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JOHN KING, USA
Osama bin Laden Raid; Security Tightened; Trusting Pakistan?; Al Qaeda's Next Move
Aired May 2, 2011 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks Wolf and good evening everyone including to our viewers around the world. The courageous Navy SEALs who swept into Pakistan Sunday had a code word for killing or capturing Osama bin Laden. Geronimo.
We've also just learned he was shot twice, not once, hit in the chest and then in the head during a fierce fire fight. His body then carried on to a Navy helicopter. And so it ended, after nine and a half fitful frustrating years, the hunt for Osama bin Laden was over.
Look at this picture; look at the tension on the faces here. This is President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary Gates and Clinton, the administration's entire top national security team watching Sunday in the White House Situation Room as those Navy SEALs sent back live video and live audio signals of their operation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It was probably one of the most anxiety filled periods of times I think the lives of the people who were assembled here yesterday. The minutes passed like days and the president was very concerned about the security of our personnel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And check this out. Amateur video of the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad where the al Qaeda leader and his family were finally, finally tracked down by U.S. intelligence operatives. Tonight, America's most wanted and reviled enemy is wrapped in a white sheet and buried at sea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can all agree this is a good day for America. Our country has kept its commitment to see that justice is done. The world is safer. It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We have new details tonight about the brazen raid and the intelligence leading up to it. And amid the celebrations there is also sobering talk that al Qaeda and its allies even without their charismatic leader will attempt to retaliate. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: It may be a mortally wounded tiger that still has some life in it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: A long list of questions to address and let's begin with this one, and our senior White House correspondent Ed Henry. Ed, we saw that picture just moments ago, the tension on the president's face, Secretary Clinton with her hand over her mouth as they watched this operation unfold. Take us inside that room Ed Henry, from your sources, when did the president finally realize he had bin Laden?
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well two moments that are very important and the reason why you see Secretary Clinton with her hand over her mouth there is that administration officials say it was very tense in that Situation Room. They were getting real time reports about what was happening on the ground in Pakistan.
There's a real fear from the president on down that they were going to lose some of these U.S. Special Forces members and that they could be killed, hurt in the action, thankfully they were not. But two big moments, number one, we're told by a senior administration official that at one point in the Situation Room as they listened to what was happening and watched a bit about what was happening on the ground in Pakistan, the president and his aides heard Geronimo, EKIA, as in bin Laden, Geronimo is a code for him, enemy killed in action.
But they still could not celebrate because they wanted to go through, so hours later as they went through the facial recognition technology, the reports on the ground from bin Laden's wife, for example, telling U.S. military officials that is bin Laden, in fact the al Qaeda leader. I'm told there was a big debate around a conference table in the Situation Room and various officials were being careful and cautious.
They didn't want to make that big call that we've got bin Laden and start telling Speaker Boehner and others and tell the world. They wanted to be very careful and I'm told by the senior administration official the president of the United States finally looked at everyone and said we got him. Very simply, just used those three words, we got him, and as commander in chief made that call -- John.
KING: And Ed, what makes it all the more brazen and all the more risky for the president and this team, was that as we now know they never had 100 percent confirmation that bin Laden was in there. They had a lot of circumstantial evidence. They had a lot of belief he was there, but they never laid eyes on bin Laden himself. In that sense how long did they think he was hiding in that compound?
HENRY: What is fascinating is that a senior administration official just told me that he believes Osama bin Laden was in that compound for at least three years, probably longer. We know from other officials that this compound was completed in 2005. This senior official told me it's possible bin Laden was there that long or maybe a little bit shorter, but several years, three years or longer.
Nevertheless, we're told that there were some officials in the cabinet and elsewhere who were concerned about moving forward with this mission, for what you said, they were worried about the risk and worried is the intelligence wrong? Is bin Laden really there? They didn't really know until these Special Forces landed there -- John.
KING: Ed Henry for us all over this story at the White House. We'll keep in touch with Ed. Thank you and in the end bin Laden was found not in a cave but in a million dollar compound, about 30 miles as the flow -- as the crow flies from the capital of Islamabad. Let's take a quick look here.
We want to bring you in first to get a sense of where just this town is and we'll measure it out right here so you can see how it plays out. If you bring this out, bring up the map, be a little patient with us here. You can see right here, about 120 miles, remember for years, they said bin Laden was probably here, maybe in north Waziristan, somewhere along the border in the remote hills, instead 120 miles in right here.
