Late Sunday night, President Barack Obama announced that a U.S. special operations force cornered and killed Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden during a shoot-out in a mansion in Pakistan.
** PLAUDITS BEGIN POURING IN FOR OBAMA-ORDERED SPECIAL GROUND OPERATION THAT BAGGED OSAMA BIN LADEN. Congratulations are beginning to pour in for the U.S. special operation that today resulted in the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden today in a resort city just 90 minutes, some 60 kilometers, outside the capital of Pakistan.
In a speech late this evening, which was delayed for an hour and reportedly written by President Barack Obama himself, the president revealed that he had received a briefing last August that credible intelligence existed on the whereabouts and living arrangements of bin Laden. He said that CIA Director Leon Panetta was in overall charge of the project. Obama ordered the operation as a go mission early this weekend.
The president said in his address that bin Laden was killed in a firefight with U.S. special operations forces and that his body has been retrieved.
Reports indicate that the operation was carried out on the ground by a Navy SEAL team inserted by helicopter. The team is part of the Joint Special Operations Command, whose commander is Vice Admiral William McRaven.
Former President Bill Clinton said this in a statement tonight: “This is a profoundly important moment not just for the families of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and in al-Qaida’s other attacks but for people all over the world who want to build a common future of peace, freedom, and cooperation for our children.
“I congratulate the President, the National Security team and the members of our armed forces on bringing Osama bin Laden to justice after more than a decade of murderous al-Qaida attacks.”
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON OSAMA BIN LADEN
11:35 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.
It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory — hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.
And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.
On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.
We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda — an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.
Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort. We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.
Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.
And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.
Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan.
And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.
Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.
For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.
Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must –- and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.
As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.
Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done. But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.
Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.
The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.
So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.
Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.
We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.
Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.
And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.
The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.
Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.
END 11:44 P.M. EDT
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 7:30 PM Pacific, President Barack Obama delivers a surprise late Sunday night statement from the White House. The event is netcast live here on New West Notes.
FURTHER UPDATE — OSAMA BIN LADEN REPORTEDLY DEAD. Reports are spreading that President Obama will announce the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
OBAMA SCHEDULE UPDATE. At around 7 PM Pacific, the White House announced that President Barack Obama will address the nation at 7:30 PM Pacific from the White House. The topic was not announced.
** LIVE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE.
With massive geopolitical events swirling and the 2012 presidential race unfolding, the White House is increasingly a pivot point for the day’s events. Live streaming of key presidential events is now available as a matter of course here on New West Notes. You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
NWN will continue to present other live netcasts in full streaming mode, as it did with the Ronald Reagan Centennial events from the Reagan Library, as they emerge and are technically available and as significance dictates.
In his Saturday night appearance at the White House Correspondents Dinner, President Barack Obama made a big joke of birtherism and repeatedly skewered an in-the-house Donald Trump. And presented his co-star in a reimagining of The King’s Speech, Vice President Joe Biden.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATS: AN UNCERTAIN TRUMPET.
** OBAMA TODAY – SUNDAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
He has received the daily intelligence briefing in the Oval Office.
Obama has no scheduled public events.
Obama had a rip-roaring time last night at the White House Correspondents Dinner, where he turned conspiracy theories about himself into the preposterous joke that they are.
On Donald Trump, who foolishly was sitting a table about hundred feet away: “I know he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald. And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like: Did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”
But elsewhere, things aren’t so jolly for the president.
For starters, Space Shuttle Endeavour will not be ready for launch on Monday. The delay from the much-anticipated final launch of the spacecraft last Friday, occasioned by a faulty circuit, will last at least until this coming Friday.
Last night in Libya, a NATO air strike reportedly hit one of the residences of the Gaddafi family in Tripoli. According to multiple reports, Gaddafi’s youngest son, Seif al-Arab Gaddafi, was killed along with three of Gaddafi’s grandchildren. Gaddafi himself reportedly escaped harm.
This came not long after NATO rejected Gaddafi’s desperate sounding plea for negotiations and a ceasefire.
In Yemen’s governance crisis, there was a major setback as longtime President Ali Adbullah Saleh refused to come to the Saudi capital of Riyadh to sign the Gulf Cooperation Council-brokered deal for his exit from power.
Saleh said he would send a top aide, and would sign himself later after the process moved along. My guess is he thinks he won’t be able to return to Yemen if he goes to Riyadh.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES – SUNDAY. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events.
Brown canceled his scheduled address to today’s California Democratic Party convention in Sacramento.
