday. The minutes passed like days. [color="#FF0000"]And the President was very concerned about the security of our personnel. That was what was on his mind throughout. And we wanted to make sure that we were able to get through this and accomplish the mission.[/color][/b]

[b][color="#FF0000"]But it was clearly very tense, a lot of people holding their breath. And there was a fair degree of silence as it progressed, as we would get the updates. And when we finally were informed that those individuals who were able to go in that compound and found the individual that they believe was bin Laden, there was a tremendous sigh of relief that what we believed and who we believed was in that compound actually was in that compound and was found. And the President was relieved once we had our people and those remains off target.[/color][/b]

Q Was it -- was there a visual, or was it just radio reports or phone reports you were getting?

MR. BRENNAN: [b]We were able to monitor the situation in real time and were able to have regular updates and to ensure that we had real-time visibility into the progress of the operation. I'm not going to go into details about what type of visuals we had or what type of feeds that were there, but it was -- it gave us the ability to actually track it on an ongoing basis.
[/b]
Q A[b]nd I understand that there was a moment of real tension, one with the helicopter, but then also when the Navy SEALs were leaving and the Pakistani government started scrambling their jets, and there was a concern that they were coming to where the U.S. troops were, where the Navy SEALs were. Was there an actual concern that the Pakistanis -- since they were not apparently informed about this military operation, was there an actual concern that they might actually take military action against the Navy SEALs?[/b]

MR. BRENNAN: [b][color="#FF0000"]We didn’t contact the Pakistanis until after all of our people, all of our aircraft were out of Pakistani airspace. At the time, the Pakistanis were reacting to an incident that they knew was taking place in Abbottabad. Therefore, they were scrambling some of their assets.[/color][/b]

[b][color="#FF0000"]Clearly, we were concerned that if the Pakistanis decided to scramble jets or whatever else, they didn’t know who were on those jets. They had no idea about who might have been on there, whether it be U.S. or somebody else. So we were watching and making sure that our people and our aircraft were able to get out of Pakistani airspace. And thankfully, there was no engagement with Pakistani forces. This operation was designed to minimize the prospects, the chances of engagement with Pakistani forces. It was done very well, and thankfully no Pakistani forces were engaged and there was no other individuals who were killed aside from those on the compound.[/color][/b]

Q Thank you, sir.

Q Thank you. Can you talk to us about what documentation you may have found there? Was it a bank vault worth of information, and are you able to potentially get some additional leads out of the information that was found?

MR. BRENNAN: The people who were on the compound took advantage of their time there to make sure that we were able to acquire whatever material we thought was appropriate and what was needed. And we are in the process right now of looking at whatever might have been picked up. But I’m not going to go into details of what might have been acquired. We feel as though this is a very important time to continue to prosecute this effort against al Qaeda, take advantage of the success of yesterday and to continue to work to break the back of al Qaeda.

Q But was it a lot of information? How would you describe it in terms of the volume?

MR. BRENNAN: We are trying to determine exactly the worth of whatever information we might have been able to pick up. And it’s not necessarily quantity; frequently it’s quality.

Q Now that you have Osama bin Laden, can you tell us how close the U.S. has gotten to him in the past, beyond Tora Bora? Any other close calls that we have not been informed about?

MR. BRENNAN: O[b]ver the years -- Tora Bora was certainly the last time that we had actionable and we thought was very credible information about where he was located. A number of leads have been pursued over the years. 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 persistent. They have pulled on every thread. And as a result of that diligence and their analytic capabilities, they were able to track this and continue to build a body of evidence that suggested, circumstantially, that bin Laden was at that compound. That’s what they did. [color="#FF0000"]It was much greater confidence that we had in this body of intelligence, in this body of information, than we’ve had since Tora Bora.[/color][/b]

[b]Still, though, there 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 that information and then made, what I believe was one of the most gustiest calls of any President in recent memory.[/b]

Q And in the lead-up to that final mission, can you talk to us about how -- the anxiety of not being able to track, or even get the name initially of the gentleman who led you to the compound?

MR. BRENNAN: [b]In counterterrorism work and doing what’s called targeting analysis, it is exceptionally tedious and painstaking as far as taking a little bit of data and piecing it together and trying to correlate it with something else. And as a result of the information that we had in a very generic way about these couriers and individuals who were cohorts with bin Laden, [color="#FF0000"]over time we were able to piece together additional information, get the name he was known by, his nom de guerre, associate that then eventually with his real name, associate that then with other things that that real name was associated with, and track it until we got to the compound in Abbottabad[/color].[/b]

[b]And then over the past six months, with trying to ensure that we had the best visibility in terms of understanding what was happening at the compound, that body of evidence accumulating to the point when the President said, I want to have operations against this compound, I want to know what the pros and cons are of them, I want to have options, and I want to make sure that we’ve taken into account the safety and security of the American people -- or of the Americans that would be conducting this operation, that we look at it from the standpoint of limiting collateral damage, and making sure that we’re able to maximize the chances of mission success.[/b]

And ultimately we got to that point; we could bring those together. [b][color="#FF0000"]The President made the decision. And the results I think speak for themselves.[/color][/b]

MR. CARNEY: Chip.

Q [b]You said that Osama bin Laden was actually involved in the firefight, and we had -- it has been reported that he reached for a weapon. Did he get his hand on a gun and did he fire himself?[/b]

MR. BRENNAN: [b][color="#FF0000"]He was engaged in a firefight with those that entered the area of the house he was in. And whether or not he got off any rounds, I quite frankly don’t know.[/color]
[/b]
Thinking about that from a visual perspective, here is bin Laden, who has been calling for these attacks, living in this million dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the front, hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield. I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years. And so, again, looking at what bin Laden was doing hiding there while he’s putting other people out there to carry out attacks again just speaks to I think the nature of the individual he was.

Q In these anxiety-filled minutes that you said lasted like days, what was the most anxiety-filled moment? Was it when the helicopter appeared to be inoperable, or was it when you heard shots fired? And when you monitored in real time, could you actually hear the shots fired?

MR. BRENNAN: You know, when you plan these things out, you have already -- you know in your mind exactly what’s the first step, second step, and everything going along. If there’s any deviation from that, it causes anxiety. But the [b]individuals who carried out this assault planned for all the various contingencies.[/b]

[b]So when that helicopter was seen to be unable to move, all of a sudden you had to go into Plan B. And they did it flawlessly. They were able to conduct the operation as they were preparing to do. But seeing that helicopter in a place and in a condition that it wasn’t supposed to be, I think that was one -- at least for me, and I know for the other people in the room -- was the concern we had that now we’re having to go to the contingency plan. And thankfully, they were as able to carry out that contingency plan as they were the initial plan.
[/b]
Q Could you hear shots fired?

MR. BRENNAN: We were able to monitor the situation in real-time. (Laughter.)

Q When he actually -- [b]can you describe any reaction by the President specifically when it became clear that this was Osama bin Laden and that he had been killed? Do you remember the President’s words or a reaction from[/b] --

MR. BRENNAN: Well, you say “when it became clear,” and that's one of the things that we had to do throughout the course of this operation. [b][color="#FF0000"]When we heard that the individuals who carried out this assault felt as though they had an individual who appeared to be bin Laden, that is one data point. Then there were other types of things: facial recognition, height, the preliminary DNA analysis, so there was an incremental buildup.[/color][/b]

And the confidence was building. But yet at what point do you feel confident that you have the person you’re after? So it was more of a growing sense of confidence and a growing sense of accomplishment. [b]There wasn’t one “ah-hah,” when people say, okay, the DNA results came in. No, this is something that was building over time, and we made a decision then last night, because we felt as though we were confident enough to go out to the American people and out to the world to say, we got him.[/b]

Q -- the President’s reaction at any time?

MR. BRENNAN: We got him.

Q All right, circle back to a point you just made. Bin Laden used women as human shields when American personnel went in?

MR. BRENNAN: There was family at that compound, and [b]there was a female who was in fact in the line of fire that reportedly was used as a shield to shield bin Laden from the incoming fire.[/b]

Q [b][color="#FF0000"]I’m wondering where you are at this point on the idea of releasing photos of bin Laden to show the world that he is dead.[/color][/b]

MR. BRENNAN: [b]We are less than 24 hours from the arrival on target of those individuals. We have released a tremendous amount of information to date. We are going to continue to look at the information that we have and make sure that we are able to share what we can, because we want to make sure that not only the American people but the world understand exactly what happened, and the confidence that we have that it was conducted in accordance with the mission design.[/b]

[b]At the same time, we don't want to do anything that's going to compromise our ability to be as successful the next time we get one of these guys and take them off the battlefield.[/b]

Q [b]Is there some thought, though, that releasing a photo or two might avoid conspiracy theories throughout the Muslim world?[/b]

MR. BRENNAN: [b][color="#FF0000"]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. And so, therefore, the releasing of information, and whether that includes photographs, this is something to be determined.[/color][/b]

Q John, is the debate about whether to release something, or what to release, when it comes to visual evidence?

MR. BRENNAN: I think it’s both. [b]I think, first of all, what falls into the category of things that you can potentially release to the public, whether it be those DNA results, whether it be comments about the conduct of the operation, what happened, the intelligence case.[/b] And then you have to take a look at it from the standpoint of what are the upsides and downsides. And sometimes when you conduct an operation that is based on intelligence and is based on the very sensitive and very capable forces that we have available to us in the U.S. government, [b][color="#FF0000"]you want to make sure that you’re not doing anything to expose something that will limit your ability to use those same intelligence sources and capabilities in the future.[/color][/b]

Q Who has -- has anybody secured this compound? Has the Pakistani government now gone in, or the Pakistani army gone in to secure this compound since we --

MR. BRENNAN: I was just looking at al Jazeera a little while ago, I saw that I think [b]the ISI or the Pakistani military police have that compound now under control.[/b] And clearly it is the site of a major incident yesterday, and so, therefore, it would be my presumption that the Pakistani authorities would be in control of that compound.

Q [b]Who owned the land?[/b]

MR. BRENNAN: Whether it be the land or the compound, but it was two of the individuals who were killed -- [b]the al Qaeda facilitators, as they’re called -- the individual who was identified as the gatekeeper courier, the residence was, at least in my understanding, in his name.[/b]

Q And it’s my understanding that -- you called it just now that the President made one of the gutsiest decisions that he made. That implies that there was some disagreement around the table about whether this was not -- this was not a unanimous recommendation --

MR. BRENNAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s been the --

Q -- this is the way to go.

MR. BRENNAN: -- way he goes. He goes around the room and he wants to hear people’s views. And so you have a circumstantial intelligence case. And so people will see that either there is insufficient circumstantial evidence to go forward with something like this, which involves a unilateral operation in another country to go after somebody you believe is Osama bin Laden -- and there were differences of views that were discussed. That’s what the President wanted to know.

As well as a different -- what’s called COAs, courses of action, which are the types of things that you can do that involve an assault on a compound, as well as from a standoff position -- what are the benefits of doing that from a remote location, like we’ve done in the past in certain areas, as well as what are the risks associated with security forces actually going into the compound.

So this was debated across the board and [b]the President wanted to make sure at the end that he had the views of all the principals.[/b]

Q Was it a close call, in your opinion?

MR. BRENNAN: For the President to go forward with this?

Q Yes.

MR. BRENNAN: [b]I have been following bin Laden for 15 years, been after this guy, and I have the utmost confidence in the people, particularly at CIA, who have been tracking him. They were confident and their confidence was growing: This is different. This intelligence case is different. What we see in this compound is different than anything we’ve ever seen before.[/b]
[b][color="#FF0000"]I was confident that we had the basis to take action. I also, though, had the confidence that the U.S. team that went in there has exceptional skill to do this very capably. So I was a supporter and I know a number of other people were supportive to do this.[/color][/b]

But the President had to look at all the different scenarios, all the different contingencies that are out there -- what would have been the downsides if, in fact, it wasn’t bin Laden? What would have happened if a helicopter went down? So he decided that this is so important to the security of the American people that he was going to go forward with this.

Q Can you tell us more about the role that the U.S. -- more of the role of how the U.S. is interacting with Pakistan and are we actively investigating what they knew and didn’t know about Osama bin Laden being there or not?

MR. BRENNAN: Well, a couple things. One, the President mentioned yesterday that he spoke to President Zardari, and a number of senior U.S. officials are in regular contact now with their Pakistani counterparts. We are continuing to engage with them -- we’re engaging with them today -- as we learn more about the compound and whatever type of support system bin Laden had.

[b]I would point out that we’ve had differences of view with the Pakistani government on counterterrorism cooperation, on areas of cooperation, and what we think they should and shouldn’t be doing. At the same time, I’ll say that 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 Pakistani soldiers, security officials, as well as citizens, who have given their lives because of the terrorism scourge in that country. So although there are some differences of view with Pakistan, we believe that that partnership is critically important to breaking the back of al Qaeda and eventually prevailing over al Qaeda as well as associated terrorist groups.[/b]

Q John, can you tell us about the burial at sea? Where did it happen? When did it happen?

MR. BRENNAN: [b][color="#FF0000"]The disposal of -- the burial of bin Laden’s remains was done in strict conformance with Islamist precepts and practices. It was prepared in accordance with the Islamic requirements. We early on made provisions for that type of burial, and we wanted to make sure that it was going to be done, again, in strict conformance.[/color]
[/b]
So it was taken care of in the appropriate way. I’m not going to go into details about sort of the where, but that burial has taken place. It took place earlier today our time.

Q And why?

Q When was that decision made?

MR. BRENNAN: I’m sorry?

Q When was that decision made that he would be buried at sea if killed?

Q Can you explain why --

MR. CARNEY: One at a time.

Q Was it thought through years ago? Was this part of the plan all along?

MR. BRENNAN: [b]The COAs -- the course of action and the subsequent decisions that would have to be made have been developed over the course of the last several months. Senior officials, and there was a working group that was working this on a regular basis, if not a daily basis, over the last several weeks, looking at every decision and based on what type of scenario would unfold, what actions and decisions would be made. It was looked at from the standpoint of if we captured him, what will we do with him? Where would he go? If he was killed, what will we do with him, and where would he go? And it was determined that it was in the best interests of all involved that this burial take place, again, according to Islamic requirements, at sea.[/b]

Q Why at sea?

Q Can you just tell us why that was a good idea?

MR. BRENNAN: It was determined that that -- [b][color="#FF0000"]there is the requirement in Islamic law that an individual be buried within 24 hours. Went inside of Pakistan, carried out the operation, he was killed, he was removed from Pakistan. There were certain steps that had to be taken because of the nature of the operation, and we wanted to make sure we were able to do that in the time period allotted for it. Going to another country, making those arrangements, requirements, would have exceeded that time period, in our view. And so, therefore, we thought that the best way to ensure that his body was given an appropriate Islamic burial was to take those actions that would allow us to do that burial at sea.[/color][/b]

Q John, did you consult a Muslim expert on that?

MR. BRENNAN: We consulted the appropriate specialists and experts, and there was unanimity that this would be the best way to handle that.

Q And last question. Do you know if detainees at Gitmo have been informed of what has happened to --

MR. BRENNAN: I do not know.

