Today’s Terrorism News

White House Revises bin Laden Raid Details

On Tuesday, the White House revised initial reports of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, saying that bin Laden was unarmed when he was killed and that he did not use his wife, who was shot but not killed, as a human shield, as early reports suggested. U.S. officials maintained that bin Laden resisted surrender, leading U.S. special forces to kill him during the firefight. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney read aloud a revised narrative to reporters in the White House briefing room and blamed the administration’s “great haste” in getting details to media outlets while U.S. personnel who took part in the raid were still being debriefed for the misstatements.
New U.S. Account Says bin Laden Was Unarmed During Raid (NYT)
Osama bin Laden Resisted Assault But Was Unarmed, U.S. Officials Say (WaPo)

CIA Director Leon Panetta described the raid in detail in an extensive interview on Tuesday’s PBS NewsHour.
CIA Chief Panetta: Obama Made ‘Gutsy’ Decision on bin Laden Raid (PBS NewsHour)

U.S. officials have not named the courier that led to bin Laden, but CNN reports that a “diplomatic source” tells them that the courier’s name is a Kuwaiti named Abu Ahmad.
Courier Who Led U.S. to Osama bin Laden’s Hideout Identified (CNN)

The New York Times also reports that federal prosecutors are expected to file papers this week seeking dismissal of all charges against bin Laden.
With Bin Laden’s Death, Seeking the Dismissal of All Charges (NYT)
In bin Laden Kiling, Media – as Usual – Regurgitates False Government Claims (Salon’s Glenn Greenwald)

Recent Must Reads:
Ali Soufan, a former FBI special agent who interrogated detainees at Guantanamo, writes in the New York Times that for many jihadists, bin Laden was as much an idea as a leader, and their belief that “their version of Islam was correct, that terrorism was the right weapon, and that they would ultimately be victorious” has been dealt a severe blow with bin Laden’s death.
The End of the Jihadist Dream (NYT: Ali Soufan)

CLS Executive Director Karen Greenberg participated in an hour-long live chat for WNYC Tuesday on what bin Laden’s death means for the torture debate, U.S. relations with Pakistan, and the future of al Qaeda.
Bin Laden Dead – Now What? (WNYC Twelve O’Clock Tuesdays)

At Foreign Policy, Mosharraf Zaidi asks whether the competing narratives spun by Pakistani elites – “[t]o the West, they sold the bin Laden version of Pakistan…[t]o ordinary Pakistanis, they sold the Ugly American version of the rest of the world” – can be maintained in a post-bin Laden world.
The Lies They Tell Us (Foreign Policy: Mosharraf Zaidi)

At Slate, Dalia Lithwick argues that bin Laden’s death gives Obama the perfect opportunity to put the 9/11 era – with all its accompanying war on terror programs – behind us. “With Bin Laden’s death, let’s simply agree that the objectives of the Bush administration’s massive anti-terror campaign have finally been achieved, and that the time for extra-legal, extra-judicial government programs—from torture, to illegal surveillance, to indefinite detention, to secret trials, to nontrials, to the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay—has now passed. There will be no better marker for the end of this era.”
Obama Should Use Osama bin Laden’s Death to Declare Victory and End the Legal War on Terror (Slate: Dalia Lithwick)

The New Yorker’s Steve Coll speaks to Frontline about possible bin Laden successors and whether Pakistan had any role in harboring him. Last night, Frontline aired a one-hour program on the fight against al Qaeda called “Fighting for bin Laden,” which you can watch online. And it previewed next week’s program on the U.S. campaign of targeted killings in Afghanistan with a look at its conversation with Robert Grenier, former head of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, about the drone war.
Steve Coll: ‘Zawahiri’s Record Suggests He Will Struggle’ (PBS Frontline)
Fighting for bin Laden (PBS Frontline)
Former CIA Drone Chief Questions Policy (PBS Frontline)

CLS Fellow Peter Bergen argues in The New Republic that bin Laden’s death should not hasten a U.S. departure from Afghanistan. The “mission in Afghanistan is about something bigger and more ambitious than eliminating Al Qaeda’s leaders—most of whom, in any event, are probably living in Pakistan, as bin Laden was when the United States finally tracked him down,” Bergen writes. “No, the mission in Afghanistan isn’t about killing Al Qaeda members. It’s about stabilizing the country so that it can never again serve as the hotbed of extremism that it was until 2001, with all of the attendant national security and human rights problems that resulted.”
Can We Win in Afghanistan? (The New Republic: Peter Bergen)

