News / USA

US Official Sees Benefits, Challenges to bin Laden's Death

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy

A senior U.S. defense official has made the first on-the-record comments from the department about the implications of Osama bin Laden's death.  The Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Michele Flournoy, said Thursday it could spur reconciliation in Afghanistan, but also poses new challenges for U.S.-Pakistan relations.  

Under Secretary Flournoy found herself in the interesting position on Monday of hosting long-scheduled U.S.-Pakistan security consultations.  It was just about 15 hours after President Barack Obama had announced that bin Laden was killed by American commandos in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad.  She says she had a specific message for the Pakistanis in that meeting.

"What we’ve been stressing in our conversations is the importance of strengthening our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan, and moving forward in a way in which that cooperation is visible and concrete and undeniable," she said.

Speaking to a small group of reporters at the Washington offices of the Aspen Institute onThursday, Flournoy said that "many steps" are needed, including help interpreting the information from bin Laden’s compound, cooperation on ways to put pressure on al-Qaida, and efforts to improve stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

She said she had "candid" conversations with the Pakistani officials about those steps and the future of U.S.-Pakistan relations.  Flournoy said new Pakistani moves are particularly important to ensure funding to continue bilateral cooperation.

"I do think that Congress will have to be convinced to sustain both civilian and military assistance to Pakistan," she said.

That situation was on display at about the same time across town, during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  The chairman, Democrat John Kerry, asked some questions that many members of Congress have been asking.

"What did Pakistan’s military and intelligence services know?  What is appropriate to think they should have known?  Who did they think was living behind those 15-foot [4.57-meter] walls?, he said.

Flournoy says there is "no definitive evidence" that Pakistani officials knew the al-Qaida leader was hiding in a town populated largely by retired military officers.  But she says the large volume of material taken from bin Laden's compound might prove otherwise.  

She also says the Obama administration believes it is important to continue America's partnership with Pakistan in the war on terror, despite concerns about bin Laden’s hideout and other issues, including the sometimes questionable activities of Pakistan's intelligence service.

Senator Kerry expressed a similar view, as did the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar.

"We must admit [that] Pakistan is not an easy partner.  But distancing ourselves from Pakistan would be unwise and extremely dangerous," he said.

Lugar said a break in relations with Pakistan would not only hurt  the war on terror, but also would weaken intelligence gathering, increase the danger of a Pakistan-India conflict, end U.S. involvement in helping to secure Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and make U.S. military operations in Afghanistan more difficult.

At the Aspen Institute, Under Secretary Flournoy said bin Laden’s death could hasten the end of the conflict in Afghanistan.

"I think now that Osama bin Laden is dead, some of the personal relationships that connected senior Taliban leaders to him, that tie is broken.  And I think that creates an opportunity for them to step forward and renounce al-Qaida and their affiliation with it," Flournoy said.

Flournoy said bin Laden’s death "dealt a very severe blow to al-Qaida," and that she hopes more Taliban leaders will accept Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s terms and join the reconciliation process.  Some members of Congress say the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, set to begin in July, should be accelerated.  But the Obama administration says the speed of the drawdown must still be based on the amount of progress made toward stability.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid