tv PBS News Hour PBS May 2, 2011 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: the world digested the news of the killing of osama bin laden, shot dead by u.s. forces in pakistan. good evening. i'm jim lehrer. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. on the newshour tonight, we devote the entire program to the death of the al qaeda leader. ray suarez has the latest on today's developments, including reaction here and abroad. >> lehrer: special correspondent saima mohsin reports from the pakistani town where bin laden was hiding in an elaborate compound.
>> reporter: amongst their midst was osama bin laden and of course the irony that you can't walk 100 meters or so without seeing a military installation here. >> ifill: margaret warner walks us through the details of the planning and execution of yesterday's raid and intense gun battle. >> lehrer: we assess what the operation says about what could be next in the combat against terrorism. >> ifill: judy woodruff explores the reactions of americans across the country, from san francisco to washington, d.c. >> al qaeda needs to know that, yeah, you hit us at a bad point. but weary vent ally going to come after you. we're going to get you and we're going to stop this. >> lehrer: and we get some overview perspective from former secretary of state madeleine albright and former senator chuck hagel. that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> i want to know what the universe looks like and feels
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our country has kept its commitment to see that justice is done, the world is safer. it is a better place because of the death of osama bin laden. >> suarez: this morning president obama hailed the killing of bin laden as he bestowed medals of honor on soldiers from the korean war and praised heroism then and now. >> we are fortunate to have americans who dedicate their lives to protecting ours. they volunteer. they train. they endure separation from their families. we may not always know their stories. but they are there. every day. on the front lines of freedom. we are truly blessed. >> suarez: as the president spoke, more emerged on the raid that left bin laden's pakistan hideout in flames and the al qaeda leader dead. u.s. officials said navy seals
carried out the missionment they were part of what was once called seal team 6, counterterror unit. they helicoptered in from afghanistan to this walled compound at the end of a dirt road in abbottabad pakistan. an intense fire fight ensued and bin laden was shot through the head. the president and top officials monitored the operation in realtime from the white house yesterday afternoon. terrorism advisor john brennan described the scene today. >> 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. the president was very concerned about the security of our personnel, 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. when we finally were informed
that those individuals who were able to go in that compound and found an individual that they believed was bin laden, there was a tremendous sigh of relief. >> suarez: also killed one of his sons, two guards, and a woman reportedly used as a human shield. officials said bin laden's wife identified the body on scene. the troops then returned to afghanistan where d.n.a. testing confirmed the i.d. according to the official account, the body was ritually washed, wrapped in loose cloth according to muslim custom and buried at sea from the deck of the aircraft carrier u.s.s. carl vincent. an arabic native speaker transtranslated islamic prayers as part of a muslim funeral service. there was no firm decision today on whether photographic evidence of bin laden's death and burial would be released. brennan said u.s. forces would have taken him alive given the chance. c.i.a. director leon panetta had said the order was to kill
and not to capture. either way, brennan was direct about the damage done to the terror network. >> 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 bin laden is out of there. >> justice has been done. >> suarez: the initial announcement of the raid was a dramatic late night statement by the president after an elaborate intelligence operation a decade in the making. >> finally last week i determined that we had a enough intelligence to take action and authorized an operation to ghetto osama bin laden and bring him to justice. >> suarez: bin laden had long been thought to be hiding in pakistan in the wild tribal frontier lands that border afghanistan. instead he was living just north of the pakistani capital islamabad. his heavily guarded compound built in 2005 was near a
military academy, a large army garrison and a training facility. it all fueled new questions about whether pakistani intelligence and military elements had helped hide bin laden. with that in mind, u.s. officials said the pakistani government was not informed of the operation until it was over. pakistani prime minister in an interview today praised the action. as for pakistani cooperation, the prime minister said i don't know the details. i don't know minute details, but in short we have intelligence cooperation. back in washington senate armed services chairman carl levin was stark in his assessment of pakistan's role. >> i think that the pakistani army and intelligence have a lot of questions to answer given the location, the length of time and the apparent fact that this was actually... this facility was actually built
for bin laden. and its closeness to the central location of the pakistani army. >> suarez: secretary of state hillary clinton had sought toese that tension in an earlier statement. >> our partnership including our close cooperation with pakistan have helped put unprecedented pressure on al qaeda and its leadership. 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 laden had also declared war on pakistan. >> suarez: but clinton also spoke of the larger implications of the killing. >> history will record that bin laden'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 qaeda and its heinous ideology. >> suarez: bin laden's end came nearly ten years after he orchestrated the 9/11 attacks and after killing thousands more worldwide. al qaeda had previously launched several high-profile attacks on u.s. targets overseas. the 1998 east africa embassy bombings and the october 2000 attack on the u.s.s. cole in yemen. after september 11, there were more attacks in bali in 2002, in mad rid in 2004 and in london in 2005. british prime minister david cameron. >> osama bin laden was responsible for the death of thousands of innocent men, women and children right across the world.
