tv NBC Nightly News NBC May 3, 2011 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT
his act. he calls it fancy ironing. we acknowledge that perhaps the name loses something in translation. >> i wonder how many times he burned his hands before he learned how to do that. >> good ni on the broadcast tonight, the death of osama bin laden. of and new questions about how it happened. changes in the story, and those growing questions about when the world will see a photo. tonight, we'll ask the head of the cia, and we'll take you to the scene of the raid. also here at home, we'll check in on the desperate effort to get help to those storm victims in the american south. to get help to those storm victims in the american south. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television the death of osama bin laden. this is a special edition of "nbc nightly news" with brian williams. >> good evening, it started with the news of the death of osama
bin laden. then we learned how he died at the hands of u.s. special forces, by order of the president. it was and will always be an extraordinary, high-stakes raid, staged by americans who were willing to die for the cause. but starting today, some of the details started to change. some aspects of the storyline involving bin laden's wife, bin laden himself, and a lot of people are waiting for a very big piece of evidence, a post-mortem photograph of bin laden. in a moment, you will hear the cia director confirm to us a photo will ultimately be released. potentially the most widely viewed photograph in the world. but the question is, when? so again tonight, we have comprehensive coverage of this story, starting with our chief white house correspondent, chuck todd. and chuck, there seems to be a little tug, a little disagreement between branches of the obama government over whether or not or when to
release this photo. >> reporter: well, brian, let's make this clear. this is the president's decision. this is a white house decision. this is not the decision that should be made by leon panetta, and that's what folks here tell me. and that's why this decision hasn't been made. and, in fact, many senior aides here are arguing against ultimately ever releasing a photo. it's one of many questions facing the white house today. proof of death. one reason president obama chose the risky navy s.e.a.l.s operation, rather than bombing the compound, was to make sure there would be evidence to prove the u.s. got osama bin laden. and now they have it. dna, photos, even videos. all of bin laden dead at the compound and on the aircraft carrier that was used for his burial at sea. but so far, senior aides say the president do not see much need to release the photographic evidence. >> i'll be candid that there are sensitivities here, in terms of the appropriateness of releasing
photographs of -- of osama bin laden. and in the -- aftermath of this firefight. and we're making an evaluation about the need to do that. >> reporter: it was a sentiment exec owed by some on capitol hill today. >> i just don't see the need to do it. the dna has been dispositive. >> i personally think morbid. >> reporter: others think the white house needs to provide proof. >> let's not have conspiracy theories develop. from what i've heard of the pictures, they're not ghoulish. >> reporter: meanwhile, some developments have changed, raising eyebrows. yesterday john brennan implied he participated in the firefight. >> the concern was that bin laden would oppose any type of capture operation. indeed, he did. it was a firefight. he -- therefore was killed in that firefight. and that's when the remains were removed. >> reporter: brennan also said bin laden used his wife as a human shield. >> she served as a shield, that's my understanding.
and we're still getting reports of what happened at the particular moments. >> reporter: today press secretary jay carney read an updated report of events. >> in a room with bin laden, a woman, bin laden's wife, rushed the u.s. assaulter, and was shot in the leg, but not killed. bin laden was then shot and killed. he was not armed. >> reporter: so brian, the reason for the change right now, all of those navy s.e.a.l.s that participated in this fight are doing after-action debriefings at a base in afghanistan. and as they get more information, the story does change, and as somebody at the white house said to me, this is something that happens regularly under military operations, the fog of war. >> all right, chuck todd, from the white house, starting us off on what, as you heard, is still a movable situation. and a number of these questions, a number of these issues, that have come up since word broke of bin laden's death also came up during an interview earlier today with leon panetta. the director the of the cia,
and a man who as intelligence chief, had a lot riding on this raid. >> i don't think there was any question that ultimately a photograph would be presented to the public. obviously, i've seen those photographs. we have analyzed them. and there's no question that it's bin laden. >> were you debating how the release of a photo would go over, given its gruesomeness versus the need on behalf of people all over the world to demand proof of death? >> i think there's no question that there were concerns, and there were questions that had to be debated about just exactly what kind of impact would these photos have. but the bottom line is that, you know, we got bin laden, and i think we have to reveal to the rest of the world the fact that we were able to get him and kill him. >> is the world safer? >> brian, i don't think there's any question that, you know, when you get the number-one
terrorist in the world that we're a little safer today than we were when he was alive. but i also don't think we ought to kid ourselves that killing osama bin laden kills al qaeda. al qaeda still remains a threat. we've damaged them, but we still have to defeat them. >> what did the pakistanis know, and when did they know it? >> the pakistanis did not know anything about this mission. and that was deliberate on our part that this would be conducted as a unilateral mission. president obama had made very clear to the pakistanis that if we -- if we had good evidence as to where osama bin laden was located, we were going to go in and get him. and that's exactly what happened. so i think the only time the pakistanis found out about it, frankly, was after this mission had taken place. we had to blow the helicopter, as you know, and that probably woke up a lot of people, including the pakistanis.