Just 30 miles to the north, it takes about three hours to drive because of the terrain, but about 30 miles to the north. Let's take a closer look at the compound. This is a U.S. government 3-D model that was used -- bring this up -- this was the 3-D model used -- you can see up here -- illustration of compound -- used by U.S. intelligence officials as they planned the raid. Three story building here, a gate here, a gate on this end. The wall is 12 feet high here, 10 feet high here.
You'll hear a lot of people saying one of the reasons they got suspicious, all the trash at this location was burned here so that nothing ever left the premises. Twelve feet high, 18 feet high, the main structure here -- it is right in here that they drew up the plans and made the plans to go in for this amazing, bold raid. We'll show you more of this as the night goes on.
And you have and you will hear -- this could be a little bit confusing -- U.S. officials called the town Abbottabad, our Urdu speakers here at CNN and some of our colleagues who have been there, say the locals call it Abbottabad. Journalists from around the world are making their way there now and "TIME" magazine's Omar Waraich was among the first to arrive.
Omar, let me just begin with my biggest question. Did anybody in this town have any idea the man living in that giant compound was Osama bin Laden?
OMAR WARAICH, TIME MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTOR: It seems not, whoever I spoke to in Abbottabad today seemed (INAUDIBLE) bewildered at what they found out late in the morning. At first they were startled by the sounds of low flying helicopters, this is a place that actually sees very little action at all. It's a very sleepy garrison town up in the hills, three hours' drive from Islamabad. They then heard an explosion which was the sound of the helicopter crashing which frightened them further. They suspected (INAUDIBLE) helicopter crash, many people. But when they found out that it was Osama bin Laden staying in there, it was expressions just range from varying degrees of incredulity.
KING: And so now are they happy the United States took out bin Laden and he is dead or are they outraged that the United States came into Pakistan and conducted this operation?
WARAICH: Well the people I spoke to in Abbottabad didn't seem to -- they didn't seem to express strong feelings either way. They weren't ecstatic nor were they saddened by this. In fact Osama bin Laden seemed a bit of a mystery to them throughout the time that they've heard of him. They had heard they said that he was in Pakistan. But didn't imagine where and certainly if they thought he would be in Pakistan, he would be in the tribal areas some distance away from them.
KING: And you had a conversation with the man who now knows he was essentially providing a live twitter feed from the final minutes of bin Laden's life, he had no idea at the time his first tweet was that he was annoyed that there was a helicopter flying overhead. Recount that conversation, what you learned from it.
WARAICH: He was startled by the helicopters and so on, but then he called another friend and discovered that they were all hearing this explosion within a six kilometer range in the town. When he found it was Osama bin Laden, he said to me that it was quite ironic. I asked him why he felt it was ironic. He said he had left his native city (INAUDIBLE), the second largest city in Pakistan for the quiet of Abbottabad so he could escape suicide bombings and the sounds of explosions rattling his home and frightening himself and his wife. And he said the ultimate irony was that this quiet place he'd moved to he had found Osama bin Laden as a neighbor.
KING: Is it plausible in a large city with all the military academies and installations nearby that the Pakistani government would have no idea that Osama bin Laden was living in that compound?
WARAICH: It was a very accessible place and a very important place in some ways. When I spoke to residents in Abbottabad, and I asked them this, whether they thought it could actually be plausible that he could have been here without the knowledge of Pakistani authorities, some would either resort to conspiracy theories or would say given what the Pakistani intelligence agencies claim about themselves and their efficiency and the (INAUDIBLE) the entire country, it didn't seem too credible to them at all.
KING: Omar Waraich is on the scene right there where Osama bin Laden met his fate. Omar, thanks for your help.
WARAICH: Thank you.
KING: And here's a satellite image here. This is from 2009 of the town Omar was just describing. You see it's a pretty sprawling town. You see presidential areas all around, a number of military and academic institutions as well. That is the town from above. Let's get a little bit closer and look in at the compound itself as you come on in watch (ph) satellite imagery comes in, this is the compound again from 2009, a little bit grainy, but you see the main buildings -- just going to use this to help you understand it a little bit better.
The main building here, 168 feet on the main road here with the two gates, obviously enough room to land helicopters, but a dicey operation right here carried out by those Navy SEALs, and as word of bin Laden's death filtered out last night, crowds began to form at Lafayette Park across from the White House and at New York's ground zero. Now seeing that scene right there Sunday night for me brought back the vivid memories of 9/11. Being rushed off the White House grounds and into that park the Secret Service was warning us of a plane possibly headed for the White House and we could see the smoke rising across the Potomac at the Pentagon. The celebrations and the reflections continued today and at New York's hallowed ground Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this is no time to relax.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: There is no doubt that we remain a top target and the killing of bin Laden will not change that. Nor will it distract us from a mission that remains our absolute highest priority, defending our city and country against all those who use violence to attack freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That man to the left of your screen there over the mayor's right shoulder is his Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
Commissioner Kelly thanks for spending time with us on a busy day. Let me just first just ask you your thoughts, your reflections when you heard the words, Osama bin Laden is dead.
