The US will again carry out special operations in Pakistan if required like the attack that killed Osama bin Laden to target high profile terrorists, a top White House official said, asserting this had been "very successful".
Notwithstanding the reaction from Pakistan that America’s covert operation against bin Laden was an "unauthorized unilateral action", White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the Obama Administration would continue with this policy if that country does not act against terror suspects holed up in that country.
The Obama Administration at the same time said the al Qaeda leader would have been taken alive had he surrendered to the US commandos but maintained that its covert operation in Abbottabad deep inside Pakistan on Sunday to kill him was conducted in a manner "fully consistent" with the laws of war.
Carney told reporters the US believes that the 9/11 mastermind was brought to justice in the helicopter raid and that it is "entirely appropriate" given the circumstances.
"It’s a hypothetical, but certainly that method was very effective and was entirely lawful. I certainly wouldn’t want to preclude the use of that method by anything I might say from here," Carney said.
Carney's remark came in response to a question.
"You said that we are not done going after terrorists. The Pakistani government said in a statement that Sunday’s raid was an 'unauthorized unilateral action.' So how would that statement sort ofaffect any future special operations that might take place for another person believed to be involved with al Qaeda?" Carney was asked.
Carney further said, "We will continue to seek and find and bring to justice terrorists who are plotting to do harm to Americans and our allies."
Q) Are you saying that the US reserves the right to, as the President said back in the campaign, if Pakistan will not act against terror suspects, to go and enter Pakistani territory and act against them?".
A) "Yes. He made very clear during the campaign that that was his view. He was criticized for it. He maintained that that was his view, and by the actions he has taken as President, feels that it was the right approach and continues to feel that way,” the press secretary said."
US President Barack Obama has consistently said that he would go ahead to target high profile terrorists, if he had actionable intelligence and the Pakistani Government was not willing to act.
On the surrender issue, Carney said, "The (Special Operations) team had the authority to kill Osama bin Laden unless he offered to surrender; in which case the team was required to accept his surrender if the team could do so safely."
"If Osama bin Laden had surrendered the US could have brought him into custody safely, then that would have been bringing him to justice as well.
"But(bin Laden) he was brought to justice on Sunday. I think it's entirely appropriate that, given the circumstances, that he was brought to justice in the way he was. The professionals on the ground put themselves at great risk and accomplished theirmission," Carney said.
Carney said the operation was conducted in a manner fully consistent with the laws of war.
"The operation was planned so that the team was prepared and had the means to take bin Laden into custody," Carney said in response to a question.
"There is simply no question that this operation was not lawful. bin Laden was the head of al-Qaeda, the organization that conducted the attacks of September 11, 2001. And al-Qaeda and bin Laden himself had continued to plot attacks against the US. We acted in the nation's self-defense," he said.
"The operation was conducted in a way designed to minimize and avoid altogether, if possible, civilian casualties. And that was done at great risk to Americans. Furthermore, consistent with the laws of war, bin Laden's surrender would have been accepted if feasible," Carney said.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meanwhile said the effort to stop al-Qaeda and its syndicate of terror will not end with the death of bin Laden.