March 19, 2014
(Getty/Mario Tama)

When Osama bin Laden was discovered to be hiding in a three-story house in the garrison town of Abbottabad, Pakistan — as opposed to the Waziri cave of popular imagination — it was immediately suspected that members of the Pakistani military had been aware of his whereabouts, and had perhaps even helped him evade the U.S.'s wrath. In a new article in The New York Times Magazine, Carlotta Gall, who spent more than a decade reporting from Afghanistan and Pakistan for the Times, presents a pretty powerful case that the military — in particular its powerful spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence — was indeed involved in safehousing bin Laden.

In trying to prove that the ISI knew of Bin Laden’s whereabouts and protected him, I struggled for more than two years to piece together something other than circumstantial evidence and suppositions from sources with no direct knowledge. Only one man, a former ISI chief and retired general, Ziauddin Butt, told me that he thought [former President Pervez] Musharraf had arranged to hide bin Laden in Abbottabad. But he had no proof and, under pressure, claimed in the Pakistani press that he’d been misunderstood. Finally, on a winter evening in 2012, I got the confirmation I was looking for. According to one inside source, the ISI actually ran a special desk assigned to handle Bin Laden. It was operated independently, led by an officer who made his own decisions and did not report to a superior. He handled only one person: bin Laden. I was sitting at an outdoor cafe when I learned this, and I remember gasping, though quietly so as not to draw attention. (Two former senior American officials later told me that the information was consistent with their own conclusions.) This was what Afghans knew, and Taliban fighters had told me, but finally someone on the inside was admitting it. The desk was wholly deniable by virtually everyone at the ISI — such is how supersecret intelligence units operate — but the top military bosses knew about it, I was told. [The New York Times Magazine]

Perhaps it's not what we could call a slam dunk, but there is much more than that, so check out the full article, which is excerpted from Gall's forthcoming book The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014. Ryu Spaeth

4:40 a.m. ET

"Welcome to The Late Show, and welcome to a whole new world," Stephen Colbert said at the beginning of Wednesday's show. "Because it turns out that hilarious 'Donald Trump is running for president' thing — he meant it." When Trump announced, a few months before Colbert's Late Show launched, they rushed out some videos so they could mock Trump while it lasted, he explained. "It turns out we had nothing to worry about, except all the things we have to worry about."

"A Trump nomination, it's just, it's hard to process," Colbert said. "This feels like a political shift of biblical proportions, like an act of God. But why would a loving God let this happen? Let's find out." So God appeared on the magical dome of the Ed Sullivan Theater, and Colbert asked him. God was as shocked as much of the U.S. "What happened to Jeb? I thought he was a sure thing." Watch below. Peter Weber

4:14 a.m. ET

Now that Donald Trump has the Republican presidential field to himself, he spent Wednesday beginning to discuss his vice presidential pick. On Wednesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kimmel had a preview of the presumptive Republican nominee's process. "The way he's planning to find and choose the running mate, I think, is going to be a lot of fun," Kimmel said. If you guessed "reality TV show," of course you're right, but it's not a VP reboot of The Apprentice. Watch below for a preview of Vice President Island — the funny-because-it's-true kicker is at the end. Peter Weber

4:00 a.m. ET

As the 2016 primaries come to an end, so too will Stephen Colbert's joyfully snarky "Hungry for Power Games." On Wednesday's Late Show, he dispatched with the rest of the Republican field, dressed in his Caesar Flickerman persona. "In the past few months, friends, we have lost so many brave tributes, and today, we lost what many are calling more of them," he said, beginning with Wednesday's dropout. "Yes, John Kasich has ended his bid for the White House," Colbert said. "He may be gone, but he's not... who are we talking about again?"

Kasich only won one state, Ohio, but "sadly, even in losing, Tribute Kasich hasn't lost, because last night's big loser was Texas senator and half-kissed frog prince Ted Cruz," Colbert said, showing the inevitable clip of Cruz elbowing his wife in the face three times. "You have to give Ted credit: He went down swinging — even when hugging his wife." After he said he was done roasting/saluting Cruz, Cartoon Donald Trump came on to give some parting shots to the tributes from "District: Deli Meat" and "District: Human?" (and also Carly Fiorina). "Farewell, tributes — I'm sure there's room for you in Trump's cabinet, or at least his trophy room," he said. Watch below — it will likely be the last episode until July. Peter Weber

3:23 a.m. ET

Between Islamic State demolition and booby traps, U.S. airstrikes, and the Iraqi military's campaign to retake the city, Ramadi is a disaster zone. Once home to a million people, the capital of Anbar Province is now filled mostly with Iraqi troops, bomb squad personnel, and miles and miles of destruction, according to photographs and satellite images provided to The Associated Press by DigitalGlobe. Iraqi forces ousted ISIS from the city in January, AP says, "but the cost of winning Ramadi has been the city itself."

The images show that more than 3,000 buildings, 400 roads and bridges, Ramadi's electrical grid, and the city water system were destroyed or severely damaged by ISIS or the campaign to force out the militants. After ISIS was cleared from the city, families were allowed to return, then blocked when dozens of civilians died in explosives rigged up by ISIS. "The bombs are so costly and time-consuming to defuse that much of recently liberated Iraq is now unlivable," AP says. Read more about the destruction of Ramadi at AP, and get a look at some of the images in the AP video below. —Peter Weber

2:22 a.m. ET

We already know Gwen Stefani ain't no hollaback girl, but now there's definitive proof that George Clooney isn't one, either.

In the latest installment of carpool karaoke with James Corden, Stefani and the host drive around Los Angeles, singing some of Stefani's greatest hits from her No Doubt and solo albums. Between songs, Stefani, bouncing with so much energy her seatbelt can barely contain her, acts out emojis (except the eggplant) and shares her tips for looking ageless (fall in love and have a hit record). Realizing that they need two more people in order to use the carpool lane, Corden picks up a few very special guests — Clooney and Julia Roberts — and we soon learn that Clooney can spell out "bananas" and knows enough of Stefani's lyrics that he could fill in for her onstage if it's ever necessary.

Watch the video below to see the foursome tackle Queen and share their deep thoughts on what exactly it means to be a hollaback girl. Catherine Garcia

1:40 a.m. ET

A lot has gone on in the past 48 hours — after Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropped out of the presidential race, Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, but not before he repeated a conspiracy theory about Cruz's father being with Lee Harvey Oswald before JFK's assassination and Cruz was heckled by a middle schooler.

On Wednesday, Seth Meyers took a closer look at all of these events, and how Trump became the last candidate standing. Republicans, he said, should really think about how a "race baiting, xenophobic, serial liar" like Trump became the presumptive candidate. "It's not a fluke," Meyers said. "The Republican Party is the party of Donald Trump and has been for years." With that, he introduced a clip from all the way back in 2009, when the birther movement, which starred Trump, was going strong. Watch the video below to hear more from Meyers on how Republicans are falling in line behind Trump, including those who previously said they'd never hop aboard the Trump Train. Catherine Garcia

12:32 a.m. ET

Now that the Republican field has been whittled down to Donald Trump, Conan O'Brien decided to give a proper farewell to the 16 candidates who failed to outlast him. Starting with Rick Perry and ending with John Kasich, O'Brien shared the "reason" why each person dropped out — try to guess which candidate was "kicked to death by mother for shaming family name" and who "actually passed away three years ago." Catherine Garcia

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