tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN May 3, 2011 1:00am-2:00am EDT
new york and just wanted to be here on this day and reflect. it's also interesting because this is a very active construction site. i'm in the base now of number four world trade center still being built. only 20 or so floors have been built so far. you're looking at what will be the memorial area of the site. there's a number of buildings still being constructed here. and that construction goes on all night long. even right now, there are construction workers here building this site. so it's an interesting place. it's a place of recovery as well as remembrance, i think, today. >> anderson, thank you. that's all for us tonight. here's anderson cooper with "ac 360." well, piers, thanks. and good evening, everyone. as i said, we are coming to you from ground zero, a special place on any night but on this night in particular a place of
remembrance and recovery. we continue to learn more with each passing minute about the mission that killed osama bin laden, the man responsible for the horror that was visited upon this sacred spot. u.s. officials are now telling cnn that in addition to killing bin laden the navy s.e.a.l. team on site also collected computer equipment and what they are calling a "load of sensitive details" that could be used to thwart al qaeda. also new tonight, newly released photos from inside the situation room at the white house showing the gravity of the situation. this is the photo released a short time ago. secretary of state hillary clinton with her hand over her face. president obama on the left as he and members of his national security team were getting real-time updates on the u.s. mission to kill or capture osama bin laden. and a close-up of the president in the situation room yesterday. a defining moment for his presidency and for the whole country. we're live for the next two hours here in lower manhattan at the place that became known simply as ground zero after bin laden's diabolical act.
now, tonight we learn that president obama will come here on thursday to meet with families who lost loved ones on that terrible day, september 11, 2001. for those families there can be no closure. i always hate that word. i think it's kind of a tv word. bin laden's death won't bring back their fathers or mothers or husbands or wives or kids. for those who survived the attacks and for the first responders whose lives were changed forever, bin laden's death won't restore their health or their peace of mind. but still, his death, long overdue. frank cantwell, an engineer working on the construction of the new tower here, told the "wall street journal" when the news broke, "you can sort of hear the silent cheers of 3,000 ghosts." that's because for almost ten years now the question has been asked, angrily and then with growing frustration over the years with waning hope, where is osama bin laden? why hasn't he been caught? now for the first time in almost a decade that question no longer hangs over ground zero, over all of this city, over washington or
shanksville, pennsylvania or the nation. we know where he is, that his dead body was wrapped in a white sheet and slid into the arabian sea from the deck of a u.s. aircraft carrier after a heart-stopping mission, looking for a nefarious and elusive target. geronimo, the code word if he was captured or killed. geronimo. that's the word u.s. navy s.e.a.l.s spoke to officials, and that word was received at the white house. after the killing and burial at sea with ritual and prayer, strictly adhering to islamic requirements, we're told according to white house officials. a burial at sea. so there will be no shrine for his followers to visit. it's been less than 24 hours since president obama first announced that bin laden was dead. the president spoke again tonight just a short time ago a a dinner for congressional leaders. listen. >> 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. >> incredible new details are emerging literally almost every hour today-v been emerging and even well into the night about the mission to kill bin laden involving countless u.s. intelligence operatives, the highest levels of the united states government, and in the end they say four helicopters and about two dozen u.s. navy s.e.a.l.s on the ground. now, for all the intelligence work that led u.s. forces to the place in pakistan, abbottabad, to the compound where bin laden was killed, no one in the u.s. intelligence actually saw him at that compound with their own eyes until the raid. imagine that. here's what u.s. counterterrorism chief john brennan said about that today.
>> 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 the information and then made what i believe was one of the most gutsiest calls of any president in recent memory. >> gutsy call, he said, one that worked. here's the new caption on bin laden's photo from the fbi's most wanted terrorists list. "deceased," it says. some are wondering if anyone is going to see any of the $25 million reward that was posted for bin laden. white house officials tell us it is possible there won't be any reward money given out because the key piece of information that set off the mission came from interrogating unidentified detainees. that's how it all started. here's a detailed look, what we know at this point, how it all ended. the room where the most wanted man in the room was finally taken down. obtained by abc news, this video shows the aftermath of a violent
scene. blood stains the bed and the floor. according to the official version of events, about 1:00 a.m. local time on monday in abbottabad, pakistan under the cover of darkness, about two dozen navy s.e.a.l.s in four helicopters descended upon a walled compound where officials believed osama bin laden was hiding. >> 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. >> reporter: officials said a firefight that lasted almost 40 minutes started immediately. the house was three stories. and the s.e.a.l. team fought their way through the first floor. they pushed on to the second and third floors, where osama bin laden and his family lived. bin laden was killed sometime during the last ten minutes of the operation, shot once in the head and once in the chest. administration officials say he was trying to use a woman in the room as a human shield. >> 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. >> reporter: officials say one of bin laden's wives confirmed to the s.e.a.l. team the body was that of osama bin laden. also killed in the assault, bin laden's adult son and two other men including bin laden's most trusted courier. administration officials say the seeds of sunday's operation were actually planted four years ago, when detainees at guantanamo bay gave up the courier's nickname. two years later intelligence officials learned the courier's full name, and in a cloak and dagger maneuver that seems straight out of a spy movie, the courier was finally found in pakistan, reportedly because of a phone call he made to someone else who was under u.s. surveillance. >> they had a sighting of him. so they set up an elaborate surveillance effort that led them in august of 2010 to that compound. and one of my sources said to me, "when we saw that compound, we said, wow. this is different."