COMMISSIONER RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE: Well, it was a sense of relief and I think a sense of sort of just retribution. I think New York paid a tremendous price and it really deserving of certainly bin Laden's capture or death.
KING: We have spoken many times over the years about the sensitivities of your job and how your city is always atop a target list, is there significant chatter from the intelligence community today in response to the killing of bin Laden that leaves you a bit nervous, sir?
KELLY: Well, I'm concerned but not based on the chatter. Quite frankly, it seems to be somewhat confusing and not necessarily increased, at least that's what our people are saying as of this moment. But I think we have to be concerned because you know retribution or avenging his death is certainly something that has been talked about in the past. This is not a new idea. His disciples have talked about carrying out acts if in fact bin Laden was captured or killed, so it's something that those of us in law enforcement and the counterterrorism business have to think seriously about.
KING: That's an interesting point you make. I want to make sure I have it right. You say there's no significant anyway noticeable increase specificity at least in the chatter today as opposed to 24 hours ago when we had no idea this was about to take place.
KELLY: Obviously the subject matter is the death of bin Laden, but we don't see it any sort of frenzied way. We see it as somewhat confusing, somewhat -- and people are somewhat knocked off their game so to speak because it happened. But we don't see a sort of a frenzied response on the Internet or in the chatter rooms.
KING: Is there to your knowledge an al Qaeda playbook, if you will that if bin Laden is killed or captured here's a plan that we want to implement?
KELLY: No, I don't know that as a fact, but we do know that there have been discussions in the past about it.
KING: And what is your biggest worry, sir, as the police commissioner of New York City which has been targeted many times before, do you worry about an attempt at a mass attack or more something at as a smaller scale lone wolf?
KELLY: We worry about everything. We sort of have to have a 360-degree perimeter here; obviously we're concerned about vehicle- borne bombs. We're concerned about suicide bombs, the lone wolf, somebody who's not on our radar screen, the ultimate nightmare as some sort of nuclear or dirty bomb attack. So we have to look at the whole array of threats and not just in any one area and we have been doing that, quite frankly for almost 10 years, we have had 12 plots against the city since September 11th and I think the combination of good work by federal authorities, New York City police officers and luck so far so good.
KING: Without giving away any operational security details and I know you wouldn't, what's different in New York City today from a counterterrorism standpoint than yesterday?
KELLY: Well we've increased coverage at certain locations, sensitive locations. We've increased the number of offices that we have on our transit system. We have five million people a day that use that system so we have increased it, focused to a certain extent on rush hour. We've increased our bag search regimen in the subway system.
You'll see more heavy weapon scenes that are deployed throughout the city. In each of our 76 precincts we have what we call now a house of worship cars that have been radio cars, police cars that have been manned to cover sensitive locations and houses of worship. So there are things that, you know, the public can see, but there are things that the public won't see. We're obviously watching chat rooms and certain investigations that we have are maybe being ratcheted up to a certain extent.
KING: Let me ask you lastly sir. Bin Laden is dead. He is taking off the FBI's "10 Most Wanted" list. In the view of Commissioner Ray Kelly, who knows this business as well as anybody, who now is the face of global terror? Who is there out there the individual you worry about most?
KELLY: That's difficult to say. There is an individual (INAUDIBLE) who we've been looking at for years that apparently have been close to bin Laden in the recent past. Obviously Anwar al Awlaki is out there in Yemen. Zawahiri is someone that obviously been very close to bin Laden. So it is difficult to say if there -- is there a pecking order now or will there soon be. It remains to be seen. But there are plenty of people out there to be concerned about and to watch.
KING: Commissioner Ray Kelly of New York City -- sir, appreciate your time on this busy day.
KELLY: Thank you, John.
KING: Take care, sir. Still to come, the man who was CIA director when the bin Laden trail finally got warm, shares with us some secrets about the early clues. And next after they killed bin Laden the Navy commandos grabbed boxes of evidence the Obama administration now hopes leads to clues about other top al Qaeda operatives.
KING: The raid that led to Osama bin Laden's death was not only bold and risky; it is proof of the major strains and mistrust in U.S. relations with Pakistan. The Obama administration is stressing it told the government of Pakistan about the raid only after it was over. And officials tell us the reason is quite simple.
