WASHINGTON - (AP) - Bit by bit, new details about the audacious raid that killed the world's most wanted terrorist trickled outTuesday: Unexpectedly high temperatures caused a lumberinghelicopter carrying elite commandos to make a hard landing. A womankilled in the raid is believed to have been the wife of the courierwhose trail led to Osama bin Laden.
And as Navy SEALs swept through the massive compound, theyhandcuffed those they encountered with plastic zip ties and pressedon in pursuit of their target, code-named Geronimo. Then, once binLaden had been shot, they doubled back to move the prisoners awayfrom the compound before blowing up the downed helicopter.
The fuller picture of the high-stakes assault emerged as U.S.officials weighed whether to release secret video and photos of binLaden, killed with a precise shot above his left eye.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Select Committee onIntelligence and revealed some of the new details about the raid,said she'd known about the suspected bin Laden compound since lastDecember - offering rare proof that Washington can indeed keep ablockbuster secret.
President Barack Obama made plans to go to ground zero in NewYork on Thursday to mark the milestone of bin Laden's demise and toremember the dead of 9/11.
White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said the U.S.already was scouring items seized in the raid - said to includehard drives, DVD's, a pile of documents and more - that might tipU.S. intelligence to al-Qaida's operational details and perhapslead the manhunt to the presumed next-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri.
As for publicly releasing photos and video, Brennan said in aseries of appearances on morning television: "This needs to bedone thoughtfully," with careful consideration given to what kindof reaction the images might provoke.
At issue were photos of bin Laden's corpse and video of hisswift burial at sea. Officials were reluctant to inflame Islamicsentiment by showing graphic images of the body. But they were alsoeager to address the mythology already building in Pakistan andbeyond that bin Laden was somehow still alive.
Obama, who approved the extraordinarily risky operation andwitnessed its progression from the White House Situation Room, hisface heavy with tension, reaped accolades from world leaders he'dkept in the dark as well as from political opponents at home.Pakistan, however, called the raid "unauthorized" Tuesday andsaid it hoped it wouldn't serve as a precedent for future actions.
Republican and Democratic leaders at home gave Obama a standingovation at an evening White House meeting that was planned beforethe assault but became a celebration of it, and an occasion to stepaway from the fractious political climate.
"Last night's news unified our country," much as the terroristattacks of Sept. 11, 2001, did, Republican House Speaker JohnBoehner said earlier in the day. Obama later appealed for thatunity to take root as the U.S. presses the fight against aterrorist network that is still lethal - and now vowing vengeance.
The episode was an embarrassment, at best, for Pakistaniauthorities as bin Laden's presence was revealed in their midst.The stealth U.S. operation played out in a city with a strongPakistani military presence and without notice from Washington.Questions persisted in the administration and grew in Congressabout whether some elements of Pakistan's security apparatus mighthave been in collusion with al-Qaida in letting bin Laden hide inAbbottabad.
Brennan asked the question that was reverberating around theworld: "How did Osama bin Laden stay at that compound for sixyears or so and be undetected?"
"We have many, many questions about this," he said. "And Iknow Pakistani officials do as well." Brennan said Pakistaniofficials were trying to determine "whether there were individualswithin the Pakistani government or military intelligence serviceswho were knowledgeable." He questioned in particular why binLaden's compound hadn't come to the attention of local authorities.
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