tv PBS News Hour PBS May 3, 2011 5:30pm-6:30pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: new details emerged today about the raid that killed osama bin laden. good evening. i'm jim lehrer. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. on the newshour tonight, jeffrey brown has the latest on the operation, and the reaction today in washington and elsewhere. >> lehrer: we have a newsmaker interview with c.i.a. director leon panetta, who was overseeing the mission from c.i.a. headquarters. >> ifill: margaret warner hears from special correspondent saima mohsin in pakistan. >> surprisingly pakistan's media have been very damning of both the government and military and somewhat pro united states which we rarely see in the press here.
>> lehrer: we talk to senators mark udall and saxby chambliss about the u.s. pakistan relationship. >> ifill: and judy woodruff explores the impact of bin laden's death on americans, nearly a decade after the 9/11 attacks. >> lehrer: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> oil companies have changed my make huge profits. >> last year, chevron made a lot of money. >> where does it go? >> every penny and more went into bringing energy to the world. >> the economy is tough right now, everywhere. >> we pumped $21 million into local economies, into small businesses, communities, equipment, materials. >> that money could make a big difference to a lot of people.
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>> lehrer: u.s. officials today filled in more of the picture on how osama bin laden met his end. new facts and images emerged, 48 hours after he died at the hands of u.s. commandos. jeffrey brown begins our coverage. >> brown: curious crowds gathered outside osama bin laden's compound in pakistan today to see where the terror leader had lived and died. there and elsewhere this day some of the curiosity focused on the hard evidence of his death. in washington white house spokesman jay carney said no decision had been made on whether to release photos of bin laden's burial or of the al qaeda leader's remains. >> it's fair to say.... >> brown: carney alluded indirectly to reports that bin laden was shot above the left eye and part of his skull was blown off. >> there are sensitivities here in terms of the
appropriateness of releasing photographs of osama bin laden and the aftermath of this fire fight. we're making an evaluation about the need to do that. because of the sensitivities involved. >> brown: in turn a spokesman for the afghan taliban insisted the u.s. had not released, quote, convincing evidence that bin laden really was dead. mean while there was nor information on the sunday night raid by navy seals. officials swept the heavily fortified compound hunting the target code name geronimo. they said that bin laden was not armed but did resist capture. there were photos of a charred wreckage of a u.s. black hawk helicopter that had landed hard in the bin laden compound after suffering mechanical failure. the seals destroyed it as they left the mansion with bin laden's body. in addition the commandos took away what this officials
described as a mother rohde of intelligence thought to include computer hard drives dvds and documents all being combed for clues of future al qaeda strikes. attorney general eric hold earl cautioned that al qaeda was still a threat to be countered. >>. >> although we can all be proud of sunday's successful operation and we can all be encouraged by the way that thousands of americans have joined together at this defining moment in our fight against terrorism, we cannot become complacent. the fight is far from over. >> brown: holder also said the operation authorized friday morning by president obama met all legal requirements. >> i think that the acts that we took were both lawful, legitimate and appropriate in every way. >> brown: reaction also continued around the world. from this man on a tehran street. >> i don't think that killing bin laden will have a serious positive effect in the region. they have enough men to
replace him. i can't believe they had just one guy. they will find other talents and use new people. >> brown: from iraq where a lawmaker expressed hopes that al qaeda's days were numbered. >> in the recent years we the iraqi people were the victim of this terrorist organization. the death of bin laden has certainly influenced the morale of this group and its members. we hope that this will be the beginning of the end of this terror organization. >> brown: outside central madrid which was bombed in 2004 travelers worried about what would come next. >> i think they are going to do something. they are not going to leave it like this. >> now there is more possibility of attacks. because there is a possibility, security does need to be tightened. there needs to be more vigilance sneef to the north in brussels an airport official said more was being done. >> we will certainly have national security additional measures. i don't think... it's very
difficult to be more safe. we'll look at the local level. >> brown: in the u.s., visible security measures were in place at many airport and train stations and other possible targets. and to our interview with c.i.a. director leon panetta. he was at the agency's headquarters in langley, virginia, when i spoke with him earlier today. director panetta, welcome. when did you become certain that osama bin laden was actually in that compound in pakistan? >> well, the problem was we were never really certain about whether or not bin laden was there. we had gathered an awful lot of intelligence. obviously when we found this compound because of the unique features of the compound and then began to really take a look at it and continue surveillance over that