>> reporter: different because it was a million-dollar home with no telephone or internet service. there were also two security gates and protective walls as high as 18 feet. residents inside burned their trash rather than put it out for pickup. and the third-floor terrorist had a seven-foot privacy well as if to hide a very tall person. but intelligence officials insist there was no guarantee bin laden was inside. >> all of these were clues to some of the intelligence officials that something wasn't right. they determined to the best of their ability that their assessment was this was built specifically to house and harbor a high-value target. and as they worked that information, they determined that yes, they believed it was osama bin laden, his youngest wife, and some of his children that were living there as well. >> reporter: by mid february administration officials felt they had their target. a series of national security council meetings were convened. sources telling cnn there was agreement a ground operation would be best because "the best option is the one that gives
proof." preparations by special forces operatives were then set into motion. >> because of the high-value nature of the target here, this was meticulously planned. they allegedly have built a mockup of the compound. they would have dirt dived and rehearsed this mission, going through the house time and time again until their moves were completely in sync and they were ready to execute. >> reporter: on friday before he left to tour tornado damage in alabama president obama gave the green light for the operation. the orders, capture or kill bin laden. around midday sunday the president and top officials gathered at the white house situation room and in real time monitored the events happening half a world away. >> 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. >> reporter: for families of the victims of 9/11 the wait has been long enough. after nearly ten years on the run the mastermind behind one of the most fiendish acts of
terrorism is finally dead. as we said, this story's literally changing by the hour. incredible work by all our reporters to try to stay in front of it today. reporters like cnn's senior political analyst gloria borger along with senior white house correspondent ed hen sxri senior national political analyst peter bergen. all join me from washington right now. ed henry, there's a lot of stories floating around about pictures that may exist of the burial at sea. also pictures or video of the actual operation. do we know if those exist, and do we know if the white house is considering releasing any of those? >> well, in terms of the video, i can tell you that a senior administration official told me tonight that they're not -- they have no plan to release a video of the burial. but they say there is at least one still photo, maybe multiple photos of bin laden after he was killed, and they are considering releasing that. one reason why they haven't yet, i'm told by one top official, is that they don't feel great pressure to prove that bin laden has been killed because there's no one who's come up with any
credible evidence to suggest that he's not dead. and so they don't feel heavy pressure to do it. another factor to keep it private is is that we're told the photo is very gruesome, it shows bin laden after he was shot. we've gotten new information tonight. yesterday we were told he was shot in the head. we're now told he was shot twice, first in the chest, then in the head. and so that's one factor in perhaps not releasing that photo. maybe not inflaming the muslim world, anderson. >> gloria, this all started actually several years ago when intelligence officers were interrogating high-value detainees. what have you learned? because you've really been getting a lot of information about how all of this began. >> you know, it's kind of like a novel. they're interrogating high-value detainees like khalid shaikh mohammed, for example. they're getting some information about possible couriers who may be helping osama bin laden. so they raise the name of one detainee. they only know his nickname. and they raise it with khalid
shaikh mohammed. and he he says immediately, according to my source, who's very familiar with the operation, he says, "no, no, no, he doesn't know anything." they said okay, what's his name? what's his real name? and khalid shaikh mohammed said, "i don't know his real name." they knew at that moment from other intelligence that this courier was indeed a protege of khalid shaikh mohammed. khalid shaikh mohammed was trying to protect him. and at that moment they knew that this was someone they needed to pursue because he was a lot higher level than even they had anticipated. otherwise, why would khalid shaikh mohammed try to protect him? and so they had to go and find out his real name, which took a couple more years. they had to track him down. they knew he was somewhere in pakistan. but they couldn't kind of trail him. so they had to have an elaborate surveillance system. they did that. they found him. and that led them to the compound.