Q There are reports that he was wrapped in a weighted white sheet. How secure is that? Are you confident the body is not going to --

MR. BRENNAN: Burials at sea take place on a regular basis. The U.S. military has the ability to ensure that that burial is done in a manner that is, again, consistent with Islamic law, as well as consistent with what the requirements are for a burial at sea. And so that burial was done appropriately.

Q And so today lawmakers are urging -- possibly reconsidering or reevaluating aid to Pakistan, maybe attaching strings to military aid there. Was the White House --

MR. BRENNAN: I think people are raising a number of questions, and understandably so. Again, we’re in just the first day after the operation, and he was found in Abbottabad outside of Islamabad. I’m sure a number of people have questions about whether or not there was some type of support that was provided by the Pakistani government. So I think people are raising these questions and how we’re going to have to deal with them.

Q [b][color="#FF0000"]Is there a visual recording of this burial?[/color][/b]

MR. CARNEY: We’ve got to get other people a chance here. Mara.

Q Just a quick question about the burial and then something else. [b]Was there an imam there? Was there a religious[/b] --

MR. BRENNAN: [b]It was done appropriately with the appropriate people there.[/b]

Q Okay. And a question -- I don’t know if this is for you or for Jay. The President is going to speak to the bipartisan leadership tonight at this dinner. What is he going to say about this that’s different than what he said before and that’s particularly geared to them? Can you just give us a preview?

MR. BRENNAN: Well, you’re going to have another 20 hours of information that has been acquired since what he said to the nation last night. I think what he’s going to try to do is to give the congressional visitors here an update on that. [b]Last night, we didn’t have some of the analysis that was done. [color="#FF0000"]Now, we can say with 99.9 percent confidence that this was bin Laden.[/color][/b] So it’s those types of things, as well as to explain to the Congress, in many respects, some of the unique features of this mission, which were the extreme compartmentation of it; how it was kept so closely held within our government; why it was done in a unilateral fashion -- and so things along those lines.

Q [b]There’s been some reporting that the burial -- that the U.S. offered the body to the Saudis for a burial, but they declined. Is that true?
[/b]
MR. BRENNAN: [b]We, after we had confidence that it was bin Laden and that he was dead, we took the steps that we had agreed to in the interagency that were necessary to ensure that that burial entity was the most appropriate thing to do. And so we touched base with the right people. I’m not going to go into any details about who we might have consulted with in the aftermath of his death and before his burial.[/b]

Q Mr. Brennan, can you give us any details on whether there were previous operations that were held off at the last minute because of fears and risks, or perhaps the inability to identify bin Laden’s body positively had it been done differently?

MR. BRENNAN: You mean against this target?

Q Against this target.

MR. BRENNAN: As I said, there were different courses of action about the options that were available to the President as far as whether there was going to be an assault on the ground or whether there was going to be some type of standoff option. Discussed all the pros and cons of them, and through that process of discussion, the options were narrowed down until the President decided that this was the best option because it gave us the ability to minimize collateral damage, ensure that we knew who it was that was on that compound, as opposed to taking some time of strike there, and also as a way to do what we could to respect the sovereignty of Pakistan and also to allow us to engage with them immediately after the fact, as opposed to some type of ordinance that might be dropping on it.

Q Can I ask one follow? You mentioned that questions are going to be raised about Pakistan, understandably, and the role of Pakistan. For you and your counterterrorism job, given now the history of the Raymond Davis episode and the fact that this was done without consultation, are you concerned that in just in your line of work it will be very difficult to reestablish a good working relationship with the ISI or the intelligence authorities there?

MR. BRENNAN: [b]There’s dialogue going on with our counterterrorism counterparts in the aftermath of this. They’re expressing understanding about the reasons why we did this. They are appreciative that it was done without having Pakistani casualties outside of that compound.[/b] The U.S.-Pakistani relationship, which is a strategic relationship, goes on a number of different areas and levels; counterterrorism is one of them. It can be a complicated matter. As I say, we don’t always agree on some of the things that we want to do. But through that continued dialogue and communication, I think we get where we need to be.

This is one more incident that we’re going to have to deal with, and we look forward to continue to work with our Pakistani colleagues, because they are as much, if not more, on the front lines of the battle against terrorism.

Q How certain are you that there will be some kind of movement to avenge this death, some kind of retaliation? Is there -- if you still had the color-coded alerts, would this be a time when you would raise that alert?

MR. BRENNAN: Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Secretary, had announced that there was a change in the color-code system to the National Threat Advisory System. And I think she has put out a statement saying that we don’t have the specific and credible threat reporting that would require some type, in their mind, of an elevation of that threat status. Like any incident like this, what we do is take the prudent steps afterward to make sure that we have our vigilance up, that we are taking the appropriate measures so that our security posture is strong, both overseas and here.

But I think there is always the potential for terrorist groups to try to strike out and avenge an operation like this, but also I think some of them are asking themselves, bin Laden is dead; the al Qaeda 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 so al Qaeda, bin Laden -- old news. Now is the time to move forward.

And we’re hoping that this is going to send a message to those individuals who are out there that terrorism and militancy is not the wave of the future, it’s the wave of the past.

Q Is al Qaeda weaker and never able to return to --

MR. BRENNAN: This is a strategic blow to al Qaeda. It is a necessary but not necessarily sufficient blow to lead to its demise. But we are determined to destroy it. I think we have a lot better opportunity now that al Qaeda -- that bin Laden is out of there to destroy that organization, create fractures within it.

The number two, Zawahiri is not charismatic. He has not been -- was not involved in the fight earlier on in Afghanistan, so -- and I think he has a lot of detractors within the organization. And I think you're going to see them start eating themselves from within more and more.

MR. CARNEY: Christi.

Q Mr. Brennan, thank you. There are reports that there was a replica of the compound. Can you tell us anything about where and how that was put together?

MR. BRENNAN: You can imagine that for something as important as this, and something as risky as this, every effort would be made to do the practice runs, understand the complexities and the layout of the compound. There were multiple opportunities to do that in terms of going through the exercises to prepare for it, so that once they hit the compound they had already simulated that a number of times. So this was done -- and again, I’m not going to go into details about where or when. But needless to say, when they hit that compound, they had already trained against it numerous times.

Q Can I just ask you, as a follow-up, [b]if you -- the compound was so big. How did the SEALs know where to find bin Laden? And was it -- can you say anything about was it a bedroom or a dining area or an open area or something like that?[/b]

MR. BRENNAN: [b]The outer features of the compound were studied intensively and there were certain assessments made about where individuals were living and where bin Laden and his family were. And they operated according to that. And they didn’t know when they got there exactly what some of the internal features of it would be, but they had planned, based on certain, again, observable features of the compound, how to carry it out. And whoever it was that actually did the assault on that -- you named a certain group --
[/b]
Q [b]Was the bin Laden family part of the compound? It sounds like that’s what you’re saying.[/b]

MR. BRENNAN: [b]Absolutely.[/b]

MR. CARNEY: Carrie.

Q This might be a question more for Jay, but given the sort of unity that you’ve seen from messaging from both sides, both parties in the last 24 hours, is the President going to make any appeal to leaders tonight that this sense of unity can carry through to the other issues that they need to --

MR. CARNEY: I’ll address that because that goes to Mara’s question, but I want to give John just a few more because he’s got other things he needs to do.

Let me go to April -- maybe two or three more for -- I’m sorry --

Q Were there any civilian -- I mean, how many civilian casualties were there?

MR. BRENNAN: [b][color="#FF0000"]Bin Laden died; the two al Qaeda facilitators -- the brothers, who were -- the courier and his brother in the compound; bin Laden’s son Hamza; and the woman, presumed to be his wife, who was shielding bin Laden.[/color]
[/b]
Q Did he use her as a -- did he actually take her as a shield or did someone put her in front of him?

MR. BRENNAN: I wasn’t there so I hesitate to say --

Q But she was in front of him --

MR. BRENNAN: -- but it was an effort to try to shield bin Laden from the --

Q Bin Laden’s wife or his son’s wife?

MR. BRENNAN: Bin Laden’s wife.

Q All right, I want to go back to a couple questions, one on security. The mindset of intelligence folks in this administration and the administration prior was that an attack -- it’s not about if it would happen; when it will happen. So are we now -- because you’re saying this was a strategic blow, the head of the snake was lopped off, are we now changing that mindset, or has it changed because of this blow?

MR. BRENNAN: I haven’t had the mindset that it’s not if, it’s when. I mean, that's basically saying something is going to happen there. I think every day counterterrorism professionals, whether it be intelligence, military, Homeland Security, law enforcement, are trying to stop whatever attack might be out there, trying to uncover a plot that might be out there. And so they go into each day believing that they can, in fact, have another day without a terrorist attack against U.S. interests either abroad or here.

So this does not mean that we are putting down our guard, as far as al Qaeda is concerned. It may be a mortally wounded tiger that still has some life in it, and it’s dangerous and we need to keep up the pressure. We cannot relent, because there are individuals in that organization that are determined to try to carry out attacks and murder innocent men, women and children.

Q Since the death of bin Laden, what is the thought of this administration -- do you believe that the Pakistani government was transparent and being honest and forthcoming, given the information that they have now on Osama bin Laden -- what they knew, or going in to finding out more about this situation?

MR. BRENNAN: [b]There are a lot of people within the Pakistani government, and I’m not going to speculate about who or if any of them had prior knowledge about bin Laden being in Abbottabad. But certainly his location there outside of the capital raises questions. We are talking to the Pakistanis about this. But they, at least in our discussions with them, seem as surprised as we were initially that bin Laden was holding out in that area.[/b]

Q You spoke earlier about using this as kind of a pivot point to demonstrate to the people of Pakistan that al Qaeda has passed, that there's a different future. Is the President still firmly committed to visiting Pakistan this year to make that message in person?

MR. BRENNAN: I’m not going to address the President’s schedule. I think there's a commitment that the President has made that he is intending to visit Pakistan. A lot depends on availability, scheduling, whatever. The President feels very strongly that the people of Pakistan need to be able to realize their potential to have a life that is full of security as well as prosperity. And because of the al Qaeda menace as well as other militant organizations in that country, too many Pakistanis have suffered and have died because of that. And what the President is wanting to do and what we’re doing with the Pakistani government is to see what we can do to help the Pakistani government provide that type of lifestyle for their populace in the future.

MR. CARNEY: All right, let’s do Stephen and then Sam. And then we’ll let John go.

Q [b]Does the fact that bin Laden was found in such apparently comfortable conditions in Pakistan, and there are obviously big threats to the U.S. interests in places like Yemen in terms of terrorism, undercut the strategic rationale for the need to still have 100,000 troops in Afghanistan?[/b]

MR. BRENNAN: The basis for the ISAF presence in Afghanistan is to bring that country the security that it can have, and to not allow al Qaeda to ever again use Afghanistan as a launching point. This is something that we’re in ongoing discussions with the Afghan government, obviously the Pakistani government. We need to make sure that that part of the world, which has given rise to a number of groups -- al Qaeda, others -- that they cannot use that area with impunity to carry out attacks.

So we are as determined as we ever have been to bring the security that these countries and these people need and deserve because of what we can, in fact, help them with.

Q Jay, may I?

MR. CARNEY: Sam.

Q Yes, I’m just curious -- I know that we didn't let any other countries know before the strikes, but in the time that's unfolded since, has the President had any contact with the leaders of NATO countries?

MR. BRENNAN: The President has had a number of conversations with foreign leaders about this issue. I’m not going to go into the individual discussions he’s had, but clearly this is something of international significance, and that he has -- and will continue to have in the coming days those discussions.

Q But you can’t say if he’s talked to, say, Chancellor Merkel or President Sarkozy?

MR. BRENNAN: Yes, I could, but I’m not going to.

MR. CARNEY: I know that's a follow, so --

Q Mr. Brennan, in light of the size of this -- the unique features and the size of this compound, is it likely that the neighbors had known anything about this, who lived there?

MR. BRENNAN: [b][color="#FF0000"]When you look at the features of this compound, these very high walls -- 12-, 16-, 18-foot walls, barbed wire on the top, this was a family, this was a compound that had very limited interaction, to the best of our knowledge and observation, with the surrounding houses. But it clearly was different than any other house out there. It had the appearance of sort of a fortress, so it does raise questions about[/color] --[/b]

Q Did they help them -- basically?

MR. BRENNAN: Well, I think there was -- we have had some indications that the family that was there tried to remain anonymous and tried not to have that interaction. But again, it does raise questions about a compound of that size in this area not raising suspicions previously.

Q Thank you, sir.

MR. CARNEY: Jake had a follow-on --

Q I’m sorry. [b]I just want to clear something up because I think a few of us are confused. The woman that was killed was bin Laden’s wife?[/b]

MR. BRENNAN: [b]That's my understanding. It was one of them.[/b]

Q [b]And he was using her as a shield?[/b]

MR. BRENNAN: She served as a shield. Again, this is my understanding -- and we’re still getting the reports of exactly what happened at particular moments -- that when -- she fought back; when there was the opportunity to get to bin Laden, she was positioned in a way that indicated that she was being used as a shield -- whether or not bin Laden or the son, or whatever, put her there, or she put herself there, but, yes, that's again, my understanding that she met her demise, and my understanding is that she was one of bin Laden’s wives.

Q How many other people were in that compound?

Q Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.

MR. CARNEY: I’m sure we’ll have more, I’m sure, as --

Q [b][color="#FF0000"]Was there a reason you said 99.9 percent certain it’s been bin Laden? Why not say 100?[/color][/b]

MR. CARNEY: I believe that’s based on DNA.

I mean, if I could just -- I just want to start by addressing a question that Carrie and Mara had, which is tonight the President will obviously, as John said, make some remarks related to the successful mission against Osama bin Laden. I think one of the themes you’ll likely hear him sound will echo what he said last night, which is that this is a good day -- or good days for America and for Americans. The fact that we were able to accomplish this says a lot about our country and our perseverance.

I think you can fairly say that the victims in this country on 9/11, the Americans who were victims, were not Republicans or Democrats -- they were Americans. Those who launched the -- who have been working on this diligently for nine and a half years -- not Republicans or Democrats; they’re Americans. Those who carried out the mission yesterday, the same could be said about them.

So I think that one theme you’d likely hear from the President on tonight is about the capacity for Americans to come together and achieve very difficult goals when we work together.

Q Will we get that live?

MR. CARNEY: We can follow up with you on logistics. I don’t believe that we’re -- there’s some logistical issues here. We will get it to you right afterwards if not live.

But let me just do 10 minutes or so, so that we can all file and other things. I’ll move around. I’ll take the Associated Press and then I’ll move around a little bit. Yes.

Q Thank you. This is sort of in line with some of what we were talking about, but obviously if the President gave this order, final order, on Friday morning and then went on this long trip on Friday, had the correspondents dinner on Saturday, he was golfing Sunday, can you talk a little bit about his mood as he was trying to keep this poker face going through these other events, meanwhile knowing the actions that were going to be taken in Pakistan?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think one thing that’s important to note is that -- is, as John mentioned, the compartmentalization here. I mean, there was obviously a success here at a different level, which was the ability to keep the mission secret. And having spent a great deal of time with him on Friday, I can say that he was focused on the devastation in Tuscaloosa. He was focused on and talked a lot about it in the wake of that visit.