compound, we were able to look at the... where the families were located, the fact that the families resembled the family of bin laden. we noticed an individual who was pacing in the courtyard who at least had some of the appearances of it. but we were never able to verify that in fact it was him. but when you put all these pieces together, the security precautions, the nature of the compound, some of the additional information that we had gotten, we had the best intelligence case that we ever had on bin laden since tora bora. i think it was that information that required that we had an obligation to act. that's why the president took his steps, the steps that he did. >> lehrer: were you able to discover whether or not he was there permanently living there for the last five or six years or did he move around and this was just one of the places he stayed? >> jim, we just did not know whether, in fact, he was there. i mean, we had all of this intelligence that indicated
that there was a good chance. the fact that there were couriers who lived there, who had a relationship with bin laden and all of these other details that seemed to... when they came together, they created a confidence level that there was a pretty good chance that he was there. but it was all circumstantial. we never had direct evidence that he, in fact, had ever been there or was located there. that's why in the end it became even a more courageous decision by the president to take this action because the reality was--and we red-teamed this and talked about other possibilitys-- but the reality was that they could have gone in there and not found bin laden at all. >> lehrer: you were not absolutely certain. was there any knowledge about where he might be within the compound? in other words, did you know he was in the bedroom on the third floor? did the team know that kind of detail? >> you know, the reality was that there were these two
brothers, one of whom had been the courier to bin laden. we knew where they lived. interestingly enough, one lived in the guest house, wasn't even living in the main house. one of the other brothers lived on the first floor. so we had determined that this family, this hidden family that was also there, was living on the second and third floor of the compound itself. by the way the third floor of the compound on the balconyy had a seven-foot wall on that balconyy which told us that had implemented in very... some very heavy security measures on that. but we could see clothes and we could see some of the members of the family on that third floor. so our assumption to those that were going in to conduct the assault was that we assumed that if bin laden was there, he was probably on the second or third floor of that compound. >> lehrer: where were you as
director of central intelligence during this operation? >> since this was a what's called a title-50 operation which is a covert operation and it comes directly from the president of the united states who made the decision to conduct this operation in a covert way, that direction goes to me and then i am, you know, the person who then commands the mission. but having said that, i have to tell you that the real commander was admiral mccraven because he was on site. he was actually in charge of the military operation that went in and got bin laden. >> lehrer: on site meaning he was.... >> just to answer your question, we had set up an operations post here at the c.i.a., and i was in direct communication with admiral mccraven who was located in afghanistan and we were in direct contact as the mission went forward. >> lehrer: did you have access to video of what was happening,
what was actually happening in the compound, et cetera? >> we had live-time intelligence information that we were dealing with during the operation itself. >> lehrer: did you actually see osama bin laden get shot? >> no. no, not at all. we had some observation of the approach there, but we did not have direct flow of information as to the actual conduct of the operation itself as they were going through the compound. >> lehrer: what about the... at the white house situation room where president obama was, did he have any... was he seeing anything, any actual time, real-time action going on as well? >> i think they were viewing some of the real-time aspects of this as well in terms of the intelligence that we were getting. >> lehrer: do you think... did the presidency the shots fired at osama bin laden? >> no. no, not at all. i think, you know, we saw from, you know, some of the
operations that we knew that the helicopters were on the ground, that the teams were going into the compound and that was the kind of information that we were following. once those teams went into the compound, i can tell you that there was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes where we, you know, we really didn't know just exactly what was going on. there were very tense moments as we were waiting for information but finally admiral mccraven came back and said that he had picked up the word geronimo which was the code word that represented that they got bin laden. >> lehrer: what did you find out then or since about whether or not osama bin laden said anything to the american seal commandos? >> to be frank, i don't think he had a lot of time to say anything. it was a fire fight.
