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tv   The Last Word  MSNBC  May 2, 2011 8:00pm-9:00pm EDT

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thanks for being with us. "last word with lawrence o'donnell" starts right now. . president bush had 2,686 days to catch osama bin laden. president obama got that job done in 831 days. >> what i believe was one of the most gutsiest calls of any president in recent memory. >> it was a gutsy decision by the president. >> it is a better place because of the death of osama bin laden. >> president obama makes the call and the mission is a success. >> we can report the president will announce that osama bin laden is in fact, dead. >> we continue to learn new details about how it all unfolded. >> good evening, from washington, i'm david gregory. >> justice has been done. >> a cia operation -- can i say overseas? can i say it has something to do with something overseas?
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yes. >> today, at my direction, the small team of americans carried out the operation -- >> when that helicopter was seen to be unable to move, all of a sudden you had to go into plan b. and they did it flawlessly. >> this purportedly the bloody scene. >> i'm fascinated by the fact that there was a neighbor next to this compound tweeting -- live tweeting during the raid. go away, helicopter before i take out my giant swatter. >> d.n.a. analysis confirms with 100% certainty that in fact it was osama bin laden killed. >> by how did osama bin laden hide in plain sight for so long? >> this was not a cave. >> no. >> the united states has been pakistan's backer. >> $18 billion in foreign aid over the last decade, as you mentioned. and yet, osama bin laden was in pakistan. >> i think it's inconceivable that bin laden did not have a support system in the country. >> bin laden holding up there over the course of the last six
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years. >> hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield. >> and what happens next? >> are we going to ultimately get a photo of the deceased osama bin laden? >> do you believe that's necessary at this point? >> sure. >> al qaeda central is going to try and respond. >> by netta is warning of potential retaliation. >> it's not going to end just because we killed this notorious, really international criminal. >> good evening, from new york, president obama will visit ground zero on thursday to honor the victims of osama bin laden's september 11th attacks. today, after the central intelligence agency said it confirmed through d.n.a. analysis that osama bin laden is dead, president obama said this -- >> i think we can all agree this is a good day for america. our country has kept its commitment to see that justice
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is done. the world is safer. it is a better place because of the death of osama bin laden. >> bin laden's death is the direct result of an order issued by president obama to his new cia director leon pinetta a few months into his presidency. the signed order said, in order to ensure that we have expenned every effort i direct you to provide me within 30 days a detailed operation plan for locating and bringing to justice osama bin laden. bin laden avoided phone or email communication and relied exclusively on a network of couriers. four years ago guantanamo bay detain tees revealed the identity, but not the location of one of those couriers to u.s. intelligence officials. two years later, officials determined the genre onin pakistan where that courier and his brother operated. last august, the key break came
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when the u.s. pinpointed their exact location. an affluent pakistan suburb in a three-story home situated in an extraordinarily unique compound. that compound was built in 2005. was eight times larger than other homes in the neighborhood. it had 12 to 18-foot walls lined with barbed wire, two security gates and few windows despite being a million dollar home it had no phone or wireless access. the residence of the compound burned their trash rather than set it on the curb as is cus come in that neighborhood. by september the cia determined that a compound like this could not just house the courier and his brother. it must also house a high-value target. by mid february, the president and cia director saw enough
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intelligence to feel confident that high value -- that that high value target was indeed osama bin laden. starting on march 14th, the president shared the first of at least nine national security council meetings to review plans for a course of action. all while congress negotiated a budget resolution to avoid a government shutdown. on friday of last week at 8:20 a.m. in the diplomatic room the president authorized the military operation to take out bin laden. before leaving to survey tornado devastation in alabama. no foreign government including pakistan was informed the operation was originally scheduled for saturday, but weather pushed it to sunday. on saturday evening, the president attended the white house correspondents dinner where he let on nothing, obviously when seth myers
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speculated on osama bin laden's location. >> people think bin laden is hiding in the hindu curb, did you know that every day from 4:00 to 5:00 he hosts a show on c-span? >> then on sunday at 2:00 p.m., the president met with military principles to review final preparations for the air assault. around 3:30 p.m. that mission began. the president and his closest aides sat in the situation room monitoring the operation in realtime. joining me now nbc news chief white house correspondent chuck todd. chuck, thank you very much for joining me tonight. i know you've got about one hour of sleep in the last 24 hours. chuck, the situation was being monitored in the situation room by the president. was pinetta in a separate
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location at cia headquarters? was he at the same time participating and directing it from cia headquarters? >> reporter: the person directing the operation is the person that is running -- that runs that special forces -- the special forces operation. i want to back up to march 29th. you've given a great time line. i'll be honest, lawrence, we've gotten a couple other briefings even in the last few hours. essentially they're doing debriefings of the men who participated in this capture and kill of bin laden. so the story continues town fold. march 29th, the president is offered an array of plans at how to go after bin laden in this compound. he narrows it down to two plans. one is the one that was carried out. the other has not been shared. it was not. he dismissed any idea of using predator drones or any sort of aircraft from above b-52s or anything like that. it's at that point, that they built a model of this compound.
