The Obama administration has acknowledged Osama bin Laden was unarmed when he was killed in a U.S. raid. The admission contradicts previous suggestions bin Laden had taken part in a firefight with U.S. troops and could heighten speculation that the United States never intended to capture bin Laden alive. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney revealed the new details.
Jay Carney: “The information I have to you, first of all, I think resistance does not require a firearm, but the information I gave you is what I can tell you about it. I’m sure more details will be provided as they become available and we are able to release them.”
Reporter: “Did he have any weapon?”
Carney: “He was not armed is what I understand to be true.”
One of bin Laden’s wives was wounded in the raid but not killed as previously reported. Both the wounded wife and a daughter of bin Laden, believed to be about 12 years old, are in Pakistani custody along with nine other children. The Obama administration says it is weighing whether to release photographs taken of bin Laden after he was killed, as well as photos of three other men killed in the raid, including bin Laden’s son, his courier and the courier’s brother. The Navy SEAL team that carried out the raid also seized a cache of computer equipment and documents that U.S. officials say could provide a major boost to the fight against al-Qaeda.
The raid that killed Osama bin Laden has inflamed tensions between the U.S. and Pakisani governments. Pakistan has criticized it as “an unauthorized unilateral action,” and the White House has said it did not warn Pakistani officials out of fear of tipping off the targets. On Tuesday, the Pakistani government issued a statement rejecting allegations it was aware of bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan and warned the United States against undertaking similar missions in the future. At a trilateral meeting with United States and Afghan envoys, Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said Pakistan is trying to move on from the fallout over bin Laden’s presence.
Salman Bashir: “What we are trying to do here is to look to the future. This issue of Osama bin Laden is history, and I think we do not want to keep ourselves mired in the past.”
President Obama will be in New York City tomorrow to deliver a speech at Ground Zero, the site of the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Former President George W. Bush has declined an invitation to appear with Obama at the ceremony.
The United Nations claims nearly 40,000 people have fled fighting in Libya’s Western Mountain region over the last month. A U.N. spokesperson said some 8,000 people—mostly women and children—crossed the Libya-Tunisia border last weekend alone. The U.N.’s high commissioner for refugees says the situation for those seeking to flee Libya is rapidly deteriorating as the port city of Misurata remains cut off from humanitarian access and the Tunisian border is beset with intense fighting. Simon Brooks of the International Committee of the Red Cross said aid groups need immediate access to Misurata.
Simon Brooks: “We must have access as soon as possible. And, you know, the law of armed conflict is very clear about the access which civilian populations must have to humanitarian assistance in such circumstances, and the fact that that’s not happening is of deep concern to us.”
NATO, meanwhile, says it has been unable to clear all naval mines believed to have been laid by Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s forces off Misurata’s port. The mines have prevented aid ships from reaching Misurata. NATO Vice Admiral Rinaldo Veri said his forces are trying to remove the mines. He also refused to apologize for this weekend’s air strike that killed Gaddafi’s youngest son and three of his grandchildren.
The news in Libya comes as the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court says he has found enough evidence to issue up to five warrants for crimes against humanity by Gaddafi’s forces. Luis Moreno-Ocampo is scheduled to brief the U.N. Security Council on his findings today.
Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have gathered in Cairo, Egypt, to mark their landmark unity deal. The agreement lays the groundwork for an interim unity government before national elections next year.
In Iraq, nine people were killed and 27 wounded Tuesday when a car bombing struck in southern Baghdad. Iraqi forces have gone on high alert in anticipation of revenge attacks for the death of Osama bin Laden.
In Bahrain, 47 medical workers who treated pro-democracy protesters during the nation’s recent unrest are being charged with crimes against the state. Bahraini officials have announced charges against 23 doctors and 24 nurses that include “promoting efforts to bring down the government” and “harming the public by spreading false news.” They will be tried before a military court. Bahrain is a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, hosting the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
Amnesty International reports North Korea is holding some 200,000 political prisoners in several massive camps where they are forced to work in near slave-like conditions. The rights group has published satellite images of four camps in three separate provinces. The images indicate a substantial growth in the scope of the camps since 2001. Interviews with former detainees have revealed allegations of torture and common public executions. Food is reportedly scarce at the camps and several former prisoners have said people often eat rats or pick corn out of animal excrement to survive.
The oil giant BP has agreed to pay $25 million to settle civil charges stemming from spills and corrosion at its massive pipeline system in Alaska. More than 5,000 barrels of oil were dumped at the North Slope in March 2006 when a BP pipeline exploded. BP was found to have ignored a government order requiring it to conduct expensive repairs on its network of 1,600 miles of pipelines.
A Wyoming couple is accusing a national rent-to-own company of leasing them a computer that was used to spy on them in their home. In a federal lawsuit, Brian and Crystal Byrd say the firm Aaron’s used spying software to take remote photographs, monitor email, and track internet activity on the laptop computer they leased. The couple learned of the spying after a disagreement led an Aaron’s manager to present them with a photograph of Brian Byrd using the computer.
Utah is facing a class action lawsuit over a recently approved law similar to last year’s anti-immigrant crackdown in Arizona. On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center filed a suit seeking to block the law before it takes effect next week. Under the measure, Utah law enforcement officers would be forced to check the citizenship or legal immigration status of people stopped for violations.
A new international report finds rapidly increasing climate change could raise global sea levels up to five-feet, three-inches by 2100. Temperatures in the Arctic are the warmest ever recorded, putting the region’s ice caps and glaciers, as well as the Greenland Ice Sheet, at risk of melting. Such a thaw would threaten coasts from Bangladesh to Florida, low-lying Pacific islands, and cities from London to Shanghai. The report from the Oslo-based Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program draws on the work of hundreds of experts. It also warns of a significantly higher sea level rise than previously anticipated. The last major report issued in 2007 predicted sea levels would rise between 18 and 59 centimeters by 2100 (roughly equivalent to between seven and 23 inches).
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