The administration worried someone in the Pakistani government or intelligence services would tip off bin Laden. CNN correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is covering the diplomatic fallout in Islamabad. Nick the former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, says this was a gross violation of Pakistan sovereignty by the United States. What does President Zardari say?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well he actually has quite early on seemingly be wanting to show Pakistan's cooperation in this, talking about their alliance and how this operation this morning was the result of communication between the two sides. Pakistani intelligence officials from very early on trying to suggest there were Pakistani intelligence operatives on the ground while it happened.
That was deeply quickly denied by U.S. officials and then actually retracted by the Pakistani side. They also later on suggested that some of the raw data which led the Americans to the compound, talking about electronic intercept, possibly phone records, that sort of thing was supplied by Pakistan on a fairly regular basis to the Americans. In this particular case the Pakistanis seemed to have dropped the ball or let slip off their radar, I think was the correct quote from one official, the data relating to the compound that the Americans focused in on it since September last year finally leading them to bin Laden -- John.
KING: And Nick U.S. officials are telling us not only were the Pakistanis not involved and you mentioned the government has pulled that back a little bit. They say flat out they would not tell them about this operation because they simply did not trust them. This has always been a dicey relationship. Are we at a moment now perhaps in a tipping point in a dangerous way?
WALSH: This particular incident could play either way frankly. There could be enormous accusations of collusion from the Pakistani intelligence services, how did bin Laden stay in that compound for quite so long without detection or on the other hand it does appear to be from the civilian government here a bid to try and suggest that this was all part of fruits of the cooperation between Washington and Islamabad in the ongoing war on terror -- John.
KING: And as we try to sift through the conflicting statements and the conflicting reports, what does the Pakistani government say when confronted with outright skepticism both in the Obama administration and in the United States Congress, people saying there is no way, no way bin Laden could have been in this compound with at least some senior level officials in the government or the intelligence services knowing about it?
WALSH: I think really when it comes to accusations of collusion they'll be enormously keen to keep those well away. This is actually at this point no specific evidence tying Pakistani officials to bin Laden in his compound and we should also point out the gravity of their claim. Obviously (INAUDIBLE) proven that somehow the Pakistani government or intelligence establishment knew bin Laden was taking refuge here, it would be a phenomenally serious claim one perhaps (INAUDIBLE) calls for some kind of retaliation from the U.S. -- John.
KING: Nick Payton Walsh tonight in Islamabad -- Nick thank you.
Will the death of bin Laden cripple al Qaeda and did the United States seize new evidence that might lead it to bin Laden's number two and other top al Qaeda operatives. Joining us our CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen and CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend -- she's a member of the External Advisory Board at the Homeland Security Department and the CIA.
Fran, I want to start with you. When you saw this raid played out not up in the hills, not up in the mountains where for years people thought bin Laden was, what is the significance in your view of this compound in a pretty heavy residential area?
FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well I think we can only presume, John that this was absolutely deliberate by bin Laden. Going back to the time of the Bush administration what bin Laden knew five years ago were that drone attacks were stepping up in the tribal areas. These drones are easier to use in unsettled rural areas where you don't worry about collateral damage and so one being in a settled urban area makes it more difficult to target certainly by Predator.
Two, there had been a very public risk including going back again to the Bush administration Pakistan did not want U.S. military boots on the ground and this public dispute was very cantankerous, so the other thing bin Laden would have learned is the further you get away from U.S. troops on the Afghan side of the border, the more difficult you make it. And so while it's counter intuitive to the early days of the war when bin Laden was in caves and moving around a lot, you can understand why he picked where he did to make it as difficult as possible for U.S. forces who obviously overcame that challenge.
KING: Peter Bergen, you know him, Osama bin Laden, knew him and know them, al Qaeda as well as anyone. I want you to listen here to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers. He did an interview with our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash, talking about will al Qaeda now want to retaliate and does it have the capabilities?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), SELECT INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: I mean obviously it will inflame some, but again operations are long in the planning. They're sophisticated. It takes a long time for them to pull off an operation. They were patient. I can tell you that there are -- there's information that they're still working for these plans and attempts to conduct terrorist --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What do you expect?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you know, Fran and I just had a briefing from a U.S. counterterrorism official in a position to know, and they say there's nothing really new (INAUDIBLE) for the last 24 hours and we're only 24 hours into this indicating sort of a heightened threat. Of course the official also said that the possibility is real. You know, I mean their capacity to do something large scale has been much attenuated and that was true before bin Laden was captured or killed, you know and killed.
KING: Fran, we showed the picture earlier of the president and his team in the White House Situation Room. You have been there on tense days. The president ordered this raid even though they thought bin Laden was there, had never laid eyes on him. They weren't sure he was there and during the raid we are told tonight bin Laden's wife was shot in the calf but they left her there because the goal was to get bin Laden period.
