Obama won't release bin Laden photos, White House says
Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda's leader, seen in an undated photo.
May 4th, 2011
09:27 PM ET

Obama won't release bin Laden photos, White House says

[Updated at 9:27 p.m. ET] Reuters on Wednesday published photos - taken after Monday morning's raid on a Pakistan compound where the United States says its forces killed Osama bin Laden - showing three men lying dead in pools of blood.

One of the dead men bears a family resemblance to bin Laden, but there was no confirmation of his identity. Besides bin Laden, an adult son of the al Qaeda leader, two al Qaeda couriers and a woman were killed in Monday's attack by U.S. commandos, according to American officials.

Reuters says the photos were taken by a Pakistani security official about an hour after U.S. forces left bin Laden's compound and that it is confident of the authenticity of the purchased images. The U.S. commandos took bin Laden's body with them, U.S. officials have said.


MORE: No bin Laden photo release, White House says
CONGRESS: Lawmakers' reaction to photo decision
PAKISTAN: Angry reaction to tone of U.S. questions


[Updated at 8:27 p.m. ET] Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN that Osama bin Laden was near some weapons when U.S. forces shot him in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

"He was right there and going to get those arms. You really can't take a chance," Feinstein told CNN's John King.

Previously, a U.S. official said bin Laden was unarmed but was making a threatening move when he was shot. When asked if bin Laden tried to grab a weapon or physically attack a commando, the official would only say, "he didn't hold up his hands and surrender."

A different U.S. official who has seen military reports of the raid said bin Laden was "moving" at the time he was initially shot. But the official declined to describe the movements more specifically, CNN's Barbara Starr reported.

[Updated at 7:51 p.m. ET] Several U.S. senators who said they saw a photograph of Osama bin Laden after he was shot now say they cannot be sure whether the photo was authentic.

These senators had described the photo to reporters and were using it to help form their opinion on whether President Barack Obama should release pictures of the dead al Qaeda leader. Fake photographs of a dead bin Laden have been circulating the Internet.

FULL POST

May 4th, 2011
08:53 PM ET

Stocks stumble on economic jitters

Here are some highlights of the day's business news:

Stocks ended in the red Wednesday, as disappointing reports on jobs and the services sector weighed on investors.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 84 points, or 0.6%. Earlier in the session, the blue-chip index tumbled more than 130 points. The S&P 500 shed 9 points, or 0.7%; and the Nasdaq slid 13 points, or 0.5%.

Caterpillar and General Electric were the biggest drags on the Dow. Shares of First Solar pressured both the Nasdaq and S&P 500, falling 8.5%.

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Military expert: Pakistan must have known where Osama bin Laden was hiding
Pakistani Police guard the sealed main gate of the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan on Tuesday, May 3, 2011.
May 4th, 2011
07:20 PM ET

Military expert: Pakistan must have known where Osama bin Laden was hiding

While U.S. officials are questioning whether Pakistan knew Osama bin Laden was hiding in the country, so are Pakistanis.

Ayesha Siddiqa is an independent analyst and the author of "Military Inc: Inside Pakistan's Military." She has made it her career to understand Pakistan’s military how it thinks and how it acts.

Based on those years of knowledge, she is convinced the military knew bin Laden was there. That he was hiding near Pakistan's military academy in Abbottabad is the strongest clue, she says.

In a society where the military and intelligence agencies keep tabs on its citizens, Pakistan would not allow anyone living so close to its elite military academy to go unexamined, she says.

But the government’s insistence that it did not know bin Laden was hiding in its midst has shaken its people, she says. There is a sense of vulnerability that is hard to shake a sense of vulnerability both from outsiders like the U.S. and from within.

Listen to the full story here:


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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan
Justice Department has 'serious questions' for NCAA on college bowl process
May 4th, 2011
06:11 PM ET

Justice Department has 'serious questions' for NCAA on college bowl process

[Updated at 6:11 p.m. ET] In a letter to the NCAA disclosed Wednesday, the Justice Department said it has received several requests for an antitrust investigation into the current Bowl Championship Series system, and it wants information to help it decide what to do.

That controversial system makes it very difficult for teams in some athletic conferences to qualify for major bowl games, potentially costing millions of dollars in revenue to those not chosen.

"Serious questions continue to arise suggesting that the current BCS system may not be conducted consistent with the competition principles expressed in federal antitrust laws," Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney told NCAA President Mark Emmert.

