WBEZ | Osama bin Laden http://www.wbez.org/tags/osama-bin-laden Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Fawaz Gerges talks about 'The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda' http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-31/fawaz-gerges-talks-about-rise-and-fall-al-qaeda-93638 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-31/alqaeda3.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>According to the American counterterrorism establishment, al Qaeda is on the brink of collapse. Officials suggest that with a small number of additional blows, the U.S. can effectively extinguish the Pakistan-based organization that executed the September 11th attacks. For much of the past decade, this outcome was considered a distant and elusive prospect. But many observers sense some cynicism in the government’s assessment of al Qaeda. These individuals insist that the terrorist group has been ineffective and marginalized for years, and is far from a threat today.</p><p><a href="http://fgerges.com/" target="_blank">Fawaz A. Gerges</a> is a professor of Middle Eastern politics and international relations at the London School of Economics. Today, we’re talking to him about his new book, <a href="http://fgerges.com/recent-books.php" target="_blank"><em>The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda</em></a>.</p><p>Fawaz, a leading authority on radical ideologies and Muslim extremism, argues that Western powers have become mired in a “terrorism narrative” that's detached from reality. This narrative, he says, perpetuates the false belief that Americans are in danger of another devastating attack by al Qaeda. Ten years out from 9/11, Fawaz thinks that politicians and special interests use Americans’ deep-rooted fear of terrorism to further their own agendas.</p></p> Mon, 31 Oct 2011 16:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-31/fawaz-gerges-talks-about-rise-and-fall-al-qaeda-93638 Where was President Obama on September 11th, 2001? http://www.wbez.org/story/where-was-president-obama-september-11th-2001-91437 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-01/AP040722024813.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In just over a week, the country will mark ten years since the September 11th terrorist attacks. We'll be bringing you all sorts of stories and conversations related to that anniversary. Today we're going to focus on one Chicago resident: what he did that day, and how he reacted in the days that followed.</p><p>In 2001, Barack Obama was a lawyer, a professor and a state senator. We have this look at the president's 9/11 story.</p><p>As personal memories of September 11th go, President Obama's are remarkable in how unremarkable they are. Mr. Obama recounted the day as "one bright, beautiful Tuesday morning" a few years ago in an August 2007 speech captured by C-SPAN.</p><p>"I remember that I was driving to a state legislative hearing in downtown Chicago when I heard the news on my car radio, that a plane had hit the World Trade Center," he said.</p><p>Then an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama recalled he was on Lake Shore Drive. He continued to the Thompson Center, the state building in downtown Chicago, for a meeting of the policy wonky Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. Vicki Thomas is the committee's director. She and her staff rushed to the Thompson Center when they heard of the attacks.</p><p>"And on the plaza outside, we began to see members arriving, so we all kind of clustered," Thomas recalled. "They decided to cancel the meeting."</p><p>"As members arrived, we told them that that had been the decision, and everyone was sharing news, of course, about what had happened, what they had heard," Thomas said.</p><p>Thomas doesn't remember exactly who was in the group. Mr. Obama may have even arrived at the building a bit later.</p><p>"By the time I got to my meeting, the second plane had hit and we were told to evacuate," Mr. Obama said. "People gathered in the streets in Chicago, looking up at the sky and the Sears Tower, transformed from a workplace to a target."</p><p>He went next to his day job, at the law firm Miner, Barnhill and Galland.</p><p>"Back in my law office, I watched the images from New York - the plane vanishing into glass and steel, men and women clinging to window sills, then letting go. Tall towers crumbling to dust," Mr. Obama said. "It seemed all the misery and all the evil in the world were in that rolling black cloud blocking out the September sun."</p><p>In his book, <em>The Audacity of Hope</em>, Mr. Obama wrote about the scene in the law office. "A group of us sat motionless," he wrote, "as the nightmare images unfolded across the TV screen."</p><p>"This is our conference room, and this is where we had the television when the 9/11 explosions happened," said William Miceli, a partner at the firm, standing in the small basement room, with old furniture, law books and green carpeting.</p><p>The firm's offices are kind of hidden in a three flat, with no sign on a relatively quiet street just North of downtown.</p><p>"The firm was clustered in this room - basically everyone - lawyers, secretaries, paralegals - and the room was full," Miceli said. "We were all watching...it was a small screen.... As I remember it, there was really little conversation. There was no talking. People were just transfixed by what they were seeing on the screen."</p><p>So transfixed, Miceli said this week, that he wasn't aware of exactly who was in the room. He has no specific memory of Mr. Obama being there.