going up that compound and by the time they got to the third floor and found bin laden, i think this was all split-second action on the part of the seals. >> lehrer: was osama bin laden armed? was he shooting back at the seals? >> i don't believe so. but obviously there were some fire fights that were going on as these guys were making their way up the staircase in that compound. when they got up there, there were some threatening moves that were made that clearly represented a clear threat to our guys. that's the reason they fired. >> lehrer: they had orders to fire? in other words, it was fine with the united states government if they went ahead and shot this guy, right? >> the authority here was to kill bin laden. obviously under the rules of engagement if he in fact had thrown up his hands and surrendered and didn't appear to be representing any kind of
threat then they were to capture them. they had full authority to kill him. >> lehrer: as far as you know there was no communication, verbal communication, between osama bin laden and the american seals? >> jim, not that i'm aware of. obviously we're still getting the feedback from the seals themselves as to just exactly, you know, what took plac during that mission. but as far as i know, there was no communication. >> lehrer: what was the size of the american commando team? how many people actually went on the ground in that compound? >> there were 25 people that went on the ground. they were carried in two blackhawk hawk helicopters that went in. the approach was that those helicopters would go in. the first one would go over a courtyard in the compound, that that group would repel down to the ground and move in to the compound, that the other helicopter would ultimately go over the roof of the compound and that a group
would then repel on to the roof of that compound. what happened was that as the first helicopter had those problems and had to set down on the ground, the other helicopter made the decision not to go over the roof but to set down so that both helicopters sat on the ground and both teams immediately went in to the compound itself. they to breach about three or four walls inrder to get in there. they were able to do that and they immediately then went into the compound itself and fought their way up to the third floor. >> lehrer: there was a lot of rehearsals. the seal team went through several rehearsals before doing this, right? >> you know, jim, i think that the thing that gave me a degree of confidence for all the risks and uncertainties that were involved in this mission, the thing that gave me greatest sense of confidence was the fact that these teams conduct these kinds of operations two and three times a night in
afghanistan. they've got tremendous experience with how to do this and do it well. so, you know, they moved in on the same basis moching against this compound that they do almost every night in afghanistan. i think that gave us all some sense of confidence that they knew exactly what they had to do and what problems they would face in the mission. >> lehrer: was there a temptation to not take that risk with troops and go ahead and just bomb the place with drones or something else? >> we looked at several options that were discussed by the president and by the national security team. one of those was, you know, b-2 bombing attack that would just blow the place up. the problem with that is that it involved some serious collateral damage. the president decided against that. we looked at possibly other
more precise ways to try to conduct this. frankly no one had a sense of confidence that that would work. the third was the assault. we knew what the risks were. once those teams go on the ground, what were they going to confront? what were they going to find? would they be, you know, could they be locked into that compound because of the pakistanis suddenly attacking that compound and putting them at a very difficult position? all of those risks were debated. all of them were, you know, thoroughly explored. in the end, i think that's why the president made a very gutsy decision by deciding that for all of those risks we had to do this. frankly my instructions to admiral mccraven were, "admiral, go in, get bin laden. if he's not there, get the hell out." >> lehrer: okay. mr. director, congratulations to you and your colleagues at the c.i.a. and elsewhere. thank you very much. >> thank you very much, jim.
>> lehrer: the commander panetta referred to is vice admiral william mccraven. he is in charge of the joint special operations command, known as jaysock. >> ifill: now, to pakistan, the south asian nation once again in the eye of a major political storm. margaret warner reports. for some in pakistan it was a day of anger. demonstrators in karachi, a hot bed of anti-sentiment turned out to protest the u.s. raid that killed bin laden. >> the drama which was staged yesterday in abbottabad has exposed the u.s., and the c.i.a. staged this event only to make obama more successful at the next elections. >> warner: but karachi's newspapereveled its criticism elsewhere saying the failure of pakistan to detect the presence of the world's most wanted man here is shocking. elsewhere in pakistan, the atmosphere was relatively calm. on camera and in print the
pakistani government was busy denying that its security and intelligence forces might have sheltered bin laden. writing in the "washington post" pakistani president said though sunday's raid was not a joint operation, a decade of cooperation and partnership between the united states and pakistan led up to the elimination of osama bin laden as a continuing threat to the civilized world. he dismissed suggestions in the u.s. that pakistan had been protecting bin laden as baseless speculation that may make exciting cable news but it doesn't reflect fact. pakistan's foreign secretary struck the same note. >> it is our determination that we would not allow ourselves to be used by anyone for terrorism. >> warner: the pakistan government issued a statement warning that unauthorized unilateral action cannot be taken as a rule or precedent. on capitol hill there were questions about what the
pakistanis knew and did and about the future of the roughly $1.3 billion in annual u.s. aid. senate intelligence committee chair democrat dianne feinstein. >> if they didn't know, why didn't they know? why didn't they pay more attention to it? was this just benign indifference or was it indifference with a motive? i don't know what the answer is. we need to find that out. >> warner: british prime minister david cameron agreed there were questions to asked but he cautioned into getting into what he called a massive row with the pakistanis. >> engage with pakistan and deal with the extremists rather than just throw up our hands in despair which would be a disastrous choice. >> warner: this afternoon special correspondent saima mohsin who is near the obama compound in abbottabad said neighbors told her the compound's residents kept
