The Sunday talk shows were dominated by talk of the killing of Osama bin Laden, with National Security Adviser Tom Donilon making the rounds on CNN, ABC, NBC and FOX. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) also gave their reaction along with former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former vice president Dick Cheney.
State of the Union (CNN)
Donilon: Bin Laden intelligence haul is size of“a small college library”
National Security Adviser Tom Donilon discussed the raid that resulted in the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. “It turns out that this is the largest cache of information gotten from a senior terrorist – gotten from any terrorist in one operation,”Donilon said of the information Navy SEALS were able to gather. “It’s about the size of a small college library, and we'll – we have put together a multi agency task force to go through it.” Asked about the change in the government’s message regarding the role bin Laden played in al-Qaeda Donilon said, “What we now know, again taking a look initially here, is that he had obviously a operational and strategic role, and a propaganda role for al-Qaeda. Which again makes the operation last Sunday I think more significant in terms of its affect on – affect on al-Qaeda.”
Asked to describe the terrorist leader’s final moments, Donilon said, “At no point in the course of this operation did Osama bin Laden indicate that he was prepared to surrender. This is an organization known obviously for suicide bombing, IEDs, booby trapping buildings. And I think our forces, with no signal from him that he was prepared to surrender, acted completely appropriately. And I don't think anybody is going to second guess their judgment.” Asked if he worried if the initial reporting undercut the moment, Donilon said he did not. “The messages that have come back to us from around the world – and I study this very closely-- is that this was a just action.”
Donilon said he had not seen any evidence to suggest that political, military or intelligence agencies in Pakistan were complicit in sheltering bin Laden.
Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was asked if he thought the United States would withhold aid to Pakistan. “I don’t see that at all. ... As a matter of fact Pakistan is a critical factor in the war against terror,” Lugar said.
The conversation turned to the status of the U.S. troop draw-down in the overall war on terror. Asked what size of a draw-down he would find acceptable, Lugar said, “Perhaps 10,000-to-25,0000 troops would satisfy our ability to fight terror — that is, with intelligence backing.”
“In the front room, we discuss money every day,” Lugar said in defense of his call for such a significant troop draw-down, “But in the back room we talk about foreign policy” as if the two are not related. “So we’re going to have to think very carefully about our objectives.”
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen discussed the ongoing fighting between Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi and rebel forces. “The game is up for Gaddafi,” Rasmussen said. Asked if NATO member nations were supplying arms to the Libyan rebels, Rasmussen would not deny it outright saying, “It’s not part of the NATO mandate.”
FOX News Sunday
Cheney: Enhanced interrogation “was not torture”
Former Vice President Dick Cheney (R) gave tepid praise to President Obama for his decision to send in a Navy Seal team to kill Osama bin Laden, saying Obama deserves "a lot of credit." Cheney used Bin Laden's killing to defend the use of water boarding and other methods that the former administration called “enhanced interrogation,” and pilloried Obama for banning their use. "It’s not clear to me today that we have an interrogation program that we could put somebody through should we capture a high-value detainee that had crucial information," Cheney said. "It was a good program. It was a legal program. It was not torture."
Cheney said that his administration's interrogation methods played a role in the intelligence that led to locating Bin Laden, citing conversations he's had with the former top human intelligence officer at the CIA, Jose Rodriguez, and former attorney general Michael Mukasey, as well as remarks by current CIA director Leon Panetta. "All have said one way or the other that the enhanced integration program played a role," Cheney said.
Cheney also attacked Obama’s policy in Libya and smirked when host Chris Wallace described Obama's philosophy as "lead from behind." "I’ve been confused by it," Cheney said, adding that the mission was too important to turn over to NATO. "Frankly, NATO only functions effectively when the United States is involved to lead NATO."
Cheney said he gives Obama "high marks" for his use of drones to kill terrorists in Pakistan, but that he worries the raid on bin Laden’s compound could be used as a reason to leave Afghanistan before the country is stable enough to keep terrorist cells from operating there. Asked about his recent health problems, Cheney said his condition has greatly improved this year from the point when he entered the hospital with "end-stage heart failure." He plans to go fishing later this month, but added that he's "not supposed to fall in."
American Petroleum Institute chief: Stop “penalizing” us
Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute was asked about the rising — and now falling — price of gasoline. “As the price of crude comes down, you will see the price of gasoline fall,” Gerard said. He outlined a number of factors as contributing the price of oil and gasoline, including supply and demand, unrest in the Middle East and unemployment among other things.
