Washington (CNN) – It's early, and State of the Union is bringing you the best of the morning headlines to go with your cup of coffee.
On our radar: The aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden, tense relations with Pakistan, turmoil in Libya and 2012 politics.
Be sure to check out what we're reading and watch the show today at 9am/12pm ET with National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.
THE KILLING OF OSAMA BIN LADEN
“Zawahiri is obviously the presumed successor, but there are strong indications that he is not popular within certain circles of the group,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told reporters Saturday in a briefing at the Pentagon. “It is, of course, anathema to al-Qaeda to hold free and fair elections. If free and fair elections [were conducted], Zawahiri would most likely have a fight on his hands.”
His once-large entourage of Arab bodyguards was down to one trusted Pakistani courier and the courier’s brother, who also had the job of buying goats, sheep and Coca-Cola for the household.
"Al-Qaeda and its terrorist members who have suffered a major defeat with the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistani territory have tried to hide this defeat by killing civilians in Kandahar and take their revenge on the innocent people of Afghanistan," Karzai said in a statement.
By conservative estimates, bin Laden cost the United States at least $3 trillion over the past 15 years, counting the disruptions he wrought on the domestic economy, the wars and heightened security triggered by the terrorist attacks he engineered, and the direct efforts to hunt him down.
RELATIONS WITH PAKISTAN
Not only has American military aid been wasted, misused, and turned against us; it may well have undermined the Pakistani military, which has feasted on huge donations but is far weaker than its nemesis, the Indian military.
Eliminating, or sharply reducing, military aid to Pakistan would have consequences, but they may not be the ones we fear. Diminishing the power of the military class would open up more room for civilian rule. Many Pakistanis are in favor of less U.S. aid; their slogan is “trade not aid.” In particular, Pakistani businessmen have long sought U.S. tax breaks for their textiles, which American manufacturers have resisted. Such a move would empower the civilian middle class.
LIBYA AND SYRIA
Hundreds of troops backed by at least seven tanks stormed a city on Syria’s Mediterranean coast before dawn on Saturday, cutting electricity and phone lines and besieging neighborhoods in a locale that has emerged as one of the most restive in the seven-week uprising, opposition groups and human rights activists said.
So far, only former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts has assembled a strong bench of the top Republican financiers. Scores of other fund-raisers remain unaligned, waiting with their money — and contact lists — in their pockets as prospective candidates bombard them with phone calls, e-mails and in-person visits around the nation.
“It’s not at the top of the agenda for most folks right now,” said Brian Ballard, the Florida finance chairman for Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid, who has heard from all of the potential hopefuls this year but, like many of his associates, has yet to choose a 2012 candidate.
IN OTHER NEWS
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