Day 4: Breaking News on Osama bin Laden's Death
Intel gathered at Osama bin Laden's Pakistan compound has revealed an “al Qaeda wish list,” sources say, including potential terror attacks against U.S. trains on the anniversary of 9/11.
Plus, photos of Obama's visit to ground zero, and full coverage of bin Laden.
Bin Laden's 'Wish List'
A computer recovered from Osama bin Laden’s compound revealed al Qaeda was working on a plan to strike the U.S. rail systems on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, the FBI said Thursday. Officials stressed they had no indication that this had gone anywhere behind the planning stages. The captured intel is a revealing look into bin Laden's involvement in al Qaeda, disproving analysts who had suspected that he had taken a more inspirational role in recent years as opposed to a more operational one.
To be on the safe side, the FBI warned local authorities to watch train tracks for missing “clips or spokes” and “concrete blocks or tree limbs placed on tracks.” Intelligence officers are still mining the trove of computers, discs and hard drives found at the terrorist leader’s Pakistan compound in the raid that killed him. A source that talked to CBS News calls the revelations al Qaeda's terror "wish list."
Photos: Obama at Ground Zero
President Obama Lays Wreath at Ground Zero
Obama to Meet Bin Laden Raid Team
On Friday, President Obama will privately thank the team that carried out the raid against Osama bin Laden. Obama is set to visit Fort Campbell, Ky., home to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, which participated in the raid. He will address several military units that have recently returned from Afghanistan. An official said Obama will meet with “special operators” involved in the mission, but it was not clear if the SEAL team would be among them. On Wednesday the president met with Vice Adm. William McRaven, the commander of the bin Laden mission, at the White House.
Bin Laden Wife Didn’t Leave Compound
Amal Ahmed Abdul-Fattah, the wife of Osama bin Laden who was injured in the raid that killed him, reportedly told Pakistani interrogators that she hadn’t left the compound where he was shot for five years. She and eight of bin Laden’s children lived in the Abbottabad compound, she said. Meanwhile, U.S. officials said that they hadn’t done an autopsy on bin Laden’s body before burying him at sea. Although the Al Qaeda chief was said to require dialysis for kidney disorders, no dialysis machines were found at the house.
Obama's Pays Tribute in New York City
President Obama laid a wreath on Thursday at the site of the Twin Towers in New York to honor the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The trip to the city was his first following the death of Osama bin Laden as well as his first visit to ground zero since taking office. He also laid a wreath at the Survivor’s Tree, which was damaged during the attacks, but was ultimately saved from the surrounding rubble. Obama also stopped by a lower Manhattan police station, went to a fire station that lost 15 firefighters on 9/11, and met privately with victims’ families. at the firehouse, not mentioned bin Laden. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama’s visit was intended to mark the "cathartic moment for the American people."
Bush Wanted to Keep Low Profile
Former First Lady Laura Bush said that George W. Bush decided to not go to Ground Zero with President Obama on Thursday because he believes only acting presidents should participate in such official ceremonies. “That’s for President Obama to do at this point,” she told the Associated Press. Laura Bush also said that she and her husband were at out at dinner on Sunday night when they heard Obama was trying to reach him. Bush returned home to take the call informing him that Osama bin Laden had been killed.
Pakistan Warns Against Violations of Sovereignty
The U.S. might be able to get away with flying into Pakistan’s airspace and killing people, but Pakistan would like India to know it cannot follow in the American footsteps. "Any other country that would ever act on the assumption that it has the might and mimic unilateralism of any sorts will find ... that it has made a basic miscalculation,” Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said, in an apparent reference to Pakistan’s rival. "We feel that that sort of misadventure or miscalculation would result in a terrible catastrophe.” Bashir’s comments also seemed intended to reassure the public that the country was capable of defending itself. One of Pakistan’s main Islamic parties is calling for protests Friday against what it calls a breach of sovereignty. Bashir also defended Pakistan’s intelligence service against accusations that it had links to Osama bin Laden, saying it is a “false charge” and bin Laden was able to live for so long undetected because of “a global intelligence failure.” Western, Indian, and Afghan officials have long suspected the ISI of working with militants to wage a proxy war against India and maintain influence in Afghanistan once U.S. troops leave.
The Hero Dog Who Hunted Bin Laden
If this dog wasn’t man’s best friend before, he sure is now. The military says a pooch—most likely a German shepherd or Belgian Malinois, although there’s no official word—was part of the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden. But while this pup is especially famous, it’s just one of a ramped-up focus by the armed forces on dogs, which are more useful in detecting bombs and IEDs than any other tool and run twice as fast as people. “The capability they bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine,” Gen. David Petraeus said last year.
U.S. Suspects Pakistan Military Officers Aided bin Laden
U.S. and European intelligence services are becoming increasingly convinced that active or retired Pakistani military and intelligence officials helped bin Laden hide out at the complex where he was killed. "There's no doubt he was protected by some in the ISI," a European official told The Wall Street Journal. The New York Times, meanwhile, says the saga has shaken confidence in Pakistan’s military, the one organization that many people believed holds Pakistan together—and the one with its hands on the country’s nuclear trigger. Pakistan and the U.S. are now feuding over bin Laden’s wife, who was injured in the raid; Pakistan appears unwilling to let the U.S. interrogate her.
PLUS: The Daily Beast's David A. Graham asks: What if the U.S. cuts off aid to Pakistan? and Philip Shenon reports: Did the U.S. ignore Pakistan's warnings about bin Laden?