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and the navy s.e.a.l.s practiced runs on this raid in this replica of the compound. they dmu this compound at least from the outside about as well as you could from the aerial footage and everything they've been doing since the last august of last year when they first identified this compound. >> you walked us through all the way on sunday. on saturday morning, as you know it was friday night when the president was headed back from florida, he was informed that weather was going to delay this a day. on saturday morning the president calls admiral mccraven. he is the guy leading this. he is the commander in charge of the navy s.e.a.l.s going in. he wanted to let them know that he had 100% confidence in them. that they believed in this intelligence. and not everyone around the president believed this was the right way to do. that's why you've heard the word gutsy call. this was the gutsiest decision as john brennan said at the
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time. the president calls up admiral mccraven, he wanted him to know godspeed and he wanted to personally thank him and his soldiers that were going in and he'd be personally following the mission all along. obviously you walked through what happened saturday night. the president goes about his day. so on sunday at 3:30 as they're watching the video come in. it's a 40-minute long raid. lots of tense moments. john brennan said today that every minute passed by as if it was a day at some point, particularly the tense moments of the helicopter that was supposed to hover. two blackhawks brought this team in. one -- they were both supposed to hover. instead one got grounded and had to land. and then they heard one of the soldiers on the ground say geronimo, geronimo, geronimo ekia. what this was a code for, geronimo was the code for they caught -- essentially mission
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accomplished. they got bin laden. id r k,ia is enemy killed in action. that's when the president knew watching this audio and video in realtime using the technology, that bin laden had been captured and killed. now we're still getting more information about the firefight itself. senior administration officials are back off this idea that bin laden ever picked up a gun. there were others in that room that did. bin lad was shot twice. once in the head, in the eye, once in the chest. as for the human shield, the woman that was the human shield, they're now backing off of that and saying there was a woman caught in the cross fire and killed. not bin laden's wife. she survived the attack. but this was the wife of one of the others. the only body they pulled out and took was bin laden's body. at this point in time now, they believe that pakistani
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intelligence agency has secured that compound. >> chuck, any indication on how much of this was captured on video? >> reporter: quite a bit was captured. there's an amazing amount of video. there is photos and video of bin laden's shot head. it's a gruesome photo. that's why there's still a debate about what to release, how to release it, whether to release it at all. there's a video recording of bin laden's burial at sea. at least one person here at the white house has seen it. not the president. it was very important to the president and so the commanders on the ground to be able to have a chronicle of everything that went about because they know the belief -- they are not just 100% certain because of d.n.a., officials -- lawrence, nobody from al qaeda is somehow pushing back that he's alive. it is only the craziest of conspiracy theorists at this
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point. >> nbc news chuck todd. chuck, thank you very much for filling us in on the latest details. >> reporter: you got it, buddy. >> joining me now, a correspondent. >> good to be with you, lawrence. >> michael, what is the pakistan dimension of this? there must be so much in the white house about this right now. there's the question object who in pack stab knew what. did pakistan want to know if the united states was going to do something like this? >> right. the pakistani dimension to this is huge. i thought one of the most notable moments today came when john brennan, the white house counterterrorism advisor was briefing at the white house and the question of whether pakistani officials were -- could possibly have not known about bin laden's presence in this large million dollar compound in this affluent area, populated by current and former military officers, walking
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distance to pack stop sign's west point and john brennan said it raises questions. that spak stanny officials seemed surprised when they were briefed on it. clearly he had questions on his own mind. he threw that out there that's no small thing to be done from the white house podium. the other really interesting point that came out in the briefings today in the earlier briefing by d.o.d. and c.i.a. and the question came up were pakistani officials informed ahead of time about this operation? the answer was no. think about that for a moment. a military assault operation with helicopters, special forces going into a foreign country, guns ablazing and you don't tell anybody in that foreign country's government, this is supposed to be a u.s. ally. i think that tells a lot about the state of the u.s.-pakistani
