White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Obama stands by his decision to order a covert assault-team raid to cross into a Pakistani city and kill Osama bin Laden without telling Pakistani officials.
“We obviously take statements and concerns of the Pakistani government very seriously,” Carney told reporters at a briefing. “We also do not apologize for the actions that we took. [The President] said back in the  campaign…if this is the only way we can do it, to do it unilaterally, he would take that chance and we did it. It is beyond a doubt in his mind, that he had the right and the imperative to do it.”Carney was responding to the most recent comments by Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and opposition politicians in the country about the May 2 raid and killing of bin Laden. Pakistani officials have welcomed the death of bin Laden but also have complained that the raid was a violation of its sovereignty.
The fact that bin Laden was found in a town full of Pakistani military retirees and near a military school just 30 miles north of Islamabad has lead to U.S. suspicions that at least some elements of the Pakistani government were complicit in helping him obtain refuge from the United States.
In a televised speech before Parliament Monday, Gilani warned that unilateral actions such as the surgical U.S. special forces strike on bin Laden’s compound ran the risk of serious consequences, but he added that Pakistan attached high importance to its relations with the United States.
Pakistan’s main opposition party has called on Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari to resign over the breach of sovereignty by U.S. special forces who crossed into the country from Afghanistan without warning using stealthy radar-evading helicopters.
“I think it is a big blow to Pakistan’s sovereignty, Pakistan’s independence and Pakistan’s self-respect,” former prime minister Nawaz Sharif told reporters in Lahore. “Pakistan is in a grave crisis and is surrounded by big danger.”
Gilani had an even tougher response to those in the United States who have openly worried about al Qaeda’s presence in Pakistani and any access they may have to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Gilani said any move against its nuclear arsenal would be met with “a matching response.”
“Pakistan reserves the right to retaliate with full force,” he warned.
Pakistani has so far rebuffed U.S. requests to talk to bin Ladens three wives, who are now in Pakistani custody, and review materials left inside the compound after the raid. Carney tempered his “no apologies” comments by stressing the need for Pakistani cooperation and a willingness to work through “our differences.”
“We appreciate the support and cooperation we’ve got from Pakistan in the past — in terms of fighting terrorism — and we look forward to continued support,” Carney said.
Carney did not flinch when asked about estimates that the effort to track down and kill al Qaeda has cost the U.S. government more than $1 trillion over the last decade.
He said he couldn’t comment on the dollar figure directly, “but most Americans would feel that it was worth every penny.”