And the experience that I think was unique about that is you discover that when folks get an opportunity to meet the President, there are different ways that they do that, in town hall meetings, or rope lines, or things like that. But there is something unique about even a President being able to meet individuals who have suffered such terrible things as those residents of Tuscaloosa did in their moment of despair that's very powerful. And I think he felt that.

So he was focused on that, and then obviously Cape Canaveral and then on to the commencement address at Miami Dade College. Having said that, he was obviously taking calls and being updated regularly, and the same goes with Saturday and Sunday, which Sunday he spent a great deal of his day in the West Wing and in the Situation Room.

George.

Q Back to the meeting tonight, other than bin Laden, what is his objective as far as budget and the debt limit and so on?

MR. CARNEY: I think as we’ve said, this is a continuation of his effort to bring leaders of Congress here in a social setting with spouses to improve communication in general. And there is no agenda, there's no goal in terms of budget or any other issue, except to have that kind of conversation, which I think he finds to be a useful thing to do in terms of, in some ways, creating a better environment for the kind of work that the White House and the Congress need to do together. So nothing beyond that, George.

Andre.

Q Thank you. Thank you, Jay. Two things. Briefly, who is in charge of the compound now?

MR. CARNEY: That was asked. I mean, our understanding on the visuals that we’ve seen is that the Pakistani authorities are in charge of the compound.

Q And secondly, more importantly, [b]what was the legal basis for the operation?[/b]

MR. CARNEY: I would just refer you to what the President has said. [b]Since taking office and prior to it, that given the attack that Osama bin Laden launched the United States, the lives that he took not just on 9/11 but on other occasions, that he was a high-value target and a legitimate target, and that this President believed since long before he became President that given actionable intelligence to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, he would move very quickly and surely to take that action. And the opportunity presented itself.
[/b]
Q [b]So this would have applied not only to Pakistan but to other countries if he was found somewhere else?[/b]

MR. CARNEY: Well, I would simply say that there was a great deal of confidence, as has been discussed by experts for a long time now, that he was in that border region or in Pakistan. So I don’t think the hypothetical really makes a lot of sense.

Let’s see. Cheryl.

Q Has the President picked a new Commerce Secretary, and when can we see that announcement?

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any personnel announcements for you, or timing of personnel announcements for you.

Let me just do -- Bill.

Q Jay, almost lost in this news is the NATO strike against Qaddafi’s compound on Saturday, where his son was killed and three of his grandchildren. Is it -- does the White House believe that that mission was in keeping with carrying out the U.N. resolution?

MR. CARNEY: Yes. And I think there have been ample -- there’s been ample commentary about that from NATO. So we do believe that, and obviously continue to focus on that mission as we do on other missions.

Q Is there a message there to Qaddafi in this?

MR. CARNEY: You could say that. (Laughter.) Thank you.

END 2:49 P.M. EDT

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Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia

 

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today expressed hope that the elimination of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden will support international efforts to combat terrorism and to dismantle Al-Qaeda's cells, including the elimination of the deviant thought that stands behind terrorism and extremism. The people of Saudi Arabia have been among those most targeted by this terrorist organization through its crimes, the killing of the innocent people—which is forbidden by Allah—and the destabilization of the security and stability of the society.

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In a statement issued following President Obama's announcement of bin Laden's death, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said:

 

"We join our fellow citizens in welcoming the announcement that Osama bin Laden has been eliminated as a threat to our nation and the world through the actions of American military personnel. As we have stated repeatedly since the 9/11 terror attacks, bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam. In fact, in addition to the killing of thousands of Americans, he and Al Qaeda caused the deaths of countless Muslims worldwide. We also reiterate President Obama's clear statement tonight that the United States is not at war with Islam."

CAIR coordinated one of the first joint American Muslim statements condemning the 9/11 terror attacks, issued just hours after they occurred.

 

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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Remarks by the President at Congressional Bipartisan Dinner

East Room

 

8:03 P.M. EDT

 

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you, everyone. Please -- thank you. Everybody, please have a seat. Good evening, all of you. On behalf of Michelle and myself, I just want to welcome everybody to the White House. We scheduled this dinner a few weeks ago because I thought it would be a good opportunity for leaders of both parties and their spouses to spend some time together outside of politics. And tonight seems like an especially fitting occasion to do this.

 

Obviously we’ve all had disagreements and differences in the past. I suspect we’ll have them again in the future. But last night, as Americans learned that the United States had carried out an operation that resulted in the capture and death of Osama bin Laden, we -- (applause) -- you know, I think we experienced the same sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. We were reminded again that there is a pride in what this nation stands for, and what we can achieve, that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics.

 

I want to again recognize the heroes who carried out this incredibly dangerous mission, as well as all the military and counter-terrorism professionals who made the mission possible. I also want to thank the members of Congress from both parties who have given extraordinary support to our military and our intelligence officials. Without your support, they could not do what they do.

 

I know that that unity that we felt on 9/11 has frayed a little bit over the years, and I have no illusions about the difficulties of the debates that we’ll have to be engaged in, in the weeks and months to come. But I also know there have been several moments like this during the course of this year that have brought us together as an American family, whether it was the tragedy in Tucson or, most recently, our unified response to the terrible storms that have taken place in the South.

 

Last night was one of those moments. And so tonight, it is my fervent hope that we can harness some of that unity and some of that pride to confront the many challenges that we still face. But to all of you here tonight, we are joyful that you could join us. And please have a little bit of fun. All right? Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)

 

END

8:06 P.M. EDT

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Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 5/3/2011

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

 

1:57 P.M. EDT

 

MR. CARNEY: All right. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don’t have any announcements to make, so let’s go straight to questions.

 

Q Jay, could you talk about the Pete Souza photo that you guys put out that shows the President and others watching in the Situation Room? What were they seeing in the moment that that photo was taken?

 

MR. CARNEY: As John Brennan, the President’s counterterrorism advisor, explained yesterday, the President and his top national security aides in the Situation Room had available to them minute-by-minute updates on the operation, and that photograph was taken during the operation. And they were looking at and listening to those updates. I can’t get more specific than that, but this was during the operation and during those tense moments that Mr. Brennan described yesterday and this morning on television.

 

Q I mean, why can’t you get more specific without revealing technology or anything?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think it’s -- I think specifically we don’t talk about, with any great detail, how we get our real-time information for a variety of reasons. I mean, those meetings take place in the Situation Room for a reason. Those rooms there are for secure communication.

 

So I can’t get more specific than that. I think it’s been said, so I can say, that Leon Panetta, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was on a screen and communicating with those in the Situation Room and the President. So he was present in that room in that sense as well.

 

Q So they were looking at Leon Panetta?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, again, they were receiving real-time, minute-by-minute updates on the operation taking place in Pakistan at that moment. But they were receiving a lot of information at once.

 

Q Okay. So Brennan in his briefing yesterday made a couple of I guess misstatements or statements that later appeared to be somewhat incorrect, such as that the wife was shielding bin Laden and it turned out it wasn’t the wife and there may not have been a shield and it wasn’t clear whether or not bin Laden had a gun. Are you guys in a fog of war in this, or what gives?

MR. CARNEY: Well, what is true is that 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.

 

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 small U.S. team assaulted a secure compound in an affluent suburb of Islamabad to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. The raid was conducted with U.S. military 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.

 

One 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 Qaeda couriers were killed, along with a woman who was killed in crossfire. Bin Laden and his family were found on the second and third floor of the building. There was concern that bin Laden would oppose the capture operation -- operation rather, and, indeed, he did resist.

 

In the room with bin Laden, a woman -- bin Laden’s -- a woman, rather, bin Laden’s wife, rushed the U.S. 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 USS Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea.

 

Aboard the USS 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.

 

That’s the narrative that I can provide to you today.

 

Q In what way did bin Laden --

 

MR. CARNEY: And I want to make clear that is, again, information that is fresh, and we will continue to gather and provide to you details as we get them and we’re able to release them.

 

The resistance was throughout. As I said, when the assaulter entered the room where Osama bin Laden was, he was rushed by one individual in the room, and the resistance was consistent from the moment they landed until the end of the operation.

 

Yes.

 

Q Jay, just to follow up, how did Obama -- excuse me, Osama bin Laden resist if he didn’t -- if he didn’t have his hand on a gun, how was he resisting?

 

MR. CARNEY: Yes, the information I have to you -- first of all, I think resistance does not require a firearm. But the information I gave you is what I can tell you about it. I’m sure more details will be provided as they come available and we are able to release them.

 

Q Did he have any weapon?

 

MR. CARNEY: He was not armed, is what I understand to be true.

 

Q On the same theme, but to Afghanistan -- do you see the capture of bin Laden affecting the pace and timing of the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan?

 

MR. CARNEY: No, I think the President’s plan is on track. It is -- you can see the operation that took place on Sunday within the context of this plan that the President put in place for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and within the context of his broader commitment as a candidate and as President to refocus our attention on the AfPak region, which is the home to what they call al Qaeda central, and was until very recently the home to the leader of al Qaeda.

 

This President was very determined -- as you remember when he ran for office and since he came in here -- to refocus our attention on that region, on al Qaeda. And as you recall in the very carefully deliberated upon plan that the President put forward for Afghanistan, that the number one objective was to dismantle and eventually defeat al Qaeda. Getting bin Laden was very much a part of that plan, but it is not the only part.

 

As John Brennan and others have said, the President has said, we are continuing the fight against al Qaeda every day. And the focus of that operation, of the U.S. personnel in Afghanistan, is on al Qaeda. The operation continues. The July 2011 transition date for the beginning of a drawdown remains very much in place. The pace of that drawdown will be determined by conditions on the ground.

 

Q Final question. Any updates on the plans to release video or images?

 

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any updates on that, except to echo what John Brennan said this morning, which is that we’re obviously reviewing information. We’ve made a great deal available to the public in remarkable time; we’re talking about the most highly classified operation that this government has undertaken in many, many years. And the amount of information we’ve tried to provide to you in this short period of time is quite substantial. We will continue to review that and make decisions about the appropriateness of releasing more information as that review continues on.

 

Jake.

 

Q The Pakistani government put out a statement in which they said that the ISI had been providing information about the compound since 2009, whereas all we know about, in terms of the media, is that we’ve known about the compound since 2010. Could you explain the discrepancy? And also, has the ISI been providing information about this compound?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, what I will do is point you to the comments that John Brennan made, and others have made, which is that the Pakistanis have, in general, been very helpful in many ways in the fight against al Qaeda, and that help was of assistance, in general, in the gathering of intelligence and information that led to the successful operation on Sunday.

 

I am not aware, and I believe we have said that -- we’ve been quite clear about our knowledge about the existence of this compound and about the communications we did not have with Pakistan intelligence about this operation.

 

Q Okay. They also say in a statement that many houses in that region occupied by affectees of operations in the FATA region have high boundary walls as part of a culture of privacy, so high walls in that region -- obviously you got the right house, I’m not questioning that, but is this your cultural understanding of the region, that high walls are actually --

 

MR. CARNEY: I think this was a unique property within the region. But he clearly successfully hid from sight, at least our sight, for a very long time. And he is not the only high-value target who did that by hiding in highly populated areas. Obviously there was some speculation for many years that he and other high-value al Qaeda targets were hiding in caves or in the mountainous region, small villages, or living a nomadic existence, and in fact, what we seem to have discovered over the course of these years of investigating and finding these high-value targets is that there’s a preference, or has been in these cases, a preference for highly populated areas, which, understandably, can sometimes be an easier place to hide.

 

Q And lastly, the previous administration did release photographs of high-value targets -- Uday and Qusay Hussein as just two examples. What would hold you back from doing it? It seemed to have gone off relatively without a hitch, as far as I know. Why would you not release a photograph of bin Laden?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, to be candid, there are sensitivities here in terms of the appropriateness of releasing photographs of Osama bin Laden in the aftermath of this firefight, and we’re making an evaluation about the need to do that because of the sensitivities involved. And we review this information and make this decision with the same calculation as we do so many things, which is what we’re trying to accomplish and does it serve or in any way harm our interests. And that is not just domestic, but globally.

 

Q Can you explain sensitivities? Because it’s a gruesome photograph, that that --

 

MR. CARNEY: It’s fair to say that it’s a gruesome photograph.

 

Q That it could be inflammatory? That’s the sensitivity you’re --

 

MR. CARNEY: It is certainly possible that -- and this is an issue that we are taking into consideration, is that it could be inflammatory.

 

Q Jay, have you seen it?

 

MR. CARNEY: I’m not going to get into who and where -- who’s seen the photographs or where they are.

 

Yes.

 

Q Thanks, Jay. Since, as you said, bin Laden was not armed, why was the decision made to kill him as opposed to capturing him?

 

MR. CARNEY: As Mr. Brennan and others have made clear, there was -- we were prepared to capture him if that was possible. We expected a great deal of resistance and were met with a great deal of resistance.

 

Q But he wasn’t armed?

 

MR. CARNEY: But there were many other people who were armed in the region -- I mean, in the compound. There was a firefight.

 

Q But not in that room when he went in?

 

MR. CARNEY: Dan, it was a highly volatile firefight. I’ll point you to the Department of Defense for more details about it, but it was a -- he resisted. The U.S. personnel on the ground handled themselves with the utmost professionalism and he was killed in an operation because of the resistance that they met.

 

Q Since everyone here was getting real-time information, was the decision to shoot and kill one that was done there by that unit? Or was there consultation? Was there information flowing back and forth, and it was directed that, yes, go for the kill at that point?

 

MR. CARNEY: Command -- the operation was run from the ground, or certainly not from the White House. And at the point -- I think Mr. Brennan described this yesterday at the briefing or perhaps on television or maybe in both places -- that at that point the folks in the Situation Room were observers and listeners to an operation that obviously had been carefully thought out, meticulously prepared for. The decision to go was the President’s and obviously was a very weighty decision.

 

Once it began, however, obviously, it was up to those who were taking the action to execute the plan.

 

Q Yesterday the White House put out a readout of the President’s calls to various world leaders. Any additional calls today? And also, have any of these world leaders expressed concern about the U.S. going into another country unannounced?

 

MR. CARNEY: We did provide a readout. I don’t have any new calls to read out for you at this time. My understanding is that the calls were all -- all included congratulations to the United States for their successful operation in capturing and killing Osama bin Laden. I’m not aware of any concern expressed about the issue that you raise, and, in fact, the President of Pakistan has an op-ed in The Washington Post, and they also congratulated us on the success.

 

Yes, Chip.

 

Q Thanks, Jay. At one point I think you said the assaulter was rushed when you were describing the situation when bin Laden was killed. Was there just one assaulter in the room with bin Laden? And were both shots fired by one person?

 

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have a detail on the shots and who fired them. My understanding is they entered a room one at a time -- this particular room. But I -- beyond that, I don’t know. There was obviously a team in the compound, but I don’t want to venture a guess. I always find it better to not do that. So I would point you to the Department of Defense for that.

 

Q Okay. But it’s still believed that a wife of Osama bin Laden was shot --

 

MR. CARNEY: Yes.

 

Q -- but not killed.

 

MR. CARNEY: Shot in the leg.

 

Q Shot in the leg.

 

MR. CARNEY: Correct.

 

Q Not in that room.

 

MR. CARNEY: On the first floor.