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relationship right now. >> michael, what do we know about how the key information was obtained? apparently at gitmo from detainees or a detainee. there was information obtained about the courier and then there was obviously information obtained after that. the original information about the courier, what do we know about how that was obtained? >> it's murky. it's fair to say there's lots of debate to come about this in the months and years to come. what we've been told is detainees at guantanamo bay and at cia black site prisons are subject to enhanced interrogation techniques. first identified that there were couriers close to bin laden and a particular courier that really caught the interest of u.s. intelligence officials. that is being cited today by some such as liz cheney, the
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vice president's ever loyal daughter as evidence that these enhanced interrogation techniques worked and helped produce the kind of intelligence that we hoped we'd get. last night when we were first briefed on this we were told by senior administration officials that the courier in question who led them to bin laden was a trusted protege of khalid mohammed. as one former fbi counterterrorism official told mecca lead mohammed was captured in 2003 and subjected to water boarding in 1234 occasions. he might have identified the nickname of the courier, he couldn't tell the cia who it was. that raises real questions i think on whether we were really getting the valuable kind of intelligence that we thought -- that the cia thought it was getting from mohammed.
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>> thanks very much for joining me tonight. >> thank you. coming up, the leadership it took to make yesterday's mission to get bin laden a success. what was the big difference between how the obama and bush administrations handled the biggest manhunt in history? and later, the impact of bin laden's killing. what does it mean to the war on terror and what does it mean to terror and what does it mean to al qaeda? [ male announcer ] in 2011, at&t is at work, building up our wireless network all across america. we're adding new cell sites... increasing network capacity, and investing billions of dollars to improve your wireless network experience. from a single phone call to the most advanced data download, we're covering more people in more places than ever before in an effort to give you the best network possible. at&t. rethink possible.
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coming up, candidate obama said if given the chance he would go into pakistan and kill osama bin laden. president obama made that policy the cia's top priority and now bin laden is gone. does it all come down to a question of leadership? and later, we'll take a look -- we're going to cut to president obama who is speaking at the white house about the situation. >> it seems like an especially fitting occasion to do this. obviously, we've all had
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disagreements and differences in the past. i suspect we'll have them again in the future. but, last night as americans learned that the united states had carried out an operation that resulted in the capture and death of osama bin laden -- [ applause ] >> thank you. you know, i think we experienced the same sense of unity that per vailed on 9/11. we were reminded again that there's a pride in what this nation stands for. and what we can achieve that
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runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics. i want to again recognize the heroes who carried out this incredibly dangerous mission. as well as all the military and counterterrorism professionals who made the mission possible. i also want to thank the members of congress from both parties who have given extraordinary support to our military and our intelligence officials. without your support, they could not do what they do. i know that unity that we felt on 9/11 has frayed a little bit over the years. and i have no illusions about the difficulties, the debates that we'll have to be engaged in in the weeks and months to come. but i also know there have been several moments like this during the course of this year that have brought us together as an american family. whether it was the tragedy in
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tucson or most recently our unified response to the terrible storms that have taken place in the south. last night was one of those moments. and so tonight it is my fervent hope that we can harness some of that unity and some of that pride to confront the many challenges that we still face. but to all of you here tonight, we are joyful that you could join us. and please have a little bit of fun. all right? thank you very much, everybody. >> this was president obama speaking to a group of members of congress who were there on a prescheduled event. scheduled long before this capture of -- killing of osama bin laden talking to them about what had happened over the weekend. now president george w. bush famously vowed to find osama bin laden and bring him to justice
