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The Team that Killed Osama bin Laden; President Obama to Visit Ground Zero

Aired May 2, 2011 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The helicopter that malfunctioned was destroyed by the Special Operations Forces. They often do that. They don't want to leave any U.S. equipment behind. The team lived up to the Navy Seals credo to be a quote, "special breed of warrior ready to answer our nation's call".

They are famously secretive. But tonight Tom Foreman is lifting the curtain somewhat. Tom, what do we know about the team that killed bin Laden at this point?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'll tell you the main thing we know, Anderson. They don't want us to know much, particularly about this group.

It's largely believed this was a group called Seal Team 6, which trained somewhere in Afghanistan in that mock compound and then went into the actual compound to stage the raid.

These are -- even among the highly trained and very excellent Seals -- a group within that that are recruited to be the special, special team that's almost mythical in that it's very -- if you're not part of it or you don't work with them it's very hard to find out anything about them.

But here's what we do know about them. They tend to be older than average troops, 20s to early 30s. They want people who are more mature, who've had a lot of training, who can think on their feet and a lot of experience. They're in top physical shape, as all of the Seals are. They're generally recruited for this special group for being highly intelligent, flexible in changing environments, and aggressive.

And interestingly enough, many of them are family men. What that means, basically, is a little bit older that they would have some possibilities more of having a family, but also what people were telling me today, sources were saying it also means that these are people who are very confident in their skills. And they believe they can get the job done so, they can have a house and a fence and a dog and they believe they'll come home safely even though they're doing unbelievably dangerous work -- Anderson.


And you know, in a kinetic situation like this, I mean, there are so many moving factors and yet they just seem remarkably efficient and focused. How do they get to that point in terms of training?

FOREMAN: That's really -- that's a great question, Anderson, because these -- a lot of these guys are described as quiet, sort of cerebral. One guy said to me today these are the kinds of guys you'd see playing chess, not poker. So they're very calm, sort of easygoing guys.

So how do you get them to that point? Well, the secret is very simple. You have unbelievable training that goes on for quite some time.

What kind of training? First of all, it's intense and relentless. These guys learn to deal with very difficult circumstances around the clock at all times. They study all skill sets for their weapons and their tactics and importantly over here, for medical reasons as well.

When you're in a small team like this, if somebody gets hurt, somebody on that team has to help take care of that person.

They're highly, highly secretive. They don't like to let anybody know what they're up to. That's part of what makes them effective because they can really jump out there and strike and surprise you.

And many continue in intelligence work after military service. You heard the general talk about it a minute ago, the idea of them working well with intelligence forces. Well, they share a lot of similar values. And many of them after they leave the Seals or particularly Seal Team 6, many of them may go into intelligence work after that -- Anderson.

COOPER: Remarkable group of people. Tom, I appreciate it.

And again, we're trying to find out more details as each hour goes by. We're live for the next hour here at Ground Zero, where the construction workers, they're working all night. This is an around- the-clock effort to rebuild Ground Zero, and it continues tonight, especially on this night.

Coming up at the top of the hour, inside the operation to kill bin Laden. What we know at this point. The details, the minute-by-minute details as we've been learning them; pictures from inside the compound, as well, and new details about how the U.S. tracked him down.


COOPER: And good evening again. We're live for the next hour, live from Ground Zero, as new details are emerging by the minute about how the U.S. found and killed Osama bin Laden.

President Obama is going to come to this spot, to Ground Zero, on Thursday. He's going to meet with families and -- and -- who lost loved ones on September 11th, 2001, and no doubt meet with some of the workers who are right now, even right now at this late hour, helping to rebuild this spot.

Tonight newly released photos from inside the situation room at the White House, well, they tell part of the story as President Obama and members of his national security team were getting real-time updates on the U.S. mission to kill Osama bin Laden. A close-up look at the President in the situation room yesterday; what will no doubt be a defining moment for his presidency.

It has been less than 24 hours since President Obama first announced the news that bin Laden was dead. The President spoke again tonight at a dinner for congressional leaders. Listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Last night as Americans learned that the United States had carried out an operation that resulted in the capture and death of Osama bin Laden, we -- you know, I think we experienced the same sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11.

We were reminded again that there is a pride in what this nation stands for and what we can achieve that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics.