people of every race and religion. >> suarez: in afghanistan where the u.s. and nato are still at war with al qaeda and the taliban, president hamid karzai welcomed the news. >> osama bin laden received his due punishment during an operation in abbottabad of pakistan. bin laden was the one whose hands were dipped in the blood of thousands and thousands of children, youth and elders of afghanistan. >> suarez: but from the pakistani taliban came a warning that bin laden's death would not go unavenged. a spokesman vowed there would be new attacks against pakistan and the u.s. >> ifill: now, to reaction in pakistan. for that, we go to newshour special correspondent saima mohsin in abbottabad, pakistan. jeffrey brown spoke with her a short time ago. >> brown: welcome. tell us a little bit more about the situation there at the compound right now and also a bit more about the town
itself. >> well, the compound has tonight been sealed and cordoned off. this is as close as we can get to it. it's about a thousand meters down this road. i don't know if you can see the police officers behind me who are patrolling up and down making sure that no media can get through. we are hoping to get closer to it tomorrow. but as it stands tonight it's been sealed off. we understand the body has been taken away. just to give you a sense of exactly where we are in the city, abbottabad is actually a holiday resort. a lot of people retire here. people have summer houses here. it's in a hilly area in pakistan in the north of pakistan. it's very picturesque. it's quite a sleepy town really. a lot of amazement. but amongst their midst was osama bin laden and, of course, the irony that you can't walk 100 meters or so without seeing a military installation here. >> suarez: you've had a chance to talk to people today.
tell us a little bit about it. were they surprised? what were they saying? >> complete shock. and amazement. i met one gentleman who lives only a few doors down from his house. he literally drove past it every day on the way to work and said he had absolutely no idea that osama bin laden could be his neighbor. he did say that the compound seemed strange. it was a very unusual structure, much larger than any other house along this neighborhood from what i've seen so far too. of course, the high walls we've been hearing about and footage we've seen is also unusual. however, as is often the case in back stan, he said to me, there are some very rich people who do own a lot of land and might have just sealed it off for privacy. we ask no more questions. we just assumed that it was someone who had moved into the neighborhood. complete shock and amazement that in a place like abbottabad and in a place with
such heavy military presence osama bin laden to have been living here. >> brown: here in the u.s., of course, there is a lot of discussion about how bin laden could have lived there without anyone knowing particularly any authorities. is that discussion taking place there in pakistan as well? >> yes, it most certainly is. these questions are being echoed right here. in abbottabad and of course right across pakistan. how could he have been in the midst of this city with people living right next door to him and not knowing that he was there or reporting that there was no strange activity? but more so the irony that this is a place where there are a lot of military installations. as i said you can't walk 100 paces without seeing a combined military hospital. there is, of course, just a few hundred meters away the famous pakistan military academy as well. it's patered with military installations. it almost like he was right
under the military's nose and no one knew about it. >> brown: what is the official reaction or response from the government and from the military at this point? what are they saying? >> again a little bit of shock here. there hasn't been any official word from the military. they have kept quiet on this. i understand there was a very high profile meeting this morning with the intelligence agencies, the police and members of the military to discuss this operation conducted directly by u.s. forces in the early hours of monday morning and sunday night. however, no official statements coming from the military. there has been a statement from the foreign office, however, emphasizing that this was an intelligence-led operation. perhaps allude to go the fact that the pakistani intelligence agencies did help the united states get to osama bin laden. however, making it very clear in this carefully worded statement that it was united states' forces that conducted
the operation in what has always been u.s.-led policy that they will go directly to ghetto osama bin laden dead or alive. >> brown: to that point, are you hearing any anger expressed or frustration or whatever word you pick, expressly about that, that it was a u.s. military operation in pakistan? >> well, at the news of his death is starting to sink in here in pakistan, as it is right across the world, the questions are now starting to be asked how is it that he was here in abbottabad. how is it that u.s. forces themselves came on to pakistani soil? you've heard that turn of phrase so many times. boots on the ground are unacceptable. pakistan's sovereignty should not be breached. of course, officials will always perhaps come out and say it's unacceptable but as we've seen with the drone attacks the pakistani people that perhaps officials turn a blind eye to this and local people are saying this to me
today that it couldn't be possible that they didn't know about it. however, this is the sentiment here. there is anger that the united states thought it could come right directly on to pakistani soil. >> brown: briefly, there was a warning from the pakistani taliban today that there would be some kind of response. is that being taken seriously there? >> it most definitely is. of course, pakistan has been a victim and suffered itself many terrorist attacks at the hands of al qaeda. the pakistani taliban and other extremist groups, inspired by osama bin laden. yes, there is a fear of a back lash. even more so now as splinter groups perhaps come out seeking revenge. in smaller pockets up and down the country. we have seen a reaction to that in terms of people saying that more police vigilance is needed and the public needs to be more aware of this. >> brown: thanks very much.