their distance. >> reporter: we couldn't get inside but we did walk around the compound to meet local people. they basically told us that they've seen this house being built from scratch around about 2005 yet the people who lived inside did keep their privacy and guard their privacy. as they understood it the only information they ever found out was these were pashtun people. they kept segregation and privacy of men and women. so because they kept that strict pashtun culture alive there, people didn't ask any more questions. >> warner: what else did you observe about the compound? >> taking a walk around it, it is much larger than any of the other houses in that area. it does slightly camouflage itself in the sense that it's not a grand structure. there is no signs of luxury for the world's most wanted man. but for all intents and purposes, as the people have
said there is a boundary wall that sticks out like a sore thumb. >> warner: what's been the media's reaction to the government's insistence that nobody knew bin laden was there. >> surprisingly pakistan's media have been very damning of both the government and the military and somewhat pro united states which we rarely see in the press here in pakistan. so the points were the clear embarrassment and the raising of questions of why didn't pakistan's government or intelligence agencies or indeed the military, which is surrounding this compound, whether it be the military academy or various military installations didn't know that osama bin laden was right here on pakistani soil and not hidden away in the mountains of... but right here in an average town of pakistan? so we've heard various points coming out about how pakistan has been a very trying partner for the united states and that we need to stop as in the
pakistani government and pakistan needs to stop taking... picking and choosing which terrorists are good or bad. we've heard this a lot of times over the last few years in terms of the fact that there is a sense that perhaps the pakistani military supports those more terrorist groups. we've heard these allegations in the past, yet the taliban are bad and the fact is that that distinction should not be made. that's what the press is calling for now. >> warner: throughout pakistan the u.s. embassy and consulates were temporarily closed today as a precautionary measure. >> ifill: at the capitol, the senate voted unanimously today to congratulate the troops and the intelligence community for the assault that killed bin laden. but there is far less agreement on what the episode means for the u.s. relationship with its uncertain ally pakistan. we get views on that now from members of the senate intelligence and armed services committees: saxby chambliss, republican from georgia, and mark udall, democrat from colorado.
welcome. senator chambliss i want to start with you. what questions if any do you have tonight for the pakistani government? >> i think certainly we need to know what they knew and when they knew it. gee whiz, you have the number one terrorist in the world living in your country for some period of time in an area that's surrounded by' pakistani military surrounded by the i.s.i., their intelligence service over there. and they didn't know he was there? it raises questions about, number one, were they sharing all the information they had with us? secondly, if they're going to sit around and deny this, as they've done this afternoon, then what kind of military do they have? is it one that we can really rely on as a partner? what kind of intelligence service do they have and can we really rely on the information that they give us? they're just an awful lot of questions surrounding this. i just want to say that i am so proud of the intelligence community and so proud of those men who risked their
lives to cary out this mission. wow! what a great job they did. >> ifill: senator udall, do you have the same misgivenings that your colleague does? >> i do. i want to add my full-throated support of the intelligence community and the men in the military as well. either the pakistani government is incompetent or in cahoots. we have to ask questions i believe in public settings as well as in classified settings. this may be an opportunity to reset our relationship with pakistan. we invest $3 billion in pakian every year. i think the vice chairman of the intelligence committee senator chambliss would agree that pakistan is too big to fail. 180 million muslims. there have to be consequences. this was a very, very serious situation. thank god we finally saw that justice was served in pakistan on bin laden. >> ifill: senator udall, i believe, you were just in a meeting with c.i.a. director panetta. you got a briefing along with some other senators. i know senator chambliss has
had his own briefing. did you feel like this administration is tackling those questions about pakistan? >> the administration is beginning to tackle those questions. i know on the senate side we will. we're going to hold some hearings and be briefed tomorrow. these are crucial questions. we went in to afghanistan to find bin laden, to bring him to justice. we have lot at stake in this part of the world f the pakistanis are going to play both sides of the street we need to be knowledgeable of that. again there have to be some consequences but perhaps we can use this as a moment to comclean. when i say us i mean the pakistanis come clean so we can finish the job in afghanistan. that's, after all, our goal is to hand off the afghanistan to the afghan people as soon as we possibly can. the opening may be that bin laden had ties to the taliban and mullah omar. he had a larger than life personality. maybe now that the exit ramp which is a political settlement in afghanistan is more in reach. >> ifill: senator chambliss we heard in margaret's piece the
president's defense which is that pakistan has more to lose at least as much to lose as the u.s. on the terror front. that in fact he is the widow of someone who is a victim of osama bin laden. there was no interest in pakistan in protecting him. what do you think of that defense he offer snd. >> we do know that al qaeda has declared war on pakistan. as a result of that he was right in the editorial in the "washington post" today that they did... terrorists did kill his wife. they have killed a number of civilians as well as military personnel over the years. but we've got... it's now the time for pakistan to get serious. if they want to truly be a democratic country and have the strong kind of military that protects their people within as well as from without, then they've got to stand up and show that they're willing to cooperate in the terrorist world by not cooperating with the network which we know they do.