COOPER: Well, let's get a quick update now on what we know at this point about the operation that killed bin Laden. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): The room where the most wanted man in the world was finally taken down. Obtained by ABC News, this video shows the aftermath of a violent scene. Blood stains the bed and the floor.

According to the official version of events, about 1:00 a.m. local time on Monday, in Abbottabad, Pakistan under the cover of darkness, about two dozen Navy Seals in four helicopters descended upon a walled compound where officials believed Osama bin Laden was hiding.

OBAMA: A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties.

COOPER: Officials said a fire fight that lasted almost 40 minutes started immediately. The house was three stories. And the Seal team fought their way through the first floor. They pushed on to the second and third floors, where Osama bin Laden and his family lived.

Bin Laden was killed sometime during the last ten minutes of the operation, shot once in the head and once in the chest. Administration officials say he was trying to use a woman in the room as a human shield.

JOHN BRENNAN, WHITE HOUSE COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: She fought back when there was a -- the opportunity to get to bin Laden, she was positioned in a way that indicated that she was being used as a shield.

COOPER: Officials say one of bin Laden's wives confirmed to the Seal team the body was that of Osama bin Laden. Also killed in the assault, bin Laden's adult son and two other men including bin Laden's most trusted courier.

Administration officials say the seeds of Sunday's operation were actually planted four years ago, when detainees at Guantanamo Bay gave up the courier's nickname. Two years later intelligence officials learned the courier's full name, and in a cloak-and-dagger maneuver that seems straight out of a spy movie, the courier was finally found in Pakistan, reportedly because of a phone call he made to someone else who was under U.S. surveillance.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They had a sighting of him. So they set up an elaborate surveillance effort that led them in August of 2010 to that compound. And one of my sources said to me, "When we saw that compound, we said, wow. This is different."

COOPER: Different because it was a million-dollar home with no telephone or Internet service. There were also two security gates and protective walls as high as 18 feet. Residents inside burned their trash rather than put it out for pickup. And the third-floor terrace had a seven-foot privacy wall as if to hide a very tall person.

But intelligence officials insist there was no guarantee bin Laden was inside.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: All of these were clues to some of the intelligence officials that something wasn't right. They determined to the best of their ability that their assessment was this was built specifically to house and harbor a high-value target. And as they worked that information, they determined that yes, they believed it was Osama bin Laden, his youngest wife, and some of his children that were living there as well.

COOPER: By mid-February administration officials felt they had their target. A series of National Security Council meetings were convened. Sources telling CNN there was agreement a ground operation would be best because quote, "The best option is the one that gives proof." Preparations by Special Forces operatives were then set into motion.

KAJ LARSEN, CORRESPONDENT AND FORMER NAVY SEAL: Because of the high- value nature of the target here, this was meticulously planned. They allegedly have built a mock -- a mock-up of the compound. They would have dirt dived and rehearsed this mission, going through the house time and time again until their moves were completely in sync and they were ready to execute.

COOPER: On Friday before he left to tour tornado damage in Alabama President Obama gave the green light for the operation. The orders: capture or kill bin Laden.

Around midday Sunday the President and top officials gathered at the White House situation room and in real time monitored the events happening half a world away.

BRENNAN: It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time, I think, in the lives of the people who were assembled here yesterday. The minutes passed like days.

COOPER: For families of the victims of 9/11 the wait has been long enough. After nearly ten years on the run the mastermind behind one of the most fiendish acts of terrorism is finally dead.


COOPER: And we're still learning new details and no doubt will be for -- for weeks. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in the city where bin Laden was killed at that compound. He just joins us live now from Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Nick, you're seeing the -- the compound really for the first time today. How -- how does it look? I mean, how does it fit into the neighborhood?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think certainly it's fair to say that it's set away from the main road; apparently now surrounded by police and military tarpaulins concealing quite a bit of its main architecture. It's behind these trees actually behind me over here, some distance in fact.

I mean, yes, really many of the houses here do have tall walls around them. I think it does sound like this particular compound would have been (AUDIO GAP) sufficiently far away from everything else. So it attracted some attention in terms of the size of its walls, in terms of the extent of protection put in there.

But in terms of the trash being burned inside the compound and the fact simply that it was being constructed, many of the houses here are in mid-construction and also burn their trash. So it's -- it's possible really that people may not have thought much of it. And given the fact it was set back a fair bit from the main roads here it may not have caught that many people's attention -- Anderson.

