Questions remain 1 year after bin Laden raid
By Zarar Khan and Chris Brummitt ,AP Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 12:32 am TWN
ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan -- U.S. President Barack Obama says the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden is a time for reflection, and he pushed back on criticism that the White House was using the occasion for "excessive celebration."
Obama also took the opportunity to raise the question of whether his Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney would have made the same decision in targeting the al-Qaida leader. While never mentioning Romney by name, Obama recommended looking at people's previous statements on the issue.
Obama's re-election team has seized on a quote from Romney in 2007 where he said it was not worth moving heaven and earth to go after one person.
On Monday, Romney said he "of course" would have ordered bin Laden killed.
One year since U.S. commandos flew into this Pakistani army town and killed Osama bin Laden, Islamabad has failed to answer tough questions over whether its security forces were protecting the world's most wanted terrorist.
Partly as a result, fallout from the raid still poisons relations between Washington and Pakistan, where anti-American sentiment, support for Islamist extremism and anger at the violation of sovereignty in the operation can be summed up by a Twitter hashtag doing the rounds: 02MayBlackDay.
The Pakistani government initially welcomed the raid that killed bin Laden in his three-story compound, but within hours the mood changed as it became clear that Pakistan's army was cut out of the operation. Any discussions over how bin Laden managed to stay undetected in Pakistan were drowned out in anger at what the army portrayed as a treacherous act by a supposed ally.
That bin Laden was living with his family near Pakistan's version of West Point — not in a cave in the mountains as many had guessed — raised eyebrows in the West. The Pakistani army was already accused of playing both sides in the campaign against militancy, providing some support against al-Qaida but keeping the Afghan Taliban as strategic allies.
A week after the raid, President Barack Obama said bin Laden had a "support network" in Pakistan and the country must investigate how he evaded capture. Pakistan responded by announcing the formation of a committee to investigate bin Laden's presence in Pakistan as well as the circumstances surrounding the U.S. raid.
Soon after it began its work, the head of the committee said he was sure that security forces were not hiding bin Laden. Other statements since then have also suggested the report will be more of a whitewash than a genuine probe.
Last week, committee spokesman retired Col. Mohammad Irfan Naziri said its findings were being written up but they might not be released publicly.
The public line of the Obama administration is that no evidence has emerged to suggest bin Laden had high-level help inside Pakistan. Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence agency said bin Laden's long and comfortable existence in the country was an "intelligence failure."
But suspicions have increased following recent disclosures by one of bin Laden's wives in a police interrogation report that the al-Qaida leader lived in five houses while on the run and fathered four children, two of whom were born in Pakistani government hospitals.
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