>> well, and i asked that, because i'm curious as to why, given all the hardware, the garrison, the personnel, retired military officers in that immediate area, why weren't the united states forces fired upon? >> well, that was obviously a concern that was raised at the time we were considering this operation. which was going into this kind of sensitive area with helicopters and s.e.a.l.s, and landing on this compound. would the pakistanis suddenly respond and, you know, try to pin down our forces? frankly, we -- you know, we considered all of those contingency. that's why we had the back-up helicopters in place. but the reality was that i think the military commander felt confident that we would be able to get in and get out, hopefully within 30 to 35 minutes. and the fact was that we
completed this operation within 40 minutes, and we had everybody on their way out of that country. >> did the president's order read capture or kill, or both? or just one of those? >> the authorities we have on bin laden are to kill him. and that was made clear. but it was also as part of their rules of engagement, if he suddenly put up his hands and offered to be captured, then they would have the opportunity, obviously, to capture him. but that opportunity never developed. >> i'd like to ask you about the sourcing on the intel that ultimately led to this successful attack. can you confirm that it was as a result of waterboarding that we learned what we needed to learn to go after bin laden? >> you know, brian, in the intelligence business, you work from a lot of sources of
information. and that was true here. we had a multiple source -- a multiple series of sources that provided information with regards to this situation. clearly, some of it came from detainees and the interrogation of detainees. but we also had information from other sources, as well. so it's a little difficult to say it was due just to one source of information that we got. >> turned around the other way, are you denying that waterboarding was in part among the tactics used to extract the intelligence that led to this successful mission? >> no, i think some of the detainees clearly were, you know -- they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of these detainees. but i'm also saying that, you know, the debate about whether -- whether we would have gotten the same information through other approaches, i think, is always going to be an open question. >> so finer point, one final time. enhanced interrogation techniques, which has always
been kind of a hand deeuphemism in the post 9/11 years, that includes waterboarding. >> that's correct. >> and you can find an extended version of our interview with leon panetta on our website. that's nightly.msnbc.com. now, to pakistan. in the neighborhood where bin laden managed to hide out for about five years, maybe more, where neighbors say they had no clue. he was living in that house, in their midst. good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. tonight, the pakistani government is feeling the heat. the question everyone is asking, is how could osama bin laden have been living under their noses for so long? abbottab abbottabad, surrounded on three sides by mountains. pakistanis come here to escape the heat during the summer months. people here say they had no idea that osama bin laden had come
here, too. >> it is a very peaceful place. people around the country come here for a tour. house set in an area that's still under development. surrounded by empty plots and half-built houses. there's no indication that behind these hycon create walls was one of theworld's most notorious fugitives, living right in the heart of a garrison town, home to pakistan's retired, as well as active army generals. >> well, i don't believe that osama bin laden could live here. it's all a restricted area by army. >> reporter: soldiers on the streets in vehicles and at check points. then there is the elite military academy. some call it pakistan's west point, a stone's throw from the compound where osama bin laden was living. this house stands out in this area, not just because it's the biggest one here, but because of its 12-foot walls and barbed wire fence at the top. one family lived just opposite the bin laden compound for the last five years. they told us they knew very little about their neighbors. the family didn't mix much with others, they said.
they never visited us, and we were never invited by them. even local children thought there was something unusual about them. these kids say they thought it was strange that when they played ball in the area, if it went over the fence, it was never returned. local residents are still trying to make sense of what happened here. >> i feel disgraced. we are very disappointed with our army, with our intelligence. >> reporter: despite all of the attention now focused on them, for most of the people of abbottab abbottabad, life still goes on as normal. people are coming here to have their pictures taken. children are collecting souvenirs. from what will now be remembered as the hideout of the world's most wanted man. brian. >> tazine ahead at the scene, thanks. and now, more questions here. first, in a town loaded with pakistani military, cadets, active duty, and retired, how plausible is it?
no one knew bin laden was living in that big house? and how are things between the two countries now that the u.s. has launched a raid inside pakistan, without advance warning or permission, apparently. our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell in our d.c. newsroom with a look at both of those questions. andrea, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. those are the questions. relations with pakistan had already been on the downslide, especially after that prolonged arrest and jailing of a cia contractor recently. but now there is a worse breach. and frankly, i cannot find a senior official in the u.s. government who is not deeply suspicious about the surprising circumstances of bin ladens location, in what was essentially a military enclave right down the road from pakistan's military academy. intelligence chair dianne feinstein told me today she is going to be asking those very questions starting tomorrow morning in the armed senate services committee, a closed hearing with intelligence officials. essentially, what did pakistan know, when did they know it, and she is asking, were they warned
off by higher ups in the government from even checking out the compound? today, pakistan amped up its criticism of the raid after initially saying that bin laden's death eliminates international resolve to eliminate terrorism, now they are warning against what they call an unauthorized american raid that should not serve as a precedent for the future. pakistan's ambassador to the u.s. told me today they are asking themselves whether they had an intelligence failure, but he insists that pakistan's government was not involved in hiding bin laden. even though he was hiding in plain view. brian? >> of course, no guarantee we'll ever know either way. andrea mitchell in our washington newsroom tonight. thanks. up next here tonight, the question a lot of people are asking. what happens to al qaeda now that its founder is gone? and later tonight, we're going to go back where we saw you on friday night. we're going to revisit the struggle in the american south after those twisters. e're going to go back where we saw you on friday night. we're going to revisit the struggle in the american south after those twisters.