>> peter, you've gotten some information -- for a guy that didn't have internet service or phone service in this compound, u.s. officials were surprised by what they determined a boatload of evidence that was recovered in the compound, including cd-roms, dvds, other electronic equipment, stuff they are going to what they call -- they're going to exploit. essentially looking for any clues about potential al qaeda attacks in the united states or europe. and then secondarily to exploit to see if there's any information that might lead to other high-value targets, so-called, such as the ayman al zawahiri, the number two of al qaeda. but the bottom line is a treasure trove of evidence that was picked up here. after all, bin laden was believed to have been in this compound for four or five years, and over time he collected a lost material, all of which would prove useful to
investigators. >> peter, i mean, you know pakistan well. does it make any sense to you that he could have been living there for four or five years and no one in the area, no pakistani, no one in the military who were stationed right nearby knew that he was there or something strange was going on in this facility? >> well, you know, u.s. officials who looked into this compound say it was pretty striking that the osama bin laden family who was in this compound never went to a movie, never went out for dinner, they had two sort of guys who would go out and get groceries for them. so it is not inconceivable that no one in the area knew that bin laden was in this compound. that said, of course, this compound is about 800 yards from a major pakistani military facility, and pakistan, a country you've been to multiple times, anderson, is a country where often the more you know about it the less you know about it.
and we will probably find out more about this issue as time goes on. i'm basically an agnostic on the issue of whether the pakistanis knew more about this than we presently have reason to believe. >> we're going to talk to a lot of people about that tonight including tom friedman from the "new york times." gloria borger, thank you, ed henry, peter bergen as well. let us know what you think. we're on facebook. you can also follow he me op twitter, @andersoncooper. we're going to go to abbottabad, pakistan, the city where bin laden was killed. we have a reporter there on the ground. this is a live picture of the compound itself where bin laden was killed. cnn's nick payton walsh is there. we'll talk to him next. and still ahead, confirming whether it was osama bin laden. it was done very quickly. dna testing is what did it. we'll talk to "360" m.d. sanjay gupta about how they were able to do it so fast. ♪
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firefighters, for government officials, for everyone, of course. today wolf blitzer talked with colin powell, who was secretary of state on 9/11. watch. >> how did you feel yesterday when you heard that bin laden was dead? >> absolutely delighted justice was finally done. and this killer was brought to his just rewards by being killed. >> how disappointing was it for you, for former president bush, that on your watch you didn't capture or kill bin laden? >> as disappointing as it was for president clinton that he wasn't able to. i wish we could have gotten this guy on 9/12, the day after 9/11. >> you were close in "tora bora. >> we were close but we missed the opportunity. >> why is that? >> i don't know. but there was evidence and intelligence that suggested he was in the area but it never got translated into sending forces in there to find him. but of course we were disappointed. and i'm sure that everybody was disappointed. but these things take time. it is not that simple.
to chase somebody around in that kind of terrain and find him with reliable information. but he was found. it took ten years, but he was found, and he was killed. >> well, let's take you to the location where osama bin laden was killed. joining us now from abbottabad, pakistan is cnn's nick peyton walsh. nick, you've just gotten there. can you describe what the compound is like and what the town, the area around it is like? my question really is about how much does this compound kind of stick out? >> reporter: well, to be honest, i mean, the compound is surrounded by large high walls, strong security. and i have to say that's not enormously out of keeping with the houses around me here in this quite quiet rural city at the moment. i mean, of course, yes, on the outskirts of town it may well have stood out, but in terms of how it looks with the buildings around it here, you can imagine how people may not necessarily have been struck by its
appearance. also burning trash, another sign people suggested that maybe this is abnormal. that's not too abnormal in this part of pakistan certainly. the compound itself in fact, just behind those trees, behind me at the moment. another thing to point out about this city is the large military presence here. on the way in we drove past what looked like two significant army barracks here. the question really being whether that actually worked to bin laden's advantage, being quite so close to the military, to almost put him beyond suspicion, anderson. >> and is there much activity on the street or the streets around the compound? i mean, would there have been -- are people walking around? are there a lot of eyes on the street that people would have watched a house, a compound like this being built and asked questions about it? >> reporter: i'm sure that would have raised some eyebrows, but a lot of the buildings around here are in a phase of construction to be honest. many of the buildings in pakistan tend to quite often not be finished in the way you would expect.