TOWNSEND: That's right, John. You know, you can only imagine this is a very risky, dangerous operation. All the things that could possibly have gone wrong, one of them is the malfunction of one or both of the helicopters which did happen, but they could have been shot down. They didn't know what weapons were inside the compound. U.S. operatives could have been hurt or killed.
Without the Pakistanis knowing that we were going in, you wouldn't have had any help to exfiltrate them, and as you mentioned, the intelligence could have been wrong, bin Laden could have not been there and you would have wound up with a lot of collateral damage of women and children. So this was an extraordinary risky operation; you can understand people sitting in that Situation Room frankly holding their breath, praying that this whole thing goes off OK.
And it was an extraordinarily successful mission given what the challenges were. There were -- in the briefing that Peter mentioned we understand there were quite a number of other people inside that compound, women and children who were sort of put to the side for safety's sake until the U.S. military was ready to leave and then they were left there. So there were other people at the compound because of course the target there was bin Laden and having been through the firefight, and had the body, they were -- just wanted to get out of there with the materials that they were able to seize.
KING: And Peter, we see on the streets in Pakistan today, some evidence of anti-American protests, some evidence -- I believe we have pictures of it from the Pakistani city (INAUDIBLE) -- some evidence of people mad that this has happened to bin Laden. We've talked a lot in recent weeks about how the Arab spring, the uprisings in other countries you believe is a death knell to al Qaeda or is bad for al Qaeda. What now, now that bin Laden has been killed, what would you look for?
BERGEN: Well you know we're seeing these protesters in Pakistan and of course as always you know you can always get -- rent a crowd of this kind of type in Pakistan. But if you look at polling data in Pakistan, bin Laden has been tanking. He's down -- 18 percent favorable up from, you know if you go back several years, he was sort of a religious Robin Hood (INAUDIBLE) evaporating. Not to say that he doesn't have support. But I mean we're not seeing 100, you know million-man marches yet in Pakistan and I doubt we will.
KING: Peter Bergen and Fran Townsend, appreciate your insights. We'll stay on this in the days ahead -- appreciate your coming in tonight.
And still to come here, why bury bin Laden at sea and what is the significance of wrapping him in a white sheet? And the bin Laden trail finally got warm late in the Bush administration with Michael Hayden was the CIA director -- General Hayden with us next with some new details.
KING: The decade-long manhunt for Osama bin Laden ended not in a cave, but in a million-dollar mansion in Pakistan. The clues that led U.S. forces there were the result of years of painstaking work by the CIA.
The former CIA director, retired General Michael Hayden, joins me now.
The decade-long manhunt for Osama bin Laden ended not in a cave, but in a million-dollar mansion in Pakistan. The clues that led U.S. forces there were the result of years of painstaking work by the CIA.
The former CIA director, retired General Michael Hayden, joins me now.
This began on your watch?
MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: No, it began before my watch. As you said, this is a decades-long hunt.
KING: But the specific clues about the couriers in this compound began on your watch?
HAYDEN: About four years or so ago, our bin Laden unit inside the counterterrorism center who's always looking for leads, kind of that's not working, let's reshuffle the deck, let's look for loose threads, came to me with the expectation that they might be able to use the courier network to track and find bin Laden. You know, he's not communicating electronically, so he's got to meet face-to-face. That's much more difficult for us to track, but it's an opportunity. And they began at that point.
Now, they actually used some information that we had derived from some of our high value detainees that gave us some identifying data on the couriers. And we launched from that point, obviously lost lock on the hunt two years ago or so, but it's very clear to me now that that process led to yesterday's events.
KING: The high value detainees, the information came.
HAYDEN: They gave us.
KING: They gave you information about this courier network and about specifics.
HAYDEN: Some information began to provide some leads. This is the same as it is in your business, one piece at a time.
KING: This is an interrogation or interrogations at Gitmo? Or is this at these so-called black sites around the world?
HAYDEN: These would be CIA detainees.
KING: CIA detainees. So, they're not at Gitmo?
KING: No. Can you say where there were?
KING: You can't say where they were?
HAYDEN: I cannot.
KING: But these secret -- top secret CIA sites have been criticized over the years.
HAYDEN: Of course, they have. And honest men can differ over those. I'm just pointing the fact that some of the information that was used to start this hunt came from those detainees.
KING: What is the significance of the death of bin Laden? Can he be replaced?
HAYDEN: We're going to see. We're going to see.
