Speaker Boehner Reaffirms Relationship with Pakistan, ‘No Doubt’ Bin Laden is Dead

By John R Parkinson

May 5, 2011 4:28pm

ABC News John R. Parkinson reports: In the wake of accusations by lawmakers that members of the highest levels of the Pakistani government were complicit in hiding Osama bin Laden at a compound in Abbottabad for more than five years, the debate on Capitol Hill is raging whether to maintain a partnership in the War on Terror with Pakistan and whether Congress should continue providing billions of dollars in foreign aid to help combat terrorism there. House Speaker John Boehner Thursday issued a vote of confidence on the partnership between Pakistan and the United States, and called on Washington to actually strengthen its ties with the country that the director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, has reportedly told Members of Congress is either “inept or corrupt.” “I support continued engagement with Pakistan, and frankly, I believe our aid should continue to Pakistan. That does not mean that there aren't questions that need to be asked. It also does not mean that we shouldn't have a very serious conversation with them about their commitment to work with us to eliminate the terrorist threat to our country, our soldiers, and to the people of Pakistan as well,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “It's also important in my view that we use this moment to strengthen the ties between our country and Pakistan. Al-Qaeda and its extremist allies have made Pakistan a target, and the people of Pakistan have suffered deeply as a result. Taking on al-Qaeda and radical extremism is absolutely vital to the interests of both of our countries. So it's not a time to back away from Pakistan: It's time for more engagement with them, not less.” Although initial reports indicated that the SEALs were under fire for the duration of the operation, and that Bin Laden was armed, the White House has now walked back from those statements, telling reporters that the SEALs received fire from just one person – OBL’s courier who was in an adjacent building. The White House also says that the al Qaeda leader was in fact unarmed. While the SEALs recovered multiple weapons from the building Bin Laden was hiding in, officials now say that no shots were fired by anyone from inside that home. Boehner was asked whether he is satisfied with the flow of the information released by the administration after the White House has worked to correct many of the details of the raid. “I had a conversation with the president, and the president outlined to me the series of actions that occurred on Sunday evening. I have no doubt that Osama bin Laden is dead,” Boehner said. “The operation against Osama bin Laden is an unmistakable triumph for our military and our intelligence personnel. It's also a credit to our commander in chief — the current one and the previous one — for sticking with the mission and proving that we're committed to justice, no matter how long it takes.” The Senate passed a resolution Tuesday honoring the SEALs and intelligence community for taking out the world’s most wanted man, but Boehner maintained his view that the House should not waste time bringing commemorative measures to the floor. “I think all of the members have issued press releases recognizing those who were responsible for this success in taking down bin Laden,” Boehner said. “We're pretty well committed to the House doing substantive work on the floor of the House. And all of the commemorative resolutions that used to be brought to the floor of the House, some of them I thought were quite meaningless. And so there has been a conversation, but no decision yet.” Boehner also said he has not yet personally seen the pictures of the dead Osama bin Laden, but indicated President Obama made the right call when he decided Wednesday not to make them public. “I support the decision by the president that they should not be disclosed,” Boehner said. “They've got more information available to them in terms of its impact, but I think they've made a responsible decision, and I support it.”

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