so it's hard to tell what attention this building would have brought. certainly the town this morning very quiet indeed, very few people out, not an enormous police presence frankly. and i think you can probably imagine quite what a shock the local residents would have got when they'd have seen four u.s. helicopters pop out in the sky just behind me about 36 hours ago, anderson. >> nick paton walsh, we'll continue to talk to you tomorrow to learn more about the area where bin laden was killed. joining us now is gary burnstead, a former cia leader, directly involved in the hunt for bin laden, author of the book "jawbreaker: the attack on bin laden and al qaeda, a personal account from the cia's key field commander." plus former cia officer and time.com's intelligence columnist robert baer. guys, thanks for being with us. gary, you were a key player in hunt to get bin laden back when he was in afghanistan in tora bora. how surprised were you to hear of the location where he actually was found? >> i wasn't that surprised. i always assumed he would be further away from the border closer to an urban area because
it would have made the political price higher for the united states to go after him. >> but so close to islam bad? so close to a pakistani military facility? >> look, i wouldn't have been surprised if he was in rawalpindi, which was a lot closer than that, because being closer to the border americans could have gone after him just claiming hot pursuit on a normal operation. >> there's a lot about this information we don't know and ov details we get at first turn out not to be true. you look at the pat tillman incident. you look at the jessica lynch story. what questions do you have about this operation that you would like to have answers to? >> what i would like to know is was it just an air assault or did they attack from the ground first? i'd be interested in those sort of things. look, they wouldn't have done an attack here unless they had good humant, sig ant, and over int. >> human intelligence, aerial intelligence -- >> talking about human intelligence, they must have had eyes on the ground, eyes on this compound for some time. >> delta force has tactical
rules that they have eyes on, an american watching the compound to make sure that bin laden wasn't moved out at the last minute. absolutely they did. they would have had people on the ground. they would have never gone in without them. >> bob, the u.s. is saying that the pakistanis were not told of this mission until it was after -- until it was over, after u.s. officials got out of the -- the special forces got out of pakistani airspace. you don't believe that. >> oh, not at all. this is the gut reaction i have with those -- you've got three regiments in that area, a military academy. it's a built-up area. and there's no way that the s.e.a.l.s could be absolutely sure that she's military forces wouldn't turn on them in a simple reaction. somehow they were told to stand down, for whatever reason, at whatever level. i've seen these things before, i've seen in beirut, where the
military insists of going in and overwhelming firepower. ac-130, gatling guns, backups. you know, after desert one in iran they didn't take any chances anymore. and i can see why the pakistanis wouldn't want to admit their complicit. why would they? what would they get out of it? it would just cause all sorts of internal problems. and it's a narrative that serves both washington and islamabad. and i think that's fine. i don't think we should know all the details. >> and often, as i said, again, with the pat tillman incident and with jessica lynch it's understandable why people would be suspicious about the initial story. do you believe the pakistanis would have known in advance? >> well, it's possible that certain elements of the government didn't know. i wouldn't have told the pakistanis at large because i wouldn't have trusted pakistan. they have violated our trust too many times. they've lied to us tomb too many times. is it possible that maybe someone in the military chain got those people to stand down without their president knowing? maybe. who knows?
and i agree. history will tell us later on. we'll find out more. but i would not have done this without pakistan's knowledge if i really believed he was there and it was that important. >> bob, what about the story peter bergen hearing in sources saying there was a trove of intelligence data? do you believe that? because some people would say if you want to make al qaeda worried you would spread the story that there was a trove of intelligence data. >> oh, this is classic, to put out disinformation at this point. and i think frankly the administration has been brilliant on this, from going in the way they did and keeping certain details out of the press. upgradable to 4g lte and access to the fast growing apps in android market. it's everything the tablet should be. starting at $599.
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during the break gary was telling me to what bob baer was saying about collecting intelligence information that he actually got a trove of intelligence information off computer data that osama bin laden had earlier back in afghanistan. so again, a lot of questions here, no doubt in the days, in the weeks ahead we'll be learning more and more details about this operation. after the man believed to be osama bin laden had been killed early this morning in pakistan another crucial phase of the mission began, confirming the body's identity. just hours later a senior administration official confirmed that a dna match had been made using bin laden family dna and comparing it to dna from the body. cnn chief medical correspondent and certified medical examiner dr. sanjay gupta is here to kind of explain how this was possible in so short a time. sanjay, when you see this on television shows or in legal cases, it always, you know, takes weeks and weeks. it seems like the government was able to confirm a dna match
incredibly quickly hp how so? >> well, it's interesting because when people think about dna sequencing that's typically what takes a very long time. but to do a match, to actually take, for example, in this case they say maybe a sibling's dna, that sibling's going to share about 50% of their dna with their brother or sister. so right away you have specific areas you can sort of zero in on and say look, are there similarities between these two samples of dna? between everybody, anderson, more than 99% of our dna is going to be the same. so the key for them in terms of the sort of genetic fingerprinting or genetic matching as they call it is to focus on the area that is different. and that could make a much shorter time than, for example, sequencing the entire dna. it's not going to be perfect. no one's going to say with 100% accuracy because it is still a little bit of an imperfect science. but that's a little bit of how they do it. >> well, officials have said they compared bin laden's dna to several bin laden family members.