COOPER: How -- how much of a presence is there in this -- a military presence is there in this town, not -- not just now because obviously there would be a big presence around that property. But -- but they we're told that there are military facilities very close by, yes?

WALSH: Absolutely. It is quite remarkable. And I've just been to the main road from which it's possible to access this compound. And on the other side is a very large Pakistani military academy, one of several military base institutions in this town. So, a very much a garrison town, a very much a throbbing kind of military heart here.

And it really I think that's possibly something that may have played to bin Laden's advantage, frankly. Who would expect him to choose a place like this to hide out in? But also it would of course raise the question how was he undetected for quite so long -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. And whether somebody in the intelligence service in Pakistan or in the military in Pakistan knew of his location, knew he was there and said nothing. We simply don't know. We'll find out more as we continue to follow this story.

Nick Paton Walsh, I appreciate it. We'll talk to you tomorrow as well.

Coming up we're going to take a look at the raid that left bin Laden dead; also netted a bunch of new intelligence information, this according to U.S. officials. The U.S. military say they took computer equipment and other materials from the compound that could be used against al Qaeda. We'll try to find out what we know about that.

And beyond that we'll take a look at what effect bin Laden's death may have on the terror network that he started. That's -- that's next. We'll talk Nic Robertson and Peter Bergen.

And later the DNA testing that confirmed it was in fact Osama bin Laden. We'll talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Here if there's a crime often it takes weeks to get DNA results. This was done in a matter of hours. How is that possible? We'll talk to Sanjay, who's a certified medical examiner.


COOPER: Musical tribute in front of the firehouse right here at Ground Zero today. We're live at Ground Zero with the latest on what impact Osama bin Laden's death could have on al Qaeda.

Joining us now from Islamabad, Pakistan senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson; and in Washington CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen.

Nic, you have spent an awful lot of time in Pakistan. What kind of reaction do you think this is going to have throughout -- throughout the region?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's already having a mixed reaction here. There's a lot of people -- there are a lot of people who are very relieved. Pakistan has borne the brunt of a lot of al Qaeda's activities, perhaps more through the Taliban brand, if you will, here. Hundreds of people have been killed. So people are happy, somewhat happy, that bin Laden has now been killed and stopped in his tracks.

There are others, though, that are skeptical, that are saying, show us the evidence, they don't believe that this has happened. They haven't come to terms with what's happened on there.

So -- and there are other people here, the people that the government are most concerned about, because the government here is really keeping a very, very low profile and they know if they come out and publicly endorse what has happened here, the killing of bin Laden on their soil, then they themselves could face a pretty big backlash.

So -- so far it's been relatively quiet -- Anderson.

COOPER: Peter, when we talk about al Qaeda now, it's not just al Qaeda central, the bin Laden, Zawahiri. There's also al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda in Iraq, which is greatly reduced. What happens to all the al Qaedas now? PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you know, I don't think that they will find somebody with quite the "charisma and stature", quote-unquote, of Osama bin Laden. You know, I think Nic is in Pakistan right now. I think an area that I think is concerning is the ability that al Qaeda has had to kind of get other groups in south Asia who don't necessarily call themselves al Qaeda to act in an al Qaeda-like manner.

Two good examples of this, Lashkar e-Toiba the group that carried out the attacks in Mumbai in 2008 was a group that are really focused on Indian targets but in Mumbai sought out American and Jewish targets. Similarly the Pakistani Taliban which seems to be just the provincial bunch of guys, sent suicide bombers to Barcelona in January of 2008 and then as you recall sent a suicide bomber to Times Square in May of 2010.

So I think that's quite worrisome. Whatever the -- you know, whatever bin Laden's legacy unfortunately there's this ideological component that has infected other groups in south Asia with al Qaeda-like ideas.

COOPER: Nic is there -- is there anger in Pakistan that according to U.S. officials Pakistan wasn't consulted in this?

ROBERTSON: We're not seeing that at the moment. It would be very toxic for the government here if it was to be seen to have been -- played a larger leading role in this -- in the killing of bin Laden because there are a number of people here, a lot of people, who support him and see him as a charismatic figure in Islam.

He will be remembered in Islam's history by some people as being a great leader. And while the government here doesn't support bin Laden, never has, that's a constituency in this country that could cause the government and is already causing the government here huge problems, killing people, bombs at shrines, sectarian killings. All these things bear the hallmarks of al Qaeda's type of attacks and traits and terrorist theology -- Anderson.