The decision to release the letter came hours after Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a major opponent of the current system, demanded further consideration of the issue in a face-to-face appearance with Attorney General Eric Holder at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Holder responded by disclosing the Justice Department had sent a letter to the NCAA on the issue Tuesday.

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Record 178 tornadoes from South storms
The storms caused 327 deaths, making it the 3rd deadliest tornado outbreak in U.S.
May 4th, 2011
05:45 PM ET

Record 178 tornadoes from South storms

At least 178 tornadoes were part of the severe weather that raked 14 states April 27-28, making it the largest tornado outbreak in U.S. history, the National Weather Service said Wednesday.

The number of twisters surpassed the previous record of 148 tornadoes April 3-4, 1974, the Weather Service said.

The April 27-28 outbreak caused 327 deaths, making it the 3rd deadliest tornado outbreak in U.S. history, behind outbreaks in 1925 and 1932, with 747 deaths and 332 deaths respectively.

People living in tornado-afflicted areas of the South are still sharing stories of personal loss and images of destroyed homes, fallen trees, and demolished neighborhoods with CNN iReport. Their stories dot the South in a map and timeline, as shown in CNN iReport’s Open Story, a collaborative method of telling the story of an event.

Josh Spurgin sat on the steps of his home in Higdon, Alabama, which sat in shambles a day after a tornado destroyed it. The 23-year-old lost almost everything. Many homes in his neighborhood are gone and some of his neighbors died in the tornado. Besides the support of his family and friends, he’s turned to humor for a bit of relief in this otherwise dark situation. He joked with funnyman Michael Ian Black and "Funny or Die" comedian Brian Lynch when they responded to his tweets about the storms.

When the town of Ringgold, Georgia, reopened its streets for a brief afternoon on May 1, resident Gail Murphy was blown away by the devastation. The mass destruction had happened just 6 miles from her home.

"The downtown area is very badly damaged along with the schools and lots of other homes and businesses. This has been unbelievable to witness with my own eyes and I thought I had pretty much seen it all," she said.

Do you live in the region and are you trying to move forward after the tornados? Share your story with CNN iReport.

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Overheard on CNN.com: No political capital for killing bin Laden?
May 4th, 2011
05:44 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: No political capital for killing bin Laden?

Comment of the day:

I'm voting for Obama in 2012. PERIOD! –Clint4CNN

‘Obama got Osama’ won’t win in 2012

LZ Granderson, a weekly CNN.com columnist and a senior writer and columnist for ESPN The Magazine, weighed in on how killing Osama bin Laden won’t seal the deal for U.S. President Barack Obama at the polls next year. He says that, among other things, Americans are more concerned about unemployment and gas prices, and he and points to a CNN poll after bin Laden's death that shows Obama's ratings have improved by only 1 percentage point.

So what do CNN.com readers think about Obama's chances now that bin Laden is dead?

dualaction said, " 'I swear if Obama turned water into wine his critics would accuse him of being an alcoholic.’ So sad and true.” BrainHertz said, “For sure 'Obama got Osama' is certainly not going to sway committed Republicans to change their vote in 2012. But something important did just happen: Republicans no longer have a 'soft on terrorism' stick to beat Obama with in 2012 which they would otherwise be using to try to swing independents." misterbig said, "Obama only took a couple of years to do what Bush couldn't do for seven years. The GOP can try to minimize his accomplishment, but it just makes them look like even bigger losers."

Granderson may not have addressed the subject directly in his column, but many CNN.com readers wondered about a viable Republican alternative. TGD783 said, "Obama didn't need to catch Osama to win 2012... the GOP doesn't have a serious candidate, Obama will win by default." BrodiMAN said, "In order for the Republicans to win in 2012, they first need a horse in the race. But, so far, all they've shown us is a bunch of mules and donkeys." Pearlene said, "If not Obama then who? Sarah Palin? Michelle Beckman? (sic) Donald Trump? Do you think they can do better?" But dnel responded, "Are you deaf, blind and stupid? Ron Paul that's who. Ron Paul will pull the troops spend less money on military while keeping the defense of the US strong. The dollar will recover the economy will recover. Anyone else is a joke."

FULL POST

How close did bin Laden hunter get?
Gary Faulkner went to Pakistan to hunt for Osama bin Laden last year. Now he reportedly wants some of the $25 million reward.
May 4th, 2011
03:27 PM ET

How close did bin Laden hunter get?

Last June an American construction worker was picked up in Pakistan on a one-man mission to capture Osama bin Laden.

Gary Faulkner was armed with a dagger, some biblical literature, a pistol, night-vision goggles and a sword, news reports said.