I had always talked about this when people said what would happen if bin Laden would die, he would be removed from the scene, he's not very active, he doesn't have operational control. I'm not so sure that was totally true. But he certainly was an iconic figure.
But he was a Yemeni-Saudi iconic figure. And there's always been a divide inside al Qaeda between the Gulf Arabs and the Egyptians. Zawahiri, the number two, is an Egyptian. Let's see al Qaeda go through a succession crisis.
KING: So, who in your mind is the face of global terror right now? Is it al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian, the number two to Osama bin Laden? Or is it a 40-year-old American, al-Awlaki, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula?
HAYDEN: Now, I know Mike Leiter, the head of the National Counterterrorism Center, has said the most potent threat to the homeland right now is coming from Yemen. But, specifically, to answer your question who is the most potent global face of terrorism, I think it's Zawahiri, somewhere along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
KING: What have the detainees told you over the year about the al Qaeda playbook? I assume that they knew that perhaps bin Laden someday would be killed or captured. Do they have a plan to retaliate, to attack in the event of that?
HAYDEN: I don't know about a plan specifically. I would expect it. You would now feel and I know Secretary Napolitano, Director Panetta, others have indicated we could see spasmodic, violent response from al Qaeda. Even with plans that are not yet fully hatched. They need to re-establish their street creds, so to speak.
So, for the near term, we may have actually entered a more dangerous period. But over the long-term, this is a great success.
KING: Would you be today -- if you were still on the job as director of central intelligence -- be worried about mass attacks, several attacks, a lone wolf?
HAYDEN: Obviously, you'd be worried about them all. But the most likely, the ones that they would rush forward would be probably the low intense, lone wolf kind of attacks, rather than the big, complex, slow-moving attack against t iconic target. They just can't pull that out of a hat. In fact, they're having trouble pulling those off even when they have a lot of time.
KING: Here's another question that comes to mind: is it conceivable in your view -- and you know more about this than almost anybody in the world -- that Osama bin Laden could have been in that compound, in that place, three-quarters of a mile up the road from a Pakistani military academy. Could he have been there without at least some senior people in the Pakistani government or the intelligence service knowing he was right there in their midst? HAYDEN: I certainly have my questions about that. I mean, the question I would ask is: what was the word on the street? What were people in the immediate neighborhood thinking about who was living there? What was the local officials saying about who is living there? It raises very serious questions.
KING: Is it a rallying cry to jihadists, to anti-American forces and sentiments around the world or because of what else is happening in the Arab world, does the death of bin Laden somehow magnify all the change and the political upheaval in the Arab world?
HAYDEN: John, we're going to see both. We're going to see al Qaeda and its network -- and keep in mind this is a network, not a hierarchy. And so, you've got still very active, very talented cells around the world. They're going to try to make him a martyr and use him as a rallying cry.
But, you know, step back from this. Put yourself in the shoes of an al Qaeda planner. This hasn't been a good three or four months. You look at the revolutions that are sweeping the Arab world, which has made al Qaeda what irrelevant for the time being and now, you've got the death of bin Laden. These are two pretty solid body punches.
KING: Take us inside this operation as you could imagine it playing. You understand the technical capabilities. You have CIA operatives helping the Navy SEALs get to this site. There is live feed coming back, right? Live video and live audio at this place?
HAYDEN: I would be shocked if there hadn't been.
KING: If there hadn't been -- that's how it worked (ph). So, if you're Leon Panetta, your successor, he's sitting in the CIA headquarters, the president and his team sitting in the Situation Room at the White House. They're watching this play out. They hear the helicopter stalls. They hear the firefight.
What's that like?
HAYDEN: It's very intense. You're hoping -- you're literally praying and you're watching the events unfold.
Let's give credit where credit's due. This was a very courageous you decision to go with this. This involved physical risk, operational risk and political risk for the president. He must have had great confidence in the intelligence that CIA and the rest of the intelligence community was able to give him.
KING: And yet you know at this moment, there will be some around the world who doubt it, who say, prove it. Should the administration release photographs and other evidence of this? Or should it just say, "No, we have bin Laden"?
HAYDEN: That's a difficult choice. You put yourself on a slippery slope.
KING: What would you recommend what the president do? HAYDEN: I would recommend going out there with some evidence that this is true, and frankly, al Qaeda knows it's true. And, in fact, they can't make him that martyr until they admit what's happened.
KING: What's the closest you every got in your tenure?
HAYDEN: The trail was cold during my time. And until we picked up the scent about four years ago with couriers, following the courier network, we didn't have much to show for this particular target. We did quite well against other high value targets.