Gerard went on to describe calls for the elimination of oil and gas industry subsidies as “penalizing” one of American business’s most successful sectors. “We are clearly not only paying our fair share, we’re paying more than our share.”
“It really comes down to the question of how big does the government need to be,” Gerard said.
This Week (ABC)
Pakistani ambassador to the U.S.: “Heads will roll”
National Security Adviser Tom Donilon trumpeted the raid that killed Osama bin Laden as a major victory for the United States. "He was engaged not just in being a symbolic leader of al-Qaeda, but he was involved in the strategic and operational leadership," Donilon said. "This is a really serious blow to them. It's a milestone on our way to strategic defeat.”
Donilon said the CIA has characterized the trove of intelligence collected in the raid "as the size of a small college library." Donilon demanded answers from Pakistan on how bin Laden could have lived for so long in a safe house less than a mile from an army training academy. “We need to know how this happened and they need to know how this happened"
Pakistani Ambassador Husain Haqqani said that the head of the country's army is conducting an investigation into how the terrorist leader could have gone undetected. "Heads will roll, once the investigation has been completed," Haqqani said. "Pakistan wants to put to rest any misgivings the world has about our role. . .We have been victims of terrorism."
Pakistan is interrogating bin Laden's wives and children, Haqqani said, declining to share specific information they have given authorities. He also said that the country's leaders were rightly concerned about the raid. "What we are offended by is the violation of our sovereignty," Haqqani said. "America has a selling job to do in Pakistan too. Convince more Pakistanis that you are more of our ally."
CBS Face the Nation
Rumsfeld: Obama made “the right decision”
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.). described the divergent goals of the United States and Pakistan, among them Pakistan’s focus primarily on India as a potential terrorist threat, “The Pakistanis have had a different set of interests about India, a different set of interests about what kind of Afghanistan they want to see.
“Everybody has to understand that even in the getting of Osama bin Laden, the Pakistanis were helpful,” Kerry said. “We have people on the ground in Pakistan, because they allow us to have them.”
“If out of this Osama bin Laden event, Pakistan now decides to really engage in a very different strategic relationship,”Kerry said, “that could significantly -- and I do mean significantly-- change the dynamic with the Taliban, the possibilities of reconciliation, the possibilities of negotiation, and ultimately the numbers of troops that are in Afghanistan.”
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also gave his reaction to the killing of bin Laden, offering some praise for the president. “The decision by the president was, in my view, the right decision,” he said.
But the compliment was quickly followed by criticism of the administration’s handling of the details about the raid. “I would have preferred a lot less discussion out of the White House about intelligence personally,” said Rumsfeld. “My guess is that people in the Pentagon feel that way.”
Asked about the Pakistani government’s claim that it did not known bin Laden was so close to Islamabad, compared the bin Laden compound to the gated, luxury homes along the Potomac river, “We don't know what's going on there. And it is possible that someone like that with a support system like al-Qaeda, in my view very likely could hide in plain sight.”
Rumsfeld, like Cheney, also defended the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. “I think it’s clear that those techniques used by the CIA worked,” Rumsfeld said.
Meet the Press (NBC)
Hayden: "Let’s see what happens to this network now"
Tom Donilon said that President Obama's briefing by Navy Seals on Friday was "a very moving moment."
"He was briefed very interestingly not by the brass but by the operators," Donilon said.
Michael Chertoff, former director of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush, said that the killing of bin Laden could open the door to different types of attacks from al-Qaeda. Bin Laden preferred larger, more intricately planned attacks and his death could cause the group to adopt tactics similar to those used in Mumbai, where small bands of armed fighters took over buildings in the city. "We have to be more careful than ever to look at what tactical changes they may make moving forward," he said.
Those comments were echoed by former CIA director Michael Hayden. "Let’s see what happens to this network now," Hayden said. "If bin Laden did have such a controlling hand, you’re going to have a lot more independent actors.”Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani praised the raid as a major turning point, saying "this is like removing a Hitler or a Stalin in the middle of those conflicts." He said his lunch with Obama and New York City firefighters last week was "a very emotional and very satisfying experience."
"There’s no mistaking the fact that there’s a burden that’s been lifted from" the firefighters, Giuliani said.