The Torture Debate:
In the wake of revelations that information leading to bin Laden may have come from detainees, Bush-era officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney and others, have claimed that Bush’s detention and enhanced interrogation policies have been vindicated. John Yoo writes in the Wall Street Journal Wednesday that the Bush administration’s “intelligence architecture marked the path to bin Laden’s door.” While the origin of information leading to bin Laden’s courier remains unclear, some commentators on the right are claiming that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded more than 180 times, helped provide information that led to the man’s identity, putting enhanced interrogation methods back in the spotlight.
Bin Laden Raid Revives Debate on Value of Torture (NYT)
Debate Over Torture Reignited with Death of Osama bin Laden (Toronto Star)
Osama bin Laden Death ‘Justifies’ Torture of Suspects, Former Bush Aides Claim (Guardian)
U.S. Plays Down Torture Link in bin Laden Hunt (AFP)
From Guantanamo to Abbottabad (WSJ: John Yoo)
The bin Laden Killing: Proof that Waterboarding Works? (The Week)

At the New Yorker, Jane Mayer writes that “[o]ne would think that if so-called ‘enhanced interrogations’ provided the magic silver bullet, and if the courier was a protégé of K.S.M.’s, then the C.I.A. might have wrapped this up back in 2003, while they were waterboarding the 9/11 mastermind a hundred and eighty-three times.” Spencer Ackerman argues at Wired’s Danger Room that “[f]rom the evidence released so far, electronic surveillance and old-fashioned intel methods were far more important.” And at Opinio Juris, Deborah Pearlstein says that “all the arguments that existed about the legality, morality, and efficacy of torture that we had when we had the debate in 2002, and 2004, and 2006, and 2008 and all the years in between – remain the same today as they were yesterday.” At Lawfare blog, Benjamin Wittes dissects – and disagrees with – Pearlstein’s argument.
Bin Laden Dead, Torture Debate Lives On (The New Yorker: Jane Mayer)
Surveillance, Not Waterboarding, Led to bin Laden (Wired’s Danger Room)
Let’s Not Talk About Torture (Opinio Juris: Deborah Pearlstein)
A Response to Deborah Pearlstein (Lawfare blog: Benjamin Wittes)
Debating Interrogation Techniques (Commentary)
Republicans Say Torture Led U.S. to bin Laden. Facts Say Otherwise. (Daily Kos)
5 Hurdles if Bin Laden Had Been Taken Alive (CNN: Jeffrey Toobin)

What Pakistan Knew:
Relations between the United States and Pakistan seemed to fray even more Tuesday, as the White House said it was demanding that Pakistan answer questions about what it knew about bin Laden’s whereabouts and Pakistan criticized the raid as a “unauthorized unilateral action,” according to reports. U.S. officials are also reportedly questioning their Pakistani counterparts on details of the compound where bin Laden was found – who owned it, who built it, and who visited it in recent years.

U.S. lawmakers are increasingly questioning whether Pakistan was harboring bin Laden while accepting U.S. military aid, and British Prime Minister David Cameron and the French foreign minister also questioned how Pakistan could have been unaware of bin Laden’s presence. A spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry said Wednesday that Pakistan must have known that bin Laden was living in Abbottabad, according to the AP.
U.S.-Pakistani Tensions Rise After bin Laden Raid (NYT)
Pakistan Facing Questions on bin Laden Redoubt (WaPo)
U.S. and Pakistan Try to Ease Tensions (WSJ)
Pakistan Criticizes U.S. Raid on bin Laden (AP via NYT)
Afghanistan: Pakistan Had to Know bin Laden There (AP via NYT)
Pakistan as Terror Sanctuary (WSJ: Sadanand Dhume)
Bin Laden’s Front Yard (The Economist)
What Did Pakistan Know About bin Laden? (Wired’s Danger Room)
Osama bin Laden’s Death and Pakistan’s Deadly Game (Daily Beast: Salman Rushdie)