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quote dead or alive. but nearly six months later, six months after saying he wanted him dead or alive president bush said this -- >> i don't know where he is. nor -- i just don't spend that much time on him. i wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. i truly am not that concerned about him. >> i truly am not that concerned about him. that's what the white house decided the president had to say once they realized how difficult it was going to be to find osama bin laden. president bush took bin laden from quote, the focus to just i just don't spend that much time on him. i wouldn't necessarily say that he's the center of any command structure. i truly am not that concerned about him. that became the bush administration position. the bush administration had clearly made the political and tactical decision that they could not allow the perception of their success in their war on terror to turn on the capture of
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one person. a person they did not know how to find. and so wanted dead or alive became not that concerned. in 2005 the bush cia actually closed its unit whose mission had been to hunt osama bin laden and his top lieutenants. we don't know where osama bin laden was until 2005. but we do know that the home that he was found in was built in for -- for him in 2005 that same year that the cia closed the unit that was hunting bin laden. somehow that year bin laden got the feeling that he could settle down comfortably in a walled fortress in a pakistan suburb. but someone -- someone was still thinking about bin laden in a lethal way. >> if we have osama bin laden in
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our sights, and the pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then i think that we have to act. and we will take them out. we will kill bin laden. we will crush al qaeda. that has to be our biggest national security priority. >> that was candidate obama saying unlike president bush that had announced as you've seen that he was not that concerned about osama bin laden, president obama would make his biggest national security priority getting osama bin laden. and so he did. >> shortly after taking office, i directed leon pinetta is director of the cia, to make the killing or capture of bin laden the top priority of our war against al qaeda. >> joining me now thomas ricks senior fellow at the center for american skurlt. tom, thanks for joining me
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tonight. >> you're welcome. >> tom, what about the leadership difference between these two administrations? president bush had his basically all -- almost all of his two terms to get this done. president obama made it a top priority. they got it done. it feels like there was a big difference in emphasis. >> i think the big difference is more rhetorical. you're seeing obama i think at his best with that rhetorical coolness. whereas bush with bin laden waivered all over the place. sometimes talking like an old west gunfighter. sometimes like a guy at the bar saying it just don't matter to me much anymore. obama through the campaign and his presidency has maintained this rhetorical coolness that i think goes to the center of his character and his approach. i think the other big difference is the people around him especially who's running the pentagon. when you had donald rumsfeld feld at the pentagon there was a freneticness to him.
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he was sending a blizzard of snowflakes, memos to people. he often didn't trite he has subordinates at well trained professionals. gates as secretary of defense said you guys know your job. i'll let you know if you're doing it wrong. those are the two big differences i see. >> the cia was crucial in this operation obviously. leon pinetta took over the cia without any prior dedicated professional experience in intelligence. although having been a white house chief of staff he was certainly exposed to intelligence and analyzing intelligence. that's not the same thing as coming from the community. it seems clear at this point that pinetta's record as a cia director in the so-called war on terror is better than anyone who worked under the bush administration. >> i think it certainly will help him in his confirmation hearings to have this raid in his background. what i would point to especially is the cooperation you saw here between the military and the
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cia. white house officials were very clear that this was a cia commanded operation using s.e.a.l. team six, the special op rations group. so a very impressive amount of coordination there. but again it's a contrast to the friction you saw frequently between the rumsfeld pentagon, powell state department in the cia under tennent back then. >> when you look at your work and bob woodward's work, there seems to be a personal quality to that tension. it doesn't seem to be institutional and traditional. it does seem to be rumsfeld personality-based and others. is that more typical that what we seem to be seeing in the obama administration what is a group of people who seem to get along and respect each other? >> i think so. you always see institutional frictions, but i think they got very personal in the bush administration. there's a calmness about this