COOPER: You know, Peter, to Nic's point, what's so bizarre about that is so many of bin Laden's victims and al Qaeda's victims over the years were Muslims themselves. In fact, there were plenty of people who bin Laden didn't believe were -- were, you know, Muslim enough, and therefore it was ok to -- to -- to kill them. So the idea that anyone in the Islamic world would view him as some sort of standard bearer for Islam just doesn't make sense.

BERGEN: Well and I think that's right, Anderson, in the sense that if you look at polling data in Indonesia, Jordan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, you know, practically any country in the Muslim world Osama bin Laden's sort of religious Robin Hood image that he enjoyed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 has basically evaporated for the reason that you point out, which is that this is a group that positions itself as the defender of Islam and in fact it -- al Qaeda and its allies have succeeded most strongly in killing other Muslims, whether in Iraq, in, you know, people attending a wedding in Jordan, the 75 percent of the civilian victims in Afghanistan now are civilians. We've seen thousands of Pakistani civilians being killed by al Qaeda or its affiliates in the last several years.

And I think Muslims around the world understand that the ideological virus that unleashed the 9/11 attacks has sort of come home to roost, whether it's in Pakistan or anywhere else.

COOPER: Nic, do you think this has an impact on the war in Afghanistan and the U.S. involvement in the war?

ROBERTSON: Oh it's going to have a significant impact on it, I believe. Psychologically we have come, if you will, in western (INAUDIBLE), to get what we came for, which was the man responsible for 9/11. That must politically aid the likelihood and the speed of withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan. It's going to compound problems here in Pakistan because the Pakistani government and the United States have a very low ebb on trust. And Bin Laden's ability to hide out in this country for so long is one point of it.

But now the Pakistani government's going to wonder what U.S. interests are in Pakistan and in the region now bin Laden is killed. So trust is going to be at a low ebb in both directions, Pakistan to U.S., U.S. to Pakistan.

And that will have an impact on what happens in Afghanistan as well. As we know, Pakistan wants to play a role in defining the game inside -- inside Afghanistan. And they're going to -- it appears this is going to be one of their very big considerations going forward -- Anderson.

COOPER: Peter, you and I have traveled in Afghanistan with U.S. personnel several times over the years. You wrote a book about Osama bin Laden, the -- "The Osama I Know, an Oral History," which is a remarkable work. You actually interviewed bin Laden long ago before most of the world knew about him.

What -- what do you think -- what was your first thought, when -- when you heard he had been killed?

BERGEN: I -- you know, needless to say I was pretty surprised. I mean I've been waiting for this day for a long time. But it wasn't clear to me whether this was something that was going to happen five years from now or it was going to happen five years ago.

You know, the trail had seemed to have gone so cold. And you know, I've been something of a critic of the CIA's efforts in this area. We spent a lot of money on our intelligence agencies, half a trillion dollars since 9/11, and I -- I really have to sort of eat my words.

I think there were actually some developments in the last year that we now know that a lot of people kept very quiet about and worked very hard on and got this amazing result. And it was really a testament to a lot of patience and a lot of perseverance by a lot of people who initially were coming up empty for -- for many years.

COOPER: Yes. I think when the full story of -- of this hunt is known, it's just going to be an extraordinary one. Nic Robertson, thank you. Peter Bergen as well. Still ahead tonight, U.S. officials say they positively identified bin Laden's body through a DNA match just hours after he was shot. To a lot of people that seems incredibly fast. We'll talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta ahead to explain the science, how that works.

Plus, we'll look at the elite warriors who -- well, they're always heroes, frankly but even more so today. New insight on the Navy Seals who've killed bin Laden. We'll be right back.


COOPER: A word that bin Laden was shot dead in a predawn raid in Pakistan was -- was followed just hours later by a report that a DNA match had been made confirming the body was in fact the al Qaeda leader.

Officials said the bin Laden family DNA was used to make the identification. It all sounds very "CSI." It left some people wondering can DNA testing really be done so fast?

Chief medical correspondent and certified medical examiner Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me now.

Sanjay, I had no idea it could be done that fast. It seems like the government was able to confirm a match very, very quickly.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, typically when you're talking about DNA sequencing that's the process that can take a long time; really sequencing someone's entire genome.

This is different. What they're doing here is they're trying to actually look at -- trying to create a match here. So, you know, if you look at most people, you know, we share about 99 percent of our DNA. That's in common.

