In a push to gather intel on bin Laden’s final years, the U.S. has asked to interview his three widows—but Pakistan is refusing access. Plus, Hillary chopped out of the Situation Room, Obama talks tough on 60 Minutes, and more updates
Plus, Bruce Riedel on the terrifying truth about Pakistan: It's both at war and in bed with al Qaeda.
U.S. Was Ready to Fight Its Way Out of Pakistan
Given all the recent doubts about Pakistan’s allegiances, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise: the U.S. had readied itself for a fight with Pakistan following the bin Laden raid—so much so that President Obama insisted the assault force be large enough to fight a hostile local police if necessary. The White House revealed Monday that there were two teams of specialists on standby if something went wrong: one to bury bin Laden if killed and a second made up of lawyers, interrogators and translators in case he was captured alive. One senior administration official said Monday that the CIA and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command had instructions to “avoid any confrontations if at all possible,” but they were authorized “to return fire to get out.” In the end, only the team to dispose of the body was needed.
Pakistan Likely Leaked CIA Name in "Retaliation"
U.S. officials said Monday that Pakistani intelligence service leaked the name of the CIA station chief’s name, as the country reels from worldwide criticism about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. U.S. officials acknowledged they had no proof behind their accusation, except that similar incident occurred last year and the CIA was forced to pull their top agent out of Pakistan. The name, apparently misspelled, was aired by a private television station, ARY on Friday and published in the right-wing newspaper The Nation on Saturday. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani acknowledged Monday that there had been “intelligence failure” by not knowing that bin Laden had been hiding so close to the capital.
U.S. Kept Away From bin Laden Widows
In an attempt to gather more intel about Osama bin Laden’s final years, the U.S. government is seeking access to three of the late al Qaeda chief’s widows—but Pakistan won’t grant the request. The women are believed to be in the custody of the Pakistani army, which won’t comment on the Obama administration’s request. Some believe, though, that interviews with the women could shed light on how bin Laden had evaded capture over the years, and whether he could have been receiving support from members of the Pakistani government. A Pakistan official told The Washington Post that the government needed permission from the wives' home nations before granting access.
Pakistani PM: We Weren’t ‘In Cahoots’
In an address to his parliament Monday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani struck back against accusations that his government was "in cahoots" with Osama bin Laden. “Allegations of complicity and incompetence are absurd,” he said. That bin Laden was able to hide out for so long was not just Pakistan’s fault, Gilani insisted, but “an intelligence failure… of all the intelligence agencies in the world.” Gilani also alleged that the U.S. helped create al Qaeda during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and then worsened the situation with a "flawed" military operation.
Photos: Osama bin Laden’s Life
Clinton Airbrushed From Situation Room Photo
In a move that sparked outrage from all corners, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was deemed too "sexually suggestive" for Orthodox Hasidic newspaper Der Zeitung, which makes a point not to publish photos of any women on its front pages. So they PhotoShopped her out of the iconic Situation Room photo, in which she's surrounded by a bunch of all-powerful men watching the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound. Audrey Tomason, the counterterrorism analyst standing in the doorway and poking her head out to catch a glimpse of the raid, was also airbrushed out of the picture. Jewish Week's Rabbi Jason Miller pointed out that airbrushing women out of the picture violates the "Jewish legal principle of g'neivat da'at (deceit)."
Obama: ‘We Have to Investigate’
The U.S. is continuing to turn the screws on Pakistan in regard to an investigation into whether or not the country’s intelligence apparatus aided Osama bin Laden during his years in hiding. “We have to investigate, and more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate,” President Obama told 60 Minutes on Sunday night. “We think that there had to be some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan.” A senior official in Pakistan’s government tells ABC News that Pakistani intelligence agents, probably rogue or retired, definitely aided bin Laden.
Pakistani Media Outs CIA Chief: Report
Suspicions about Pakistan’s links to bin Laden have been further raised now that a Pakistani TV station and newspaper outed the CIA’s alleged Islamabad station chief. The name was first reported Friday by ARY, a private Pakistani TV channel. “If we did not mention the man's name, the credibility of the story would have been reduced," ARY's Islamabad bureau chief, Sabir Shakir, who also claimed he had “one-plus” sources corroborating the purported name, told The Wall Street Journal. The Nation, a right-wing Pakistani newspaper, then picked up the story. “It has to have been released by some government agency," said The Nation’s editor, Salim Bokhari. “Who else would know such information?” Meanwhile, a former senior U.S. intelligence official told the Journal that any outing of agents would be Pakistan’s “own little way of retaliating” for how “very upset and embarrassed” they were over the unauthorized raid on bin Laden’s compound.