 

Q On the first floor. Do you know how many -- you said that it was a real gun battle, but my understanding is of the 22 or so people in the room, 17 or so of them were noncombatants. So --

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, a great number of people, as you know, were unharmed and safely made secure when they -- after the operation was complete and the helicopter had to be detonated. But there was a firefight.

 

Q Do you know how many people were firing from the other side?

 

MR. CARNEY: I don’t. You’ll have to -- again, we’re providing you this information as it’s made available for public release. The Pentagon is working on this, and will, I’m sure, continue to update the information as it becomes available.

 

Q Okay. And there was a report sourced for the ISI that the noncombatants had been -- had had their hands tied in preparation for taking them away on the helicopter, which they could not do because one of the helicopters had been damaged. Do you know anything about that?

 

MR. CARNEY: I don’t, and I certainly haven’t heard anything like that in this building.

 

Q Okay. Finally, is there a video of the burial at sea?

 

MR. CARNEY: Again, I’m not going to get into the --

 

Q Not whether to release it -- does it exist?

 

MR. CARNEY: No, I understand. But the visual material that is being reviewed, decisions about it will be made about what, if any of it, can be or should be released. I don’t want to get into specifics about what there is and what there isn’t. I would just urge you to be patient given how much information has been released, and understanding about why we need to review this and make the appropriate decision.

 

I would also say there is not, as has been reported, there is not some roiling debate here about this. There is simply a discussion about what the appropriate action should be.

 

Q Is the President involved in that discussion now?

 

MR. CARNEY: The President is intimately involved in all aspects of this operation.

 

Q Do you have a timeline for when a decision will be made?

 

MR. CARNEY: I don’t. I don’t have a timeline.

 

Q Could it be today?

 

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have a timeline.

 

Mike.

 

Q Jay, what’s the status of U.S.-Pakistani relations today as the White House sees them?

 

MR. CARNEY: It’s a complicated but important relationship. Pakistan is a partner -- a key partner in the fight against al Qaeda and terrorism. They have been extremely helpful, and we look forward to cooperating into the future. We have been in contact at many levels with the Pakistan government -- Pakistani government. And as you know, the President called President Zardari the night of the operation, before he spoke to the American people.

 

And so while we recognize that there are complicated differences between our two countries and how we approach and view things at times, there has also been a great deal of important cooperation. And that should not be lost. The American people should know that as they view this and try to view the complete picture of that relationship and -- within the context of the successful mission on Sunday.

 

Q We’ve heard some lawmakers suggest perhaps freezing aid to Pakistan until they can demonstrate that they didn’t know anything about bin Laden’s whereabouts. Does the White House have a view on that?

 

MR. CARNEY: I would just say that it’s an important partnership, and Pakistan has been on the frontlines, in many ways, of the fight against al Qaeda and against terrorists. Pakistanis have suffered in large numbers at the hands of terrorists, and they have been -- the government has provided useful and important assistance and cooperation to us in the years of this struggle against terrorism. So I would leave it at that, while accepting the fact that we do need to find out. And as John Brennan said this morning -- we look forward to finding out more information about the support network that did allow bin Laden to hide in this compound in a suburb of Islamabad. And we understand that the Pakistanis are investigating that as well.

 

Q Mr. Zardari said today in his op-ed, “Pakistan did its part.” Did it?

 

MR. CARNEY: Again, I would say that, as I said earlier, that Pakistan did provide and has provided useful intelligence and cooperation over the years, and broadly speaking, provided assistance that helped us build the mountain of information that we needed to build in order to find bin Laden and execute this mission.

 

Q Jay, just to follow up on Pakistan, Senator Lindsey Graham today said, “You cannot trust them and you cannot abandon them.” Do you agree with that assessment?

 

MR. CARNEY: Look, I don’t think it’s a question of trust. I think it’s a question of the interests that we share and the cooperation that we’ve forged. It’s a complicated relationship. There’s no question. And we do have our differences. And I think it’s important to note that there are many people in Pakistan and there are many people in the Pakistan government, so it is I think -- you have to be careful about tarring everyone either in the country or the government, because they have provided extremely useful assistance over the years. And we look forward to cooperating with Pakistan going into the future.

 

And it’s vital because, as we have said, that lopping the head off the snake is important, but the body, while battered and bruised because of the actions that have been taken over the years, is still there and we need to bury that body. We need to keep the fight up against al Qaeda. And Pakistan is very important -- a very important partner in that effort.

 

Q In previous dealings with Pakistan, it seems that you guys have had to deal with them in sort of three separate camps, so if the President called President Zardari, was General Kayani called by Gates? I mean, were other people informed at the same level since it’s not quite the same type of government --

 

MR. CARNEY: We have had contact --

 

Q On the night of the --

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, calls on that evening beyond the President’s to President Zardari I’m not going to read out from here. But I will say that we have maintained contact with senior members of the Pakistani government regularly.

 

Q On the issue of the photographs, you say that you’re -- that there is some concern about them inflaming some passions. Are you consulting anybody outside the United States on this issue?

 

MR. CARNEY: No, I would just leave it that we’re reviewing the situation. I don’t have details on the consultations. I think we’re going about this in a methodical way and trying to make the best call.

 

Q Anything new to add -- yesterday John Brennan wouldn’t characterize what was gotten intelligence-wise from the compound. After that there has been descriptions of the amount of data. Do you have anything to add to that narrative?

 

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have a qualitative -- rather a quantitative assessment, but I think what I can say is that there are sort of three areas that we hope the information that was collected, the material that was collected, will provide insight into. First of all, and most importantly, in any case, is any evidence of planned attacks. Second would be information that could lead to other high-value targets or other networks that exist that maybe we don’t know about or that we only know a little bit about. And then, third and more broadly, on the al Qaeda network itself and then the sustaining network for bin Laden in Pakistan -- what allowed him to live in that compound for as long as he did.

 

Q It’s my understanding the President got an updated assessment of threat levels close to bin Laden. Can you shed some light on whether --

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, the President receives regular threat level briefings, so I wouldn’t necessarily tie that to the bin Laden operation, although, having said that, I will also say that it is without question that our homeland security officials and everyone involved in counterterrorism has been assessing and was assessing prior to the operation’s success what the impact might be on success of our mission to --

 

Q So far --

 

MR. CARNEY: So far we don’t have any specific or credible threats, which is why -- some have asked about the -- why we haven’t raised the NTAS, but we are very vigilant and we take measures that are both seen and unseen to maintain that vigilance, because obviously we anticipated the potential for a backlash, the potential for at least a desire if not the ability to exact some kind of revenge against the United States, American people, or our allies. So we’re very vigilant.

 

Carol.

 

Q Is the White House concerned at all that a rift with Pakistan over what they knew and when they knew it could harm the relationship, which obviously, as you said, is critical to the United States?

 

MR. CARNEY: We are working very hard on that relationship and it is an important and complicated relationship that has been tested in many ways over the years and even this year. But we are in communication directly with the President and other senior members of the government and we are committed to continuing the cooperation that we’ve had because it is so important both to our fight against al Qaeda, but also Pakistan’s. And I think we remain confident that that cooperation -- I know we remain confident that that cooperation will continue.

 

Q But as you look at what knowledge they had about bin Laden in the compound and that plays out in the media and all that, is there any concern in part that that’s going to harm --

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, look, first of all, we don’t know yet -- we don’t know who, if anybody, in the government was aware that bin Laden or a high-value target was living in this compound. What John Brennan has said and others have said is that it’s logical to assume that he had some sort of supporting network, but what constituted that network is -- remains to be seen.

 

And, again, there are -- it’s a big country and a big government, and to -- we have to be very focused and careful about how we do this because it is an important relationship.

 

I would also say that the idea that these kind of complications exist is not new. It’s obviously -- this is a very sensational case because of who we’re talking about here, because it was Osama bin Laden. But this is not an issue that is -- that arrived on our doorstep on Sunday.

 

Q And then particularly on the debt ceiling, the U.S. is going to hit the debt ceiling next week. Is the White House making any progress on talks with Republicans on how to deal with that?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, it’s a complicated process -- the debt ceiling. And as you know, the Secretary of the Treasury issued a letter yesterday that actually -- because of the extraordinary measures that the Treasury Department is able to take and other administrations’ Treasury Departments before this have taken and because of -- that revenues have come in slightly above expected, that the deadline has been pushed back by three weeks, I think. But that is an estimate, and it is important to remember that it is just an estimate, and the urgency of raising the debt ceiling remains.

 

Having said that, we look very much forward to the discussions that will begin on Thursday with the Vice President in the lead on our fiscal issues that we hope to reach bipartisan compromise on, and we recognize that while we believe it’s very important that these are parallel tracks, that this will also be a topic of conversation.

 

And we are heartened, as we have been in the past, by comments that have been made about the absolute necessity of raising the debt ceiling because we do not want another recession. We do not want to default on America’s -- the full faith and credit of the United States government, so we hope that and believe that the conversations that -- negotiations that begin on Thursday will bear fruit in both directions.

 

Q Can you talk at all about what the President is going to do on Thursday in New York?

 

MR. CARNEY: At the meeting? I’m sorry -- oh, in New York?

 

Q No, in New York.

 

MR. CARNEY: We’ll give you a full schedule. It’s obviously out there that we will be -- the President will be visiting New York and Ground Zero. But beyond that, I don’t have details at this time.

 

Mark.

 

Q Jay, can you tell us who wrote the narrative that you read to us?

 

MR. CARNEY: It was provided by the Defense Department.

 

Q By DOD?

 

MR. CARNEY: Yes.

 

Q Are you able to describe how bin Laden resisted?

 

MR. CARNEY: Again, beyond what I was able to give you from here, I would refer you to the Pentagon and simply say that we have been -- we have worked very hard to declassify information in record speed to provide as much insight into this operation as we can, as quickly as we can, mindful obviously of the equities that are at stake here in terms of never revealing sources and methods, never compromising our intelligence procedures.

 

But we are working very hard to provide as much information as we can.

 

Q Can you say if there has been any change in President Obama’s opposition to so-called enhanced interrogation techniques?

 

MR. CARNEY: No change whatsoever.

 

Q Were any results of such techniques used in helping to track down bin Laden?

 

MR. CARNEY: Mark, the fact is that no single piece of information led to the successful mission that occurred on Sunday, 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 that has been gathered by incredibly diligent professionals over the years in the intelligence community. And it’s simply strange credulity to suggest that a piece of information that may or may not have been gathered eight years ago somehow directly led to a successful mission on Sunday. That’s just not the case.

Q I wasn’t suggesting it. I was --

 

MR. CARNEY: Okay. Others have.

 

Yes.

 

Q Did anything come out of last night’s dinner that would show there is movement towards a specific agreement on the debt ceiling and deficit reduction? Anything specific?

 

MR. CARNEY: Not that I’m aware of. This was obviously a big dinner. What I think does help the cause of bipartisan cooperation is sitting down with one another and having conversations and realizing that, through those conversations, that there are shared values and shared goals, and that just the -- having an event like that is useful in and of itself.

 

Now, I don’t want to overstate it because there have been dinners here in the past with bipartisan leaders of Congress. But it is part of an overall effort to bring Democrats and Republicans together so that an atmosphere is created that allows for the kind of really tough work that needs to be done to reach consensus and compromise on very hard issues -- the kinds of issues that haven’t been resolved in the past precisely because they’re hard and because there is disagreement -- honest disagreement about how we get from here to there, how we get the result in the case of deficit reduction, the result that we -- that both parties and the President agree on, which is, in this case, $4 trillion of deficit reduction over 10 to 12 years.

 

So that in and of itself is a unifying point, and the President looks forward to the negotiations that will begin on Thursday at the Blair House, led by the Vice President. Obviously that will be the first of many meetings, we hope. We hope that it’s productive and that it will lead to a process that will, in the end, achieve an agreement on some serious deficit reduction. Maybe not all the issues will be resolved, but there certainly should be areas of compromise that we can find if everyone enters the building across the street with the spirit of compromise in their hearts. And that requires an acceptance that we’re not going to get everything we want, and nobody is, if we’re going to reach an agreement.

 

Q What areas of compromise is the Vice President going to be bringing to the table?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I will say that the Vice President will bring to the table some serious ideas, but I’m not going to negotiate them from here. But we are committed to this process, and we believe there is room for compromise and reason to believe that because the goal is shared, because the imperative is there, because the American people expect us to do this, that we can actually get a result.

 

Q Has the administration been in touch with members of the Gang of Six?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, we’ve had conversations with senators in and out of Gangs. But it’s safe to assume that we’ve had conversations -- that members of this administration have had conversations with members of that group, with everybody who is -- takes this issue seriously and is putting on the table constructive ideas about how we can reduce our deficit, get our fiscal house in order in a balanced way, that makes sure that the responsibility is shared, that the prosperity is shared, and that we don’t do anything that actually reverses the progress we’ve made in terms of economic growth and job creation.

 

Yes.

 

Q Thanks, Jay. The pool said that there was audible laughter through the Cabinet meeting room door. Can you talk about what the President’s mood has been in the last couple days since this mission was successfully completed?

 

MR. CARNEY: I don’t know about laughter. I mean, I think that the -- there’s a recognition in this building, as there is across the government and across the country, that what occurred on Sunday evening, or Sunday afternoon, was an historic event and great victory for the American people, and a demonstration of the grit and resolve that Americans have when they have an objective. And when it seems like the goal is unachievable Americans keep working. And I think that that’s reflected in the spirit that is felt here and around the country.

 

What I will say, I was in a meeting on a separate issue with the President for over an hour yesterday, and Sunday’s events didn’t come up. And what is reflective -- and it was a very serious meeting about a serious policy issue. What I took away from that was the observation and realization that this train never stops. There is work to be done all the time on so many issues, and that’s what it -- that’s as significant as what happened on Sunday is and how important it is as we -- as the President will on Thursday, to fully recognize the loss that took place on 9/11 and the sacrifices that have been made over this decade in this fight against al Qaeda. There are so many other issues as well that need his attention.

 

Q So there’s not like a visible weight lifted from his shoulders?

 

MR. CARNEY: Not that I’ve seen. But I wouldn’t say that the weight was wearing on him. I was -- I think I mentioned yesterday that what was remarkable about Friday and that long day we had was, in retrospect, how capable he was of focusing on the issues he was dealing with in Alabama, the terrible devastation that those tornados wrought on Tuscaloosa and the rest of the state, and then on meeting with Congresswoman Giffords and the crew at Cape Canaveral, and then meeting and speaking to the graduating students at Miami Dade.

 

Again, in retrospect, to look back and to think that this, too, was weighing on his mind, and he had known that prior to getting on Marine One and flying out to Andrews, he had signed off and said it’s a go, is rather remarkable.

 

Q Can you talk about the push on immigration this afternoon and in the White House the last few weeks, and how it’s different from the previous three or four times you all pushed this? And it’s --

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, it’s not different. It’s just -- again, commitment and resolve. I mean, the fact that we were not, unfortunately, able to get immigration reform in the first two years does not lessen the commitment or the resolve to keep trying. And I think that this President, as you will see I think in coming weeks, is committed to the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

 

And that’s what the meetings he’s had and continues to have are about, and the push will continue because he thinks it’s important. It’s hard, but it’s important.

 

Yes.