What's more, the man was even on dialysis, CNN reported at the time. And yet somehow he managed to end up in Chitral, a mountainous district in the northern tip of the country.

Chitral  was as logical a place as any to hunt for the most wanted terrorist in the world. News reports in the years since the 9/11 attacks had put bin Laden in fortress-like environs along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Chitral fit the bill. It was connected to the rest of the country by a strip of land so treacherous that it is often closed because of weather conditions.

On Sunday night, Americans received news that bin Laden was killed in his compound in Abbottabad, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

How far off was Faulkner, whose across-the-world trek still remains shrouded in mystery?

Chitral to Abbottabad is roughly about 300 miles, according to Google Maps technology, indicating about a "7-hour" drive.  Yeah right. To put the distance in perspective, according to Google, the two places are about the same distance as Atlanta, Georgia, to the Florida Panhandle.

Of course, much of the Pakistan route is undriveable because of foothills and mountains. The area is also said to be inhabited by fiercely independent tribes.

While Faulkner has talked to CNN in depth much of the details about his trip remain secret. What we do know is that he wants some of the $25 million reward money that was offered for bin Laden's kill or capture.

"I scared the squirrel out of his hole, he popped his head up and he got capped," Faulkner told ABC News this week, referring to bin Laden's death. "[U.S. officials] were handed this opportunity on a platter from myself," he was quoted as saying.

Faulkner also told ABC that assertions that bin Laden had been holed up in his compound in Abbottabad for more than half a decade were not true.

"He hadn't been living there for no damn six years," he told ABC. "I absolutely flushed him out."

Should Faulkner get a portion of the reward?

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Osama bin Laden • September 11 • Terrorism
Wednesday's Most Intriguing People
Tweets by Pittsburgh's Rashard Mendenhall, shown here days before the Super Bowl in February, have caused a firestorm.
May 4th, 2011
11:25 AM ET

Wednesday's Most Intriguing People

Rashard Mendenhall

The Pittsburgh Steelers running back is in hot water after he made some controversial statements about Osama bin Laden's death via Twitter.

"What kind of person celebrates death? It's amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We've only heard one side..." Mendenhall tweeted Monday, referencing bin Laden.

Steelers President Art Rooney II released a statement Tuesday, published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, condemning Mendenhall's remarks, ESPN reports.

"I have not spoken with Rashard so it is hard to explain or even comprehend what he meant with his recent Twitter comments," Rooney said. "The entire Steelers organization is very proud of the job our military personnel have done and we can only hope this leads to our troops coming home soon."

Zarar Ahmed

The 12-year-old from Abbottabad, Pakistan, was Osama bin Laden’s neighbor and regularly visited the al Qaeda leader’s family, reports the London Evening Standard. Zarar described the security of the compound, as well as the family members he met, in an interview with Sky News. Bin Laden’s family included two wives: one who spoke Arabic and one who spoke Urdu. There were three children, a girl and two boys, Ahmed said. The family gave him two rabbits, he added.

The man who killed Osama bin Laden

He’s the most iconic person you will never know, according to the Washington Post’s Manuel Roig-Franzia. This week, the Post offered a composite of the "humble warrior" who killed the world’s most-wanted terrorist.

He is a "tactical athlete." Ripped, with a lot of upper-body strength, gnarled hands, long arms and a flat tummy, said Richard Marcinko, a Navy SEAL veteran and a founder of the elite Team 6, which reportedly led the attack. One minute, the professional is mowing his lawn. The next, he is on assignment — and there’s no crew cut. “He’s bearded, rough-looking,” Marcinko said. “You don’t want to stick out.”

The SEAL is probably between 26 and 33 years old, Marcinko said: young enough to be meet the physical demands but highly experienced in counterterrorism. He is a man; there are no female SEALS. He is also probably white, though the SEALs have diversified recently, Marcinko added.

The shooter also keeps tabs on his actions, said Stew Smith, another SEAL interviewed. Smith recently met with five other SEALs who could account for 250 terrorist kills between them. Still, this is THE kill, and his colleagues know it. “This is playing the Super Bowl and getting the Oscar in one breath,” Marcinko said. “He wants credit — but only among his peers.”

Jose Rodriguez

The CIA’s former counterterrorism czar told Time magazine that the intelligence that led authorities to Osama bin Laden's compound was obtained by using "enhanced interrogation techniques" on both Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and Abu Faraj al Libbi. The tactics included waterboarding, sleep deprivation and "other techniques," said Rodriguez, who is writing a book. Abu Faraj was not waterboarded, Rodriguez told Time in his first public interview.