</p><p>Miceli recalled that most people left early that day. At some point, Mr. Obama did too, to his home at the time, a condo not far from Hyde Park's Promontory Point. He described that night in a recent interview on CBS.</p><p>"I remember going home and Sasha had just been born," he said. "And I usually had night duty, so Michelle could get some sleep. And I remember staying up...late into the middle of the night, burping my child and changing her diapers, and wondering, 'What kind of world is she going to be inheriting?'"</p><p>At that time, few were interested in any profound thoughts this Illinois legislator had on the state of the world. His reaction to the attacks did not appear in the local newspapers, except for a very local one: the Hyde Park Herald.</p><p>The paper frequently ran columns by the neighborhood's elected officials, including Mr. Obama. After 9/11, then-editor Caitlin Devitt invited them to submit short statements for the following week's edition.</p><p>"The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others," Mr. Obama wrote. "Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair."</p><p>Devitt said these comments were perhaps more nuanced that most political reactions at the time. Politicians like Mr. Obama, she said, know how to write for the less-hawkish Hyde Parkers.</p><p>Devitt doesn't remember taking special notice of Mr. Obama's September 19th statement.</p><p>"I mean, I never really imagined that these words that I'm reading now would one day maybe be translated into policy - foreign policy, you know, or our national policy, that's, you know, that's pretty, I don't think I thought that big about him," Devitt said.</p><p>At that time, the future president was also a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago's law school. The fall quarter hadn't yet begun, but a university spokesman said that by late September, Mr. Obama was teaching a couple courses.</p><p>Jaime Escuder was in one of them: Constitutional Law III: Equal Protection and Substantive Due Process. Escuder said in a recent interview that he can remember only one time that Mr. Obama made a comment related to September 11th.</p><p>"People starting wearing...the American flag starting appearing everywhere, and particularly - frankly - Republicans, although he didn't mention Republicans," Escuder said. "He did make a comment, though, such that it was clear he was uncomfortable with the - I guess you could say - the effort to politicize the American flag."</p><p>Escuder is a public defender now, and remembers his professor's comment when he sees other lawyers wearing flag pins, and when he sees President Obama wearing one. He said it maybe disappoints him a little, but he doesn't fault the president.</p><p>"He probably made the calculation that it could be turned into something far bigger than it really was, if he didn't wear it," Escuder said. "He is a patriot and it just takes away one more argument that people could be making against him, if he just sort of goes with the flow on that small issue."</p><p>In the fall of 2001, Mr. Obama's political future was cloudy. The year before he'd had an embarrassing primary election loss when he tried to oust U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush. But he'd started to think about a statewide run.</p><p>"We went to lunch right after 9/11," said Eric Adelstein, a political consultant based in Chicago.</p><p>At lunch, he and Mr. Obama talked about the terrorist attacks, which dominated most conversations at the time, Adelstein recalled. And the state senator with eyes for a bigger office asked him about the logistics of a U.S. Senate campaign. Adelstein said they both acknowledged a specific hurdle.</p><p>"He or I might have said, 'You know, now his name rhymes with this horrible mass murderer who's been accused of doing this thing and that would just create an added challenge," Adelstein said this week.</p><p>In his book, Mr. Obama wrote about this lunch with an unnamed "media consultant."</p><p>"We both looked down at the newspaper beside him," Obama wrote. "There, on the front page, was Osama bin Laden."</p><p>"Hell of a thing, isn't it?" Mr. Obama quoted the consultant. "Really bad luck. You can't change your name of course."</p><p>Mr. Obama wrote that the consultant "shrugged apologetically before signaling the waiter to bring us the check."</p><p>Adelstein doesn't remember it quite like that.</p><p>"I think I'd write that off to the poetic license of the author," Adelstein said. "It didn't exactly happen that way. But, you know, he's become president at a difficult time. Everyone who knew him back then, knew that this guy was going to go far, and I think we're grateful that he has."</p><p>Adelstin doesn't remember the exact date of the lunch, name of the restaurant or what the two men ate.</p><p>A lot of details get fuzzy over ten years. And it's not like everyone in the aftermath of 9/11 made a conscious decision to remember their interactions with Barack Obama, on the off-chance he would someday be in a position to, say, order a military operation to kill the terrorist behind the attacks.</p><p>Back then, he was a lawyer, a professor and a state senator. No more important than any of us, on a day that nonetheless would largely shape his presidency.</p></p> Fri, 02 Sep 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/where-was-president-obama-september-11th-2001-91437 U.S. – Pakistani relations: Some Chicagoans caught in the middle http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-01/us-%E2%80%93-pakistani-relations-some-chicagoans-caught-middle-87284 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-June/2011-06-01/113640403.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The relationship between the United States and Pakistan has always been complicated.