 

Q Jay, can I go back to the narrative just one more time?

 

MR. CARNEY: Sure.

 

Q When that assaulter entered the room, you said he was rushed by the woman. Presumably that’s bin Laden’s wife?

 

MR. CARNEY: No. No, no, no.

 

Q Okay.

 

MR. CARNEY: Bin Laden’s wife was on the first floor.

 

Q Where she was shot in the leg.

 

MR. CARNEY: Correct.

 

Q Okay, then on the second or third --

 

Q That’s not what the narrative --

 

MR. CARNEY: Wait, let me -- stop.

 

Q Because the narrative -- there was a discrepancy.

 

MR. CARNEY: I apologize. Even I’m getting confused. In the room with bin Laden was bin Laden’s wife. She rushed one of the U.S. assaulters and was shot in the leg but not killed.

A woman on the first floor was killed in the crossfire.

 

Q Bin Laden’s wife was unarmed as well?

 

MR. CARNEY: That is my understanding.

 

Q Okay. And there was no one else in room? Bin Laden and his wife --

 

MR. CARNEY: I don’t know that.

 

Q We don’t know that. Okay.

 

Q Following on that same thing, yesterday Mr. Brennan suggested --

 

MR. CARNEY: Sorry. Mark, did you have -- let me go --

 

Q I did have one more general thing, and then -- but I’d be happy to continue on this. The question I had more broadly was do you think that -- or is President Obama concerned that having taken out such a visible symbol of al Qaeda, whether or not it truly degrades al Qaeda as a network, that it will be more and more difficult for him to make the case to the American people that this effort is worth 100,000 troops, 80,000 troops? And if so, what steps can you take to continue to make that argument to the American people?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think he will continue to make the argument that we need to remain vigilant and we need to take the fight to al Qaeda. One of the things to remember about the approach here is that it was not solely about Osama bin Laden.

 

And in fact, while he was focused on it -- as has been evidenced by some of the information we’ve released, including the memo from June of 2009, the effort itself was not broadly focused on one individual. And again, his approach -- I mean, the increased pressure that this administration has put on al Qaeda in the border region has been reported on in great detail by your newspaper and many other outlets. And that is a function of -- that is a result of his approach to this problem, the focus on al Qaeda that he felt had been lost in previous years when the focus was shifted from al Qaeda in Afghanistan and bin Laden onto Iraq.

 

And one thing that is always important to remember and bears repeating, because I think that a lot of Americans don’t realize, is that more than 100,000 U.S. troops have been withdrawn under this President from Iraq, and that that has freed up -- again, as part of the refocus of our attention on the AfPak region, refocus of our attention on al Qaeda, making that the goal of everything we’re doing there, the principal, primary goal, the defeat -- the dismantle and ultimate defeat of al Qaeda, and that will continue.

 

And there’s no question the case has to continue to be made, but we’re under no illusion that killing bin Laden removes the threat entirely. We believe that he was an important symbolic figure in this, and that other al Qaeda 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.

 

Yes, Ann.

 

Q In the narrative, which of those women was being used a human shield as Mr. Brennan suggested yesterday?

 

MR. CARNEY: Again, what I would say about that is that -- to use your phrase, fog of war, fog of combat, that there was a lot of information coming in. It is still unclear.

 

The woman I believe you’re talking about might have been the one on the first floor who was caught in the crossfire. Whether or not she was being used as a shield or trying to use herself as a shield or simply caught in crossfire is unclear. And we’re working on getting the details that we can.

 

Q And when the President called President Zardari, was --

 

MR. CARNEY: Can I just point out that, first of all, the woman who was shot in the leg physically assaulted the -- or attempted to assault -- or charged, rather, one of the U.S. assaulters, and that every effort was taken, for those who were not engaged in an effort to resist, to protect them -- the noncombatants. And I think it’s rather extraordinary the number of individuals who were in that compound who were not posing a threat to the assaulters, that they were made secure and not harmed.

 

Q Can I follow on that?

 

Q When the President called President Zardari was he -- was President Zardari aware of any of this action?

 

MR. CARNEY: I don’t know. It was obviously a number of hours afterwards, and I’m not sure if it had become public yet.

 

Q Would that have been the first phone call that President Obama made that evening --

 

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have --

 

Q -- before he called President Bush or --

 

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have a chronology on that. I’m not sure that that’s the case, but it was one of the early phone calls.

 

Q May I follow up, Jay?

 

MR. CARNEY: Can we just -- let me -- I’ll get to you. Yes.

 

Q The events that took place on Sunday, do you think that they changed the atmosphere at all in which the debt ceiling discussions take place in a way that’s perhaps more positive for the President?

 

MR. CARNEY: I think that what happened on Sunday -- and this is very important because it would be a shame if this became a piece in a partisan narrative, because what I think the President feels very strongly about is that the accomplishment on Sunday was an American accomplishment, and it was not a Republican or a Democratic accomplishment, but the result of incredibly hard work, especially by a lot of unseen and unknown individuals in the military and in the intelligence community. And it was the product of a focus that was brought to bear on bin Laden, on al Qaeda central, and that was -- and then the product of a very risky operation.

To the extent it affects the atmosphere, we obviously hope it affects it positively, because I think it demonstrates the capacity of Americans to do big things when they work together and work on common goals. Obviously nothing changes Washington overnight and it doesn’t erase -- a great success like that does not erase the real differences that we have on policy issues. But it does demonstrate I think a part of who we are as Americans. And that’s a -- that kind of positive indication we hope will carry through for at least a little while.

 

Q You mentioned that you hope people will come to the meeting on Thursday with a spirit of compromise on their parts. Do you see any evidence of more spirit of compromise?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I don’t want to prejudge. These are tough issues. People have very strong opinions. And we understand how Washington works. It sometimes -- there’s a certain amount of theater involved in the practice of politics and policy. In the end, we hope that -- on all sides -- that the necessity of achieving the goals that both parties share outweighs the relative advantages or disadvantages that there might be politically. Because in the end we think that there -- as was the case in the CR debate, as was the case in the tax cut negotiations late last year, and certainly is the case in the execution of our foreign policy, there’s an opportunity here for all sides to be winners. And we think that exists in these other tough issues as we negotiate them through.

 

Q There are some officials from the Bush -- your predecessor’s administration who are expressing some concern that they’re not -- that their efforts are not being adequately recognized by the administration, have been mischaracterized in a statement you made yesterday about renewing the effort to get Osama bin Laden when the President came into office. Do you have any reaction?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, look, I feel very strongly, and more importantly, the President feels strongly that this is not a partisan issue here. When America was attacked on 9/11, the Americans who lost their lives that day were not -- they were Americans first; they were not Democrats and Republicans. And as I said yesterday, those who’ve struggled over the years in this effort have not been -- have not done it because they’re Republicans or Democrats; they’ve done it because they’re Americans. And those who -- the many people who were involved in the operation, both on the ground and elsewhere on Sunday, were involved in their capacity as Americans and not Democrats or Republicans.

 

So I think the credit for the focus and the fight and obviously the gathering of intelligence over the years is shared by both administrations. On the refocus, the revitalization of the effort to get bin Laden, I mean, that was a promise the President made when he was a candidate and it’s one he followed up on. The memo he wrote to his CIA director was necessitated by the observation he made that there was not the kind of focus that there needed to be.

 

And perhaps that’s understandable after so many years where it became perhaps -- where there was maybe a great deal of doubt not just here in Washington but elsewhere in the country that this -- that the day that came Sunday would ever come. But the commitment of members of both administrations should not be doubted -- and we don’t doubt them. We think this was a bipartisan -- or rather, nonpartisan success.

 

On the point -- but having said that, on the overall point, because what’s also not the case is that somehow this President and this administration simply adopted all the policies and orientations of the previous one, because that -- to suggest that would not be true either, because he made a very clear point in -- and argument that we had lost our focus, that we had pushed too many resources into the fight in Iraq, and that the real enemy was al Qaeda and was Osama bin Laden. And the action -- that wasn’t just rhetoric, because once he came into office he drew down 100,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, he is ending that war, and he has -- with some opposition, that we note -- but he has raised our commitment and increased our presence in Afghanistan because he believes that’s where the enemy -- in that region, where the enemy was and is.

 

Yes, April.

 

Q Jay, could you talk about the focus now, how it’s shifted or remained the same, or maybe even changed a bit when it comes to the message to the Muslim world, especially after what’s happened to Saddam -- excuse me, Osama bin Laden?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I would simply echo what the President said the other night, which is that this has never been a war against Islam. President Bush said that; President Obama has said that. Osama bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer -- a mass murderer of Muslims, as well as people of other faiths. And it has been our cooperation with Muslims in Pakistan and other countries, as well as Muslim Americans, that has helped in our overall effort to fight al Qaeda and protect Americans, to protect this country.

 

So I don’t think that orientation shifts, and I don’t think that anything changes in that regard.

 

Q But can you acknowledge the fact that this administration was very -- at the very beginning when we started hearing about what happened Sunday night, this administration was very clear to make it known that they were following -- the Navy was following the Islamic customs and traditions. You made it very clear.

 

MR. CARNEY: Yes.

 

Q You made it clear from the podium about how he was washed, the procedures for Islamic burial. Also we understand that there is a concern about the photos, that you’re concerned about the release because you don’t want to inflame tensions that are already there with the Muslim world. So am I wrong in assuming that you are making more of a focus and maybe recrafting your message because of what happened to bin Laden?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, no, not because of what happened to bin Laden. I mean, he was -- obviously we were prepared if he were killed in the operation for this eventuality and there was a -- it was viewed as entirely appropriate and necessarily sensitive to proceed with the burial in the way that we did, to be respectful of Islamic traditions and precepts. And then with regard to the release of the photo, that’s an issue of I think appropriate concern about potential sensitivities.

Q And because of those sensitivities, who is the administration -- what persons, groups in the Muslim world has the administration talked to about trying to lessen those tensions, lessen the inflaming tensions that are happening now? Some people are saying it should have never happened.

 

MR. CARNEY: What should never have happened?

 

Q Going into Pakistan to go get him.

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, we have -- we make no apologies about that. He was enemy number one for this country and killed many, many innocent civilians. And -- no apologies. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be entirely respectful of Islam, which we are, or that it doesn’t change the fact the President’s very strongly held conviction and expressed conviction that this has never been about Islam, because, in fact, Osama bin Laden represented -- was a mass murderer who killed many Muslims.

 

And one thing that -- he was a relic of the past, in many ways. I mean, the kind of yearning for individual freedoms -- the people on -- that we’ve seen protest on the streets of the Arab world in these past few months represent a movement that is in the polar opposite direction that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda wanted to take the Arab world. And I think that that’s an important point to make and to observe because he’s not -- he’s, in many ways, the symbol of everything that those folks who have been demonstrating on the ground for their voices, for their rights, for the their individual aspirations, he’s a representation of everything they don’t want.

Q Thank you.

 

MR. CARNEY: Yes.

 

Q Thanks. Thank you, Jay.

 

Q One about Prince Charles.

 

MR. CARNEY: I did promise Connie, and then I’ll --

 

Q Prince Charles’s visit --

 

MR. CARNEY: -- and I’ll get Margaret.

 

Q Can I -- thank you, Jay. Three quick -- can we infer by --

 

MR. CARNEY: Not three quick.

 

Q All right, just one. Can we infer by your statement that you plan to ask for the same level, multibillion-dollar level of aid to --

 

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any announcements about aid.

 

Q Quick question about Prince Charles.

 

Q Were you -- was there a video -- were you watching a video of the proceedings, or did you just hear it? Did you just monitor it?

 

MR. CARNEY: This is regarding the photograph that’s been released? Again, I will point you to what I said before, which we’re not talking specifically about how the information was conveyed or through what senses. But the -- but they were real-time -- there was real-time information that was being provided to the national security principals and the President in the Situation Room.

 

Q Were you in the room?

 

MR. CARNEY: Was I in the picture?

 

Margaret.

 

Q Thank you. I just wanted to clarify quickly a couple of points. Leon Panetta told PBS that neither he nor the President saw the actual shooting. The President has seen the actual photo, or photos, right?

 

MR. CARNEY: Again, I don’t want to get into who’s seen the photos or where they are.

 

Q That seems like -- I would leave it alone after that one. I’m just trying to nail down the President.

 

MR. CARNEY: Again, I’m not going to get into who’s seen them or where they are.

 

Q Okay. And then, just also to clarify -- it certainly sounded like the U.S. is not -- that your position is not to encourage Congress to defund or greatly reduce funding for aid to Pakistan. But are you taking a position on that?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I just -- I haven’t had that discussion internally about funding for Pakistan. We obviously believe what I said earlier, which is that Pakistan has been an essential partner in the fight against al Qaeda and terrorism, and that that -- it is important to recognize these events within the context of that relationship -- complicated relationship, sometimes very divergent opinions. But --

 

Q But you have a --

 

MR. CARNEY: But we have an important relationship.

 

Q And then finally, you said that Osama bin Laden and his family were on the second and third floors of the main building. Have you said which floor he was on? Was he on the second floor?

 

MR. CARNEY: Let me double-check.

 

Q It’s in the narrative.

 

MR. CARNEY: If that’s in the narrative that’s --

 

Q It’s not -- it doesn’t specify in that narrative.

 

MR. CARNEY: If it’s not in the narrative, I’m not sure. It just says -- yes. It just says the family were found on the second and third floor and that he was in a room -- in the room with bin Laden. So I don’t have the answer to which floor.

 

Q Can you get that for us, please?

 

MR. CARNEY: I can try, but I think the Defense Department has that and is developing that information.

 

Last question. Jon-Christopher.

 

Q A quick question on His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, visiting tomorrow. Can you give us any of your thoughts about what the President might want to engage in with His Royal Highness?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I’m sure he will congratulate him on his son’s marriage. Beyond that, I’m sure discuss the very special relationship that the United States and the United Kingdom have, and he looks forward to the meeting and the visit -- as do I.

 

Thank you.

 

END 2:54 P.M. EDT

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Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 5/4/2011

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

 

2:10 P.M. EDT

 

MR. CARNEY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Before I take your questions I'd just like to say to you that the President has made the decision not to release any of the photographs of the deceased Osama bin Laden. And rather than -- or rather, first I will give you the language the President used when he was recently interviewed about an hour ago to explain his decision.

This is in an interview with CBS 60 Minutes, Steve Kroft. The President was asked -- he said that they were discussing -- when bin Laden’s body was taken out of the compound, the President was asked about how they knew it was him. And he said:

“When they landed, we had very strong confirmation at that point that it was him. Photographs had been taken. Facial analysis indicated that, in fact, it was him. We hadn’t yet done DNA testing, but at that point we were 95 percent sure.”

 

Question: Did you see the pictures?

 

The President: Yes.

 

Question: What was your reaction when you saw them?

 

The President: It was him.

 

Question: Why didn’t you release them?

 

The President: We discussed this internally. Keep in mind that we are absolutely certain that this was him. We've done DNA sampling and testing and so there is no doubt that we killed Osama bin Laden. It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence or as a propaganda tool. That's not who we are. We don't trot out this stuff as trophies.

 

The fact of the matter is this was somebody who was deserving of the justice that he received, and I think Americans and people around the world are glad that he is gone. But we don't need to spike the football. And I think that given the graphic nature of these photos, it would create some national security risk -- and I've discussed this with Bob Gates and Hillary Clinton and my intelligence teams, and they all agree.