do they need to run tests on all the samples simultaneously, or i assume they would have done that ahead of time and therefore just needed to compare the dna from bin laden to the samples they already had. >> that's exactly right. so essentially, if you have known samples from known siblings or known relatives of in this case the person, bin laden, you basically create reference samples. so you have all of those relatives or reference samples sort of lined up and then you bring in this new sample and you start to actually compare it to do this matching. and again, looking for areas that are sort of known as junk dna or areas that are different. and you're looking for repeats in the dna sequence. the more repeats you see that match up with one of the relatives, the more likely it is going to be an actual match. more relatives, that increases the likelihood even further. >> and very briefly, there are unconfirmed reports, and i emphasize unconfirmed, that one of those sam fils came from his sister, bin laden's sister, who died from cancer several years ago while getting treatment in boston and that the fbi had subpoenaed her body so that they
could get a dna sample. would they be able to check -- to match dna in the field or would they have to take the sample back to a ship or back to a base in afghanistan or elsewhere? >> that's a really good question. it's interesting because when you think about even the machines that do these more rapid tests, they are more sophisticated machines. they need to be free of contaminants, for example. if you contaminate a sample, that's a real problem. so i don't know whether they actually flew the sample back somehow to compare it with a sibling's dna or they had it at a base somewhere, they brought the machine in somehow in preparation for this, but i don't think it could be done right on site by any means. it would have to be some sort of clean sterile place where there's a laboratory sort of setting. >> they did have the body with them. so of course because they were only on the ground for i believe it was 38 minutes the whole time. operation perhaps they could have done the testing with the body as they were leaving. sanjay gupta, appreciate. the dna match the white house reported today is so far the only proof that's been offered publicly.
apparently there are photos of bin laden's body and his burial at sea. we talked to ed henry about that at the top of the program. dmo word they will be made public. a lot of people would like to see that kind of evidence. "new york times" columnist and author thomas friedman joins me now. your reaction on learning that bin laden had been killed. >> well, anderson, i'm glad that justice was done, especially as we sit here at the site of, you know, the world trade center. but we've killed bin laden. that was our job. now somebody's got to kill bin ladenism. okay? >> what does that mean, bin ladenism? >> this whole extremist ideology that the way the arab muslim world finds dignity and justice and governance is through the violent overthrow of these regimes. and what is the good news here is that the arab people, in a very heroic way, have already started that process. >> the uprisings -- >> the uprising in egypt. the uprising in tunisia. the uprising in yemen. the uprising in libya. are arab people saying no, no, we want to get justice, we want to get dignity, and we want to get self-rule through peaceful means.
so i think we're on the way to something that has potential. but anderson, this is the story. what happens on the ground. we killed the bad guys. okay? but now can the good guys actually take over and create governance in this space that will give arabs a different future? >> and is that something that we have a role in doing on the front line or is that something that can only be up to the israelis and the palestinians, to the people in libya or -- >> it's really for the people on the ground to do. there are things we can do at the margin. we can relieve egypt's debt, for instance. we can help build schools. there are things on the margin we can do. but ultimately it's about can the moderates, could the centrists in these governments come together, coalesce, form parties and win elections. i don't mind if the muslim brotherhood wins an election in egypt, on one condition, that they have to run against real progressive parties. that's what i'm looking for. in the middle east, anderson, i've always had a motto, the extremists go all the way and the moderates tend to just go
away. and the question is are the moderates going to hold their ground, fill this space? they've been heroic in bringing down these regimes but now they've got to fill this space with the progressive politics. >> for years, and i think you and i have talked about this once before, for years we have heard from these dictators in the arab world, look, it's either us or the flood, it's either us or al qaeda. we heard that from mubarak. even gadhafi has been spinning that line. pakistan still is saying that. i mean, they still are saying we're the only thing standing between, you know, al qaeda and you. >> well, this is the tragedy of pakistan today. incredibly talented people. energetic population. doctors, lawyers. we see many pakistani americans. we see the potential of this population. but right now pakistan is the united states of we're not india. they've got to decide what country are they going to be. they say we need to keep relations with the taliban, so we have strategic depth in afghanistan. there's no strategic depth in afghanistan. there's schools, universities, research. india doesn't want to take over pakistan.
