Hillary begins this chapter by recalling this historic moment in a room across from the Situation Room in the White House as Navy Seals stealthily entered that now famous compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Seen below with then-Governor Pataki and New York City Mayor Guiliani on September 12, 2001, she retraces the air route from D.C. to New York on the only plane in the air that day.
Memories of shuttling back and forth between the two cities, requesting emergency funding, visiting a missing persons center, a family assistance center, and a hospital near her home where burn victims were being treated are revisited as well as her struggle in the Senate to secure health care funding for first responders.
The campaign to find bin Laden had been long and the special ops mission had been carried out without informing the government of Pakistan. More than once Hillary had said during interviews and town halls in that country that she could not believe that someone in the government did not know where Al Qaeda was. Informing the government might have tipped our hand and spoiled the mission.
May 2, 2011 by still4hill |
Speaking about Asif Ali Zardari, she refers to a photo he shows her of his late wife, Benazir Bhutto with her children, Hillary, and Chelsea. This is not the photo, but might have been taken at that same time.
She spends pages reminiscing about Bhutto and what her loss meant to her family, her country, and the world. She mentions that she and Chelsea loved Bhutto’s style so much that they wore similar outfits to a dinner in their honor.
Her first trip to Pakistan as secretary of state was just after her birthday in October 2009. I was at a rally where Bill Clinton was speaking, and I saw him tell Rep. Bill Pascrell something. Pascrell whispered a question, and I could read Clinton’s lips. He said, “No. She’s safe.” I tried so hard to get near him as he worked the crowd after the rally, but failed. I so wanted to ask what had happened.
By the next day we all knew that coinciding with her arrival there was a terrible market bombing in Peshawar.
October 28, 2009 by still4hill
Folks here at this blog liked her relationship with Pakistan’s foreign minister at the time.
October 28, 2009 by still4hill
At a town hall in Lahore and in interviews with journalists she took hostile questions about the Kerry-Lugar aid bill. (Why did there have to be strings attached? “You do not have to take any aid from us,” she answers.) There were complaints about the drone attacks and the collateral damage they caused.
October 30, 2009 by still4hill
In media interviews the whereabouts of bin Laden came up along with her suspicions that someone in the government knew where he was.
October 31, 2009 by still4hill
In February of 2010, Leon Panetta invited her to CIA headquarters in Langley, VA. She refers to the stars on the wall in the lobby of the building that represent those officers killed in the line of duty. We saw that wall last season on Showtime’s Homeland.
We saw an enactment, in Kathryn Bigelow’s film Zero Dark Thirty, of the bombing she speaks of that, in December 2009, killed seven CIA officers in Afghanistan.
The reason for Panetta’s invitation was to ask for her cooperation in improving counterterrorism communications and clarifying our strategy to the Pakistanis. After the barrage of complaints she faced in Pakistan, she was quick to agree.
The hunt for bin Laden began indeed to narrow to Pakistan, and, in March 2011, Panetta visited her at the State Department to tell her that they had a lead. The operation to capture or kill bin Laden was dubbed “Neptune’s Spear.” She walks us through the deliberations of the small, secret group that met regularly at the White House to plan the mission that was carried out the day following the Correspondents Dinner. Hillary recounts the dramatic event in detail.
When the question of informing Pakistani officials in advance presented itself, some worried about Pakistan’s national honor. Hillary countered asking, “What about our national honor?” She remained consistently certain that elements within the government who knew where bin Laden was would inform him.
Of course the president addressed the nation that night.
The following day, Hillary also made a statement.
May 2, 2011 by still4hill
She was understandably not looking forward to speaking with the Pakistani officials, and her conversation with President Zardari was heartbreaking, but she remained firm and resolved explaining to him the need for cooperation.
NATO supply lines into Afghanistan were closed after friendly fire killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November 2011.
Following an apologetic phone call from Hillary (at her suggestion to President Obama) to new Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, the supply lines were reopened and the bottle-neck was broken up.
July 5, 2012 by still4hill
Part of the communication strategy she put forth with Leon Panetta’s CIA involved the establishment of a Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications. The approval for that did not come until September 9, 2011. She announced it that same day in New York City.
September 9, 2011 by still4hill
Finally, she spoke at UNGA in Spetember 2011 on the inauguration of the Global Counterterrorism Forum.
This is a painful chapter to read, and must have been even more painful for her to write. Memories of 9/11, even now, remain raw, and, for Hillary, Benazir Bhutto was clearly a personal loss. In her typically well-organized manner, she presents the steps she suggested to combat terrorism, the initiatives she put into place, and the arguments she waged when faced with opposition.