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group that reflects the coolness at the center of the administration in kind of president obama's reflective rather detached approach to events. >> tom ricks with foreign policy magazine. thank you very much for joining us tonight, tom. >> you're welcome. >> in tonight's rewrite, what more does president obama have to do to disprove the republican lie that democrats are soft on defense? also, the terror threat. with bin laden gone, how powerful will al qaeda be? >> announcer: this past year alone there's been a 67% spike in companies embracing the cloud-- big clouds, small ones, public, private, even hybrid. your data and apps must move easily and securely to reach many clouds, not just one. that's why the network
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tonight in spotlight, what does the death of osama bin laden do to the current threat level? today, former president george w. bush said, earlier this evening president obama called me to inform me that american forces killed osama bin laden, the leader of the al qaeda network that attacked america on september 11th, 2001. i congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. they have our ever lasting
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gratitude. this momentus achievement marks a victory for america, for people who seek peace around the world and for all those who lost loved ones on september 11th, 2001. the fight against terror goes on, but tonight america has sent an unmistakable message. no matter luongo it takes, justice will be done. nine years ago after only a few months of chasing bin laden president bush said this -- >> if he's alive at all. who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not. we haven't heard from him in a long time. and the idea of focussing on one person is really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission. terror is bigger than one person. and he's just -- he's a person
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who's now been marginalized. his network -- his host government has been destroyed. so i don't know where he is. i just don't spend that much time on him to be honest from you. we haven't heard much from him. i wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. again, i don't know where he is. i -- i -- i repeat what i said. i truly am not that concerned about him. i was concerned about the fact that he was basically running afghanistan and calling the shots for the taliban. and -- once we set up the policy and start executing the plan, he became -- we shoved him out more and more on the margins. he has no place to train his al qaeda killers anymore. >> today law enforcement officers have been warned that the killing of the man who
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president bush came to regard as virtually harmless and marginal will likely inspire attempts at revenge by his followers. the state department sent out a worldwide travel alert warning americans abroad of possible reprisals and american embassies are at a heightened state of alert until august 1. earlier today hillary clinton said that the battle against al qaeda continues. >> even as we mark this milestone, we should not forget that the battle to stop al qaeda and its syndicate of terror will not end with the death of bin laden. indeed, we must take this opportunity to renew our resolve and redouble our efforts. >> cia director leon pinetta echoed that message in an email to agency employees. though bin laden is dead al qaeda is not. the terrorists almost certainly
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will attempt to avenge him and must and will remain vigilant andres lute. joining me now is former congresswoman and chair of the homeland security subcommittee on intelligence risk assessment. jane wood droe. >> thank you, lawrence. >> give us a sense of where we stand now in the terror threat postures of the country? we heard george w. bush in that tape talk about having reached a point where he seemed to think that osama bin laden was just a marginal character. not even worth spending much -- any presidential time thinking about or trying to go after. we see president obama actually get osama bin laden and the country reacts in a huge way. is the intelligence community in the bush view of this that it really isn't a big deal, or did something important happen?
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>> well, i find that statement of george bush that you played surprising. i don't remember the statement. by the way his statement issued last night or this morning about the call from president obama was gracious. and i think right on. and hopefully this will be a reset moment for our country and we can focus on unity as we came together after 9/11. but back to this, i was the ranking democrat on the house intelligence committee for four years right after 9/11. then i became the chairman of the terrorism andrising assessment subcommittee of the homeland security committee after that. during that time congress was very interested in killing or capturing osama bin laden and his deputy. i believe the cia was, too. you mentioned earlier in your broadcast that it stopped its unit that was look for it, but i recall it reorganized that unit into the counterterrorism center as part of a broader inquiry.