So instead they're focusing on areas that are different between people. If you have some reference samples, for example, people who are relatives, in this case of bin Laden, you start to look for similarities between the sample that was taken here and known samples from siblings, a child, parents, whatever the relative may be. And as you get more and more of those matches you increase your likelihood that in fact this is a relative of the person that you're testing. So that's sort of how they do it. And that process can be done within a few hours, Anderson.

COOPER: How close do the family members need to be?

SANJAY: That's a good question. You know, for example, if you're looking at a child or a parent, for example, that's going to be the closest because they're going to share at least about 50 percent of the DNA. With siblings that are full siblings, you know actual siblings, they could share up to 50 percent as well, but it's a little less clear because parents don't always give the same amount of genetic material to each child or the same type of genetic material. With half-siblings it becomes even a little bit more complicated. But the thing is as you add more and more relatives, more and more reference samples to compare you start increasing your likelihood of confidence. So for example, if there were a lot of relatives over time, even if they were half-siblings, and there were several of them, if they had matches to all of those, you could start to say with a very high degree of accuracy that this is the person who you think it is.

No one will come out and say, though, Anderson, 100 percent because despite of all of what I've just described it's still an imperfect science.

COOPER: There are also unconfirmed reports right now that one of the samples came from his sister, who died from cancer several years ago in Boston, where she was apparently receiving treatment, that the FBI had subpoenaed her body so they could get a DNA sample. Certainly, a sister's DNA would be very valuable compared to other family members, correct?

GUPTA: Yes. If this is a full sibling -- and I'm not sure if they're talking about a full sister or this was a half sibling, for example, yes, obviously if you could -- if you know for sure these people are related, that's very valuable in terms of referencing this, matching this. And again, if you add more and more siblings or more and more relatives, you increase your confidence.

A child or a parent would be better in terms of accuracy because here you know you're going to be sharing at least around 50 percent of your DNA. So if you start to see those common -- those commonalities between the two samples you could say with a great degree of likelihood that this is in fact a match, these two people are related.

COOPER: Right. Sanjay, appreciate your expertise. Thanks a lot.

The DNA match that the White House reported today, so far really the only proof that's been offered publicly. There are apparently photographs of bin Laden's body and his burial at sea but no word yet that they are going to be made public. A lot of people would clearly like to see some sort of evidence of that.

A lot of people talking about that on Twitter tonight, I posted that; you can join in at Andersoncooper. Joining me now is Gary Berntsen, author of the book "Jawbreaker", former leader of the CIA team that was actually searching for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan at Tora Bora; and CNN's national security analyst also joins us Fran Townsend who was a homeland security advisor to President George W. Bush.

Fran, it seems like the government has been preparing for this DNA testing for quite some time, collecting samples.

FRAN TOWNSEND, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR TO GEORGE W. BUSH: That's right, Anderson. Going back to the time of the Bush administration, it was the preparation for this day that spanned a decade now. And so this is -- the bin Laden family's a very large family. They live in countries all around the world. Some of his sons had been in custody. And sometimes that was with countries that were allies of the United States.

And so the intelligence community, working with our allies around the world, had gone about collecting DNA samples from family members of bin Laden in case they were ever needed for an occasion such as this.

COOPER: Do we know if these were with the permission of the family members or these were covert operations to collect DNA samples? Do you know?

TOWNSEND: You know, I'm not sure it's entirely clear to us, Anderson, but it's pretty easy to collect a covert sample. It's not as though you're going to hold somebody down and do it. If someone's saliva is on a cigarette or a cup, if their hair is in a hair brush -- I mean there's a number -- a toothbrush is left behind. There's a number of ways to do it that are not at all intrusive and relatively easy if someone's not being careful about protecting that sort of -- those sort of items so that you're not able to get their DNA.


GARY BERNTSEN, AUTHOR, "JAWBREAKER": They would have probably also taken samples from the young man that was also shot with him who they claim was his son. They may have seen a match between them. They probably also would have rolled his fingerprints on scene and would have gotten prints from the Saudis.

COOPER: They also took the body with them so they were able to --

BERNTSEN: Right -- they've been able to exploit it in a number of different ways.