>> thank you. >> brown: back live now, and we turn next to how president obama and his top officials put together the plan that led to the killing of bin laden. margaret warner has been reporting that part of the story. she joins us from the white house. margaret, how did american military intelligence first track bin laden to this compound? >> as y know, jeff, ever since 9/11 there's been a whole intelligence operation designed to try to find osama bin laden but many times the trail went cold. about six years ago based on detainee interrogations they learned the pseudonym of osama bin laden's official courier, official messenger to other parts of the network. that was just another piece of information that they're collating with everything else. then maybe four years ago they actually learned the real name of this individual. and then a couple of years ago they finally learned where he was operating but it wasn't until last august that they actually tracked him to the compound that saima just described. once they zeroed in it and saw
18-foot high walls and barbed wire on top and the balconyees are all protected by privacy walls all the windows are owe... opaque. it was a $1 million house. no internet or phone service. they didn't take their trash out. they would burn it inside the compound which you can see from overhead. by september actually we're told that the c.i.a. was pretty certain but they thought a high likelihood that it was osama bin laden. >> brown: but then they had months of planning, of course. so i was going to ask you to tell us about that. the joint special operations command that oversaw that operation that most americans, most of us are not familiar with. explain how that worked out. >> warner: it's a sort of military half of this operation. that's basically it's the elite units from the army, navy, marines and air force.
they're all special forces. some people call them murder inc., assassination inc. their expertise is assassinations. this unit or this sort of joint command really hit full flower in iraq when they were taking out top sunni insurgent leaders. under the leadership of general stanley mcchrystal. when president obama took office he ordered that most of the big intelligence assets be moved to the afghan-pakistan theater out of iraq. and so, one, you had this great military i mean intelligence operation on the ground, much beefier than it had ever been before. once they decided in about march... i mean there was a lot of planning going on. could you do a special operation or something else? as planning began really in earnest one of the things they did, for instance, was to build an entire mock compound. we're told somewhere in afghanistan and practice p.m. times just going into that compound. they also, of course, planned for every eventuality, taken
dead or alive. what to do with the remains. how to do quick forensic analysis so they could dispose of the body within 24 hours. >> brown: before that final raid i gather there was a great debate about exactly how to try to take bin laden out. >> warner: absolutely, jeff. there were really two main options with a lot of sub options in between. one would be to do it by remote. by stand-off as they call it. whether it was bombers or drones or predators. the other was to send in men on the ground. there were risks associated. the latter was obviously much riskier. not only in the potential loss of american lives but also if there were a fiasco. if it were to be bungled it could well be revealed. they were of course thinking of the 1980 attempt to rescue the iranian hostages, the american hostages in iran. on the other hand hand, they knew that this kind of operation versus a bombing raid you have the certainty of knowing, you know, with real eyes and ears instead of the smart bombs, that you got your man, if you got your man.
and the president made the decision. >> brown: once made the decision then of course they had to watch. we heard john brennan the top counterterrorism advisor to the white house talk a little bit about the tensions. you've learned a little bit more about that. >> warner: well, yes, jeff. as he said, the minutes passed like days. every moment was tense but the tenseest moment came when one of the helicopters they had taken in there essentially stalled out. it got on the ground but it stalled out. they needed it to get out. we had a plan-b, he said, but that was still the worst moment. it was the first time they had to go off the perfect script. they did get another helicopter in.ultimately as they blew up the one that was stranded on the ground. the other tense moment was near thend of the operion. they b bame awar th the pakistanis were aware something was going on and were scrambling their f-16 fighter jets. interestingly, there were earlier stories today that the u.s. had called the pakistanis and said stand down. it's one of ours. they did not.