KING: What should Americans feel on this day? You say they should be alarmed a bit, wary a bit, that al Qaeda would respond. But in five years, if we're having this conversation, is al Qaeda dead?
HAYDEN: No, absolutely not. And again, as I said, it's not a hierarchy, it's a network. There are franchises. The strength of this organization is a fact that it is diffused.
It's important to get bin Laden, it will have an affect. It is not the time to spike the football and do one of those celebratory dances in the end zone. This war is still on.
KING: General Hayden, appreciate your time and your insight.
HAYDEN: Thank you, John.
KING: Thank you, sir.
And coming up here, a woman who was in the World Trade Center on 9/11 and survived. We'll hear her reaction to the death of the man who tried to kill her.
And imagine being in the United States military and giving the last rites to Osama bin Laden. That story, next.
KING: Now that bin Laden is dead, one of the big questions is: how will the Arab street respond? And what impact the U.S. decision to bury bin Laden at sea, what impact will it have on that debate? The senior defense official telling CNN tonight no country was willing or able to accept the remains. Still, U.S. officials made sure the body was repaired in accordance with Islamic burial customs. And a military officer read prepared religious remarks which were then translated into Arabic by a native speaker.
A little bit ago, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked the former secretary of state, Colin Powell, if the United States went too far in showing respect to bin Laden and his remains.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The proper Muslim burial. That's more than he ever gave to the 3,000 people who were killed in 9/11.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Did he deserve a proper Muslim burial?
POWELL: That's who we are. That's who we are. We're Americans and we try to respect the beliefs of others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: A bit earlier, I discussed this issue with the Boston University professor of religion, Stephen Prothero.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN PROTHERO, AUTHOR, "GOD IS NOT ONE": In Islamic law, in terms of -- in terms of burial, there's a series of practices you go through. You first take the body and you wash the body, Muslim will do this. There are some prayers at the beginning. There's the closing of the eyes. And then there is the burial where the body is faced in the direction of -- in the direction of Mecca.
What's interesting about in particular burial -- for me at least -- is that there's actually two directions that you can go with the burial in the Muslim tradition, one is for ordinary people like I just described and other is for martyrs. And with martyrs, the body is not washed, as it is three times for an ordinary person, and you're buried in your tradition -- in the clothes you died in rather than in a white sheet which is traditional for non-martyrs.
So, bin Laden received an Islamic burial, but he did not receive a martyr's burial.
KING: And give your assessment of the administration's decision, and they had to think this through to handle it that way.
PROTHERO: Well, I think the nightmare scenario here would be a shrine somewhere in Pakistani or Saudi Arabia or elsewhere in the Muslim world that would become sort of Mecca of sorts for terrorism, where people would come from all over the world to basically come and remember this person as the great leader of their cause.
And I think that was the number one thing the U.S. government was trying to avoid and they avoided it by doing a burial at sea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Professor Prothero a bit earlier tonight.
You know the story generating headlines across the United States and around the world. Let's take a look at just some of the headlines here in the United States.
"The Denver Post, "Bin Laden Dead, Justice Has Been Done." You see clouds celebrating in the street there. "The Miami Herald," "He's Dead."
I'm just going to get through some of this. "The Star Tribune of Minnesota," "Bin Laden is Dead." "Salt Lake Tribune," "Dead, Osama bin Laden Killed in Firefight." You see the president's speech there. Some celebrations across the street from the White House. "The Daily News," well put.
You work through here, "The New York Times" as well. The full front page on this. The "New York Daily News," obviously the home of Ground Zero, so much on 9/11.
"Bakersfield- California," "Justice Served." "St. Petersburg Times," "Dead." The "New York Post," "Got Him."
Those are the headlines here in the United States.
As this was playing out last night, Internet use around the world jumped up. Globally, traffic went up 12 percent. Page views per minute, North America, traffic went up about 14 percent. In South America, up 61 percent.
Let's swing around the world, Europe up 1 percent, Africa up 14 percent. We'll come all the way around here, Asia up 6 percent, Australia 31 percent. Worldwide interest in the dramatic news to hunt for bin Laden finally over.
Up, next as we go to break, we'll show you live pictures of Ground Zero. And when we come back -- a survivor of that fateful day and the man who was New York City's fire commissioner.
KING: A senior White House official tells CNN tonight, President Obama will travel to New York City this Thursday to visit Ground Zero and meet with 9/11 families. It's been nearly 10 years, yet, those pictures right there, those pictures of people running from the World Trade Center Towers have lost (ph) none of their horror.
My next guest remembers it all too well. With us, Leslie Haskin, she was in her office in the World Trade Center's tower number one when hijacked plane number one hit.