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more on the death of osama bin laden. he was, of course, the founder of al qaeda, as we know it. but his influence of late is open to some question. and now the question becomes, what becomes of al qaeda with bin laden dead? our chief foreign correspondent richard engel has been covering, of course, this war on terrorism, around the globe for a long time. many years. and has some perspective tonight. he is in libya tonight, of course. and richard, this was never an organization with a flowchart, or a letterhead. it's part of what we all had to get used to in the new world. >> reporter: absolutely. but they did have a second in command, and osama bin laden's number two, doctor i am an al zawi zawiya, he has a long history of involvement with islamic
militant groups. in fact, even longer than osama bin laden himself. but al zawahiriy is nowhere near as charismatic as osama bin laden and that could be a major problem. it was bin laden who was always the main draw for recruits. he was the spiritual leader. and now that he is gone, it will be a blow to al qaeda. but over the years, that said, al qaeda has splintered off into many different franchises, and those franchises operate independently, and already today, in iraq, we saw the first al qaeda attack since osama bin laden was killed. that attack being blamed on al qaeda in iraq. a bomb exploding in a shiite cafe, in a neighborhood in a shiite neighborhood, killing at least 16 people. >> richard engel who has spent way too much of his life covering the dual wars overseas. thanks. when we come back tonight, we'll turn a little bit toward news in this country. the awful choice forced by flooding in the midwest. to blow up a levee, to save a
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we continue to cover the flooding in the midwest. it remains a huge story. and there's been a drama playing out there. officials were faced with the choice of blowing up a levee intentionally to flood some farmland to save the town of cairo, illinois from floodwaters. weather channel meteorologist mike seidel is there, in nearby met oppometropolis, illinois, h mike. >> yes, the situation got worse today as finally the corps of engineers did what they said they were going to do. they blew a two-mile hole in a levee on missouri side of the mississippi river to release the pressure on the levee and save the town of cairo, illinois. and this decision went all the way to the supreme court on sunday night. the first explosion went off sunday night, sending 4 feet of water across acres of farmland. this flooded 100 homes, and left 200 residents homeless. there was a second explosion this afternoon and a final one
goes off this evening. so far, the course plan has worked out like a charm, it's paid off. the ohio river has dropped a foot and a half from last night's record crest in cairo, and they were expecting it to drop 4 more feet by wednesday morning. and despite the fact the sun is out and there is no more rain in the forecast through the weekend, the ohio river behind me which has swallowed up four blocks will not drop below flood stage until sometime next week. brian? >> unbelievable story there. mike seidel covering an incredible decision. one evil versus another. we have in domestic news another headline tonight. it has to do with a colleague who is becoming a direct competitor. scott pelley has been named the new anchor of the cbs evening news. this follows five years in the chair for katie couric, and we welcome scott to the time slot. recovering from the worst tornado outbreak ever in this country. has the government learned a lesson from some previous disasters? this
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this time, they are trying to do things right. nbc's ron motte reports on some hard hit communities in alabama. >> did you find something? >> a picture my son made. >> reporter: on a dreary day in tuscaloosa, christie and scott greky are looking on the bright side. >> a picture my 2-year-old son drew for us. >> reporter: though their rental was flattened, they're building a new house that could be move-in ready in another eight weeks. >> at least we have that to look forward to. you know, it's just going to be two months in a hotel. >> reporter: today, christie applied for federal aid at a fema registration center, one of 23,000 tornado victims to do so in alabama. >> fema is doing a great job of getting the information out there on how victims can get in touch with fema. >> reporter: with at least 20 shelters open around the state, an emergency supplies and food making their way to those in damaged neighborhoods, residents are largely giving thumbs up to the overall response effort, an effort covering a lot of ground. from the destruction in tuscaloosa, to small towns to the north hit just as hard.
here in the outlying, and less populated areas, there are perhaps a few more challenges, but the response has been just as active. tornado victims have been streaming in, since over the weekend, and volume is tears hope much-needed donations will continue to flow in as well. but there are those in remote locations who feel left out. >> all the only people who have been up here is volunteers. >> reporter: people who toured the devastation acknowledge the agency hasn't made it to all of the effected areas just yet. >> it's taking us a little bit longer, but we're coming. >> reporter: people like the grekees are waiting. >> i feel good about the future. so many people have come forth to us. and i mean, immediately following the storm, we had help right off the bat. >> reporter: others are waiting, too. optimistic about what lie ahead, the rst, they hope, behind them. ron motte, nbc news, hamilton, alabama. at this point, here, as we come to the end of the half hour, depending on your nbc station. this is an hour-long edition of
"nightly news" tonight. if where you live they don't air our next half hour coming up, perhaps after your local news you can see the entire broadcast tonight on our website. that's nightly.msnbc.com. so for us for now in new york, i'm brian williams. that's nightly.msnbc.com. so for us for now in new york, i'm brian williams. ♪ ♪ ♪
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