Thursday, December 27, 2007
Assassination, technology, and memories
--John King, Senior National Correspondent

I was on the set of American Morning to talk presidential politics as the horrific pictures started coming in from Pakistan.

It is remarkable how technology has changed our business. While an anchor sat inches away dealing with the breaking news, I was able to email officials at the White House, State Department and Crawford, Texas to get early word of what the Bush administration knew, and how it would react.

Questions about the security instability in Pakistan turned my memory back more than seven years, shortly after President Musharraf took power in a military coup.

I was covering the White House in March, 2000, when President Clinton made a controversial decision to go meet with Musharraf, and urge him to get back on a path to democracy.

As we waited at the airport for the President to land in Islamabad, a small jet with air force markings landed, and they rolled out the red carpet.

Off came Secret Service agents, and others in business suits. President Clinton, apparently, had arrived.

But then, a small, unmarked white jet swooped out of the sky. The first plane, that we thought as the President's, was a decoy; the unmarked jet was Air Force One, the designation given to any airplane carrying the President of the United States.

So worried were US officials about security that there also were more than a half dozen limousines. They pulled between two giant aircraft, and the president jumped into one. Then it was off to the meeting with Musharraf, under the most extraordinary presidential security arrangements I had ever seen.
Posted By CNN: 10:18 AM ET
  5 Comments
John,
Yeah I saw you on the AM show with Kiran. It seems you were in the right place at the right time.

I remember when Clinton went to meet with Musharaff. That decision wasn't looked upon as too bright! Thanks for giving us a run down on what you experienced there in Islamabad. Too bad that meeting didn't really change anything in Pakistan.

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Blogger Cindy : 11:40 AM ET
When I logged on to CNN and read the news of assassination of Ms Butto, I was shocked. Saddened and shocked.
When will the whole world community say, enough. Suicide bombings are disgraceful, and not one single country or person should have an excuse for their use. There is no goal or honor in murder that will ever justify such killings. Sad.

Lorie Ann
Buellton, Calif.
Posted By Blogger Lorie Ann : 11:44 AM ET
It's taken all day for me to digest this. It's shocking. I don't want to believe it. She was so determined and brave. Her return to Packistan was about her love for her country and it's people . All she wanted was to serve them and to bring stability and democracy to them. On the other end of the sprectrum Musharraf cares only about himself and having sole control of Packistan for himself. He lives for the attention, the publicity. Even with the world watching he has shown the world that he will jail lawyers etc for himself. He just a childish dictator not worthy of the greatness she represented. How sad for her family ,friends, her country and the world. Musharraf should go right another book about how to be a successful dictator. Thats about all he is good for.
Heather Ca
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 8:13 PM ET
If Pakistan was that unstable and dangerous when Clinton went over under such elaborate security precautions, Bhutto's assassination shows that nothing has improved - only gotten worse. I doubt our President could even think about going there today.

Your anecdote shows me that the only thing that has improved since Clinton's visit is the quickness in which we get the tragic news. This is a sad day for us all.

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Blogger Annie Kate : 9:06 PM ET
Dear John,

Hello and kind greetings from Canada. I just wanted to tell you that you always do such a wonderful work when you fill in for Anderson Cooper on AC360. You have such a depth of compassion and feeling for people. I thought your interview with the parents and sister of the young man killed by the tiger was very kind. They were in complete shock and I’m sure being able to talk about it and have someone compassionately listen and pass along kind sympathy was such a great comfort. Thank you so much.

Yesterday was so difficult too, what a shocking and sad way to start the day. I feel very sad - especially for Ms. Bhutto's family. What a heartbreaking day for them today...the funeral day is a day when most feel so numb, you just can't believe what is happening.

And I feel so sorry for her 3 children, teenage years are transition years, of course we need our parents no matter what our age. I’m so sorry. What a tragic and traumatic loss for them. My heart and prayers go out to them.

Thank you again John, keep up the good work. Please take care & stay safe.

In appreciation, Gina in Canada

P.S. I hope you and your family have a nice day skiing on New Years day and have some hot chocolate to sip on too :) kind smiles
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 4:58 PM ET
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