that's a shimmer of the pakistani army to just maintaining their control over that society. and until that changes -- we look at our situation with pakistan. they're with us monday, wednesday, friday, they're against us tuesday, thursday, saturday. on sunday i'm not sure what they're doing. so for a billion dollars a yeah we pay them for monday, wednesday, friday. >> and we don't know where that billion dollars -- >> we don't know where it goes. monday or wednesday, were they with us on tuesday or thursday? >> you spent tons of time in pakistan. any foreigner walks down the street in pakistan and there are a million eyes on you watching you. authorities come up and talk to you. just shopkeepers will look at everything you're doing. do you find it conceivable that somebody, foreigners could have built a million-dollar compound in this town close to a military facility without anybody knowing who was living inside it? >> this town -- it wasn't just a town. it's where their west point is located. charles manson's living six blocks from west point in a mansion basically with two gates and barbed wire and no one says --
>> no one ever comes in or out. >> exactly. who's that guy. and they burn their own garbage. look, i've got a bridge in islamabad if you think somebody didn't know that. >> do you think this changes -- obviously the war against extremism continues. this doesn't end. al qaeda. there's al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. there is a whole industry, though, that has been built in the united states of fighting terror. does this begin a reassessment of that? >> i sure hope so, anderson. my view is this is a perfect time for us to have aanother 9/11 commission, a post-9/11 commission. let's look back at everything we've done over the last decade -- >> not to look back at 9/11 but everything that's been done since. >> ever since. basically, let's take stock. we are not the united states of fighting terrorism, either. our day is not september 11th. our day is the 4th of july. and it seems to me we've built this huge national security edifice now, that we need to aalso take stock of. what are we really doing in afghanistan? is it really worth $110 billion a year for the next ten years? especially that now we've gotten
bin laden. i really think we need to take this moment to step back and reassess everything that's happened since 9/11. >> that's a really interesting comment, we're not september 11th, we're the fourth of july. >> that's not us. i mean, we're not the people who are exporting fear. we're the people about hope, freedom, opportunity. and we need to get back to that. i think president obama has done a good job of getting us back to that in many ways, but this idea as i say that everything is about national security and homeland security and these huge bureaucracies that have been created. are they here forever? is this it? are we taking off our shoes and our belts and our clothes forever? at what point do we say we've got to accept a little more insecurity in our life so we can live like americans again. so i think it's really worth stepping back now and saying what have we built? i think it's the time to do that. >> do you think al qaeda continues? i mean, not just al qaedabut al qaeda in the arabian peninsula.
or does this end the -- does the uprising blossom's in the middle east change that? >> what matters now is particularly in egypt. egypt is the ball game. it's the heart and soul of the arab world. they've had a democracy movement there. they've overthrown the government. can the centrists now put together a party, a platform, and a program to really tilt egypt in a positive direction? if you can get that in egypt, it really will spread i think in other places. >> the last time you were on the program, i though, i remember you were saying like a lot of weird stuff is going to happen, but ultimately you're optimistic. >> well, basically, my feeling in general about the middle east, anderson is stability has left the building. stability has left the building. we've got two choices of two different kinds of instability. one looks like that. it has a positive slope. it's instability that takes to us a democratic transition to an indonesia, south africa,
democratic transition, and one looks like that that takes you to pakistan, somalia transition. it's going to be unstable. okay? but we want it to go like that. the potential is there. >> we bought into the promise of stability but it was a false stability. it was a stability built on nothing. >> it was the stability of -- >> of total repression. >> repression and stagnation. you were in cairo. i was in cairo. 40% of women in egypt are illiterate. that's stable. where's that going to take you? it was completely phony. it was going to blow up. you know, there's a concept in climate science. they used to say we have exactly enough time starting now when it comes to dealing with climate change. i feel that way about democracy in the arab world. it's going to be unstable but it's good to start now because they were on the road i think to a real human development disaster. and i think we have a chance now. but ultimately it's up to them. they've got to make it happen. we cannot do it for them. >> you've got a new book coming out in the fall. >> a new book coming in the fall it's called "that used to be
us." i'm writing with michael mandelbaum. how america lost its way in the world it invented and how it's finding its way back. >> tom friedman from the "new york times." still ahead, osama bin laden is dead. but what does that mean for the future of al qaeda? you just heard tom talking about it. is it a death blow to the terror group as well? also ahead the heroes of the day. the elite warriors who carried out the mission. the navy s.e.a.l.s. this elite team. what makes them so formidable? we'll look at that ahead. any other luxury brand.r tn ♪ intellichoice proclaims that lexus has the best overall value of any brand. ♪ and j.d. power and associates ranks lexus the highest in customer satisfaction. no wonder more people have chosen lexus over any other luxury brand 11 years in a row. see your lexus dealer. mom! mom! [ male announcer ] you know mom. we know diamonds.
