Mojo - May 2011

Osama bin Laden Killed: The White House Background Report

| Mon May 2, 2011 7:05 AM EDT

Here's the transcript of an off-the-record conference call held by senior administration officials—and moderated by White House press aide Tommy Vietor—minutes after President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed by US special forces:

MR. VIETOR:  Thank you, everyone, for joining us, especially so late.  We wanted to get you on the line quickly with some senior administration officials to talk about the operation today regarding Osama bin Laden.  And with that I’ll turn it over to our first senior administration official.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks for joining us, everybody, at this late hour.  It’s much appreciated.  From the outset of the administration, the President has placed the highest priority in protecting the nation from the threat of terrorism.  In line with this, we have pursued an intensified, targeted, and global effort to degrade and defeat al Qaeda.  Included in this effort has been a relentless set of steps that we’ve taken to locate and bring Osama bin Laden to justice.  Indeed, in the earliest days of the administration, the President formally instructed the intelligence community and his counterterrorism advisors to make the pursuit of Osama bin Laden, as the leader of al Qaeda, as a top priority.

In the beginning of September of last year, the CIA began to work with the President on a set of assessments that led it to believe that in fact it was possible that Osama bin Laden may be located at a compound in Pakistan.  By mid-February, through a series of intensive meetings at the White House and with the President, we had determined there was a sound intelligence basis for pursuing this in an aggressive way and developing courses of action to pursue Osama bin Laden at this location.

In the middle of March, the President began a series of National Security Council meetings that he chaired to pursue again the intelligence basis and to develop courses of action to bring justice to Osama bin Laden.  Indeed, by my count, the President chaired no fewer than five National Security Council meetings on the topic from the middle of March -- March 14th, March 29th, April 12th, April 19th, and April 28th.  And the President gave the final order to pursue the operation that he announced to the nation tonight on the morning -- Friday morning of April 29th.

The President mentioned tonight that the pursuit of Osama bin Laden and the defeat of al Qaeda has been a bipartisan exercise in this nation since September 11, 2001, and indeed, this evening before he spoke to the nation, President Obama did speak to President Bush 43 and President Clinton this evening to review with them the events of today and to preview his statement to the nation tonight.

And with that, I’ll turn it over to my colleague to go through some of the details.  Thank you.

[See the jump for the rest--including details of the intelligence operation that led to the raid.]

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Did Wisconsin GOPers Forge a Dead Man's Signature in Recall Effort?

| Mon May 2, 2011 5:00 AM EDT

Recall frenzy is sweeping through Wisconsin, with nine state legislators, Democrats and Republicans, targeted by activists and the state political parties in the aftermath of the uprising over Governor Scott Walker's anti-union "budget repair" bill. So far, efforts to recall GOPers are easily outpacing recall campaigns targeting Democrats, and so perhaps it comes as little surprise that Republicans were recently accused of using dirty tricks to boost their efforts.

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, in the petition to recall Sen. Bob Wirch, one of the 14 Democratic senators who fled the state in February to block a vote on Walker's bill, the signature and address of "Bill Pocan" appear. Here's the problem: Bill Pocan, who happens to be the father of Democratic state Assembly member Mark Pocan, died twenty years ago.

The chairman of the campaign to recall Wirch, Dan Hunt, told the Journal Sentinel that the signature looks to be a forgery. Hunt, however, blamed the forged signature on Wisconsin Democrats, who he said were seeking to derail his efforts.

Democrats immediately waved off Hunt's accusation. The head of the State Senate Democratic Committee said Hunt had "been caught red-handed" and "need look no further than his own organization" for someone to blame for the controversy. Mike Tate, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said in a statement that "the Republican forgery of dead names on recall petitions represents a new low for Wisconsin. It is voter fraud at its most abhorrent and it must be investigated and explained."

Right now, Democrats have filed petitions to recall six Republicans in the legislature, while Republicans have filed three. What's even more impressive is that Democrats have far surpassed the number of signatures needed to trigger a recall election, even in traditionally Republican districts, which suggests that the ire of Wisconsin citizens could lead to a handful of sitting legislators getting the axe in the coming months. Meanwhile, the fate of Walker's "repair" bill, which would slash collective bargaining rights for most public-sector unions, remains in legal limbo, its fate uncertain.

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for May 2, 2011

Mon May 2, 2011 4:30 AM EDT

A team of engineers with Company C, Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, currently attached to 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., conduct military operations in urban terrain drills to clear a building during a training exercise, April 18, at Camp Taji, Iraq. The intent of the training was to re-familiarize the soldiers with the techniques and tactics involved in handling demolitions safely and efficiently in a stressful environment. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Molleigh Crotty)