brennan said they did not notify the pakistanis until they flew out of the air space. he said fortunately we didn't have to engage with pakistani forces. there was no engagement. leaving open the question were they prepared to actually shoot down pakistani planes if necessary? we don't know yet. >> brown: and finally briefly, margaret, w also heard that there's no decision yet about whether to release photos, video or other evidence. where does that stand? >> i don't know exactly where it stands, jeff. but certainly again there's a debate about the advantages and disadvantages. brennan said, you know, you don't want to do anything that could encumber or threaten any future mission. it's hard to see how a photograph of a body wrapped in a shroud being prepared or even with bin laden's face, of course, sliding into the sea would compromise operational security. but maybe he means by not inflaming... by inflaming public sentiment. however, he made very clear
that we don't want to leave any doubt in any one's mind that this was osama bin laden. while they had d.n.a. analysis from the remains, in terms of evidence and proof to the world it's hard to see how they can do that without a photo. we're told there hasn't been a decision yet. >> brown: margaret warner from the white house, thanks a lot. >> warner: thanks, jeff. >> ifill: the assault that killed bin laden shed new light on u.s. military and intelligence operations, and also about what role the government of pakistan did or did not play in the outcome. the entire episode also raises another key question: how much has bin laden's death actually weakened al qaeda? author and journalist steve coll has written extensively on the unfolding terror battle, and is president of the new america foundation. and terrorism analyst farhana qazi specializes on afghanistan and pakistan for the booz allen consulting firm. she is also a senior fellow at the center for advanced studies on terrorism.
let's start by talking about this combination of military action and intelligence action. when you weigh the two things in this particular case how much of which was involved? >> first you need intelligence to collect about where your target is located. that was the hardest task in this case. it took years as margaret reported to even get to the point where they could survey a particular house and assess who was in it. once there was enough information to strike, then the use of the joint operations or the j-soc forces reflects the capacity that the united states has long possessed but has particularly built up in ten years of war, frankly in iraq and afghanistan these teams have been used again and again against other targets of lesser value than osama bin laden. >> but as much as we talk about intelligence in the end following a courier back to the place where he was detached from it wasn't very
high tech was it. >> this is because osama bin laden been very successful in evading american technological superiority. that was the vulnerability. even today i'm told if you're a taliban commander and you go into afghanistan carrying a cell phone your chances of surviving 60 days are pretty low. bin laden was hunted for years even before 9/11. he kept a very low signature. in fact the one vulnerability that surfaced again and again even at a common sense level was delivery of these media tapes to al jazeera and other media outlets. that was where you could pick up some kind of bred crumb trail but even there i understand it they had layers and layers passing from hand to hand. so as we understand from margaret's report and other sources it was only when they learned the particular name of a most trusted courier that they got the break that led to this house. >> ifill: yet we kept hearing i guess it was never correct that he was hiding in caves. he was inaccessible areas and
he was in plain sight as so many officials have seen. was that unusual or were we not just paying attention? >> we should look at terrorists in the cities of pakistan. if you look at the historical pattern of other high-value targets it's been inside the cities. we focus our energies so much on the mountains of tore a bore... tora bora because it seems so logical to us. so much you are our efforts focused on the tribal regions for so many reasons. the problems that have existed there, the drugs, that's where our energy has been spent. if you think of it, it makes more sense that to hide in pakistani cities. now there's a great fear that many of the terrorists, the number two man the one that will replace bin laden is moving to the south of pakistan. i've been on the phone with pakistani journalists all day.
even we focus so much energy on abbottabad and this is where he's been, it would be a mistake to think he's been in this resort town for a long time. he's been moving around. one of my sources said it was only three days ago that he came in abbottabad. he was in another peaceful area, another resort-like place. beautiful place in pakistan. i think we need to pay more attention to areas that were not on our radar. >> ifill: help me with this because one of the things that we have become conditioned in these ten years to believing is that he is the head of the snake as john brennan put it this way. how important operationally is or was bin laden anymore? when we couldn't catch him we said it wasn't that important. today we said he was. >> there's a lot about exactly what he did in operations in after 9/11. if you go back to the pre-9/11 period he's always functioned mores a a chairman of the board than as a chief operations officer. he was the organizer of a big
tent movement of violent operatives and sort of political leaders. you know, he functioned through networks as well as through the al qaeda core organization. what is al qaeda? yes, it's a specific organization of which he was a mirror that was founded in 198 and enjoyed his continuous leadership. from the beginning it was also a network of like-minded organizations, of franchises and affiliates. it was even more broadly aspiring to be a political movement that would incite individuals to act on their own even without ever having contact with al qaeda trainers. so it was always all of those things. it was a sin they siz... synthesis of those characters. >> ifill: is there a number two who rises up to number one? >> there was a number two. i would echo what steve said. this is a loose infrastructure. his death has been symbolic. i think that that symbolism now is... it no longer matters.