 

Question: There are people in Pakistan, for example, who say, look, this is all a lie. Obama -- this is another American trick. Osama is not dead.

 

The President: The truth is that we were monitoring worldwide reaction. There is no doubt that bin Laden is dead. Certainly there is no doubt among al Qaeda members that he is dead. And so we don't think that a photograph in and of itself is going to make any difference. There are going to be some folks who deny it. The fact of the matter is you will not see bin Laden walking on this Earth again.

 

That's the conclusion of the excerpt. I think it states rather thoroughly why the President made the decision that he did.

 

With that, I'll take your questions.

 

Ben.

 

Q Thanks, Jay. Based on those comments, the President made a very compelling case why not to release the photos. So what was the internal debate, and was he ever seriously considering releasing photos?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, obviously the photos didn’t exist until bin Laden was killed, so there’s not a great deal of time between then and the decision. There are obviously arguments to be made on either side. The fact of the matter is, as the President described, these are graphic photographs of someone who was shot in the face -- or the head, rather -- and it is not in our national security interests to allow those images, as has been in the past been the case, to become icons for -- to rally opinion against the United States.

 

The President’s number one priority is the safety and security of American citizens at home and Americans abroad. There is no need to release these photographs to establish Osama bin Laden’s identity. And he saw no other compelling reason to release them, given the potential for national security risk, and further, because he believes, as he said so clearly, this is not who we are.

 

Q So was he, in the time period you're discussing, the moment he had the photos until now that we know the answer, was he grappling with this at all? Or was his stance clear and he was just gathering other opinions?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I don’t know about the evolution of his decision-making process. When I’ve heard him discuss it, he held this opinion very firmly. And he has held that opinion very firmly. But this is a very short period of time. Obviously he wanted to hear the opinions of others, but he was very clear about his view on this. And obviously his decision is categorical.

 

Q One other question. Director Panetta, in one of the interviews he did yesterday, said, “The government obviously has been talking about how best to do this, but I don’t think there’s -- there was any question that ultimately a photograph would be presented to the public.” How do you explain that?

 

MR. CARNEY: What I would say is that there are compelling arguments for, in general, the release of information and there’s a discussion to be had about the pros and cons. And the President engaged in that discussion and made a decision. Every member of the national security team is aware of and expressed the downside of releasing, which has I think weighed heavily on the President in terms of the potential risks it would pose to Americans serving abroad and Americans traveling abroad.

 

So the idea that this is 100 percent obvious -- I mean, that’s -- the fact of the matter is, the President never gets to make a decision that’s 100 percent obvious because those kind of decisions never get to his desk.

 

Q Well, that I understand, but I’m saying his comment was there was no question that a photograph would be released -- obviously that was wrong.

MR. CARNEY: Well, look, the thing is the President made this decision. He consulted members of his national security team. There’s reasonable arguments to be made. The President felt very strongly and made the decision he made.

 

Q Jay, you talked yesterday a lot about firefight. Who was it that was shooting back at the U.S. commandos?

MR. CARNEY: We have, as you know, since the moment this operation became public been as helpful as we can be to provide as much information as we can. And in terms of the operational details, we have gotten to the point where we cannot cross lines because of the necessity for preserving the methods and operational techniques and capabilities of the kinds of forces that were used in this case. We’ve gone to the limit of our ability to do that and still maintain some of the things we need to maintain and be kept secret.

 

So that's a long way of beginning my answer to say that we’ve revealed a lot of information. We’ve been as forthcoming with facts as we can be. A lot of information came out quickly. When we needed to clarify some of the information that we had as more information came in, we’ve provided that. But in terms of further details of the operation, I don't have any for you. You’re welcome to obviously consult with the Defense Department about them, but I don't have any more information. I’m not going to discuss beyond what I’ve said already the operational details.

 

Q But some things, as you acknowledged yesterday, have changed as the information came in. Is the fact of a firefight solid?

 

MR. CARNEY: You heard the account that I read yesterday, and that is information that I provided. And I’m not -- I’m just simply saying I’m not going further than that.

 

Q Okay, I guess I’m just curious about you mentioned --

 

MR. CARNEY: I’m not going to go further than what I said yesterday. So we can talk about -- we can ask a lot about operational details. The answer to your question is certainly contained within the account I read yesterday. But we’re at a point where we need to be mindful of the necessity to protect our ability in the future to go after other bad guys, perhaps in the same way we went after this one. And some of the capacities that we have, the methods that we use need to be protected and not compromised.

 

Q Let me ask one follow-up question. Are you concerned that the way in which bin Laden was killed and buried at sea might hurt the President’s ability to reach out to the Muslim world as he has tried to over the last two years?

 

MR. CARNEY: The efforts that were made to give Osama bin Laden an appropriate burial, following Islamic precepts and traditions, were considerable. However, I would also say that there is nothing -- the respect that was shown to him and his body was far greater than the respect that Osama bin Laden showed to the victims on 9/11 or any of his other victims, and that’s because that’s who we are. So we feel very comfortable with the fact that we took extraordinary measures to show that respect to the traditions of the Islamic faith.

 

Q But my question is about the President’s specific outreach to the Muslim world. How does this affect that?

 

MR. CARNEY: I think you heard the President speak on Sunday evening about the unbelievably important fact to make clear, that President Bush made clear before President Obama, that our efforts in the fight against terrorists, against al Qaeda, are not aimed at Islam, are not aimed at Muslims. And the fact is, that the cooperation and assistance provided by Muslims around the world is essential to our fight and it’s not about them, because Osama bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer -- a mass murderer of people around the world, including Muslims.

 

So we obviously believe that we were absolutely within our rights to go after the most wanted man in the world, the most wanted terrorist in the world -- the man who ordered the attacks on so many Americans and killed so many Americans. And we -- it needs to be recognized that this is seen as a good thing throughout the world. And yet, because of who we are, we took extraordinary measures to show the kind of respect that was shown in his burial.

 

Yes, Jake.

 

Q What do you say to the families of the victims of 9/11 and the USS Cole and other terrorist acts by al Qaeda if these family members say they want the photo released so they can have some closure? What’s the White House’s response to that?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I’m not going to go beyond the words of the President, and I will rephrase them to say that there is no question at all that Osama bin Laden is dead. He will not walk this Earth again. We have established beyond any doubt, through DNA evidence, facial recognition, visual recognition, the naming of him by individuals on that compound, that Osama bin Laden was shot and killed on Sunday night. He is dead. And that -- I think Americans feel a great sense of closure because of that.

Q Is there any other -- I understand the photographs are off the table. Is there any other evidence of his death that might -- that you’re still considering releasing, the President is still considering releasing? Whether it’s video of his burial at sea, whether the DNA evidence -- is there anything else that could be released?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I will simply say that we are -- that this decision applies to all visual evidence. And in terms of discussions that might be had to go into more detail about how the DNA evidence was analyzed and collected, how the facial recognition evidence was analyzed and collected, and how the experts reached their conclusion that this was without any shred of doubt Osama bin Laden, I’m sure that information might be made available or will be made available in the future. But this decision that I cited that the President made has to do with the visual evidence, the photographic evidence.

 

Q Lastly, the CIA Director, Leon Panetta, said in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill about the Pakistani government, that they either were involved or are incompetent. Is that the position of the White House?

 

MR. CARNEY: I assume you mean by a closed-door briefing a classified briefing? I have no comment.

 

Q Okay.

 

MR. CARNEY: Chip. Oh, sorry, Dan.

 

Q I just want to clarify, you said that the President, based on your observations, had always held the position that these photos should not be released?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I don’t know -- I just meant that we’re now two and a half days since this took place, that I know he had this -- I heard him express this view yesterday. But there was still -- he was gathering the thoughts and views of others on his team. So “long held” is an impossible statement to make since we’re only talking about a couple of days.

Q But is this a sense that he had made up his mind and wanted just to open it up for opinions to sway him as to whether or not they should be released?

 

MR. CARNEY: The President has a national security team, and he wanted to hear the opinions of others, obviously. That’s how he makes decisions in this White House, and he wants to hear, as he did with the decision to authorize this mission, which I think has been reported was not a decision that every member of his team supported or thought was -- people had reservations, obviously, because it was a very risky mission. But this is the process that he undertakes because he believes that that’s the way he wants his presidency to function. He wants the unvarnished opinions and advice and assessments of his top advisors. And in a situation like this, the last thing he wants is a bunch of people telling him what they think he wants to hear.

 

Q Can you give us a sense of whether or not it was the majority opinion of those who were giving him advice that the photos should not be released?

MR. CARNEY: It was a majority opinion, yes.

 

Q And also, can you give us anything more about this team that will be going to, I guess, brief former President Bush?

 

MR. CARNEY: I don't have any information on that.

 

Yes, Chip.

 

Q Thanks, Jay. I know you said you didn't want to get into operational details, but you kind of opened the door.

 

MR. CARNEY: But you can try.

 

Q But you kind of opened the door on one thing. You said that he was shot in the face, and then you corrected yourself and said “rather the head.” Were you saying that he was not shot in the face?

 

MR. CARNEY: No, no, I simply -- he was shot above the neck. Let’s say that.

 

Q We would rather go with head if we’re given the choice, but you’re not saying it was --

 

MR. CARNEY: I’m not -- I don't have any details to give you on that.

 

Q Why has the President decided not to speak at Ground Zero tomorrow?

 

MR. CARNEY: The President thinks it’s entirely fitting and appropriate to visit the site of Ground Zero in the wake of this significant and cathartic moment for the American people. And he wants to lay a wreath to honor the victims, to honor the first responders who so courageously rushed to the scene and, in many cases, gave their own lives to try to save others; to honor the spirit of unity in America that we all felt in the wake of that terrible attack. I think the power of that requires no words. And he will also meet with families of the victims and first responders in private.

 

Q Was there a debate on whether to speak and, to use his expression, was there concern that it would look like spiking the ball?

 

MR. CARNEY: Don't forget the President -- no, there wasn’t a debate, but the President did speak on Sunday night and a remarkably large audience in this country, a remarkable number of Americans saw him speak because the word traveled so fast about this monumental event that had occurred. And so, no, there was no debate.

 

Q A quick question on the New York Times/CBS poll. His approval rating jumped 11 points from 46 to 57, but at the same time, his approval on the economy is the lowest ever in this poll, 34 percent. If you could just comment on if you think there’s any significance to all that.

 

MR. CARNEY: I think that the country is still emerging from the worst recession since the Great Depression. I think that gas prices have weighed heavily on Americans as they try to make ends meet. And it’s entirely understandable why that sentiment is out there because people are struggling. And people, in the case of how they’re dealing with these high gas prices, are suffering.

 

So that’s -- we are fully aware of that. And that’s why this President, I think you will see, will continue his focus on growing the economy, creating jobs, on working with Congress to pass legislation that does that; working with Congress to take measures that reduce our deficit, that invest in those areas that allow us to grow, allow us to compete; make sure that we educate our kids so we can be competitive in the 21st century.

 

He doesn’t -- I mean, the remarkable thing to me, watching -- being on the inside now, is -- you always hear this, right -- is that the train never stops. The speed, the rapidity of events, and the demands are so great. And what we’ve seen in these historic times since the President came into office is that that has been the case and then some.

 

And his focus on the economy has not wavered, even as he has dealt very quietly, with only a select number of people, with this mission from its inception to its execution. And that focus will continue. There’s no -- the two things that he thinks about the most, the security of the American people and the economic security of the American people, at the same time. And so that’s -- the economy continues to be a major priority.

 

Q We’re hearing more and more lawmakers are seeing the bin Laden photo or photos. To be clear, are they just being shown the photos, or are there copies floating around the Hill?

 

MR. CARNEY: I’m not aware of any photos being -- floating or being shown.

 

Q Bin Laden -- Sunday when the raid happened, was there any opportunity for U.S. officials to question him before he was shot?

 

MR. CARNEY: Again, I’m not going to get into operational details about -- beyond what we’ve done. I mean, what I’ve said in the past yesterday is what I would say today. So what happened on Sunday night is that an incredibly courageous team of U.S. personnel entered a foreign country in darkness on an incredibly risky mission, executed it at great risk to their own personal safety, executed that mission with great professionalism, and accomplished a goal that this country had sought for nine and a half years, in a mission that dramatically minimized collateral damage and civilian casualties, that was pulled off without any casualties among American personnel, and it resulted in the bringing to justice of Osama bin Laden. We have enormous regard for what was accomplished on Sunday by those men.

 

Q They’re American heroes. I just didn’t know if they got a question in before --

 

MR. CARNEY: Again, I would just refer those questions to the Defense Department.

 

Q Last question real fast. Any attempt by American officials to interview, question bin Laden’s wife who was there at the scene?

 

MR. CARNEY: Not that I’m aware of, but you might ask the State Department that.

 

Q Are there any U.S. officials involved in the questioning of anybody else at that compound?

 

MR. CARNEY: I think that goes to that, what Mike just asked, and I don’t have an answer. We obviously cooperate and have an important relationship with Pakistan and with the Pakistani government. But I don’t have any information with which to answer that question.

 

Q Are they sending briefings of their interrogation?

 

MR. CARNEY: Again, I don't -- I just don't know, so -- I don't have an answer.

 

Q Is there going to be an updated narrative on what you read yesterday?

 

MR. CARNEY: I think I made pretty clear that we have provided a great deal of information, and have made an effort to get that information to you very quickly. The nature of this operation and the rapidity with which we tried to respond to the desire for -- understandable desire for information about it has meant that we needed to clarify some facts. But I don't have any more operational details for you.

 

Q Are you done clarifying? This is it? This is the final narrative?

 

MR. CARNEY: I don't have any more operational details for you.

 

Q And this is final? Will we have any --

 

MR. CARNEY: Again, I don't draw any lines like that. It would be foolish to. But I don't -- we don't have any information for you today. I think we’ve provided a great deal of information for you about that operation. Our focus and I think most people’s focus is on the remarkable nature of what was accomplished, the fact that it was done with no American casualties and very limited collateral damage, and done in a way that we could be entirely sure that Osama bin Laden had been brought to justice.

 

Q Actually, one more on the issue of 9/11 families. Given that many members of Congress are being shown this photo, if they ask to see the photo under some circumstance that would not be public but for them, if they ask for that opportunity, would the administration be open to giving them that opportunity?

 

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have an answer to that right now.

 

Q Jay, may I follow up?

 

MR. CARNEY: Let me go to Jared.

 

Q I spoke on I believe it was Monday with the chairman of the 9/11 Commission. He said one of the glaring recommendations that hasn’t been implemented yet is giving -- or freeing up radio spectrum for the first responders. Where does the administration stand on that -- so the first responders can communicate amongst each other when --

 

MR. CARNEY: I’ll have to take that question, Jared, I just don’t know.

 

Q And then, I know you answered this, but can you clarify -- you said no visual evidence at all is going to be released, including video or anything of that --

 

MR. CARNEY: That’s right.

 

Q Okay. That’s all.

 

MR. CARNEY: I mean, visual record of Osama bin Laden’s death or his deceased body.

