Hillary Clinton explains photo: ‘It was my allergy’
In Rome, Clinton blames spring allergy for that hand-over-mouth moment
The now iconic image of President Obama and his top team apparently watching the unfolding raid on Osama bin Laden's compound live in the White House situation room on Sunday begs several questions in the light of the news – courtesy of CIA director Leon Panetta – that the live video feed from Abbottabad was cut when the US Navy Seals entered the house in which they found and killed the al-Qaeda leader.
What were they watching if that was the case? And why did secretary of state Hillary Clinton have her hand over her mouth in what appeared to be horror?
We now have an answer to the second question. Hillary Clinton was asked that very thing at a press conference today in Rome. She called the satellite feed from Abbottabad "the most intense 38 minutes ever". But what prompted her to put her hand over her mouth?
"I have no idea what any of us were looking at that particular millisecond when the picture was taken," she said. "I am somewhat sheepishly concerned that it was my preventing one of my early spring allergic coughs."
"So it may have no great meaning whatsoever," she added.
Clinton addressed other issues during her press conference in Rome, but that looks likely to remain the most memorable answer.
Was the US considering a Pakistan-style blitz against Gaddafi in Tripoli, one reporter asked. Clinton did not answer directly, but said the UN Security Council resolution was being followed, and the Contact Group on Libya meeting today in Rome was hammering out details of a "financial mechanism" and non-lethal assistance to the rebel government in Libya, currently mired in a standoff with Gaddafi's military.
On the matter of Osama bin Laden's departure, Clinton warned that the United States and its allies would continued to "crack down and where necessary kill or capture" those directing actions against US and allied troops.
"The battle with al-Qaeda does not end with one death," Clinton said. "The international criminals who indiscriminately murder innocent people will be brought to justice."
Asked whether or not the US had intended to kill Bin Laden, Clinton said he was "a sworn enemy of the US, a danger to all humanity and a clear target for the US and its allies for the last 10 years. From London to Madrid, Istanbul to Bali, he left thousands dead and maimed". She noted that the majority of his victims were Muslims. ·
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