Tales from the Trail

Reuters/Ipsos poll: Obama gets credit for bin Laden death, but not by much

President Barack Obama gave the order for a daring raid on a compound inside Pakistan in which the most wanted man on earth was killed, but only 32 percent of Americans say he deserves the most credit for Osama bin Laden’s death.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that 13 percent of Americans gave former President George W. Bush credit, while 25 percent said neither.

Most Americans, 52 percent, said the killing of bin Laden in the Sunday secret operation did not change their view about Obama’s leadership, while 39 percent said it improved their view and 10 percent said it worsened theirs.

Their views on Obama’s handling of the war on terrorism had a similar breakdown — 50 percent unchanged, 42 percent improved and 7 percent worsened.

The successful raid most changed the public’s view of the performance of  U.S. intelligence agencies — 66 percent improved — and the military — 64 percent improved.

Bipartisanship on the White House menu

At a White House dinner with Senate and House leaders from both parties and their spouses, President Barack Obama got a standing ovation when he mentioned the demise of Osama bin Laden in his welcome.

“Last night, as Americans learned that the United States had carried out an operation that resulted in the capture and death of  Osama bin Laden…” Obama said.

At that point, he was interrupted by the standing ovation.

“We were reminded again that there is a pride in what this nation stands for and what we can achieve that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics,” Obama continued after the applause subsided.

“Minutes passed like days” for U.S. officials watching bin Laden op

It took almost a decade for the United States to find al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. But when it came to the final act, time went into slow motion  for U.S. officials holding their breath and hoping the raid in Pakistan would go off without a hitch.

White House counterterrorism official John Brennan, a former CIA officer who has been after bin Laden for 15 years, described the scene in the White House Situation Room where President Barack Obama and other national security officials gathered to monitor the U.S. operation in real-time.

“It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time, I think, in the lives of the people who were assembled here yesterday,” Brennan told reporters at the White House.

“Deceased” bin Laden opens up slot on FBI’s 10 most wanted list

The FBI’s list of “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” has a new opening now that Osama bin Laden is dead.

The bureau wasted no time at all slapping the word “Deceased” in big white letters on a red background at the bottom of his photograph less than 12 hours after President Barack Obama announced to the world during a dramatic late-night statement.

The al Qaeda leader, killed in a U.S. helicopter raid on a mansion compound near the Pakistani capital Islamabad, was among those on the “Most Wanted Terrorists” list when then-President George W. Bush went to FBI headquarters for its unveiling after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

Washington Extra – Hunkered down

In all the words said over at the White House today about the Afghanistan review, one name was not mentioned — Osama bin Laden.

The al Qaeda leader, who former President George W. Bush once declared wanted dead or alive, has eluded a manhunt and grown nearly 10 years older since the Sept. 11 attacks.

USA-AFGHANISTAN/Bin Laden was last heard in an audio message aired on Al Jazeera television on Oct. 27 railing against France, and his freedom remains a symbol of how difficult it will be to declare victory against al Qaeda.

Ahmadinejad says bin Laden in Washington

BINLADEN/Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has the answer to the question that has plagued the United States since Sept. 11, 2001. 

He knows where Osama bin Laden is — in Washington. OBAMA/

In an interview with ABC’S “Good Morning America” on Wednesday, Ahmadinejad rejected reports that the al Qaeda leader was in Iran.

“I heard that Osama bin Laden is in the Washington, D.C.,” Ahmadinejad said through an interpreter in a contentious give-and-take with his interviewer, George Stephanopoulos.

Holder: collective administration decision on possible bin Laden trial

(UPDATED – adds Tuesday hearing delayed)

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder drew a lot of attention last week when he told Congress that he believed that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden would never be captured alive and declined to say how he would be prosecuted if that hypothetical capture actually came to fruition.

BINLADEN/

Holder offered a somewhat clearer answer on Monday to that question ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Tuesday that is expected to delve deeply into the Obama administration’s policies for prosecuting terrorism suspects. (The hearing was postponed until April 14 because many lawmakers plan to attend the healthcare bill signing.)

