The White House confirmed Friday that Pakistan has allowed U.S. officials to interview three of Osama bin Laden's wives, all of whom were living with him at his Abbottabad compound before a Navy SEAL team stormed it and killed bin Laden nearly two weeks ago.
In the aftermath of the U.S. raid on the hideaway, U.S. lawmakers and officials have accused at least some elements of the Pakistani government of helping harbor bin Laden and have been watching Pakistan's reaction to his killing closely. The wives, one of whom was injured during the raid, were taken into custody by Pakistani security forces after the SEALs left the compound.
White House spokesman Jay Carney was tight-lipped about the interrogation aside from confirming that it had occurred. He would not say who questioned the women or whether they cooperated.
"I can't characterize the interaction except to say that we have had access," Carney said, "And we obviously appreciate the cooperation we've received from the Pakistani government."
The White House and the Pentagon have not said exactly when this week U.S. officials questioned the wives. The Pakistani Taliban on Friday took credit for twin suicide bombings that killed at least 80 people outside a paramilitary training center in Shabqadar, Pakistan earlier in the day. A Taliban spokesman said the explosions were in retaliation for the killing of bin Laden.
Carney said the U.S. government remains in a "state of high vigilance" since the raid.
"We take very seriously the fact that while al Qaeda is weakened, it is not dead," Carney said.
President Obama plans to deliver a major speech on the events in the Middle East and North Africa and U.S. Policy in the region Thursday at the State Department.
From Carney's descriptions, the speech will be "fairly sweeping and comprehensive" focused on the democratic uprisings in the region that have taken place since January and how the U.S. has responded to the upheaval.
"[The President] has always viewed the future of the region through the prism of democratization and the yearning of the people...in the region for greater political freedom, participation in their government, desire for responsive governments that address their grievances," Carney said. "I'm sure he will call as he has in the past on the governments in the region to respond to those demands through peaceful political dialogue."
Obama plans to focus on the irony he sees in some leaders' violent crackdowns in the name of stability when those brutal actions are only leading to great instability in the country and the region, Carney told reporters.
At one point during the press briefing, Carney was asked whether he had information about Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's whereabouts and reports that he was no longer in Tripoli and is likely injured.
"Nothing I can share," Carney replied.