 

Q And then just one on a different topic, if you don’t mind. Does the administration have any expectations -- or what expectations does the administration have for the meeting tomorrow that Biden is hosting with congressional leaders?

 

MR. CARNEY: Look, I think this is the beginning of an important process. The President, by appointing the Simpson-Bowles commission, by putting forward the plan he did at George Washington University for his vision for reducing our deficit in a balanced way while investing in the essential priorities of government to allow us to grow and allow us to create jobs -- he has now taken this step to move this process forward because he believes that we’re at an important point here where Republicans and Democrats alike share -- recognize the problem -- that’s important -- and they agree that it exists. They share the same end goal, which is $4 trillion in deficit reduction. And they share the same general idea of what the timeline should be, 10 to 12 years.

 

This created the potential for a bipartisan compromise on some of this, at least. And that’s what this process we hope will launch on Thursday. And so we -- I don’t want to -- there will be no announcement after that meeting that a deal has been reached, because this is a process. But we expect progress to be made.

 

Q I’m just wondering, just trying to get some clarity here. Why did the narrative released yesterday not mention bin Laden’s son? Was he killed in the raid?

 

MR. CARNEY: You’re -- this is the kind of thing that I’m trying not to, first of all, go beyond what I said yesterday, and secondly, to -- what I would just say is that for questions like that I refer you to the Defense Department and they may be able to get an answer for you.

 

Q Because John Brennan on Monday gave one name, and it turns out that --

 

MR. CARNEY: Okay, I think this has been made clear. This is an important point. The transcript -- he gave a name; it is the correct name. Unfortunately, when the transcript was listened to and put on paper an error was made in transcribing that name. John Brennan’s -- I think we’ve corrected that and what he said was accurate.

Q And was any other person, dead or alive, taken from the compound and transported from the scene by --

 

MR. CARNEY: No.

 

Q -- U.S. personnel? Okay. And then on tomorrow, is there a -- does the President have concern about possibly exploiting 9/11 families? Does he want to keep some of this private? What can we expect --

 

MR. CARNEY: He’s meeting in private with 9/11 families.

 

Q So I mean, is there any in public --

 

MR. CARNEY: In private.

 

Q Okay. So --

 

MR. CARNEY: No press.

 

Q Okay. So what are the public events then tomorrow?

 

MR. CARNEY: He’s going to the World Trade Center site and laying a wreath in public. I mean, that will be --

 

Q Why did he decide to make these meetings all private tomorrow?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think you said so in your question. I mean, you suggested why that would be the case. It’s about -- he wants to meet with them and share with them this important and significant moment -- a bittersweet moment, I think, for many families of the victims. And he thinks it’s appropriate to do that in private.

 

Q Why did he want to invite President Bush? And what is lost by President Bush not being there?

 

MR. CARNEY: President Obama wanted to invite and did invite President Bush because as he’s made clear on Sunday night and we’ve made clear, that this is a moment of unity for Americans and a moment to recall the unity that existed in this country in the wake of the attacks on 9/11. And he wanted to -- he invited President Bush because he had hoped that if President Bush were able to come that he would join the President in visiting the World Trade Center site. We completely understand that he’s not able to come, but the invitation was made in that spirit.

 

Q And to follow on Ben’s question earlier, when CIA Director Panetta spoke both to NBC and to lawmakers on the Hill, he was pretty clear that it was a question of when, not if, the photos would be released. So was he misinformed, or was he overruled? And what --

 

MR. CARNEY: The decision -- a final decision had not been made.

 

Q So he spoke out of line, out of turn?

 

MR. CARNEY: The President made a decision. It was -- there are obviously arguments to be made on each side of this, but the final decision was not made until today.

 

Q So he was wrong?

 

MR. CARNEY: The final decision was not made until today.

 

Q What time?

 

MR. CARNEY: This morning. I don't have -- I don't remember precisely. I didn't look at my watch.

 

Q You were with him when he made the decision?

 

MR. CARNEY: Yes.

 

Q Can I clarify just one thing? When you talk about the President’s role tomorrow in New York, are you ruling out that he’ll make some comments, perhaps even informal ones?

 

MR. CARNEY: There’s no plan for him to speak at the wreath-laying ceremony. His events with the families and first responders are in private. I don't -- as was the case the other day when he didn't speak at the Cabinet meeting, I obviously don't -- he’s not a robot, and he could potentially speak at some point tomorrow, but there are no plans for that.

 

Q Okay, thanks.

 

MR. CARNEY: Yes.

 

Q Thanks, Jay. Has the President spoken to anyone on the team that carried out the mission?

 

MR. CARNEY: I don't have any information for you on that at this point.

 

Q Do you know if anyone in the White House has? Mr. Brennan?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, it depends. The team is a big -- it’s not just those men who went into Pakistan. There’s an obviously bigger network that represents the team, the operation team. And I just -- I’m not sure. I mean, there is the head of Special Forces who obviously has spoken to members of the administration and he’s very much part of the team. So I don’t have any information about more contact.

 

Q The U.N.’s top human rights official said yesterday that she hoped the administration would release full details about the operation in order to settle any questions about whether it was legally justifiable. Does the administration feel or have any plans that it needs to say anything more about how the operation was carried out, the rules of engagement, to justify the action that happened on --

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, let me address that question and I’ll -- forgive me, I’m going to read so I’m very precise here.

 

The team had the authority to kill Osama bin Laden unless he offered to surrender; in which case the team was required to accept his surrender if the team could do so safely. The operation was conducted in a manner fully consistent with the laws of war. The operation was planned so that the team was prepared and had the means to take bin Laden into custody.

There is simply no question that this operation was lawful. Bin Laden was the head of al Qaeda, the organization that conducted the attacks of September 11, 2001. And al Qaeda and bin Laden himself had continued to plot attacks against the United States. We acted in the nation’s self-defense. The operation was conducted in a way designed to minimize and avoid altogether, if possible, civilian casualties. And if I might add, that was done at great risk to Americans. Furthermore, consistent with the laws of war, bin Laden’s surrender would have been accepted if feasible.

 

That’s my response. Yes.

 

Q Two questions. Thanks, Jay. One, what President Obama did on Sunday, he became hero around the globe because he gave relief to the millions of people, including in India. India was the victim for the last 20 years of this terrorism. Also, my question is, when President spoke with President Zardari, what was the reaction from Pakistan as far as -- and other leaders that he has spoken to -- what are they saying now inside Pakistan?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think -- I don’t want to speak for the Pakistani government, and I think in terms of our analysis of the reaction within Pakistan, I’d point you to the State Department.

 

The President of Pakistan obviously wrote an op-ed the other day. I think you can glean some information from that. And in terms of other leaders, the President did speak with a number of leaders from around the world and they all congratulated the United States on this accomplishment, bringing to justice Osama bin Laden. But I don’t have any other characterization to give you.

 

Q Why I ask that, for the last 10 years this is what I’ve been saying here and the White House and the State Department and the Pentagon that Osama is living and protected by the Pakistani intelligence and military and living like a maharaja. And you can see on Sunday what the whole world saw, how his lifestyle was there inside Pakistan. So don’t you think now Pakistan has to -- so many questions have to answer to the international community and to the United States and also millions of people that he has been --

 

MR. CARNEY: What John Brennan said and what I’ll repeat is that we obviously are interested in finding out the details of the support network that obviously helped Mr. bin Laden hide in Abbottabad. We don’t know the members of that support network. We also note that the Pakistani government has launched an investigation of its own, and we think that’s a good thing. And we will work to find out as much as we can about how that happened.

I would then further state that our relationship with Pakistan, while complicated, is very important, and it is very important precisely because of our need to continue the fight against al Qaeda, to continue the fight against terrorists. The fight is not done, and we look forward to cooperating with Pakistan in the future. As others have said, more terrorists have been killed on Pakistani soil than probably any other country. And the cooperation we’ve received from Pakistan has been very useful in that regard.

 

Q And second if I may --

 

MR. CARNEY: I think that's third, but okay.

 

Q Thank you. What President said Sunday was good that war is not against Islam or the Muslims. But my question is that in order to bring Muslim community, including in the U.S., because they are saying that they are being targeted, and Congressman King’s also had hearings on Muslims. Don't you think there is now time for President to speak globally to the Muslim people that --

 

MR. CARNEY: I don't have any announcements for other speeches. I’ll let the President’s statement on Sunday stand for itself.

 

Yes. How are you?

 

Q Hi, Jay. Can you clarify, has the President indicated to you in any way that he wants you to stop giving out any clarifications or information?

 

MR. CARNEY: No.

 

Q Or that he wants DOD to stop? Because you’re directing us in that spirit --

 

MR. CARNEY: My point is simply -- this is just to make the point that we’ve provided a great number of details. I don't have any new details for you to provide. And there are issues here. I mean, a lot of you people understand, a lot of the reporters here have covered and written about or done pieces on special operations and the kinds of operations that we’re talking about here, and there are equities we need to protect. It would be extremely foolhardy for us to divulge information in the recounting of what happened on Sunday that would in some way -- in any way limit our capacity to perform a similar operation in the future.

We’re not done going after terrorists. Would that we were, but we’re not.

 

Q So are you suggesting that to answer Jake’s question or any of these questions today would harm national security, compared to the details that you were giving out for the last two days? Is that what you’re saying?

 

MR. CARNEY: I think that we have given out a great number of details. I don't have any more details for you. You can certainly ask the Defense Department for more details. But I think the -- the point here is that we’ve divulged an extraordinary amount of information about this operation, and we don't want to divulge any information that would impede our capacity to launch a similar operation in the future.

 

And I think that's entirely reasonable. I think, again, that the level of detail and the amount of information has been rather extraordinary. And there has to be --

 

Q But you have to clarify --

 

MR. CARNEY: And we did. And there has to be --

 

Q So can’t we keep doing that?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, no. I mean, you can ask, but the point is, is that I don't have any clarifications for you. What I said yesterday stands. And I clarified a couple of points. And the problem is, is that if we engage in this kind of thing, it leads to those areas that unwittingly could have the divulging of information that would limit our capacity to do this kind of operation in the future. And that would be a grave error.

 

Q So let me follow up on something that you said we might be able to get. On the Vinson was there a pathologist who would have made a written record of the body --

 

MR. CARNEY: I don't have any --

 

Q -- and would there have been a written record of a burial at sea?

 

MR. CARNEY: I don't have any information for you on that.

 

Q There’s always a written naval record of a burial at sea. Could we have a copy?

 

MR. CARNEY: That may be possible, but I’m not making that promise. What I’m -- the point I -- the question I was addressing, the question the President addressed was photographs and video. In terms of -- and the decision not to release that is related to the image, images, and the potential harm that could cause by releasing those.

 

Q Could you ask?

 

MR. CARNEY: Of course I’ll -- yes. And I will ask. But, again, there is no point in trying to tease out all these details about an operation that we’ve provided a great number of details on and which, again, is the kind of operation that -- elements of which need to be protected for obvious reasons.

 

Q Jay, can you say with certainty that bin Laden’s hideout would have been found without the enhanced interrogation techniques that were done under the Bush administration?

 

MR. CARNEY: I can say with certainty that no single piece of information, with the exception of the address of the compound, was vital to this -- was singularly vital to this -- because we’re talking about tiny bits of information that were compiled by unbelievably competent professionals over nine and a half years. And it’s impossible to know if one piece of information came from one source and was corroborated in another way, if -- which thread held the cloth together -- with the exception of the location of the compound. And I would simply note that that has not been -- only been in existence for five or six years.

 

Q Can I follow up on --

 

MR. CARNEY: Can I just finish answering his question? That would be great.

 

The fact is, is that information was gathered from detainees -- we have multiple ways of gathering information -- from detainees, from different methods that we have of getting information. The work that was done to put the case together was done primarily by analysts gathering tiny bits of information, putting it together and creating a body of work, if you will, that led to the finding of the location where Osama bin Laden was hiding.

 

Q A follow-up. It sounds to me at the very least like what you’re saying is that the interrogation techniques cannot be ruled out as a critical and necessary piece to have found bin Laden. Is that correct? It’s possible that that is true?

 

MR. CARNEY: I’m saying that there is no single piece of information beyond the location of the compound where Osama bin Laden was hiding out that was incontrovertibly critical to the success of this operation on Sunday.

Now, I can’t categorically rule out that one piece of -- because we don’t know. We’re missing a sort of bigger picture here, which is that the incredibly hard and focused work of our intelligence community, intelligence professionals, who don’t get credit because they’re so often -- we can’t name them and identify them and stand them up and celebrate them -- to this success. And then joint intel, IC, military cooperation led to the remarkably successful mission on Sunday. And that I think is a testament to the focused determination of the American people to do what we said we would do after 9/11, right up to Sunday, which was we were going to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, and we would keep looking for him and we would find him and bring him to justice. And that’s what we did.

Yes, Christi.

 

Q On that point, the President used that in the transcript that you read from at the top of the briefing, that Osama bin Laden had received justice. Is that what the SEALs went in to do, was deliver justice, or did they go in to take him into custody so he could be tried --

MR. CARNEY: I just went through a whole litany of what their assignment was. It involved --

 

Q Right, but it seems like an important message, though. I mean, this is how it’s being perceived around the world.

 

MR. CARNEY: Yes, we absolutely -- and if he had surrendered and we could have done -- brought him into custody safely, then that would have been bringing him to justice as well. But he was brought to justice on Sunday. And I don’t think -- I think it’s entirely appropriate that, given the circumstances, that he was brought to justice in the way he was. The professionals on the ground made -- put themselves at great risk and accomplished their mission.

 

Q You just said that we are not done going after terrorists. The Pakistani government said in a statement that Sunday’s raid was an “unauthorized unilateral action.” So how does that statement -- how would that statement sort of affect any future special operations that might take place for another person believed to be involved with al Qaeda?

 

MR. CARNEY: We have a complicated but vital and important relationship with Pakistan. We don’t agree on everything, but their cooperation has been essential in the fight against al Qaeda. And we continue to work on that relationship and seek that cooperation and receive it. And we will continue to seek and find and bring to justice terrorists who are plotting to do harm to Americans and our allies.

Q So would you use the same method -- the same methods that were used on Sunday, even after --

 

MR. CARNEY: It’s a hypothetical, but certainly that method was very effective and was entirely lawful. And as I said before, I certainly wouldn’t want to preclude the use of that method by anything I might say from here.

 

Q Different subject, Jay? In his meeting with the Prince of Wales this afternoon, will the President express any interest in meeting Prince William and Kate Middleton on his visit to the U.K. later this month?

 

MR. CARNEY: I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. He might --

 

Q You said yesterday that he would congratulate the Prince.

 

MR. CARNEY: I’m sure he will congratulate Prince Charles, but beyond that, I just can’t predict.

 

Stephen.

 

Q So just following that question there -- are you saying that the U.S. reserves the right to, as the President said back in the campaign, if Pakistan will not act against terror suspects, to go and enter Pakistani territory and act against them?

 

MR. CARNEY: Yes. He made very clear during the campaign that that was his view. He was criticized for it. He maintained that that was his view, and by the actions he has taken as President, feels that it was the right approach and continues to feel that way.

Q Why is the President concerned about incitement from the photographs if, indeed, bin Laden was in fact the Charles Manson of the Muslim world? Do you paint him as not a Muslim? Do you describe him as an extremist?

