Yesterday, Senator John Kerry tried to explain why the administration’s decision to enter Pakistan without Islamabad’s knowledge to carry out a raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound didn't’t mean that the White House doesn’t trust the Pakistani government. “It was not a matter of trust but imperative of operational security,” Kerry said, explaining that he heard about the raid a few hours after it happened, and General David Petraeus, commander of forces in Afghanistan, was kept in the dark until just before the operation. The senator said he was not there to apologize for, in his estimation, “a triumph against terrorism.” Kerry was attempting to rebuild a now tattered relationship and noted that the two sides had “constructive conversations.” He added that Washington and Islamabad had agreed on “a specific series of steps” to mend fences, including Pakistan’s promise to return part of a U.S. helicopter that crashed during the operation.
Meanwhile, a day after Kerry’s big meetings, tensions continue to run high. NATO helicopters coming from Afghanistan were reportedly shot at near the border with Pakistan, and they returned fire, wounding two Pakistani soldiers. A statement released by Islamabad says that “Two NATO helicopters violated Pakistan air space today.”
The Washington Post is reporting that CIA Director Leon Panetta sent a private letter to Senator John McCain explaining why torture was not a primary source of information for the bin Laden raid. As Panetta reportedly wrote, “no detainee in CIA custody revealed the facilitator/courier’s full true name or specific whereabouts. This information was discovered through other intelligence means.” McCain apparently based much of his WaPo op-ed on the material in the letter.
Stephen Bosworth, the administration’s special envoy for North Korea who is currently in South Korea, said that Washington is still deciding whether to send a delegation to Pyongyang to evaluate the need for food aid there. Pyongyang has made repeated requests for food aid and over the years has relied heavily on outside donations. Bosworth said that “we will be making a decision on that in the next few days” about whether to send U.S. human rights envoy Robert King to the North. He added that Seoul and Washington had largely come to a consensus on the food situation.
White House spokesman Jay Carney criticized the Syrian government for inciting protests in the Golan Heights to try to distract the world from its ongoing crackdown on protestors at home. Carney said that the incitement “is unacceptable and does not serve as a distraction from the Syrian government’s ongoing repression of demonstrators in its own country.” President Obama is set to speak about the changes in the Middle East on Thursday.
Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sat down with Jordan’s King Abdullah II. In a press conference, Abdullah described the importance of the United States’ engagement in the Middle East following the Arab Spring: “the role of the United States is going to be crucial how the Middle East moves in what direction.” President Obama and Clinton also discussed with Abdullah how to spur the Israeli-Palestinian peace process onward. The secretary of state called the Jordanian leader “a strong and steady voice in the incredible changes that are going on around the world.”
And Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff, was sworn in yesterday as Chicago’s mayor. Vice President Joe Biden attended the ceremony.