The Intelligence Community:
Spies Comb bin Laden Intelligence Haul (WSJ)
Bin Laden Raid Showcases Spy Planes’ Surveillance (WSJ)
With Drones and Satellites, U.S. Zeroed in on bin Laden (Wired’s Danger Room)
National Counterterrorism Center: How a Little-Known Spy Agency Helped Track Down Osama bin Laden (Huffington Post)

After bin Laden:
Al Qaeda Leadership: bin Laden Is Dead, but al Qaeda Is Not (WaPo graphic)
Beyond bin Laden: 10 Top Terrorists Taken Down (Wired’s Danger Room)
Yemeni-Based Jihadist Has Potential to Fill Role (FT)
Al Qaeda’s Litmus Test: Filling bin Laden’s Shoes (Al Arabiya)
After bin Laden, a New Foreign Policy? (The New Yorker: Ryan Lizza)
After bin Laden: Let’s Stop Playing His Game (The New Yorker: John Cassidy)

More Coverage:
Bush Declines Obama’s Invitation to Ground Zero (NYT)
Security on Higher Alert Across U.S. (NYT)
Attorney General: ‘Right Decision’ on Sept. 11 Trials (NPR)
NYC Sees Spike in Suspicious Packages Reports (AP via NYT)
Bin Laden Photos: Editors Debate Showing Graphic Images of Dead Body (WaPo)
Panetta: Bin Laden Photo May Be Eventually Released, but White House Makes Final Call (WaPo)
Bin Laden Neighbors in Abbottabad Saw Little Amiss (WaPo)
Odd Behavior of Neighbors Makes Sense After bin Laden Killing (Reuters)
Asia’s Long War on Terror (WSJ)
Who’s the Other Islamic Militant Nabbed in Abbottabad This Year? (Time)
Bali Bomber May Have Been Vital Link (Asia Times)
Live Q&A with the Guardian’s Jason Burke (Guardian)
Bin Laden Reward: Did the Government’s $25 Million Bounty Help Nail Him? (Slate)

Global Reaction:
Bin Laden Arabic Editorial Roundup (Small Wars Journal)
Taliban’s Muted Response Draws Attention (WSJ)
Public Opinion on Osama bin Laden in Muslim Countries (The Economist)
The Legality of the UBL Operation: Responding to the Der Spiegel Criticism (Lawfare blog)

More Reaction:
Osama bin Laden Death Will Reopen America’s 9/11 Wounds (Daily Beast: Jessica Stern)
Bin Laden in the Hut Next Door (NYT’s Home Fires: Matt Gallagher)
My Sister, My Grief (NYT: Robert Klitzman)

A federal judge in New York upheld on Tuesday the convictions of four men found guilty of plotting to bomb a synagogue and Jewish community center in the Bronx, according to reports. Attorneys for the men, who are known in the media as the Newburgh Four, had asked the judge to set aside the verdicts, arguing that the government’s informant entrapped the men in the plot.

In her ruling, Judge Colleen McMahon agreed that there is “something decidedly troubling about the government’s behavior,” but that that behavior did not qualify as “outrageous misconduct,” according to the NYT report. According to Bloomberg, she wrote, “sting operations, even elaborate ones that appear designed to be shown on the evening news, are legal; and [defendant and accused ringleader James] Cromitie certainly gave the government ample reason to think that he might be susceptible to being stung.” The Bloomberg report continues that Cromitie and the three other convicted men – Onta Williams, David Williams and Laguerre Payen – face as much as life in prison. They are scheduled to be sentenced on June 7.
Verdicts in Bronx Synagogue Bomb Plot Are Upheld (NYT)
Synagogue Bomb Case Motion for New Trial Is Denied by New York Judge (Bloomberg)
Federal Judge Upholds Newburgh Four Conviction (Courthouse News Service)

Five men were arrested Tuesday near the Sellafield nuclear site in northern England under antiterrorism laws, according to reports. The men are reportedly alleged to have been filming the site, according to the Guardian. Police also raided several addresses in East London related to those detained; the men are reportedly young men of Bangladeshi origin.
Sellafield Terror Arrests Prompt London Police Raids (Guardian)
Sellafield Nuclear Site Terror Arrests Made (BBC News)
5 Arrested Near Nuclear Plant in Britain (NYT)

Guantanamo: A Predicament of Obama’s Own Making (Boston Review: Owen Fiss)

Car Bomb Blast in Iraq Kills Nine, 27 Wounded (Reuters)

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