it's irrelevant. many pakistanis are quite indifferent to his death. if you were to poll, quite frankly they would say a muslim has passed. the response from the local street in pakistan has been rather muted. i think what we should really worry about is not al qaeda. al qaeda if you look at the foreigner fighter force in pakistan has been a few hundred people. we should worry about the local jihadis. if you think of what india and afghanistan are most concerned about it's local organizations like the mujahadin. there's a number of organizations that are these smaller franchises that pose a greater threat not only to the region but also potentially to america. >> ifill: that comes to the ext question which is, to what degree do we have cooperation from the government of pakistan to pursue any of these other groups if indeed we now have these questions about whether pakistan in essence sheltered bin laden? >> even before the circumstantial evidence about bin bin laden's hiding place
surfaced over the last couple of days there were frustrations in the american intelligence community about the willingness of pakistan's intelligence service to do everything that it could to suppress some of the groups that farhana was referring to. indeed they were in some cases in revolt against the pakistani state itself. part of the problem in this equation is that pakistan's capacity is limited. they are not in a position to clean out everyone of the franen design monsters they've built up for regional policy reasons over the last 15 years. the frustration is whether or not they're really doing what they can given their limited capacity. when you find evidence of not just bin laden but other significant militant leaders around the country living in effective safe house conditions sometimes called house arrest, but it's essentially a pattern of tolerance of violent leaders that at some stage for the
countries that are on the receiving end of that violence not just the united states but india, europe and other countries there's just a limit to how much patience those governments are willing to exercise. >> ifill: how worried should we be that any of these other monsters, as you describe them, have been built up will retaliate now? >> if you look at the on-line jihady forums there have been no messages one of congratulations because osama bin laden is now a martyr and condolences and through those condolences and the mourning period there have been a number of attacks. the pakistani taliban has issued very harsh warnings against the united states. the mujahadin forces are ready to strike the united states. they have been saying that for years. i think we should not dismiss these threats but also know that our law enforcement agencies and having intelligence communities our men and women in uniform and within the intelligence community are working fearlessly and tirelessly to
ensure that we are safe. i think the real question is how safe is pakistan. because steve is correct. there are great limitations. pakistani military officers i'm in touch with feel completely stretched. they're stretched on having a contingency force. they have forces on the western front to thwart attacks from afghanistan or the threat there. there's also the internal problem now stemming... pakistan cannot do this alone. if you speak to the pakistanis from their vantage point they really need the cooperation from the united states, from india, from afghanistan from a multitude of regional actors in order to ensure that the threat does not come to the united states. >> ifill: for that reason briefly, steve, pakistan the u.s. have to cooperate moving forward. >> secretary clinton signaled it in the report you aired. neither country can afford the state of open hostility at this stage. there's too much at stake in the war in afghanistan in terms of pakistan's own stability. >> ifill: steve coll of the new america foundation and farhana qazi, thank you both
very much. >> thank you. >> lehrer: next, there was euphoria, anger, even grief as americans reacted to the killing in pakistan. judy story. >> woodruff: celebrations broke out across the country last night as word got out that osama bin laden was dead. in the nation's capital a crowd of hundreds, mostly college age, waved american flags and chanted usa, usa outside the white house grounds. a similar scene played out at ground zero in new york where the world trade centers twin towers once stood. charles wolf, wife of 13 years, was among some 3,000 people who died there on 9/11. >> i'm very happy because there's one man, there's one piece of evil energy, tremendously evil energy that is off of this planet. it is out of this physical
realm. god will throw his soul into hell into the depths of hell. >> woodruff: maureen lost her only son christopher a 23-year-old firefighter. >> i'd like to think that all the people that were murdered out of hatred on september 11 are celebrating tonight. they're just celebrating that good outweighed evil and evil was given a very swift blow. >> woodruff: elsewhere fans in philadelphia erupted into cheers during last night's mets/phillies' baseball game as they read the news on cell phones. small celebrations also broke out on a number of college campuses across the country. and today people were still coming to terms with the fact of bin laden's death. from washington d.c. to san francisco. >> to the men and women across the united states and in our military, it is a joyous occasion. it is a significant event for all of us in this country.