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i'm surprised to hear that tape. i think that the terror threat has changed, to answer your question, lawrence. instead of threat from the top down organization which was what al qaeda was, which is why i believed and still do it was very important to strike the head that was osama bin laden to kill or capture him, which we've just done after a really amazing operation yesterday. but now al qaeda instead of being top down vertical organization is a loose horizontal organization with other affiliates that are as potent as what it does from various parts of pakistan. for example, in yemen, al qaeda in the arabian peninsula a.q.a.p. is led by a fellow i think most americans have heard of who is an american yemeny who is hiding out in the boonies of yemen who publishes or helps to
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publish a magazine called "inspire" in co-leek yal english and who has called on americans using, you know, appropriate selective portions of the koran et cetera to conduct jihad in america. he's a very potent and lethal fellow. there are also important cells in africa. just friday the germans arrested four al qaeda members intending to attack in germany. let's think a different kind of threat. a more loose threat and let's think also opportunistic terror cells from other organizations that can attach and we still have a big problem here. >> when you were on the intelligence committee, did you get a sense of just how cold the trail was in terms of trying to catch osama bin laden? we heard the president just saying this is in 2002 saying, if he's alive at all, saying who know ifs he's hiding in a kauf or not. if he's alive at all. did you reach the point in the
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intelligence committee where you just didn't know if he was alive? >> the assumption was that he was alive. we figured if he were dead, we would know that. also let's remember, we took our eye off the ball in afghanistan during our action there. osama bin laden was there most people would agree. this is public knowledge. and we didn't have the authorities right and the whatever -- whoever was in the chain of command at the time who could have taken him out, didn't have authority to act, so he escaped. yes, the trail went cold. i remember ongoing conversations about and i remember i was part of them can't we find a courier? we knew that he was no longer using cell phones. there had been the leak unfortunately of the fact that he was using the phones. once that happened, he stopped using that and just used couriers. our thought was if we could find those couriers, which is what ended up happening, we then
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could trace him. i think credit goes over three generations -- three presidencys. not just to president obama. i give him a lot of credit. this started with president clinton. osama bin laden was indicted in 1998. i think this is the time when our country needs to come together and not rejoice here, but focus together on how we can win the argument against this kind of terror in the future. not just kill or capture on an ongoing basis. although this kill was the right thing to do and justice was served. >> you're absolutely right. your instinct was right. the couriers were key. former congresswoman and chair of the subcommittee of the homeland security committee. >> thank you. >> still ahead, how did the kourchs men of s.e.a.l. team bring down osama bin laden? how will republicans attack democrats for being soft on
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the navy s.e.a.l.s who got osama bin laden were the same group of men who shot and killed those somali pirates holding the crew of a cargo ship in 2009. what makes these elite soldiers the go to for this country's most important and most dangerous missions? that's coming up. and. how will the republicans accuse democrats of being soft on defense now? they can't use osama bin laden to scare voters anymore. to scare voters anymore. that's in tonight's rewrite. we'll handcraft an arranment that is sure to delight. ohh! take our "tote-ally" original, "tote-ally" mom bouquet, a stylish gift that fits her perfectly. let us arrange a smile for you, starting at $29.99. and all we need to do is change the way we're thinking about them. a couple decades ago, we didn't even realize just how much natural gas was trapped in rocks
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time for tonight's rewrite. at the republican national convention in 2004, rudy giuliani told us a not so easy to believe story about what he said on september 11th after the twin towers fell. >> at the time we believed that we would be attacked many more times that day and in the days that followed. without really thinking, based on just emotion, spontaneous i grabbed the arm of then police commissioner bernard carric. i said to him, berny, thank god george bush is our president. >> rudy giuliani's chosen police
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commissioner is tonight in president. and the president of the united states is barack obama. and rudy giuliani who publicly cares about nothing in this world more than vengeance for what happened in this city on september 11th should be saying, thank god obabarack obama is ou president. of course, he won't say that. rudy giuliani could not find the grace to say that about a political opponent. giuliani is too partisan to say that and much, much too simple minded. rudy giuliani will surely remain a purveyor of a and a believer in the american political cliche democrats are soft on defense. democrats have done everything they could possibly do to rewrite that cliche, but it has persisted. in 2004 when the republican message machine had to turn john
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kerry a genuine war hero into an unreliable coward they were able to do that with just enough voters to squeak out a win because republicans had been laying the foundation of that lie with decades, decades of lying about democrats being weak on the defense of this country. john kerry a brave decorated warrior who took lives and sauved lives in combat could not overcome the big republican lie, democrats are soft on defense. then came barack obama. the democrat who successfully ran against a genuine war hero. less than three months into his presidency barack obama ordered a daring response to the latest piracy attack off sa mall ya. >> -- somalia. >> you may recall back in april