An Obama administration official has denied Rodriguez's assertion that "enhanced interrogation techniques" were used.

“There is no way that information obtained by (enhanced interrogation techniques) was the decisive intelligence that led us directly to bin Laden,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said. “It took years of collection and analysis from many different sources to develop the case that enabled us to identify this compound and reach a judgment that bin Laden was likely to be living there.”

With bin Laden dead, what's next for war in Afghanistan?
U.S. troops walk through Camp Hansen, in Marjah, Afghanistan.
May 4th, 2011
11:21 AM ET

With bin Laden dead, what's next for war in Afghanistan?

If the impetus for the U.S. war in Afghanistan was the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by al Qaeda and pursuit of its leader Osama bin Laden, then what does his death mean for the war in Afghanistan and against global terrorism? That's the question being raised by politicians, world leaders and security experts.

What happens next?

Osama bin Laden's death may have little impact on the continuing course of the war or on the continuing threat of terrorism, analysts said.

But the big question is what's next for al Qaeda operations and U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

After news of bin Laden's death, Sen. Dick Lugar questioned whether the United States needs to change course in Afghanistan, saying the country doesn't pose as big of a threat anymore given the reason it was there in the first place was to hunt down bin Laden.

And with the big man at the top out of the picture, Time magazine's Mark Thompson writes, "pressure will increase to speed up the withdrawal of some of the 100,000 U.S. troops now in Afghanistan."

Lisa Curtis, former CIA analyst and former state department adviser, told CNN she believes "now is not the time" to announce large-scale changes for the U.S. timeline in Afghanistan.

"If [the U.S.] were to hasten the plans for withdrawal just because we captured bin Laden, it would send the wrong signal," she said.

The decision is also a matter of message, versus money and strategy.

"The war in Afghanistan was never solely about killing or capturing bin Laden. The United States sought to overthrow the Taliban because it had allowed bin Laden to operate inside Afghanistan," Nora Bensahel, deputy director of studies and a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, wrote in an opinion piece for CNN.

"Even those who recently supported the war may now believe that the war’s main goals have been achieved and it is time for U.S. forces to come home," Bensahel wrote. "Obama will face an uphill battle convincing Americans – and some members of Congress – that U.S. strategic interests still require spending billions of dollars a month on military operations in Afghanistan."

FULL POST

Gotta Watch: Dissecting bin Laden's effect
A bouquet marks the remembrance of the September 11 attacks and notes "We finally got him."
May 4th, 2011
11:19 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Dissecting bin Laden's effect

As the world seeks more information about the operation that brought down the globe's top terrorist, President Obama prepares to make his first visit Thursday to the World Trade Center site since the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death.

Obama extended an invitation to former President George W. Bush to join him at the site of bin Laden's most infamous attack. But Bush, who began the hunt for bin Laden, declined, saying he'd rather stay out of the spotlight. In today's Gotta Watch, we chronicle the aftermath of bin Laden's attacks and death.
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'Reasonable grounds' that war crimes committed in Libya, ICC prosecutor says
The U.N.'s special envoy to Libya says both sides told him that they were ready for a cease-fire.
May 4th, 2011
10:23 AM ET

'Reasonable grounds' that war crimes committed in Libya, ICC prosecutor says

The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court said in a report Wednesday there are "reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed and continue being committed in Libya."

The report identified the alleged commission of rape by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's government, as well as the deportation or forcible transfer of citizens during the civil war that continues to rage in that country.

It also noted war crimes, including intentionally directing attacks against civilians not participating in the fighting.

"It is indeed a characteristic of the situation in Libya that massive crimes are reportedly committed upon instruction of a few persons who control the organizations that execute the orders," the report said. "Arresting those who ordered the commission of crimes, should the Judges decide to issue warrants, will contribute to the protection of civilians in Libya."

The Office of the Prosecutor will submit its first application for arrest warrants in the coming weeks.

In March, shortly after the International Criminal Court was asked to investigate the issue, a court spokeswoman said Gadhafi would probably face serious charges.

But the prosecutor did not name the people against whom he had evidence.

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Wednesday's live video events
May 4th, 2011
07:36 AM ET

Wednesday's live video events

Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage on the fallout to the death of Osama bin Laden.

Today's programming highlights...

10:00 am ET - Prince Charles talks food future - Britain's Prince Charles continues his U.S. trip by delivering a keynote address at a conference on the global food system.

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