>> a significant moment. i think it allows us to maybe turn the page a bit on afghanistan. perhaps accelerate our departure from afghanistan. >> it's about time. i hope it's going to change something. i don't think it will change anything. >> woodruff: others at the council on american-islamic relations appealed for calm. >> as people of faith, it is not right that we dance on the grave of even a mass murderer. it is also a date to say we have to move beyond the acts of revenge to reconciliation. >> woodruff: in congress senate majority leader harry reid joined in welcoming the news. >> his death is the most significant in our fight against al qaeda. it sends a strong message to terrorists around the world. >> woodruff: republicans led by house speaker john boehner made it a rare bipartisan response. >> for those who have fought and died in the war against terror and their loved ones,
we honor your sacrifice. to those who seek to destroy freedom by preying on innocent human life, we will not rest until we bring you to justice. >> woodruff: but senator joe lieberman, chairing the senate's homeland security and governmental affairs committee, also warned of possible retaliation. >> the fact that there may now be a heightened level of danger for a limited period of time as individuals or groups seek revenge for the murder of osama bin laden. >> woodruff: there were signs of stepped-up security from new york to san francisco. and the f.b.i. and homeland security officials issued a bulletin saying home-grown extremists in the uses could carry out new attacks. >> lehrer: the death of bin laden has seen by two former top u.s. officials. >> lehrer: now, the death of bin laden, as seen by two former top u.s. officials. madeleine albright was secretary
of state in the clinton administration, when al qaeda mounted one of its first attacks against the u.s. on the embassies in kenya and tanzania. chuck hagel, a vietnam war combat veteran, was a republican senator from nebraska and member of the senate foreign relations committee. he now co-chairs the president's intelligence advisory board. madam secretary, does the finding and killing of osama bin laden deserve all the attention it is now getting? >> absolutely. i think he has been somebody who has created havoc throughout the world and obviously killed not only americans but a lot of other people. i do think that it is very important that we understand all the aspects of this. it does merit the importance. but it also... we have to know that it's not a fact that all terrorism has been dealt with and that we will live happily ever after. i think this is a very big victoryor the american troops that undertook this and for president obama who made the very tough decision.
>> lehrer: why did it take ten years to find him, senator? >> this is a complicated business, jim. as madeleine knows and all who have ever been connected into intelligence operation-- and intelligence drives everything-- we are living at the most complicated inter-connected combustible time in world history. these people are very clever. they use the same tools we use and resources. i was interested in listening to your last report about the question, why would he go to a city? why would he be a few.... >> lehrer: the senator. >> ...in the middle of a military ings stlags. these are smart people. clever people. of course he moved around. he moved all the time. he trusted no one. it isn't a matter of us not trying to do it or applying all of our resources. we did. i would finish my answer this
way, too, jim. intelligence is a mosaic. it's many pieces. you finally get enough pieces in place, you start to develop a picture, a sense of what we're talking about. i think the intelligence community of america and the great progress it's made over the last ten years, spectacular progress, deserves great credit here because as we know from your reports and we'll know information that comes out here over the next few days this was something that really started six years ago in trying to isolate this guy and his movements. we wanted to make sure that we did it right. when you're talking about human lives not just ours but anybody's, this has got to be a pretty flawless operation and it was. >> lehrer: if we had a nickel for every time we on this program have asked everybody from presidents on down, what's the problem? why can't you find this guy? it's a relatively small area. we're the largest country in the world.
