Obama Describes Risks of Bin Laden Raid, Miss. River Nears Record Levels
More than a week since a U.S. military raid on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, leaders from both countries continue to react to the daring operation that was conducted without Pakistan’s consent or knowledge.
In an interview on Sunday’s “60 Minutes”, President Obama said he was aware of the political risks of conducting the raid but decided to proceed with the intelligence available. “[A]t the end of the day, this was still a 55-45 situation. I mean, we could not say definitively that bin Laden was there. Had he not been there, then there would have been significant consequences,” the president said.
In Pakistan, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani is expected to make a statement about the raid, which government officials have criticized as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, and respond to questions about how bin Laden was able to hide in Abottabad undetected. Though Pakistani officials have denied any knowledge of his whereabouts, some have questioned if elements of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency may have been aware of his whereabouts. The ISI, responsible for spying operations, has been accused of maintaining ties to some extremist groups. Gilani’s office said in a press release that the Pakstani government has helped reign in the activity of terrorist groups in the country.
Over the weekend, Pakistani media reported the name of the CIA station chief in Islamabad, a name the Associated Press says is wrong.
Mississippi River Rises, Threatens Memphis, Flooding Expected
The Mississippi River has risen to near-record levels in some places, straining levees in Memphis and other cities. The Army Corps of Engineers is working to release some of the excess water through spillways, but the river is expected to reach 48 feet, a level not seen since 1937 when it rose to 48.7 feet and killed around 500 people.
A levee was destroyed deliberately in the town of Cairo, Ill., flooding farmland in Missouri and costing some farmers their crops. Memphis residents were scrambling to evacuate from low-lying areas.
Though no new rain was in the forecast for Monday, several weeks of higher-than-usual rainfall have pushed massive amounts of water down the Mississippi River.
Witnesses Report Shooting in Near Damascus, Syrian Police Detains Hundreds
Syrian security forces conducted raids Monday across the country, detaining hundreds of people the government says are involved in the protests. More than 600 people are estimated to have died in the violence in the ongoing crackdowns that have lasted for almost two months.
Human rights groups say the arrests were focused on Daraa, Banias, Homs and parts of Damascus, all of which have seen the most demonstrations. On Monday, witnesses reported that the army had “surrounded” a section of Damascus’ suburbs, with reports of gunfire.
Water supplies and communication have reportedly been cut in Banias, and in Daraa residents have been subject to a strict curfew.
President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has led Syria for four decades, has promised limited reforms but has failed thus far to appease protesters.
NATO Says Those Involved in Kandahar Attack Captured or Killed
NATO says a group of insurgents who carried out an attack on government buildings in southern Afghanistan have been accounted for after a two-day long battle Saturday and Sunday. According to NATO spokeswoman Brig. Gen. Christine Whitecross, “Afghan forces responded capably. They kept this from becoming a spectacular attack that the insurgents had hoped for.”
Afghan officials say 25 insurgents, two members of the Afghan army and one civilian died in the fighting.
In Ghazni province, northeast of Kandahar, six policemen were killed in an ambush. The attack took place near the police headquarters.