by not cooperating with the pakistan taliban which we have suspicions that they do. what they could do immediately, if they're serious about having america as a good and strong partner, is deliver mullah omar to us. deliver us zawahiri to us, deliver some of the other top members of al qaeda that we know are hiding in the mountains on the pak-afghan border. it's an opportunity for them. >> ifill: given your concerns, do you think those are reasonable requests that can be delivered upon based on what history tells us about the relationship? >> well, certainly they haven't done it to this point. i mean, gosh, going back to the first question you asked about did they know he was there? if they didn't know that, we really do have questions about the competency of their military and the i.s.i., so i don't know where they can deliver on that or not. but i think it's a reasonable request. i think it's something we ought to ask them to do and see what they say.
>> ifill: senator udall, the one control that congress has over this situation is the purse strings. the aid that goes to pakistan. if you are convinced or persuaded that they have not been full partners, is this money that you can imagine pulling out? >> i think we should condition the money going forward. i would want to add, gwen, that the civilian government i think is well intentioned. i take president za cary's commence at their face value and with the deeply felt way in which he shares them with us. this is really about the pakistani military and the infamous i.s.i., their intelligence service. they have to work with us in a true alliance. we've had scratchy moments over these last months with them. this is probably the ultimate scratchy moment but if they're not going to come clean and work with us in ways that we both can be successful in this important alliance then that money ought to be more condition than it is today. >> ifill: senator chambliss on the money question. well, we have to remember that we went in to a relationship
with pakistan knowing it's a very corrupt government, knowing that it's somewhat of a wild west state, but yet they're very important partner in the war in afghanistan. you can't decouple pakistan from afghanistan. if pakistan were to fall, afghanistan would be shortly behind and vice versa. it's important that we continue a relationship but there's got to be more transparency betwe our intelligence services. there's got to be more transparency between our military operations in afghanistan and their military operations in pakistan. if they refuse that, then why should we send american tax payor dollars to them? it shouldn't be up to american soldiers to go in and take out bin laden in an area that's very close to the west point of pakistan. the pak should have done that. they should have known he was there. we just have an awful lot of
questions that have to be answered affirmatively otherwise i think there be serious questions about sending financial aid to pakistan. >> ifill: let's talk about the afghanistan point that senator chambliss just made. do you think the events of this week will change our mission, will change the direction, the trajectory of our mission in afghanistan? >> time will only tell but i do think the bin laden's death provides an opening for the taliban to think again about joining the government, about being involved in the political processes in afghanistan. i also, to build on senator chambliss's point hope that pakistan will see this as an opportunity to work with the taliban with whom they do have connections and do have influence to drive them to the negotiating table. but there's still a lot in the balance here. there's a lot to come forward. the other comment i would make is if pakistan at some point is going to have to come to some resolve and some conclusion with its relationship with india. this drives a lot of pakistan's behavior.
