Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – In pursuit

Osama bin Laden is gone, but plenty of questions remain about how the al Qaeda leader evaded an intense decade-long manhunt that ended in a dramatic U.S. raid on a house in Pakistan.

The real breakthrough that led to bin Laden came from a mysterious CIA detainee, Hassan Ghul, according to a Reuters special report published today. It was Ghul who, after years of tantalizing hints from other detainees, finally provided the information that prompted the CIA to focus intensely on finding Abu Ahmed al Kuwaiti, pseudonym for the courier who would lead them to bin Laden.

Fresh from the victory of finding the world’s most wanted man, President Barack Obama wants no let-up in the pursuit of terrorism suspects and surprised everyone by seeking a two-year extension of FBI Director Robert Mueller’s 10-year term.

At a time when Obama is shifting around his national security team, he’s also seeking areas of continuity.

Here are our top stories from Washington…

Special Report: The bin Laden kill plan

The 13-year quest to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden was filled with missteps, course adjustments and radical new departures for security policy. Even with bin Laden buried at sea, the changes could linger for years, or decades. The mission to destroy bin Laden, and his network, sparked the creation of a chillingly bureaucratic process for deciding who would be on “kill lists,” authorized for death at the hands of the CIA. It revolutionized the use of pilotless drones to find and attack militants; drove the controversially brutal treatment of detainees in U.S. custody; and brought the United States and Pakistan closer together, then wrenched them apart.

Wanted: New FBI director ‘ready to go’

The search for a new FBI director is under way, and Attorney General Eric Holder wants someone “ready to go” to fill some large shoes.

Robert Mueller, the current FBI chief who took office right before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, is limited by law to serving a 10-year term.

The goal was to have somebody nominated and “ready to go” by the time Mueller steps down, Holder said. President Barack Obama’s nominee must be confirmed by the Senate.