Weekend open thread: Shifting stories

I didn’t expect U.S. officials to provide 100 percent accurate details about the raid in which Osama Bin Laden was killed last Sunday, but I was surprised by how quickly the first version of events unraveled. There was no “firefight” to speak of, the woman killed had not been used as a human shield, and four of the five people killed in the Abbottabad compound were unarmed. Jeralyn Merritt discussed some of the confusion regarding who was killed and who else had been living at the compound. The Guardian summarized some details on the raid here. Speculation continues about how many people in Pakistani government or intelligence circles knew Bin Laden had been living in Abbottabad.

It was a mostly quiet week at the statehouse, as only a few Iowa House and Senate leaders hung around to keep negotiating with Governor Terry Branstad. They made no progress toward deals on property tax reform, education spending, overall budget targets or whether Iowa will adopt a one-year or a biennial budget.

Iowa House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer pulled a fast one on Friday. After saying “publicly there would be no floor action,” Upmeyer brought up and passed two politically-charged resolutions with fewer than five representatives in the chamber. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was particularly angry about House Resolution 52, which states that

the House of Representatives supports the imposition of a moratorium on enforcement of rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions for a period of at least two years, and a moratorium on enforcement of existing or proposed rules regulating air quality for at least two years […].

McCarthy said House Democrats will send “our own letter to Iowa’s congressional delegation to let them know we did not support this controversial legislation and it should not have been called up for debate in our absence.” I agree that Upmeyer was in the wrong here, but mostly I’m surprised to learn that McCarthy cares about greenhouse gas emissions and air quality rules. When Democrats controlled the Iowa House and Senate, leaders did virtually nothing to act on recommendations of the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council.

Finally, happy Mother’s Day to the Bleeding Heartland community. Julia Ward Howe had anti-war activism on her mind when she proposed the first American celebration of Mother’s Day in 1870, but few people today associate the holiday with the peace movement. In past years I’ve posted lots of mother-related links here and here.

This is an open thread. What’s on your mind this weekend?

UPDATE: Congratulations to the nominees for the Women Food and Agriculture Network’s “2011 Sustainable Farming Moms of the Year.” Two of them are Iowans: Sandy McAntire of Chelsea and Paula Olson of Madrid.

SECOND UPDATE: Steve Kroft interviewed President Obama for 60 Minutes; the full transcript and video are here. After the jump I’ve posted an excerpt in which Obama talks about cooperation the U.S. has received from Pakistan, and possible official Pakistani knowledge of Bin Laden’s whereabouts.

KROFT: When you announced that bin Laden had been killed last Sunday, you said “Our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden in the compound where he was hiding.” Can you be more specific on that, and how much help did Pakistan actually provide in getting rid of bin Laden.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, I’ve gotta be careful about sources and methods and how we operate and how we pieced together this intelligence, because we’re gonna still be goin’ after terrorists in the future.

What I can say is that Pakistan, since 9/11, has been a strong counterterrorism partner with us. There have been times where we’ve had disagreements. There have been times where we wanted to push harder, and for various concerns, they might have hesitated. And those differences are real. And they’ll continue.

But the fact of the matter is, is that we’ve been able to kill more terrorists on Pakistani soil than just about any place else. We could not have done that without Pakistani cooperation. And I think that this will be an important moment in which Pakistan and the United States gets together and says, “All right, we’ve gotten bin Laden, but we’ve got more work to do. And are there ways for us to work more effectively together than we have in the past?”

And that’s gonna be important for our national security. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t gonna be times where we’re gonna be frustrated with Pakistanis. And frankly, there are gonna be times where they’re frustrated with us. You know, they’ve got not only individual terrorists there, but there’s also a climate inside of Pakistan that sometimes is deeply anti-American. And it makes it more difficult for us to be able to operate there effectively.

But I do think that it’s important for the American people to understand that we’ve got a stake in continuing cooperation from Pakistan on these issues.

KROFT: You didn’t tell anybody in the Pakistani government or the military.


KROFT: Or their intelligence community?


KROFT: Because you didn’t trust?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: As I said, I didn’t tell most people here in the White House. I didn’t tell my own family. It was that important for us to maintain operational security.

KROFT: But you were carrying out this operation in Pakistan.


KROFT: You didn’t trust ’em?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: If I’m not revealing to some of my closest aides what we’re doin’, then I sure as heck am not gonna be revealing it to folks who I don’t know.

KROFT: Right. Now the location of this house, the location of the compound just raises all sorts of questions.


KROFT: Do you believe people in the Pakistani government, Pakistani intelligence agencies knew that bin Laden was living there?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We think that there had to be some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan. But we don’t know who or what that support network was. We don’t know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government, and that’s something that we have to investigate, and more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate.

And we’ve already communicated to them, and they have indicated they have a profound interest in finding out what kinds of support networks bin Laden might have had. But these are questions that we’re not gonna be able to answer three or four days after the event. It’s gonna take some time for us to be able to exploit the intelligence that we were able to gather on site.

And I just want the American people to think about this. These guys, our guys, go in in the dead of night, it’s pitch black, they’re takin’ out walls, false doors, gettin’ shot at, they killed bin Laden, and they had the presence of mind to still gather up a whole bunch of bin Laden’s material which will be a treasure trove of information that could serve us very well in the weeks and months to come. It’s just an indication of the extraordinary work that they did.

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