they're always looking over their shoulder. i should say more accurately they're looking forward always at india to their east rather than to the west which is where the true existential threat to pakistan exists so we can continue to urge and cajole and do everything we possibly can to get india and pakistan to reach some sort of a day taunt so that the pakistani behavior is driven more by the realities in front of them and the threat to their country from terrorists not from india. >> ifill: what about the afghanistan question, senator? do you think that this changes things? >> i don't think so. with respect to the tactical operation on the field, bin laden was not directing any of the activity from a military standpoint in afghanistan. mullah omar does more of that. than bin laden was ever involved in. that's why getting him would be important from an afghan situation. what it does show is that america never gives up. if you come after us and you harm america or americans, we're never going to give up
hunting you down. every terrorist in the world ought to understand that. we're going to come after them in a relentless way. we're going to make sure that ultimately we take them out. and bring them to justice i think from that standpoint, it ought to be a huge morale boost to our military and the afghan military and the afghan people that we're there and we're going to continue this fight. we're going to hunt down bad guys. we're going to prevail in this effort. >> ifill: senator saxby chambliss and senator mark udall, thank you both very much. >> lehrer: now how other americans are reacting to the news of bin laden's death nearly a decade after the 9/11 attacks. judy woodruff has that part of our story. >> woodruff: it led some to cheer in the streets; for others, it marked a moment of quiet closure. we explore what osama bin laden's death means to people in
this country with the reverend janet vincent, rector of saint columba's episcopal church in washington, d.c. nine years ago, she ministered to rescuers, workers, and families of those killed at the site of the world trade center. robert pinsky, who was poet laureate of the united states from 1997 to 2000. he has written about the events of september 11. and lauren french, a junior at the george washington university and editor-in-chief of the school's newpaper, "the hatchet." her home town is jupiter, florida. we ask you three because you do come from different experiences. robert pinsky i'm going to begin with you. what has osama bin laden meant to americans? what has he represented? >> interesting to think about representation. he was represented in what turned out to be his own propaganda films as being sort of in a rustic setting with rocks around him.
our cartoons put him in that cave. he turns out to have been true to his origins as an heir of a very, very very rich family. he was living in a compound in the city. how we will remember him has changed drastically. i was very moved by something i read in the local paper where somebody in boston who lost his brother said this is in a sense fulfilling. it's justice. and there's some gratification or satisfaction of the justice. but it's also renewing the wound. this man is always going to represent something painful, though fact that ten years later fate gave in to justice changes it. >> woodruff: lauren french, what about for you, for your
generation? you were what? you said 11 years old. many of your friends were close to that age. what has he meant to you? >> i think osama bin laden was kind of my generation especially the kids in college right now who are anywhere from 9 to 12 when 9/11 happened, it was our first introduction to what evil in a sense sort of was. he was our first person that you could really say was a national enemy for our generation. >> woodruff: and now that he's been killed, is there a sense of relief? is there... i mean, you know, among those you've talked to? >> well, when we were reporting on the story on monday morning, a lot of our students actually rushed down to the white house which is interesting because the last time the students at george washington went to the white house was after barack obama was elected. it was a celebration of sorts for those students who really felt connected to 9/11. that event fundamentally changed our childhood as well
as our future. i think it was a celebration of sorts for some of the students who did go. >> woodruff: how does that resonate, janet vincent, with some of the families you've been talking to. you've been on the phone the last couple of days with families you minister to in new york. what are they saying? >> well, the tone overall is one of quiet resignation, of... that this has finally happened. i don't think there's much exultation because their loved ones are still dead. there's a few exceptions. a couple of the former firefighters i've spoken to were still filled with rage. you could see the fist pump as i was speaking to them. mostly it's a resigned quiet resignation this has finally happened. >> woodruff: how did they... you can't capsulize everybody's feelings into one. but do they see him as the embodiment of evil? that was a word that lauren used. >> absolutely. absolutely. i have to say when i was there nine-and-a-half years i felt that he was the embodiment of evil as well.
you could feel it in that place. it was tangible. it was tangible as we brought the remains of loved ones out of that pile into the morgue. >> woodruff: robert pinsky, do you again. reading amerans' reactions right now, is it useful to have sort of a label for him and now that he's gone, is it harder to visualize the enemy? how do you see that? >> i'll tell you a legend that andrew marvel uses in his poem about the assassination of charles i, the victories in ireland of cromwell. he says when they began designing the temple of jupiter in the middle of rome they found a bloody head. and at first the architects ran away. and then soothsayers said, well, this means something good. the head is government. it's going to come out better. i think these things are
unpredictable. the revolution that actually has happened in the last year in the middle east is not the revolution we associated with this man at all. it is as hard to predict what lauren's generation is going to feel about him 20 years from now as it would have been to predict what happened in egypt and now is happening in yemen and even in syria. which means bin laden... he seems to have very little to do with that. >> woodruff: lauren, is there a sense of relief? maybe i should say a sense of safety that you feel your life may be easier now, may be less threatened as a result of his being gone? >> no, i don't think so. especially with the students that i go to school with. we're very politically involved. we're reading the news. a lot of our students want to become politicians. i think that they understand that he isn't... i mean he was