COOPER: In the last hour you were on the program and we had Bob Baer, a former CIA officer, who raised some suspicions about there's a story now that there's a trove of intelligence that U.S. Special Forces personnel actually found in the bin Laden compound, you know, given what happened with Jessica Lynch, the stories that were told about Pat Tillman. Often the stories we're told initially don't turn out to be true. If they were wanting to spread disinformation and make al Qaeda worried, they would say we've got all this great intelligence.

But you've actually been hunting for bin Laden --

BERNTSEN: We picked up bin Laden's computer back in 2001. There's a story that some journalists -- a true story. They turned the computer over to us. We weren't sure what it was. They claimed it was bin Laden's computer. And when we exploited it, it was bin Laden's computer and Zawahiri's computer.

We got thousands of pages off of us. It helped convict Robert Reid, the shoe bomber. His name was on that computer and some information about him.

COOPER: So even though there apparently was not phone connections or Internet connections to this compound in Pakistan, if he had a computer he would have been storing information on that computer? BERNTSEN: It's interesting. Al Qaeda kept almost a bureaucracy, how much leave you could take, how much time you had off, all sorts of things that were in there. So it's very interesting. And I would suspect that bin Laden did keep some records. They would have kept records. They did in the past. And it wouldn't surprise me if he did right now and that we're in a position where we can exploit some of those things.

COOPER: Fran, do you think the U.S. should release the photographs that apparently exist of bin Laden's body or the burial at sea just to, you know, stop any people from doubting that he is in fact dead? Do you think there's a value in that?

TOWNSEND: I do think there's a value in it, Anderson. But let's be honest. There's going to always be a number of people, no matter what pictures are released, that aren't going to believe this story. They're the conspiracy theory folks. And you're not going to convince them.

But most rational people, if the pictures are released, will be persuaded by it. And so I do think it's a value. What the administration has to struggle with is, is there a way to handle these pictures that is sufficiently respectful that it doesn't inflame more anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world.

Anderson, on the documents and computers that were recovered I talked to a senior counterterrorism official this morning, who went through -- this was the mother lode. This was not just the sort of documents that Gary was referring to but DVDs, CDs, all sorts of multimedia. It was much more than they expected. And they put together a task force to exploit it.

First and foremost they're looking for information about current threats to the United States and to U.S. interests around the world. And then secondly, can they discern information in this treasure trove that will lead them to other high-value targets?

COOPER: And there are still a lot of high-value targets out there, obviously, Gary. I mean the number two man Ayman al Zawahiri is still believed to be somewhere in that country.

BERNTSEN: And you have an entire sub-apparatus of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

COOPER: Right.

BERNTSEN: And you know bin Laden's himself a Yemeni, originally; his family's got ties to these people.

COOPER: Right.

BERNTSEN: I suspect as Fran just stated that there is a task force exploiting this stuff right now trying to run it all in the ground as quickly as they can.

COOPER: American cleric al-Awlaki who is in Yemen right now. BERNTSEN: Right.

COOPER: Gary Berntsen appreciate your expertise; Fran Townsend as well. Thank you very much.

Up next: former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf. For years he said Osama bin Laden was not in Pakistan and that nobody had any proof he was there. Does he admit he's wrong? What he told me today -- coming up.

Plus insight on the Navy Seals special ops team that killed bin Laden. How the military's best of the best got the job done, when we continue live from Ground Zero.



JOHN BRENNAN, WHITE HOUSE COUNTER-TERRORISM ADVISER: I think it's inconceivable that bin Laden did not have a support system in the country that allowed him to remain there for an extended period of time.


COOPER: That was White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan this afternoon. He's talking of course about Pakistan. A U.S. investigation is under way to determine how long Osama bin Laden may have been hiding out in Pakistan and who was helping him. Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf is accusing the U.S. of violating his nation's sovereignty by sending in U.S. Special Forces to kill bin Laden.

Musharraf, of course, was a key ally in the hunt for bin Laden until he lost power in 2008. I spoke to him earlier today.


COOPER: Mr. President, for years U.S. officials, intelligence officials, have been saying Osama bin Laden was in fact in Pakistan. You have been denying that for years now, categorically saying no, he was in Afghanistan. Do you now admit you were wrong?

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, FORMER PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN: No, I don't think I was ever denying. I was asked everywhere, and my first response invariably, always, was that I don't know, I don't know where he is. I used to --


COOPER: No, actually, sir, that's not true. You said repeatedly he was in Afghanistan.