On Friday, Brown underwent an outpatient procedure to remove a small basal cell cancer growth from his nose, which led to some slight reconstructive surgery. Brown will not appear in public until the stitches are removed. That might be in a week.
This is a very common procedure for a form of cancer which routinely does not metastasize. Brown’s office in its statement said all the cancer cells were removed.
Brown’s cancellation places something of a damper on an already somewhat curious convention.
Democrats are celebrating their big wins in last November’s elections. But they are frustrated by the need for sharp state budget cuts and by a gridlocked system in which it has not yet been possible to raise the needed revenues to avert truly draconian cuts.
Yesterday the convention saw rising stars like Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Kamala Harris deliver well-received speeches, as well as a tepidly received luncheon address from Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is still unopposed in her re-election campaign next year. To gain the approval of the crowd — many Democratic activists are very unhappy with Feinstein, who is routinely described in the press as by far California’s most popular politician but in reality has only a 41-39 job approval split in the latest USC/LA Times poll — Feinstein delivered a lengthy disquisition on the threat of the Tea Party. Which she pledged to turn back.
Then there was the stem-winding convention keynote address by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a speech largely ignored by the much diminished state press corps in their brief stories, but very telling about the mood of delegates.
Sanders, the only avowed socialist in the history of the U.S. Senate and a registered independent, received a rapturous response from the crowd Saturday afternoon. He repeatedly inveighed against record levels of wealth and income inequality in the U.S., declared America to be an “oligarchy,” and called for a wide array of social democratic and socialist programs.
I’ll have a full report on the convention.
In his weekend video/radio address, President Barack Obama, noting high gas prices and massive oil industry profits, renewed his call to end the $4 billion-per-year subsidies for oil and gas companies and invest in clean energy.
** OBAMA’S BIGGEST PROBLEMS STILL LIE ABROAD. President Barack Obama has no shortage of nasty critics at home, including the present gong show known as the Republican presidential field. But despite them and what was already an uneven economic recovery, his biggest problems still lie abroad.
Obama has a multi-dimensional obstacle course to pick his way through when it comes to geopolitics. But this becomes his domestic political problem when it is boiled down — or perhaps better put — refined into one word: Oil.
Here’s the general equation on oil: More chaos and conflict equals higher prices. Higher oil prices and higher gasoline prices equals economic trouble and political trouble.
Economists have just noted that incomes generally rose in March, leading to higher spending. But too much of that money went to pay for more expensive gasoline. And for food made more expensive by higher energy costs.
As I pointed out here a month-and-a-half ago, Obama’s domestic prospects were in a decided upswing with key economic measures ascending. And just a few days ago, an Associated Press survey of leading economists found increasing confidence in economic recovery. The only thing they could see stopping it is a new oil shock.
But a return to recession isn’t needed to make very big trouble for Obama’s re-election prospects. There may or may not be a big oil shock, but we’re already seeing the impact of higher oil and gasoline prices on economic confidence. People are feeling it every time they go, or contemplate going, to the gas station. …
Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi says he wants to negotiate with NATO.
** OBAMA TODAY – SATURDAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Today is the 36th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces took the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) as the last Americans were evacuated from the U.S. Embassy via helicopter from the rooftop.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefing and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
Tonight he and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner at the Washington Hilton.
The red carpet, incidentally, begins at 3:45 PM Pacific.
Red carpet? At a journalists’ dinner?
The White House Correspondents Dinner has become one of the bloated events of the era.
Back in the serious world …
In Libya, longtime Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi has finally resurfaced since the air strike on his compound in Tripoli. He spoke for an hour and a half on Libyan state TV, calling for negotiations and a ceasefire with NATO.
Of course, he’s declared repeated ceasefires and immediately broken them with attacks on his fellow countrymen.
What he really wants is for people to stop shooting at him.
Gaddafi made this move in the wake of the discovery that his forces were trying to mine the approaches to Misurata harbor in a bid to block the flow of humanitarian aid to Libya’s third largest city. Which fell to the pro-democracy forces very early on and which he has been shelling and rocketing ever since.
Incidentally, the tribes that Gaddafi regime spokesmen said at the beginning of the week would intervene militarily against the rebels have still not emerged. It’s safe to say that’s not happening.
Various parties to the departure deal for longtime Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh brokered by Gulf Arab states are to sign this weekend. But protests continue, calling for his immediate departure and no immunity from prosecution. In fact, yesterday saw the biggest demonstrations yet.
In Syria, demonstrations continue as does the bloody crackdown by President Hafez Assad’s regime. The US has now levied sanctions against the Syrian government. And, following the refusal of the UN Security Council late Wednesday to condemn the Syrian regime, the UN Human Rights Council unanimously voted to censure Syria yesterday.