their leader, of course. but wiping out osama bin laden doesn't mean that there is no more terrorists in the united states. i doesn't mean all of a sudden we're safe and we're going to a pre-9/11 world. i think they understand this is a movement toward the sort of peace that america wants but i don't think college students in general believe that now it's over. >> woodruff: how do you read that, janet vincent? >> you know, i'm really interested in who we are as an american people. i'm interested in my own conflicted response to this. i have to say that i cannot say, as many of my colleagues have said in blogs that they were sad over the death of this human being. i'm not sad. i don't want to gloat either but i'm not sad. president obama called it a good day for america. i don't want to say it was a good day. a human being died but it was an important day. we brought to closure that one piece of unfinished business that we captured and wound up killing this person. having said that, my reaction,
my conflicted reaction even any continuing feelings of rage which i felt again yesterday against obama and al qaeda, i know that my reaction doesn't necessarily have to follow as my action. so how do we act as americans? how we respond continues to concern me a great deal. >> woodruff: on that point, robert pinsky, the president said he hoped among other things that this would bring americans closer together, that there would be some sense of unity for however long. what about that? is that realistic? >> i use the word justice. it meant something to me as an ordinary american to hear the attorney general say this was lawful. i had been thinking about that. i compare... the comparisons that occurred to me were the ku klux klan guys in the south who were brought to justice decades later after murdering civil rights workers. it doesn't make anybody cheer up exactly but it may draw
people closer together. joseph mengele who tortured children and took part in mass murders lived out a life as presumably bin laden intended to do. maybe there's a loss in that. i agree with rev. vincent that this isn't something to gloat about. i'm not one of the ones ready to chant usa. but i think the president has some justification in feeling optimistic that at least somewhat will bring us together. we know that 9/11 itself to a degree and temporarily because us together. and then politicians began to exploit it. that's nature of these things. >> woodruff: lauren, do you see a coming together on the part of young people in any sense who may have different political views because of this? >> i think we saw that monday morning at the white house. there were george bush signs.
there were president barack obama signs so i think on monday it was there. overall i don't think our students... maybe that's just because we're in the midst of finals right now, are going to have this unity coming together. i think it was monday sort of issue. i think it brought them or made them aware of a lot of issues in the country. and with national security but i don't think we'll see the same national unity we saw after 9/11. >> woodruff: some people have said your generation is a 9/11 generation. how comfortable are you with that? >> i think that is a good label for us. we definitely came of age in a post 9/11 generation. i know i was talking to students and friends and one of them remarked, well, yes or monday died the man who stole my childhood. i think that is a good label for us in a lot of ways. our future and our present was dramatically changed because of what happened op 9/11.
we grew up in two wars. we were growing up in a country which was at war which was different from the past. >> woodruff: janet vincent, finally, how much relief do you think the country can feel picking up on that? is this a moment of relief or is it time to get right back to business. >> a moment of small relief. i think we're a nation engaged in two wars and still unsure of how we approach a world that doesn't seem to like us very much. how do we put our best foot forward? how do we do the things that make for peace? those are the things that weigh on my mind today. >> woodruff: we thank you all three for sharing these thoughts with us. robert pinsky, janet vincent and lauren french, thank you. >> ifill: >> ifill: and to an afghan journalist's search for militants who say they fight still in the name of bin laden. in tonight's edition of "frontline," he risks his life to find them. this excerpt begins with his first encounter with thei leader, khan.
. >> how are you? fine and you. >> who are you? >> you are welcome. is he here? you'll find him. sit down. >> khan was the man who had agreed to let nagi come here he now gave his permission for him to begin filming. khan is the regional commander for the mujahadin in this area. he is an afghan of arab descent. his al qaeda connections go far back. >> he was in power. he was a commander. he was a soldier working with osama bin laden in one group and they were together. they were fighting against the russian in 1980s. >> khan's men and about 20 in this one group are a combination of local afghan
arabs and foreign-born fighters. this fighter in khan's group says he first came to afghanistan in 2001 as a time when bin laden was still if the country. >> muj mujahadin with here from other countries. muslim brothers are here from bosnia. chechnya, uzbekistan, arab countries and all other countries. >> today the question of al qaeda in afghanistan is being argued between the u.s. military which downplays their numbers and recent press reports of a growing presence in the country. nor this man, the combination of foreign fighters and khan's long connection to bin laden convinces him that khan's men see themselves as fighting for al qaeda. >> let them say that they are al qaeda but they say they're
following osama bin laden. we are his men. >> reporter: he told nagi his fighters control as much as 10,000 square kilometers in this part of north central afghanistan. a claim impossible to check. but every day he would join khan's fighters on patrols through their territory. there were scenes he wasn't allowed to film as they gathered intelligence, collected tax payments from local villagers, sometimes purchased weapons and apparently made preparations for resuming military operations this summer. but on one patrol when they entered this village, he was able to film what seemed to be an unusually large number of young boys. it turned out they were here to be schooled in the local madrassah, but their education
apparently went beyond the koran. >> one young child came with a machine gun from the madrassah from inside the mosq. >> reporter: when khan saw naji was filming this scene he took his video camera away. >> i had my still camera in my pact. and i managed to take some photographs of those children. they were teaching children to become.... >> ifill: watch all of the harrowing story tonight on front line on most pbs >> ifill: watch all of najibullah's harrowing story tonight on "frontline," on most pbs stations. >> lehrer: and now to the other news of the day, and to hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: the death of osama bin laden will not affect the beginning of a u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan. a white house spokesman said today the plan remains on track to start the pullout in july.
