HEADLINES -- May 5, 2011 at 8:33 AM ET
New Details Emerge in Bin Laden Raid; Pakistan Questions Legality of Operation
President Barack Obama meets with members of the national security team on the Osama bin Laden operation. (White House photo by Pete Souza)
New details about the Sunday raid on Osama bin Laden's fortified compound in Pakistan indicate that U.S. Navy SEALs engaged in a brief firefight at the outset of their mission but were not attacked again after that. These details differ from the Obama administration's initial account of the nearly 40-minute operation.
An official version of events issued by the Pentagon on Tuesday said the SEAL members "were engaged in a firefight throughout the operation."
"[T]he raid, though chaotic and bloody, was extremely one-sided, with a force of more than 20 Navy SEAL members quickly dispatching the handful of men protecting bin Laden.
"Administration officials said that the only shots fired by those in the compound came at the beginning of the operation, when bin Laden's trusted courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, opened fire from behind the door of the guesthouse adjacent to the house where bin Laden was hiding."
In an interview Tuesday with Jim Lehrer, CIA Director Leon Panetta said, "[T]here were some firefights that were going on as these guys were making their way up the staircase of that compound."
Meantime, Pakistan's foreign minister on Thursday appeared to question the legality of the U.S. operation and again denied that his country had knowingly sheltered the al-Qaida leader.
"[Foreign Secretary Salman] Bashir, citing United Nations Security Council resolutions on counter-terror operations, told reporters that the 'modalties for combating terrorism raises certain legal and moral issues' and said that 'everyone concerned ought to be mindful of their international obligations.'
"On Tuesday, the foreign ministry in a statement expressed 'deep concerns and reservations' that the U.S. carried out the mission in the city of Abbottabad unilaterally, without Pakistan's knowledge or permission."
Updated 12:45 p.m. ET: The head of Pakistan's army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said in a statement Thursday that any similar U.S. covert actions "violating the sovereignty of Pakistan" would prompt a review of U.S. relations.
On Capitol Hill and in the White House, lawmakers and administration officials continue to be frustrated with the United States' biggest ally in the region in the war on terror, with some suggesting cuts or elimination of the nearly $1.3 billion in annual aid to Pakistan.
On Thursday morning, President Obama will visit Ground Zero in New York to meet with families of 9/11 victims and take part in a ceremony.