White House Goes Mum on Raid
After electing not to release photos of Osama bin Laden’s corpse, the White House will provide no new details on the raid that killed him—even as questions grow. The White House’s earliest record of the raid was filled with errors: He was not killed in a firefight; he did not use his wife as a human shield; and the compound where he lived was worth between $250,000 and $480,000 , not $1 million. There is also no live footage of the event: Cameras blacked out for 20 or so minutes during the raid.
PLUS: The Daily Beast's Josh Dzieza: The Birthers Become 'Deathers'
Obama’s Decision Not to Release Photos
President Obama’s controversial decision not to release the photos of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden was still being debated—as Reuters released shocking new photos of the raid. Reuters got hold of photos taken by a Pakistani security official reportedly only an hour after the U.S. stormed bin Laden's lair. They show a downed helicopter, shots of rooms strewn with blood, and most shockingly, the gory bodies of three unidentified men. Warning: The photos are very graphic. Reuters defended their use of the photos late Wednesday, saying in a statement “as this is a story of global importance, Reuters chose to share these photographs with its media clients and allow them to make the editorial decisions how they are used.” The White House has declined to comment on the Reuters photos.
PLUS: The Daily Beast's Harry Evans: Obama Was Right to Censor bin Laden Images
The Republican response to Obama’s decision has been mixed, from House Speaker John Boehner saying he supported the president’s decision to Sarah Palin tweeting “Show photo as warning to others seeking America’s destruction. No pussy-footing around, no politicking, no drama; it’s part of the mission.” In a rare moment of agreement with Palin, Jon Stewart said Americans can only make decisions about war “if we see what war actually is, and not as a videogame where bodies quickly disappear and leave behind a shiny gold coin."
Fake Photos Fool Senators
And then there were the fakes. Three U.S. senators retracted statements made earlier Wednesday that they had seen photographs of Osama bin Laden’s dead body, the latest victims of the fake corpse shots being passed around. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said “it’s not pretty” when initially describing the photos, but a spokesperson from his office retracted the statement later, saying Chambliss had not seen any official photographs. Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown’s office said he had been a victim of the fraudulent photos as well, and New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte said she did not know if the photos she had claimed to have seen were authentic. Both are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, while Chambliss is the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), however, stood by his claims of having seen the photos at the CIA on Monday.
More Details of the Raid
Even more details about the deadly raid came out late Wednesday. Administration officials said the only shots fired by those in the compound were during the beginning of the raid, when bin Laden’s trusted courier opened fire on the 20 or so Navy SEALs who had landed. After the Navy SEALs shot and killed the courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, and a woman in the guesthouse, there were no more shots fired at the Americans—despite earlier reports from the White House and CIA Director Leon Panetta. The White House said it is only learning many of the details now, and had earlier said there was a firefight because the shots came at the beginning of the raid and it was under the impression those shots lasted throughout. After killing al-Kuwaiti, the SEALs moved into the main house, where they came upon his brother and shot and killed him. They then encountered bin Laden’s son Khalid, who lunged toward the team and was subsequently shot and killed. When the commandos reached the top floor, they came up on bin Laden, who had an AK-47 and a Makarov pistol within reach. They shot and killed him and wounded a woman who was with him. Attorney General Eric Holder called the operation “entirely lawful” and said it was a “kill or capture mission” and bin Laden “made no attempt to surrender.”
A Pakistani official said Wednesday that bin Laden’s 12-year-old daughter witnessed the raid that killed her father. The girl was found by Pakistani security services and is being treated at a military hospital for injuries incurred during the raid. She is one of an estimated 12 people who survived the raid, all of whom are being held by Pakistani intelligence services. The survivors include eight children and two adults, one woman who is believed to be bin Laden’s 29-year-old wife, Amal Ahmed al-Sadah, and the other whose passport indicates she is a Yemeni doctor. Pakistani officials also said of the four bodies found at the site, only that of bin Laden and his son Hamza were buried at sea.
Who Led the SEAL team?
As for the SEAL team, it was headed up by Vice Adm. William McRaven, a journalist who later joined the Navy. “You wouldn’t expect a journalism major to end up running the Special Forces,” said former Deputy CIA Chief and ex-Navy Admiral Bobby Inman. McRaven joined the SEALs in 1977, but he didn’t abandon writing altogether: He wrote a book in 1996 called Spec Ops about the art of Special Operations based off eight case studies. The key to successful missions? He says simplicity, security, repetition, surprise, speed, and purpose.
PLUS: The Navy SEALs' Workout
Secret New Stealth Helicopters
Aviation experts said Wednesday that the helicopters shown in the photographs of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden have never before been seen. They have top-secret stealth modifiers that allowed the Navy SEALs to silently sneak up on the suburban compound where bin Laden had been living. In addition to the noise-reducing modifications, the helicopters had a different look than other military helicopters—sharper angles and flat surfaces more common to stealth jets. A senior Pentagon official said the Defense Department would “absolutely not” comment on the helicopters shown in the photos. The military has been working to improve the Black Hawk helicopter since at least 2004, but evidence of the program has never been seen in public.
South Park Tackles bin Laden
Jon Stewart has devoted most of his programming to bin Laden’s death, and another Comedy Central show, South Park, has managed to work in a reference. In Wednesday night’s episode, Obama tells the South Park crew “justice has been done” after Tyler Perry is killed—“the greatest threat to mankind.”