also today, a nato soldier was killed in eastern afghanistan. and afghan police said a nato air strike hit a group of security guards in ghazni province, killing one. nato said insurgents were the target. in syria, human rights activists reported more than a thousand people have been arrested in an escalating crackdown this week. they said thousands more are missing, in a wave of house-to- house raids. witnesses said security forces swept into the coastal city of banias today, to wrest control from demonstrators. u.s. military engineers blew up a missouri levee overnight, flooding one place to save another. the move came after federal courts refused to intervene. muddy water from the mississippi river flooded nearly 130,000 acres of farmland in south eastern missouri today. some homes remained islands while nearly 100 others were flooded. the deluge came last night after a flash of light and an explosion. the army corps of engineers destroyed a part of a levy
where the mississippi and ohio rivers meet. it was a desperation move to save cairo illinois just up river on the ohio. the town of 2800 homes had been threatened with catastrophic flooding. streets were virtually empty on saturday after the mayor ordered a mandatory evacuation. by monday water was seeping into streets far beyond the flood wall protecting cairo. but hours after the bird's point levy was breached water lels at cairo had already fallen by a foot. the state of missouri had fought the plan to blow up the levy in federal courts and lost. by last night local officials could only watch. >> if it works and it's for the good then like i said my people and the citizens will make due. we'll come ahead and they're good people. we'll get through this. >> farther down the mississippi, the onslaught of recent rain also threatened record flooding in tennessee and mississippi.
the republican presidential field for 2012 grew by one today to a total of six. former pennsylvania senator rick santorum announced he's established a presidential exploratory committee. santorum served two terms in the senate. he was defeated in his reelection bid in 2006. voters in canada have given conservative prime minister stephen harper a majority in parliament. his party won 167 out of 308 seats in monday's election. harper took office in 2006, but until now, he never had a governing majority. he celebrated the victory last night with supporters in calgary, and he appealed for unity. >> we can now begin to come together again, as we must, as canadians, as fellow citizens, friends and neighbors for our part we are intensely aware that we are and we must be the government of all canadians including those who did not vote for us. >> sreenivasan: the election also shook up the opposition. the leftist new democratic party supplanted the liberals as the country's number two party.
for the first time ever, the liberals finished third. israel made a last-ditch effort today to halt a palestinian unity deal between rival faions hamas and fah. prime minister benjamin netanyahu appealed to palestinian president mahmoud abbas to cancel the agreement. he warned it would deliver a "hard blow to the peace process." hamas has called for israel's destruction, but the militant group said today it would continue an unofficial truce with the jewish state. in economic news, u.s. auto sales rose last month. chrysler and general motors gained more than 20%. ford was up 13%. and on wall street, it was a relatively quiet day. the dow jones industrial average gained a fraction of a point to close at 12,807. the nasdaq fell 22 points to close at 2841. >> ifill: again, the major story of the day. u.s. officials today filled in more details on how u.s. commandos killed osama bin laden. but there was no decision on releasing photos of his remains. and the president of pakistan dismissed claims that government forces protected bin laden for years.
and back to hari sreenivasan, for what's on the newshour online. hari? >> sreenivasan: our coverage continues on the death of osama bin laden. our politics team explores the prospect of renewed bipartisanship in washington after the killing. patchwork nation looks at how one military town in kentucky reacted to the news. and art beat offers a reading list for the post-9/11 era. plus, our science unit has more on that engineered explosion on a levee in missouri. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. gwen? >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, we'll look at how the muslim world views 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:
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