MUSHARRAF: And I used to ask what intelligence do you have? He could be in Afghanistan. So I never -- I always said he could be in Pakistan or Afghanistan. I never -- I never said no. COOPER: Actually, sir, that's not true. You said in interviews that you believed he was in Afghanistan, that he was not in Pakistan.

MUSHARRAF: Well, no. I always put a doubt in that; that I don't know. And I never had that information. And so also anyone who said he's in Pakistan also didn't have the intelligence. That was not based on any intelligence. It was guesswork.

COOPER: Let me ask you the question that many in the United States are now asking today. How can it be that Osama bin Laden was found just 35, 45 miles from Islamabad, from inside Pakistan? How can that be without any Pakistanis knowing about it?

MUSHARRAF: Well, it has happened. Not 45 miles; it is about 75 miles from Islamabad. But well, it happened. And one can -- one can blame the intelligence. But I would also like to -- the U.S. intelligence to share the blame partially other than Pakistan intelligence. But it has happened.

But we shouldn't cast any aspersions on the intentions or the -- or the Pakistani intelligence's intentions of cooperating on terrorism and extremism. That must not be done. And unfortunately, that is being done and therefore there is a lack of trust, lack of confidence in each other.

COOPER: In the past when President Bush and then candidate Obama said that if they had actionable intelligence that they would send in U.S. forces into Pakistan to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, you were very critical of that. Do you now support that notion because that is essentially what happened? U.S. officials are saying that Pakistani officials were not informed until U.S. personnel were out of Pakistani airspace.

MUSHARRAF: Well, no, I can never be supportive of that. That may be your policy; that was U.S. policy. I know that. That whenever it was your policy, that as far as Osama bin Laden is concerned, whenever you get actionable intelligence American forces will act. But that doesn't go well with Pakistan's sensitivities. I would never be able to support that.

COOPER: But you think this was a successful operation nevertheless, you that approve of this operation nevertheless?

MUSHARRAF: Well, yes. Purely from a military point of view it was successful.

And again, since Osama bin Laden has been eliminated, I think the people -- peace-loving people of the whole world and Pakistan also ought to be happy about it. But we cannot indicate in any form that we are willing to compromise on our sovereignty like that.

COOPER: President Musharraf, I appreciate your time. Thank you, sir.

MUSHARRAF: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, we're learning more tonight about the elite U.S. Military team that killed bin Laden under the cover of darkness. They're the best of the best of Navy Seals special ops. About two dozen commandos, we're told, were involved in the mission. We're told they trained at a full-size replica of the compound that bin Laden was hiding in.

Let's talk more now with Eric Greitens, former lieutenant commander of the U.S. Navy Seals and author of "The Heart and The Fist"; and back with us, former CIA officer Robert Baer who's's intelligence column as well.

Bob, after 9/11 there was a lot of talk about sharing intelligence and various branches of the government not talking to each other. It certainly seems in this operation an indication that the military and the CIA are working much better together than they have in the past.

ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Oh, I don't think there's ever really been a problem. I spent two years in Beirut working with Delta Force when we were looking at rescues, the same sort of takedowns. And every piece of intelligence I ever came across we sent directly to Delta. We had a communications channel with them. They had an officer in Beirut. You know, we depended upon them. They depended upon us.

And they had their own remarkable intelligence collection. They were sending people in to Hezbollah areas while the CIA couldn't and they'd come out and tell us what they did. It was remarkable cooperation.

COOPER: Eric, as a former Navy Seal, yourself, you've got to be incredibly proud. How do you go about training for an operation like this?

ERICK GREITENS, FORMER LT. COMMANDER, U.S. NAVY SEAL: Well, I am very proud. It's a proud day for the whole community. Seals, as you know, go through extraordinarily difficult military training. It's considered the hardest military training in the world. And for this military operation there was relentless practice built around three principles -- number one, surprise; two, speed; and three, violence of action. The whole idea was to hit the enemy when they're not expecting it, hit them fast, and hit them hard.

The United States government makes a tremendous investment in every Navy Seal, and we saw last night that that investment paid off.

COOPER: And we've learned that they basically had a mock-up of this compound that they've been practicing. How essential is that in terms of just perfecting, you know, knowing what you're going to see before you get there?

GREITENS: These are extraordinarily professional operators. So they take every opportunity that they can to practice. They run through various contingencies. So that we saw in that actual operation when a helicopter went down they were able to react, adjust, blow the helicopter, and still successfully execute the mission. Practice is essential for any elite force. COOPER: You joined the Navy Seals right after 9/11. Really in the last couple of years there has been a lot of emphasis put on Special Forces. Did you see that in your time in the military, the growing emphasis on special operations?