&nbsp; Last month U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden in a raid on his compound in Abbottabad.&nbsp; The discovery that bin Laden was living in an army town in Pakistan raised questions about whether Pakistan’s military and intelligence leadership hid whereabouts.</p><p>The Pakistani parliament reacted to those accusations, issuing a resolution condemning the raid and calling on the government to “revisit its terms of engagement” with the U.S.</p><p>Pakistani Americans living here in Chicago often find themselves caught in the middle of both countries’ policies.&nbsp;</p><p>Jawaid Riaz is a Chicago-based columnist for <a href="http://www.urdutimesusa.com/" target="_blank"><em>Urdu Times</em></a>.&nbsp; Dr. Mujahid Ghazi is also a columnist for the <em>Urdu Times</em> and hosts a radio show.&nbsp; They join us to discuss Pakistani-U.S. relations.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 01 Jun 2011 17:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-01/us-%E2%80%93-pakistani-relations-some-chicagoans-caught-middle-87284 Indiana senator: Withhold bin Laden photos http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-senator-withhold-bin-laden-photos-86617 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-16/56058560.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Indiana U.S. Senator Dan Coats said he had no doubts the United States killed Bin Laden, but he still felt obligated to look at photos depicting his death.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">The CIA invited Coats and others members of the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence to view the photos, which Coats viewed at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, early Monday.</span></p><p>The photos show Bin Laden’s body after he was killed by American troops in a raid on his hideaway in Pakistan last month.</p><p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">“The photos reinforce evidence I received in intelligence briefings regarding the death of bin Laden,” Coats said in a written statement. “The photos were graphic, but you definitely could tell it was bin Laden.”</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Coats said President Obama made the correct decision withholding release of the photos because they could provoke sharp reactions in the Muslim world.</span></p><p>“The defeat of al-Qaeda’s leader sends a clear message to terrorists: no matter how long it takes, the United States will not back down until justice is served to those who attack us,” Coats said. “Bin Laden’s death is a significant step in dismantling al-Qaeda, but the threat of terrorism is still alive. We must remain vigilant and continue our efforts to defeat terrorism.”</p></p> Mon, 16 May 2011 21:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-senator-withhold-bin-laden-photos-86617 Durbin wants to continue financial aid for Pakistan http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-wants-continue-financial-aid-pakistan-86262 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-09/IMG_3342.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said he wants to continue sending financial aid to Pakistan. His comments come a week after U.S. troops raided a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killing Osama bin Laden.</p><p>Durbin said the U.S. gives about $3 billion a year to Pakistan and he says that money should remain in place, "unless and until we find out that they are not really cooperating with us on this war on terror."</p><p>Durbin said he's pleased Pakistan's prime minister announced that country's army is investigating how Osama bin Laden hid in the country undetected for so long. He said the U.S. will conduct its own investigation.</p><p>Durbin said supporting Pakistan financially will also help with the war in Afghanistan.</p><p>"They're an important part of our effort to keep America safe and an important part of ending the war in Afghanistan, so I want to give them the help they might need to continue in that effort," Durbin said.</p><p>Durbin says any Pakinstani officials who are found to have helped bin Laden hide in the country should be held accountable.</p></p> Mon, 09 May 2011 18:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-wants-continue-financial-aid-pakistan-86262 Rethinking Guantanamo in the post-bin Laden era http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-06/rethinking-guantanamo-post-bin-laden-era-86131 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-May/2011-05-05/104191812.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The finding and killing of Osama Bin Laden has dominated, and, in some ways, reshaped the national political conversation. Conservatives have applauded President Obama’s decisiveness and bravery. Many security analysts say it’s time for us to rethink our role in Afghanistan. Congress has threatened to cut 1.3 billion in aid to Pakistan, if it's proven that Pakistani officials knew about bin Laden’s compound. And people like Republican Congressman Peter King – and a slew of Bush administration officials – point to information gathered by interrogators of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as a justification for torture. So far, evidence suggests that techniques like waterboarding played little if any role in intelligence officials’ discovery of bin Laden.</p><p><a href="http://www.harpers.org/subjects/ScottHorton" target="_blank">Scott Horton</a> is a contributing editor at <a href="http://www.harpers.org/" target="_blank"><em>Harper’s Magazine</em></a>, who’s reported extensively on the war on terror. He’s been paying close attention to the renewed debate over the use of enhanced interrogation techniques in Guantanamo Bay and the CIA black site prisons.