Syria’s pending membership (yes!) on the UN Human Rights Council is not looking good.
Obama is monitoring several other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab uprising, AfPak, Iraq, and Japan.
War Zone Times: The time in Libya is nine hours ahead of Pacific time; the time in Iraq is ten hours ahead of Pacific time; and the time in Afghanistan is eleven-and-a-half hours ahead of Pacific time.
UPDATE: GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN HAS CANCELED HIS STATE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION APPEARANCE FOLLOWING A CANCER PROCEDURE. On Friday, Brown underwent an outpatient procedure to remove a small basal cell cancer growth from his nose, which led to some slight reconstructive surgery. Brown will not appear in public until the stitches are removed.
This is a very common procedure, and I’ll get into it more tomorrow.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES – SATURDAY. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California today.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown will address the California Democratic Party convention on Sunday in Sacramento.
A few convention parties last night, with Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who established himself a few years ago as the partymeister of Demo conventions, throwing the biggest with another musical guest. I have a couple of funny stories in this regard, which I’ll get into later.
Today Senator Dianne Feinstein addresses the convention luncheon, and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, now a UC Berkeley professor, addresses the convention banquet.
In between, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders delivers the convention keynote address.
Brown is getting a boost this weekend as a coalition called Stand Up for California — comprised of educators, public employees, and community leaders — launches a grassroots effort in targeted Republican legislative districts to pry loose a few votes for his compromise budget plan.
** HAS CALIFORNIA’S REFORM MOMENT ARRIVED? Has California’s big reform moment arrived? It sure seems as though it should have.
Governor Jerry Brown came into office having won in a landslide over the biggest-spending non-presidential campaign in American history, that of billionaire Meg Whitman. He set about forging a compromise solution to the state’s chronic budget crisis, pairing big budget cuts with extensions of temporary taxes that many voters don’t even know they pay. He spent months getting to know the legislators of both parties and negotiating with them, with a special emphasis on Republicans who complained that they had been ignored by Brown’s predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But he still only has half a budget deal. Even though the chronic crisis is still more glaring than before.
California state government is mired in dysfunctionality, and has been for years. The great global recession simply exacerbated the situation. It functions moderately well when times are good, though long-range planning has been most notable by its absence even then. When times are not good, well, here we are. … From my April 26th column.
** THE NON-IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY: OBAMA AND LIBYA. Newscaster: The failure of today’s pre-dawn Special Forces raid in Tripoli to catch or dispatch Moammar Gaddafi leaves the Obama Administration with a dwindling set of options on Day 32 of the Libyan War. The wily colonel had already moved from his Bab al-Azizia compound to an alternate headquarters, leaving the assault force of Navy Seals and Army Rangers little choice but to fight their way out of a trap. The Pentagon has not released casualty figures. The CIA is not commenting on the misfiring mission.
More than a month of round-the-clock air strikes and Tomahawk missile attacks have forced Gaddafi forces back from the rebel-held eastern part of Libya but have failed either to relieve the dictator’s siege of Misurata in the west or to loosen his grip on the capital. Widespread civilian casualties from the increased allied aerial bombardment have stiffened the resolve of the colonel’s supporters and spurred anti-American sentiment.
Now America’s hopes for victory turn on the amphibious units on the ships offshore, where heroic young U.S. Marines await the chance to perform their generation’s version of the second line of their famous anthem, ‘From the halls of Montezuma, To the shores of Tripoli …’
Nothing at all like this has happened, of course, though many imagined that something much like it would. … From my April 21st essay.
** ASSESSING THE JERRY BROWN ASSESSMENTS (AND WHY HE WAS IN STEALTH MODE SO LONG). … From my April 18th feature.
** MAD ABOUT MAD MEN: WILL IT MATCH WEST WING‘S MARK? … From my April 14th essay.
** THE RETURN OF JERRY BROWN. … From my April 11th column.
** LIBYAN WAR: NEW INTERNATIONAL “CONTACT GROUP” OFF TO A RUGGED START. … From my March 30th essay.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd, 2011 feature.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th, 2009 Huffington Post column.
The second part of Doctor Who‘s season premiere airs Saturday in the UK, US, and other international markets. Here are 11 key technologies employed by the Doctor, only a few of which are now aiding President Nixon in 1969 America.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti. While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in three wars in the region, and the Arab uprising underway, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil closed on Friday at $113.93 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Energy markets are closed on the weekend.
This is up about $80 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
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