Tom Von Essen was New York City's fire commissioner back on 9/11. He's now a fire safety consultant.
Leslie, I want to start with you. You heard the words, Osama bin Laden, dead. What went through your mind?
LESLIE HASKIN, 9/11 SURVIVOR: I don't remember. I mean, it was so much. At last, there was more feelings than words that I could even expressed. I think I was angry and happy and confused all at the same time. I mean, it was -- again, it was 9/11 for me. It brought back so much.
The smells, the sounds, what happened that day. And I was just flooded with words and emotion all over again, John.
KING: Commissioner, the White House tells us if he had not put up a fight, they would have taken him alive. They expected a fight. They got a fight and he was killed. Shot in the head and shot in the chest. Would they have preferred that ended that way, with bin Laden dead, or that he'd be captured?
TOM VON ESSEN, FORMER NYC FIRE COMMISSIONER: Me, I'm really glad we never have to look at him again. I'm glad that he's out at sea, and I'm glad that it's a fitting way to go for someone that's so evil. I'm so happy that families don't have to suffer through looking at him and listening lawyers that we have to hire for him, and the process that the democracy and the jurisprudence we'd have to give him for the next five years.
I'm so glad they didn't take him alive. I'm so glad that they finished him off.
KING: Leslie, did you ever think this day would come? It's been 9 1/2 years. A lot of times, people -- the trail's gone hot, the trail's gone cold. They could never find bin Laden. Did you think this day would ever come?
HASKIN: I didn't. I didn't, honestly. But I'm glad it's here now. I mean, this -- I take it personally. He tried to kill me. He robbed me of someone that I love, 22 of my friends. My life, I was homeless, I was hospitalized.
I'm glad the day is here. I don't know that I can say that I saw it coming. I think I gave up hope after a while that it would ever come, and I'm glad to see it's here.
KING: Commissioner, many of your men paid the ultimate price that day. What are their families going through tonight?
VON ESSEN: You know, I'm sure none of those families are on the street jumping with joy like some of the folks that maybe weren't as close to it as we were. But I'm sure they feel a little bit of relief, a little bit of satisfaction, a little bit of softness to the scars that they will always have. And just a little bit better, and knowing that that part of it, that compartment in a life they've got to deal with is over with.
KING: Leslie, the president is coming up from New York on Thursday to see some 9/11 families. If you had a minute with him, (a), what would you say about this moment, bin Laden killed? And any questions for the president?
HASKIN: I would like to say thank you -- thank you to the president and thank you to those troops that went over there and risked their lives to bring this -- to bring us some sense of closure. But I would say to the president, "Mr. President, it's not over. We have a minute to breathe or to inhale, but I don't think we can exhale just yet."
KING: Do you share that concern, Commissioner, there are some worries that al Qaeda will try to retaliate and New York City is always near the top of the list?
VON ESSEN: I think that's pretty much a certainty, and maybe not here, but somewhere. We're so fortunate to have military people like this and CIA people. And if they do get into our country and come after us again, to have the first responders that are rally prepared and doing the very best they can to protect us.
KING: You talked it all today, Leslie, with any of your colleagues who, like you, were lucky and survived and got out?
HASKIN: I've been talking with my family mostly. My son -- I have a 22-year-old, Elliot (ph), who was 12 years old at the time. And we've just been trying to -- my family and my friends and my son -- just wrap our arms around this and just -- our head around this, I'm sorry, and just breathe, figure out what's the next step, what do we do now.
KING: What do we do now, Commissioner?
VON ESSEN: We press on, keep going forward. And every day, I think, it's a little tiny bit better for all the folks that have suffered so much. Some have moved on and suffer less every day than others. And some of us are blessed to have family and people around us that make it easier for us.
But we really need to continue to be vigilant and work hard because this is not over. I mean, there's an awful lot of people that will be rushing for his position as number one and fighting to show that they can lead this kind of radical sickness that's throughout the world today.
KING: Commissioner Von Essen, Leslie Haskin, I can't thank you enough for coming in on this day and sharing your thoughts and reflections. Appreciate it.
HASKIN: Thank you so much for having us.
VON ESSEN: Thanks.
KING: Thank you both and please take care.
It began with a defiant pledge of dead or alive, and ended yesterday with "we got him." Coming up: the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
KING: "IN THE ARENA" is up next. As we leave you tonight, the hunt for bin Laden began hours after the 9/11 attacks and it ended last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: There's an old poster out west that says wanted dead or alive. I don't know where he is. I just don't spend that much time on him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The intelligence has gone cold on O bin Laden. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority.
Bin Laden has gone deep underground.
I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)