we have the most important intelligence and military service. were you as frustrated... you weren't secretary of state at the time. but you were right at the beginning you were. when the... after the first bombings occurred. i mean what was your level of frustration? >> terribly frustrated. i mean the problem was that when we were in office-- and senator hagel has spoken to this-- intelligence has really improved a great deal. but it was always kind of out of date in many ways they'd say, well, we saw a tall person walking around but it was like a month ago or something like that. that would be part of the problem. i always felt this is a little bit like, u know, those games in penny arcades where you have this hand and you think you're going to be able to pick up some toy and it ends up that you really don't have the control because there really was not that kind of sense that there was immediate intelligence that could be acted upon. you know, that was what we talked about was basically was
it intelligence that could be acted on? yes, very frustrated. but the truth is that the meticulousness of this operation and the time it took is obviously something that has worked out but i think that the people that worked on it need to be really respected for the very careful way that they went... i think you put it very well, chuck, in terms of the mosaic. it's one piece here. can you hear something and the signals and all that? i think we should respect the way that this has been done with such great care. >> lehrer: what about the final decision? secretary albright just said it, other people have praised the president to make the decision to finally call on the operation and say go. was that a difficult decision to make, do you think? >> i think any decision like this is a difficult decision because as madeleine kno so well from her days as secretary of state, every one of these decisions carries with it immense consequences
and ramifications and ripple effects especially if just one thing goes wrong. and then that has an effect on everything else. it affects confidence level. it affects optics, perceptions, our allies our own people. i think this was from what i know of how this went down and how it was orchestrated and when they essentially said let's go, they had worked this thing out pretty well. i think they deserve tremendous credit here because if they would have failed at this in some way or if he would have gotten out or if he hadn't been there or whatever could go wrong, you can imagine the kind of affect that that would have around the world on america's standing, about our leadership, our people. so always a risk. but i think they work this as flawlessly as they possibly could. >> lehrer: you think it was worth the risk. >> absolutely. because i think they, from
what we now know is they clearly made a lot of decisions, one after another very carefully. they had lots of... the national security team, i think, really worked together very well. a step at a time. they must have just held their breath beyond belief when that one helicopter failed because some of us remember what happened in 1980 when we tried to rescue the hostages. so there must have been, you know, heart in throat time. but i think they did a plan-b. what i really admire is the j- soc team that once even they knew that that helicopter had failed they still went ahead. for me that is a sign of what an amazing military we have in terms of their capability of making independent decisions and moving forward. i think the president chose very well, made the right decision in the j-socs, the seals deserve a lot of credit. >> lehrer: a lot of nitty-gritty we don't know
about. two big helicopters and each one full of people. they had 24 navy seals involved in this operation. one of the helicopters can't take off. how did they get all those people back on one helicopters along with osama bin laden and get it done? we'll find out, i guess. >> we will. i was a straight leg infantry guy in vietnam so these complicated issues like helicopters other than jumping out of them i never got back in them. i jumped out. i don't know. that's a good question. they obviously as your reports have noted and what madeleine just said too is that plan-b, plan-c, the back-ups. >> lehrer: they must have thought about this ahead of time. we have only one helicopter. >> just as madeleine noted. you have to think through these things. >> amazing dedication of these people. >> lehrer: now that he's dead. you mentioned in the beginning madam secretary, what difference is it likely to make on the big picture?
terrorism and our relationship with other countries? in any context you want to put it. >> i do think what it shows is that america is persistent and will get the job done. i think that's a very important schroj... psychological aspect, how we are viewed in the world, what we can accomplish. once the president had said or even earlier president bush had said it too is that this is really something that we were going to do. i think psychologically it is very important. i think there are lots of different reports about what role he played recently. clearly the discussions about kind of a franchise is out there ofdifferent groups. something that makes it clear that this is not all going away. but i think we need to make clear that this is a big deal. i think it really is a big deal in terms of america being able to get something done that we said would happen. and the persistence even though it took such a long time. >> lehrer: what difference do
you think it's going to make. >> i agree with everything madeleine said. i would just add that optics matter. image matters. leadership matters. how we are seen in the world matters. and also i think it tells us one more thing. in this complicated world that we live in alliances have always been important. but seamless network alliances, seamless gathering and sharing of intelligence now becomes the order of the day. even a great power like the united states has limitations. the entire arc from north africa through the middle east down through central south asia is somewhat of, i think, a 21st century example of great power limitations. we can't move without allies, without that internal working with other countries and peoples as we anchor to common interests. we have differences with pakistan. we're going to continue. but just as the secretary of
state, the current secretary of state said in your set-up piece, we each, pakistan and the united states depend on each other too much. we can't just let this relationship drift apart. too much is at stake for both countries and the region and the world. >> lehrer: doesn't pakistan have some answers to provide? >> well, i think they do but i think the bottom line here is we are linked with pakistan. it is a very complicated place. it has a military intelligence that is complicated in itself. it has issues with their own extremists. they have corruption, a generally weak government. they're in a very tough location. so there is an awful lot-- and they have nuclear weapons. so the bottom line is, it is a very important country to us. it is up to this great national security team on both sides is to try to figure out how to work through the complications. it may be the most complicated diplomatic relationship we have. it's going to take a lot of
work, but i think president obama did congratulate or thanked president zardari. i thought that was a very important move. he made clear that this had to be done, that we needed to cooperate with pakistan as secretary clinton said. so it's going to take work. it's necessary to work on it. >> lehrer: finally, what's your level of concern that this could trigger retaliation against u.s. targets as well as pakistani and other targets? >> well, that's always a risk. but that's a risk that you just have to deal with. whether we would have found him, eliminated him or not, we were still under the same essential threats. i think that's just part of the world that we live in. hopefully at some point we will start working our way through that. but we're in for a tough time here for the next few years i believe the world is. we're up to the task. but american is... america is really the leader here. the rest of the world has to understand that, respect that
and work with us. we don't need to dictate. we don't need to impose or interfere but we can lead. the rest of the world counts on that. we need that. >> lehrer: do you agree with that? >> absolutely. i think american leadership is essential but as i used to say we are the indispensable nation but there's nothing about indispensable that says alone. i completely agree with senator hagel about the necessity of working with others which is why the relationship with pakistan is important and with our allies and we haven't talked about the war in afghanistan. this is a big deal as far as that's concerned. and helps in terms of president obama's plans on that. >> lehrer: madam secretary, senator hagel, thank you both. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> ifill: >> ifill: now we turn to the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: the taliban has launched its promised new spring offensive in afghanistan. the first attack, on sunday, used a 12-year-old boy as a suicide bomber.