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the ship was at the center of the hijacking drama. >> the confirmation from the pentagon that the american crew members were in control of that ship. >> four days after being boarded by pirates in the indian ocean, the 19 american crewmen reached land tonight. captain richard phillips is still held hostage in a lifeboat. >> all kinds of wild speculation if not reports that there was a firefight. the navy released these still photos of the aftermath of the daring rescue of captain phillips. >> then, president obama used that same team to close in on osama bin laden. after giving the order to activate the mission to take out bin laden friday morning, president obama did this -- >> i've got to say i've never seen devastation like this. it is heartbreaking. in addition to keeping all the families who have been affected in our thoughts and prayers, obviously our biggest priority now is to help this community
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recover. . >> after that, that same morning, he did this -- >> i'm sorry to interrupt you, i want to let our audience know what they see in front of their screen. air force one just landing at cape canaveral. a special occasion for many reasons. when you think about gab ree yell giffords there in hopes of watching her husband. the president going through with touching the ground there and meeting with some folks. >> on that night that the weather caused a delay in the mission, president obama did this -- >> you mr. trump recognize that the real problem was a lack of leadership and so ultimately you didn't blame little john or meatloaf. you fired garr busy. these are the kind of decisions
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that would keep me up at night. well handled, sir. well handled. >> if you didn't know it already, you know now that whenever you watch the president of the united states doing something, saying something, you don't ever, ever know what the president miergt really be thinking about. what may be weighing on him most heavily. barack obama is too calming too steady, yes, too cool to let you see a hint of the weight he bears every minute of the day and night. republicans have been using osama bin laden for political profit for almost ten years now. they have been insisting that only republicans know how to protect you from osama bin laden. only republicans are strong on the defense of this country.
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president obama and his national security team gathered at the white house to see the beginning of the end of osama bin laden, they were able to watch realtime images of the
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operation coming in from pakistan. no one in the situation room could be certain how it would turn out. >> it was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time in the lives of the people who were assembled yesterday. it was clearly a 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. >> what they ended up seeing on that realtime feed was the work of the u.s. joint special op rations command. the navy's s.e.a.l. team six led the raid. and are described by my guest as being among the most elite warriors in the national security apparatus. retired general barry mcafterry, called the special ops team the most dangerous people on the face of the earth. joining me now national security correspondent for the nation magazine. he's reported extensively over
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the past several years on the joint special op ration. thank you for join us tonight. >> thank you. >> you know these guys. will we ever know who fired those two shots into osama bin laden? >> we likely won't as long as they're active duty military men. they won't get that $25 million bounty for osama bin laden. they probably will never have to buy beers again among their colleagues. they're the quiet professionals. the tip of the tip of the spear. i would say that s.e.a.l. team six is the single most elite unit within the united states military. >> the security clearance that they pass, does that control them for life after this duty? >> they go through the most rigorous training of anyone who serves. when this team was told that they were going to be going on this mission, they cheered. they said we believe we found osama bin laden and your job is to be to kill him. they are also operating as part of special missions units. their activities are some come partmentized, the vast majority
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of people in the world have no idea what they're doing. >> what is the technology that allows them to deliver a video feed from where they are operating in pakistan to the white house? >> it's a very high tech c.i.s. operation. what we understand is they were wearing helmet-mounted camera that was allowing the live feed to go back in. to give you a sense of how on top of this president obama was, the man sitting to the right of him was the number three man brigadier general brad webb. to give you an idea of how hands on this was for president obama, godspeed. very much was involved with micro managing this operation. >> how much did the exercise against is somali pirates build the president's confidence saying yes, this team can do this? >> this was the first time we know of that president obama authorized a hit of this nature. i'm told by people in the special ops committee that it made president obama impressed with the ability of these s.e.a.l.s to execute this
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mission. if you want somebody taken down swiftly you send in s. aechlt. l. team six. they're there to kill the bad guys. >> if they had helmet cameras, the video they have is extraordinary. they have perfect video sho shots of everything that you want to see in this. how much of the video do you think we'll see? >> i don't know that we're going to see any of it. if we do, it may be very grainy and has minor detail to it. this is going to remain a very sensitive secret within the national security apparatus. the white house is strategic in not releasing any images at this point. >> thank you for your insights tonight. >> thank you. >> you can have the last word at our blog. you can follow my tweets. "rachel maddow show" is up next. >> thank you very much for that. thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. this is the pakistani version of west point. it is in a really attractive part of pakistan. it's