</p></p> Fri, 06 May 2011 17:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-06/rethinking-guantanamo-post-bin-laden-era-86131 Lugar: America must engage Pakistan http://www.wbez.org/story/lugar-america-must-engage-pakistan-86125 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-05/107744036.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>U.S. Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana says the U.S. must continue to deal with Pakistan despite the fact that relations between the two countries are strained following the death of Osama bin Laden.</p><p>“Distancing ourselves from Pakistan would be unwise and extremely dangerous,” said Lugar.</p><p>Lugar’s comments came during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held Thursday.</p><p>The hearing dealt specifically with the U.S. policy toward Pakistan.&nbsp;Lugar, the committee’s ranking Republican, said he wants to understand whether Pakistani officials knew bin Laden was hiding in the military town of Abbottabad.</p><p>He told Senators and experts at the hearing that America’s trust in Pakistan has been shaken, but the relationship must continue.</p><p>To stop, he said, would “weaken our intelligence gathering. Further complicate military operations in Afghanistan. In short, Pakistan is a strategically vital country which we must engage for our own national security."</p><p>Committee chair Senator John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, echoed Lugar’s statements, saying America should not rush into a situation that hurts its interests.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 05 May 2011 21:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/lugar-america-must-engage-pakistan-86125 Does the death of Osama bin Laden change the legal game? http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-04/does-death-osama-bin-laden-change-legal-game-86052 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-May/2011-05-04/Osama Getty Majid Saeedi.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The death of Osama bin Laden has raised a number of significant questions. In the near decade since 9/11, the U.S. re-wrote laws to aid in the investigation, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists. Those changes have resulted in major contests over the balance between civil liberties and national security. Does the death of public enemy number one change the legal game?<br> <br> To find out, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> was joined by University of Chicago law professor <a href="http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/huq" target="_blank">Aziz Huq</a>.</p></p> Wed, 04 May 2011 14:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-04/does-death-osama-bin-laden-change-legal-game-86052 Was Pakistan’s government or military involved in hiding Bin Laden? http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-03/was-pakistan%E2%80%99s-government-or-military-involved-hiding-bin-laden-86012 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-May/2011-05-03/113435615.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When U.S. forces found and killed Osama bin Laden, he was in a million-dollar estate, just feet from a military base and only 35 miles from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. Reports reveal bin Laden may have hidden in the compound for years.</p><p>John O. Brennan, who serves as President Obama’s top adviser on terrorism, pledged today to “get to the bottom” of whether the Pakistani government provided help to Osama bin Laden in his decade-long efforts to avoid detection.</p><p>Pakistan’s government today denied any prior knowledge of the raid that killed bin Laden, but said it had been sharing information about the targeted compound with the CIA since 2009.</p><p><a href="http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/departments/warstudies/people/professors/lieven.aspx" target="_blank">Anatol Lieven</a> is a professor in the war studies department at King's College London and author of the book <em>Pakistan: A Hard Country</em>. He examines some of the puzzling questions surrounding Osama bin Laden.</p></p> Tue, 03 May 2011 16:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-03/was-pakistan%E2%80%99s-government-or-military-involved-hiding-bin-laden-86012 What celebrating bin Laden's death says about our national psyche http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-03/what-celebrating-bin-ladens-death-says-about-our-national-psyche-86003 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-May/2011-05-03/Patriotism Getty Mario Tama.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>News of Osama bin Laden’s death evoked cheers and chants on the streets of many American cities. Some were joyful that bin Laden had finally been punished for causing so many deaths. Some felt patriotic and viewed the death as a victory for America.<br> <br> But there have also been questions – about whether it is appropriate to revel in any death.<br> <br> For answers <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> turned to philosopher <a href="http://www.colum.edu/Academics/Humanities_History_and_Social_Sciences/faculty/Stephen_Asma.php" target="_blank">Stephen Asma</a>. He teaches Philosophy at Columbia College Chicago. His latest book is <a href="http://web.mac.com/stephenasma/iWeb/Site%2014/Asma%20Publications%20.html" target="_blank"><em>Why I Am a Buddhist</em></a>.</p></p> Tue, 03 May 2011 14:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-03/what-celebrating-bin-ladens-death-says-about-our-national-psyche-86003