are we ever, ever going to find bin laden? >> yeah, of course. absolutely. >> you're confident based on? >> because we've got a lot of people looking for him, a lot of assets out there. he can't run forever. >> if we have osama bin laden in our sights and the pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then i think that we have to act. and we will take them out. we will kill bin laden. we will crush al qaeda. that has to be our biggest national security priority. former president bush, when
he was president. today he congratulated the military forces on the success of carrying out the raid. there's no doubt the killing of bin laden brought relief to americans but al qaeda has many members so our question is what happens now and how big of a blow is this to the terror group? joining me now fareed zakaria, host of "fareed zakaria gps" and editor at "time" magazine. also former press secretary for president bush, ari fleischer. fareed, what was your immediate thought upon hearing that bin laden was dead? >> my immediate thought was my college roommate lost 4iz brother in the towers and my immediate thought that justice has been done, it was entirely appropriate. and i actually texted him right that minute, saying justice has indeed been done. it was a very moving moment for him. so on a personal level that was my reaction. my other reaction was i've heard a lot of people say this means -- this doesn't mean al qaeda is
dead, this doesn't mean it's finished, in fact it's very strong, it's vibrant. i think this is nonsense. i think that i understand why u.s. officials have to say this. you never want to overpromise. but this is a deadly blow to al qaeda. look, al qaeda is not an organization that has a huge army, that has vast resources and treasuries that it directs around the world. it was an idea. it was an idea personified by osama bin laden. he was this charismatic figure. to join al qaeda you pledged a personal oath to him. people went and died not for ayman al zawahiri or khalid shaikh mohammed but for osama bin laden. >> ari, do you believe what fareed is saying is true? because i mean there is still al qaeda in the arabian peninsula and ayman al zawahiri, who now could be the number two in the remember al qaeda. >> there's no question he was that charismatic figure that tremendously drew people to al qaeda and to muslim, islamic fanaticism, especially in the old days against the soviets.
but nobody but nobody was paying tribute to him over the last ten years, going to visit him and kissing his ring in person. and they weren't doing too badly over the last ten years. all you have to do is -- >> so you think the organization exists even without him? >> it went on without him of course because the ideology of hatred exists with him or without him and will continue to exist without him. so they carried on operations over the last ten years. blessedly, none within the united states. but around the world they did strike. in london, in madrid, and in other places. and bin laden was on the run or in hiding back then. so they still have an ability to strike. >> to your point, though, that it's an idea, isn't it then an idea that is bigger than any one person, that on the internet exists and groups come up in the united states or individuals pop up in the united states? >> look, of course, the idea still exists, but it was personified and symbolized by him. and in fact, most of those attacks that ari's talking about were not carried out by al qaeda central, they were carried out by affiliated groups and they were very much unlike what al qaeda wanted to do, which was to
attack big symbolic american targets. these were attacking local targets where you were killing locals, which frankly infuriated the locals -- >> that's actually -- >> -- so they lost support in all those countries. >> that's sort of become the specialty of al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, which is these smaller attacks, sometimes kind of spread over the internet. >> which you can't do much about. but to your point about the idea, also remember, this death is not happening in a vacuum. it's happening at a time when the arab awakening has crippled the idea of al qaeda. what was al qaeda? al qaeda was a group of saudis and egyptians who said the regimes of the middle east are repressive, we have to overthrow them using violence, using islam, that's the only way to get rid of these guys. the reason we attack america is because they support these regimes like hosni mubarak's. well, guess what's happened. in three months a bunch of non-islamic peaceful democratic revolutions have shaken the entire middle east. and al qaeda has no answer to what is a absolute crippling blow to its founding raison
d'etre. so bin laden -- this is like the one-two punch. the arab spring delegitimizes the basic idea, and then you lose the charismatic leader. i don't see how they recover from this. >> this is hopefully not a day of politics, and certainly let's hope for many more days it won't be days of politics. i think ultimately people will start to discuss who this benefits and stuff like that. i don't really want to do that at this point. but do you think the bush administration deserves a lot of the credit for what has happened? >> well, anderson, we're a great nation, and at a time like this people really do take pride in being americans and putting our country above politics. i think part of being a great nation is to be able to express thanks to all who were involved, beginning with the military and with the s.e.a.l.s, to president obama, and to president bush. this happened on president obama's watch. he deserves the credit for what happened on his watch. and fortunately, he was able to have a strong foundation of anti-terrorist efforts including the predator strikes in northern pakistan, indefinite detention, guantanamo, where we had
interrogation techniques that led to the couriers, the information developed by, to follow the courier. all that is what barack obama continued that george bush started. so this is a day for all of us to just be proud of what our country's accomplished. and that's the main i consider -- >> to be able to project power in this way in such a specific way and not have a lot of civilians killed is an incredibly tough thing. do you think it was a tough call for president obama? >> i don't think it was a tough call. i agree entirely with what ari said. the credit should be shared by the bush administration and the obama administration, and it goes well beyond the presidents. but the obama administration had made a strategic call that they were going to double down or triple down on counterterrorism efforts, special ops, the number of drone attacks ordered was many times more than -- >> exponential. >> -- under bush. and the drone attacks was just one part of it. a lot more special operations. a lot more intelligence. that's why petraeus is moving to the cia, because clearly they see the cia as the center of the battle against al qaeda.