 

MR. CARNEY: I said he wasn’t a Muslim leader.

 

Q And you say, yet, the showing of his dead body will incite --

 

MR. CARNEY: We have no need to publish those photographs to establish that Osama bin Laden was killed. And it is not, in the President’s view, necessary or prudent to do that because of the possible inflammatory nature of those photographs.

 

Q Why is it inflammatory, if he is not in fact a Muslim leader?

 

MR. CARNEY: There is a long history of images like that being used to rally opinion against people, to turn people in those photographs into heroes, and we’re not interested in doing that. And we’re also, as Americans, not interested, as the President said, in trotting around photographs as trophies. That’s not who we are, and so we won’t do it.

 

Q Some Muslims have told me they would like to see the photographs because --

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, that’s not who we are.

 

Q -- it would show the enemy dead.

 

MR. CARNEY: I think I’ve answered the question.

 

Q Jay --

 

MR. CARNEY: Yes.

 

Q Regarding a historical agreement between Hamas and Fatah today, and Egypt today, Prime Minister Netanyahu called this a blow -- a blow to peace and great victory for terrorism. What’s the President’s view on this statement? Do you agree with Netanyahu?

 

MR. CARNEY: We understand that Fatah and Hamas have reached a reconciliation agreement. What is important now is that Palestinians ensure implementation of that agreement, that its implementation advances the prospects of peace, rather than undermines those prospects. We’re continuing to seek details, more information about the nature of the agreement, and we’re consulting with the parties about these very issues. And I refer you to the Palestinians for details on the agreement because we’re still seeking them ourselves.

Q But many people think that without solving Palestine issue, terrorist activities will not disappear in that region. Do you agree?

 

MR. CARNEY: We certainly agree that it’s imperative for the parties involved to sit down and negotiate a lasting peace. And the President has made that clear and he continues to believe that’s necessary.

 

Q Just another different topic on electric company, Sony. Sony’s network was attacked by unauthorized outsiders, and they were -- more than 100 million people’s information has been taken to the outside. Congress has started to criticize them. There was a hearing today and some didn’t attend. What’s the view on the situation by the administration?

 

MR. CARNEY: I’m afraid I just -- I’m not aware of the details of that and I don’t have an administration view for you. But I’m happy to take that question if you get back to me.

 

Q Thanks, Jay.

 

MR. CARNEY: I’ll take one more, yes.

 

Q To follow up, on the Middle East, does the President think it’s a good time now to start an initiative on the peace process?

 

MR. CARNEY: The President has believed since he took office that it’s important to move forward with the peace process -- no time like the present.

 

Thank you.

 

END

3:11 P.M. EDT

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Daily Press Briefing

Washington, DC

May 4, 2011

U.S. State Department

 

QUESTION: What’d you make of the Pakistani statement last evening that criticized the unilateral action by the U.S.?

 

MR. TONER: Well, I’m aware of the statement. We’ve been quite clear why we took the actions we undertook to carry out the operation against bin Ladin. And subsequent to that operation, the first call the President made was to President Zardari. And we’ve been quite clear moving forward why we withheld information and why operational security, even within the U.S. Government, was paramount to the success of the operation.

 

QUESTION: Would the U.S. consider similar such operations in the future, despite the Pakistani Government’s clear displeasure with this style of procedure?

 

MR. TONER: Well, again, I think it’s important also to stress that we’ve had very successful counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan in years preceding this operation. The Secretary spoke to it, the President spoke to it, and it also highlighted the fact that that counterterrorism cooperation helped in substantial ways to lead us to the events of Sunday night. That said, we recognize that al-Qaida hasn’t abandoned its intent to attack the United States. This is an ongoing armed conflict, and we believe that the United States has authority under international law to use force to defend itself when necessary.

 

QUESTION: How do you then kind of assuage the Pakistani authorities about this? Because it’s something you’re saying is necessary, but at the same time you have a key partner that’s quite miffed. How do you deal with that?

 

MR. TONER: Well, again, Brad, I think it’s important that this was a very secret operation that was undertaken, that was a target of opportunity clearly, and operational security as an element to this mission was paramount. And so we – the President made the decision to carry out the operation. It was successful. We immediately notified the Pakistanis of the operation and its success, and we pledged our commitment to work with them on counterterrorism cooperation going forward.

 

I think we’ll continue to build that cooperation, we’ll continue to build these relationships. I think it’s important to recognize that for both the United States and Pakistan, this kind of cooperation is extremely beneficial. No one suffers more under the scourge of terrorism than Pakistan, where thousands have died as a result of terrorist attacks. So it’s important to recognize, looking in the broader context here, this kind of counterterrorism cooperation is important to – indeed, to the United States, but also to Pakistan.

 

QUESTION: Then I’ll just ask one more.

 

MR. TONER: Yeah. Sure.

 

QUESTION: Are you worried about the capacity from this event for cooperation to diminish, whether it’s from decreased aid from the U.S. Congress, the Pakistani Government in a nod to some sort of popular anger in Pakistan limiting its cooperation with you? Are you worried about that as a tangible consequence of this event?

 

MR. TONER: Look, I think we recognize that there were concerns raised and legitimate concerns by Congress about bin Ladin, where he was discovered. We’ve been quite clear in our conversation with Pakistan that we want counterterrorism cooperation to continue. And again, that was in the President’s remarks immediately following this operation on Sunday night, down to Marc Grossman in – who’s been in Pakistan for the last several days. He’s met with President Zardari, he’s met with Prime Minister Gillani as well as General Kayani and in each of those meetings he’s made clear that we want this cooperation to continue, that we believe that it is beneficial to both our countries.

 

Go ahead. Yeah. Sure.

 

QUESTION: The White House just announced that they will not release a death picture of Usama bin Ladin, and it’s been reported that the Secretary also was against releasing a photograph. What was her specific argument against releasing a photograph?

 

MR. TONER: Well, I’ve seen those reports and I would just say – I’d refer you to the White House regarding the decision not to release a photo. And just on the Secretary’s role, I would just say that she conveyed the State Department’s views. This was an interagency discussion, and as Brennan – John Brennan and others have said, there was a very deliberate process on – towards making this decision, and she conveyed the State Department’s views. But I don’t want to get into the substance of those views.

 

QUESTION: Did she think that was going to be a detriment, then, to future relations with Pakistan and other countries that may still be involved in looking for members of al-Qaida and terrorism?

 

MR. TONER: Well, again, I think my colleagues at the White House have spoken and addressed some of these concerns around the release of – a possible release of a photo. The Secretary was part of this discussion, conveyed the State Department’s views, and I’ll leave it there.

 

QUESTION: And a follow-up.

 

MR. TONER: Yeah. Go ahead.

 

QUESTION: With the photograph that was released the other day, with the Secretary obviously in the Situation Room, has she specifically announced what she was looking at, what she was feeling at the time? Has there been any discussion of her feelings at that point?

 

MR. TONER: Not that I’m aware of, no. I mean, I think everyone – it was in the room – or John Brennan also spoke to the tenseness of the – the tension in the room, and it was a very riveting, obviously, moment. But beyond that –

 

QUESTION: She has not really said what that moment was.

 

MR. TONER: Not that I’m aware of, no.

 

QUESTION: Okay.

 

QUESTION: Mark, with the people who are being held by the Pakistanis who were picked up at the compound, some children and some other people –

 

MR. TONER: Right, right, right.

 

QUESTION: Is the United States going to be given access to them, to talk with them, getting any information?

MR. TONER: Jill, it’s a fair question. I’d have to really refer you to law enforcement agencies to find out if we’ve requested access or to the Government of Pakistan for information about who the individuals are they might be holding. I’m not aware that we’re requested access to them.

 

QUESTION: Another question. You know, when the Secretary said that – early on, I think it was Monday – when she said that information that the U.S. got, or I should say the cooperation between the United States and Pakistan had led to information that led to Usama bin Ladin and the compound. As I remember back in March, the country stopped cooperating, or at least Pakistan decided to stop cooperating on routine issues because they were angry over the drones and about the CIA agent. So what – do you have any idea when this information might have happened as part of this cooperation?

 

MR. TONER: Look, again, I – Matt talked about this a little bit or asked about this yesterday, and I certainly can’t get into the substance of these kinds of intelligence discussions and intelligence sharing, but we’ve talked all the time about sort of building this mosaic over many years that led to confirming or getting a good idea that this is where bin Ladin was, and then, of course, carrying out the operation. I think certainly our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped build that mosaic, if you will.

 

QUESTION: But right now what’s the situation? Is it still in effect that there is no routine cooperation but you would cooperate on major issues?

 

MR. TONER: I’m actually not – I’m not sure what the status is in terms of routine cooperation. I believe that we continue to interact and to cooperate with Pakistan’s intelligence agencies.

 

Yeah. Go ahead.

 

QUESTION: Has the Secretary had any conversations today with anyone in Pakistan or any

 

MR. TONER: No. No calls to Pakistan.

 

QUESTION: No calls.

 

MR. TONER: And she’s of course on the airplane now, but no.

 

QUESTION: Right. She’s had no calls to anybody?

 

MR. TONER: She has talked to the Norwegian foreign minister as well as the Canadian foreign minister. That would be Foreign Minister Cannon and Foreign Minister Store. And I don’t have a read out of those so, sorry.

 

QUESTION: Okay.

 

MR. TONER: Yeah. Sure, David.

 

QUESTION: Mark, can you change the subject?

 

MR. TONER: Sure.

 

QUESTION: Can you – what’s your reaction now to the Palestinian reconciliation? And there are reports that in her call to Abbas, the Secretary didn’t raise any objection to a reconciliation.

 

MR. TONER: Well, to your first question, look, we understand that there are – they’ve signed, they’ve reached this reconciliation agreement. It’s important now that Palestinians ensure implementation of that agreement in a way that advances the prospects of peace rather than undermines them. And I think we’ll wait to see, as I said yesterday, what the details of this agreement actually mean. We don’t know what this means right now in practical terms.

 

QUESTION: Is it true that in her call with Abbas, she didn’t express any reservation about Hamas joining --

 

MR. TONER: Well, again, I don’t want to get into the substance of her private conversations, but we’ve been clear all along the principles to which we think any Hamas element in the government would have to adhere to. And that is recognition of the state of Israel, a commitment to nonviolence, and an acceptance of the previous agreements and obligations between the parties, including the Roadmap. We’ve been clear about those all along that if Hamas wants to play a meaningful role in the political process there, and indeed in the peace process and – they need to adhere to these principles, these core principles.

 

QUESTION: Now that the deal is done, any thought about continuing aid to the --

 

MR. TONER: Well, again, David, you’re right. I mean, this deal has been declared or agreed upon, but again, we will – we’ll wait and see what this looks like in real and practical terms. We still don’t know that. We still don’t know what, if any, changes there will be at the governmental level.

 

Yes, sir.

 

QUESTION: The Secretary said last month that the President is going to give a speech, a major speech --

 

MR. TONER: Right.

 

QUESTION: -- on the peace process within weeks, which is supposed to be last week, maybe. Did the President change his mind on --

 

MR. TONER: He’s been a little busy last weekend at least.

 

QUESTION: Did he postpone this?

 

MR. TONER: I’m not aware there’s been any postponement. I really would refer you to the White House for the details on that.

 

QUESTION: Okay.

 

MR. TONER: Yeah, sure.

 

QUESTION: On the peace deal, are – has anyone from the State Department been in touch with Palestinian officials? Are there plans for Mitchell to go to the region? And if Hamas doesn’t participate in the government, if it’s just a government of technocrats, will the U.S. push the peace process?

 

MR. TONER: Well, again, I think it’s important, as you said, to see what this indeed means in practical terms, and what Hamas’ role will be and whether they, again, would agree to these core principles before we make any judgments or decisions. In terms of Mitchell, I believe he is – I don’t believe he’s planning to travel to the region. He remains in contact with both parties in talking about the Middle East peace process and how to get it going.

QUESTION: Mark, on Afghanistan, maybe I was asleep at the wheel, but – (laughter) – the last time I was – I listened to what the Secretary was saying about what the Taliban had to do, there was the mantra of the three – accept the constitution, no violence --

 

MR. TONER: Right. This was the Asia Society speech when she talked about --

 

QUESTION: Yeah. But then in one thing I was reading, they mentioned that she had actually changed that to say that it doesn’t – it has to be a necessary outcome of negotiations. In other words, the three requirements were no longer the requirements; that you could have this interim thing which is a negotiation which would lead to those.

 

And I’m asking this because with all of the Usama bin Ladin stuff and leading into the – hoping that the Taliban will now come over, this could be an important point. So what’s the latest statement of policy? What do the Taliban have to do in order to be reconciled?

 

MR. TONER: Well, Jill, I don’t think there was any – I think she was quite clear in her speech at the Asia Society that talked about reconciliation, and that this be an Afghan-led process, and again, that this be – she was clear about what the Taliban, the – whatever you want to call them – the requirements, the redlines, were. And those were a renunciation of violence and ties to al-Qaida, and an adherence to the Afghan constitution, particularly in regards to women, women’s rights and minority rights. That hasn’t changed.

What I think we’re trying to support, though, and what I think she mentioned yesterday in her remarks Monday morning, are that there is an opportunity here, that Taliban should recognize that they can’t wait us out – and I think our actions on Sunday prove that point – and that they should seek reconciliation along those guidelines.

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Central Intelligence Agency

The Operation that Killed Bin Ladin

 

In the early morning hours of May 2nd, a U.S. military raid of an al-Qa’ida compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killed America’s most wanted terrorist, Usama Bin Ladin.

 

The mission’s success was the culmination of many years of complex, thorough, and highly-advanced intelligence operations and analysis led by the CIA with support from partners across the Intelligence Community. U.S. agencies had been collecting intelligence about the compound since it was discovered in August, 2010. Multiple streams of intelligence led to the assessment that Bin Ladin was hiding there, protected by two of his closest facilitators.

 

The strike on the compound, authorized by the President on April 29th, was a surgical raid by a small team of special operations forces. The raid was designed to minimize collateral damage and to pose as little risk as possible to non-combatants on the compound or to Pakistani civilians in the neighborhood.

 

 

The Compound

 

The compound where Bin Ladin was hiding is in Abbottabad, a town in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province (formerly the Northwest Frontier Province), about 35 miles north of Islamabad. The compound and its main residence had extensive security features: high walls topped with barbed wire, double entry gates, opaque windows, no apparent Internet or telephone connection, and the residents burned their trash. It was valued at $1 million, but the two al-Qa’ida facilitators who owned it had no apparent source of wealth. For an illustration of the compound, click here.

 

 

The Impact

 

The death of Usama Bin Ladin marks the single greatest victory in the U.S.-led campaign to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qa’ida. It is a major and essential step in bringing about the terrorist organization’s eventual dissolution.

 

Bin Ladin was al-Qa’ida’s founder and only amir, or commander, in its 22-year history. He was largely responsible for the organization’s mystique, its ability to raise money and attract new recruits, and its focus on the United States as a target for terrorist attacks. As the only al-Qa’ida leader whose authority was universally respected, he also maintained the group’s cohesion.

 

Although al-Qa’ida may not fragment immediately, the loss of Bin Ladin puts the deadly organization on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse.

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