“If  Osama bin Laden were captured, a decision as to how to proceed would be made at that time in consultation with the President’s full national security team,”  Holder said in written responses released on Monday to questions submitted for the record by the committee after its last oversight hearing in November.

FBI gives Osama bin Laden shave and a haircut

UPDATE: After the aged Osama bin Laden photos were posted on U.S. government websites, a Spanish politician said his photograph was used to compose one of the images and he was considering taking legal action. Read about the latest twist here.

Everyone gets older, even the most wanted terrorism suspect.

BINLADEN/So more than 8 years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the FBI has used digital forensic techniques to figure out what al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden might look like now.

In one new picture, bin Laden has a closely-cropped beard and short, stylish grey hair — a far cry from the photo that has been on the most wanted terrorism website of a man with a long, bushy, dark beard.

The First Draft: White House “gate crashers” to tell their own story

She’s blond and beautiful. He’s debonair. Together, with irresistible charm and a voracious appetite for self-promotion, they penetrated White House security to attend this week’s state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and got close enough to kiss Vice President Joe Biden.

That’s the current media image of Michaele and Tareq Salahi, who could be the world’s most celebrated gate crashers since the British comedian who attended Prince William’s 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle in 2003 while dressed as Osama bin Laden in drag. OBAMA-DINNER/SECURITY
    
But is there more to the story?
    
The Salahis’ lawyer, Paul Gardner, suggests there is. “My clients were cleared, by the White House, to be there. More information is forthcoming,” he says in a statement published by the Washington Post.
    
The now-famous couple also plans to appear Monday on CNN’s Larry King Live.
    
Paul Wharton, a friend of the Salahis, tells ABC’s Good Morning America that the couple has had lots of contact lately with Indian officials and has spent a fair amount of time in India. Could that explain why they were at a dinner honoring the Indian PM? 
         
News accounts cast the Salahis as determined publicity seekers who posted their wedding on YouTube and boast an online photo gallery of themselves with loads of celebrities including Britain’s Prince Charles.
    
Michaele, a former Washington Redskins cheerleader, is being considered for cable TV channel Bravo‘s upcoming reality series, The Real Housewives of Washington. In fact, the Post reports that she spent seven hours at a posh salon, TV production crew in tow, getting ready for the big night.
    
The camera crew followed Michaele and Tareq to the White House but couldn’t get in. The Salahis did and wound up being snapped for photos with Biden and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. USA-GERMANY/
    
The Secret Service, which is charged with protecting President Barack Obama and other high-level officials, says the Salahis were not invited to the dinner. The agency is conducting a comprehensive review to get to the bottom of one of the most embarrassing security breaches in the history of White House dinners.
    
It’s not clear what could happen to the Salahis if they really did crash the party. But another friend of the couple, Casey Margenau, doesn’t sound too worried. “Whatever they do, they’ll land on their feet,” he tells ABC. “Promotion and parties are part of their life.”

Photo credits: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Michaele and Tareq Salahi); Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Biden)

The First Draft: A bumpy Mideast landing

OBAMA/SAUDI ARABIAWithin minutes of President Barack Obama’s arrival in Saudi Arabia today, a recording by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was played on Al Jazeera television. U.S. television networks showed Air Force One landing in Riyadh and the first images of Obama greeting Saudi King Abdullah, the audio recording from bin Laden took aim. The militant leader accused the Obama administration of “planting seeds for hatred and revenge.”

It was a rough beginning to what could be a challenging visit to the Middle East and Europe by Obama. He spends tonight at the Saudi monarch’s farm, then flies to Cairo tomorrow for a much-previewed address to the Muslim world. He then travels to Germany and finally to France to commemorate D-Day, returning to Washington on Saturday.

There’s a full cast of characters testifying today on Capitol Hill. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke appears before the House Budget Committee on challenges facing the economy. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu talks to a panel of the House Appropriations Committee. And executives from GM and Chrysler testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on protecting auto dealers and consumers after the closure of hundreds of car dealerships at both companies.