GREITENS: Absolutely. When I was in Seal Team training, 9/11 happened. And we knew that our class was going to war. And we saw over the course of time a tremendous emphasis from our whole chain of command that we had to get ready because we knew that the nation was going to be calling on us to conduct all of these difficult operations.

COOPER: So Bob, there's now this JSOC they call it, Joint Special Operations Command, that sort of oversees all of these multiple task forces. How essential do you think that is? And moving forward do you think we're going to see just an increase in special operations forces, Bob?

BAER: Oh, I think after this it's clear that the counterterrorism should be done by the Special Forces rather than drones. We spent, you know, four or five years hitting targets in the tribal areas and it's an inexact weapon in that sense because you kill a lot of people and it's nothing like a precision operation like this.

I think the military should take point on this. I think they did a great job there. And Anderson, I've got to say that somebody somehow neutralized the radar going into that site, neutralized those units in some way so they didn't react.

And it was more than just what we're hearing about these two dozen Seals. I mean their job is to take down the house and get bin Laden. It's not to cover their back. Somebody else did that some other way. And I think it's a good thing we don't know how and I understand why, but we keep that in mind, we don't know the whole story yet.

COOPER: And in an operation like this we really often never will know the whole story or the early story that we hear is often really not what happened and then it only comes out years later. Eric, you make the point that the hunt for bin Laden has been going on now for years and that Seals have been involved in a lot of operations in the past.

GREITENS: This was an extraordinarily personal information for this team.

COOPER: Personal.

GREITENS: Personal operation. For 9 1/2 years all of these men have been making tremendous sacrifices. Their families have been making tremendous sacrifices. They've lost comrades. They've seen friends come off the battlefield wounded and disabled.

COOPER: There's a story that this unit, which is a particularly elite unit within the Navy Seals, when they were told what their mission was they let out a cheer.

GREITENS: An extraordinary cheer. And I've got to tell you, every Navy Seal I know who if they had the opportunity to be on that mission, would have been cheering.

COOPER: No doubt about it.

GREITENS: Because this was more than just hitting a target, this is really was about justice.

COOPER: I appreciate your service and thanks for talking with us.

GREITENS: Thanks Anderson.

COOPER: To Bob Baer, as well, thanks very much for being with us. Bob, Eric Greitens.

Still ahead, news of bin Laden's death came without warning for most of the world frankly. Here in New York and far beyond, the reaction was immediate. We'll show it to you -- what was seen heard across the world today.


COOPER: Around this time last night the world was just getting word that Osama bin Laden was dead. Many had waited nearly a decade for the news. It arrived with little warning, of course. In the 24 hours that followed, they're going to be hard to forget.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and the terrorist who's responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I would like to congratulate the U.S. forces who carried out this brave action. I'd like to thank President Obama.

LT. DAN CHOI, GAY RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Tonight means that we're all American. Whether we are Christian Americans or Muslim Americans, gay Americans or straight Americans, we are all Americans, and that's what we're celebrating here tonight. I don't think we have anything else that we need to celebrate than that.

CLAY MANKAMYER, SHANKSVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA RESIDENT: Score one for the good guys. In response to Todd Beamer's request, when he said, "Let's Roll," we're still rolling. And we haven't forgotten.

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATES: So this is a day not only for Americans but also for people all over the world who look to a more peaceful and secure future, yes, with continued vigilance but more so with growing hope and renewed faith in what is possible.

MOHSIN KAMALIA, GROUND ZERO VISITOR: He hijacked Islam. That's not Islam, what he was doing. He's totally not a Muslim at all. And if he's gone, welcome news. Good riddance.


JIM RICHES, SON WAS A 9/11 FIREFIGHTER: And this is not a Democratic or a Republican thing. It's an American -- it was an attack on America. It was President Bush, President Obama, everyone combined, all the efforts of the CIA and the ground troops. They brought some happiness to me and my family, and I think to the 3,000 American families who are so devastated on that horrible day, the worst day in American history.

OBAMA: I think we can all agree this is a good day for America.


COOPER: It has been an extraordinary day.

That's it for 360 live from Ground Zero.

Thanks for watching. See you tomorrow.