he blew himself up at a bazaar in a district of paktika province, southeast of kabul. and in ghazni, a gunman opened fire on a checkpoint, killing two policemen. funeral mourners in libya cried out for revenge today over the death of moammar qaddafi's second youngest son. seif al-arab qaddafi's funeral was held in tripoli. libyan officials said he was killed in a nato air strike on saturday, but nato officials have denied targeting gadhafi or his family. in response, mobs on sunday attacked western embassies and other diplomatic sites that were evacuated weeks ago. they included the british, italian, and u.s. embassies. in syria, security forces rounded up hundreds of antigovernment activists, intensifying a crackdown on the six-week-old revolt. the arrests happened all over syria. witnesses said security officials went house to house in search of men under the age of 40. on sunday, one of the key cities in the uprising, daraa, came under heavy shelling by government tanks. they were led by president bashar assad's brother. disaster relief efforts geared up today for tornado victims across the american south. in all, 342 people were killed,
and thousands more injured in last week's storms. in alabama today, the federal emergency management agency set up offices to help people apply for aid. and shelters began providing free eye clinics, as volunteers worked to get prescription drugs to those who need them. more rain fell on southeast missouri today, as officials considered blasting a levee to save an illinois town. the federal courts have refused to block an army corps of engineers plan. it calls for blowing open a levee at birds point, missouri. the goal is to relieve possible flooding at cairo, illinois, farther up the ohio river. missouri officials warned it would inundate more than 100,000 acres of farmland. in economic news, chrysler reported it made $116 million in the first quarter of the year, its first profit since 2006. but on wall street, that news, and the killing of osama bin laden, had little effect in the end. the dow jones industrial average lost 3 points to close at 12,807. the nasdaq fell nine points to
close at 2864. >> lehrer: again, the major story of the day. americans and the world marked the death of osama bin laden. a u.s. special operations raid killed the al qaeda leader early today in pakistan. president obama said it was a good day for america. u.s. officials reported it was more than 99% certain the al qaeda leader was dead based on d.n.a. and other evidence and governments around the world welcomed the news, but the pakistani taliban warned of vengeance attacks to come. and back to hari sreenivasan, for what's on the newshour online. hari? >> sreenivasan: we have much more about the death of osama bin laden. take a look inside the compound in abbottabad. see a floor plan, satellite images, and photographs. gwen, judy, and political editor david chalian discuss what bin laden's death means for president obama on this week's political checklist. and we've collected photos showing how people around the world reacted to hearing the news of the killing of the al qaeda leader. find all our coverage on a special bin laden topic page.
plus, our science unit asks engineers to explain the technical reasons for the delay of the launch of the space shuttle "endeavour." all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. gwen? >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, we'll take a closer look at the ripple effects caused by the death of osama bin laden. i'm gwen ifill. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. thank you, and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> i mean, where would we be without small businesses? >> we need small businesses. >> they're the ones that help drive growth. >> like electricians, mechanics, carpenters. >> they strengthen our communities. >> every year, chevron spends billions with small businesses. that goes right to the heart of local communities, providing jobs, keeping people at work. they depend on us. >> the economy depends on them. >> and we depend on them.
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