so this is partly the fruits of a successful counterterrorism strategy. and i do hope, anderson, that we will look at it and realize that one of the most effective battles -- ways of fighting the war on terror is counterterrorism, is the special ops, is intelligence. we do not need to occupy vast swaths of afghanistan. we do not need to rule iraq. >> and we've said the jsoc, the joint special operations command, which sort of houses the special operations unit, really grew a lot over the last many years and that will continue. >> that's really how the war in afghanistan began. special forces working with the northern alliance in those small units. >> that was -- >> that was a new method of warfare. it's part of how we balanced this asymmetrical warfare. it's how we have our own asymmetrical form. but boy, are we potent. we are pretty powerful when we launch. >> and very cost effective. special ops, all this stuff is a few hundred million dollars compared with $1.3 trillion to occupy iraq and afghanistan. >> fareed, appreciate you coming down. ari fleischer as well.
up next we'll take a look at some of the remarkable special forces personnel that took part in this operation. the team that killed osama bin laden. what we now know about the navy s.e.a.l.s who got the job done. we'll be right back. losing weight clicked for me when i realized that weight watchers online was for guys, too. i'm like, it's not rainbows and lollipops. after i read this beer cheat sheet, i knew what the difference was between a light beer and a dark beer as far as points go. i use the grilling cheat sheet -- you drag it over onto the grill and it gives you a point value. this is a plan for men. i lost 109 pounds. "aww, man, you're on weight wat. that's funny." and i go, "reall? i look a lot better than you right now." [ men laugh ] [ male announcer ] hurry, join for free today. weight watchers online for men. finally, losing weight clicks.
as you know, osama bin laden was taken down by an elite u.s. military unit, a team of u.s. navy s.e.a.l.s. now, they are considered the best of the best. retired general and former joint chiefs chairman colin powell knows a lot about these special forces. he was also secretary of state on 9/11, was a major figure in the bush administration's attempts to get bin laden dead or alive. powell spoke with wolf blitzer this evening. >> the president turned out to have made the correct judgment, and he was supported by a great military team and an intelligence team. and of course those very, very brave navy s.e.a.l.s who went in. >> describe those navy s.e.a.l.s to us. because you know, we hear about them, we read about them.
this was a joint operation, not just navy s.e.a.l.s, but there were intelligence operatives. they'd been planning this for a long time. >> they were planning it for a long time. they'd been building mock-ups of what the compound looked like. this is what these folks do. this is what the cia does. the defense intelligence agencies work on it as well. and this is what you expect our joint special operations command, consisting of navy s.e.a.l.s, army commandsos, army special operations people, our delta force, lots of resources you can pull forward. but the s.e.a.l.s are at the top of the list of these kinds of units. >> when you were the secretary of state and you used to obviously go into the situation room in the west wing of the white house when you were chairman of the joint chiefs, at one point in your career you were the national security adviser, do they have the technology during that 40 minutes that the troops were on the ground, the helicopters were there, for folks including the president in the situation room to be watching or listening and hearing commands, knowing what's going on?
>> during my time we weren't quite that advanced. but what's happened in the last ten years with respect to technology, i'm sure it was quite possible. i don't know exactly what the president was able to see or what they were showing him. and john brennan didn't clarify that for us. but what i'm absolutely sure of is that they had minute-by-minute, second by-second control and knowledge of what was going on in that compound. >> and you can only imagine, general powell, during those 40 minutes that the troops were on the ground and there was this firefight and all of a sudden they're told in the situation room a helicopter is no longer operating, we've got a problem, how nervous everyone must have been. >> you really -- you really feel the tension at that point. >> that was former secretary of state colin powell. the helicopter that malfunctioned was destroyed by the special operations forces. they often do that. they don't want to leave any u.s. equipment behind. the team lived up to the navy s.e.a.l.s' credo to be a "special breed of warrior ready to answer our nation's call."
they are famously secretive. but tonight tom foreman is lifting the curtain somewhat. tom, what do we know about the team that killed bin laden at this point? >> reporter: i'll tell you the main thing we know, anderson. they don't want us to know much. particularly about this group. it's largely believed this was a group called s.e.a.l. team 6 which trains somewhere in afghanistan in that mock compound and then went into the actual compound to stage the raid. these are, evening among the highly trained and very excellent s.e.a.l.s, a group within that that are recruited to be the special, special team that's almost mythical in that it's very -- if you're not part of it or you don't work with them it's very hard to find out anything about them. but here's what we do know about them. they tend to be older than average troops, 20s to early 30s. they want people who are me mature, who've had a lot of training, who can think on their feet and a lot of experience. they're in top physical shape, as all of the s.e.a.l.s are. they're generally recruited for this special group for being gh