Nation/World

Blind activist complicates U.S.-China relations

BEIJING (AP) — The diplomatic disarray deepened Thursday after a blind activist reversed course and asked to leave China with his family, abandoning an arduously negotiated agreement even though he had left the protection of the U.S. Embassy and was in a Beijing hospital ringed by Chinese police.

Bewildered and alone with his wife and children, Chen Guangcheng periodically switched on a cellphone to tell friends and foreign media he felt scared and wanted to go abroad, and that he had not seen U.S. officials in over a day.

He even called in to a congressional hearing in Washington, telling lawmakers he wanted to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. “I hope I can get more help from her,” Chen said.

Chen’s high-profile effort to keep his case in the public eye served to increase pressure on Washington and embarrass Beijing as it hosted Clinton and other U.S. officials for annual talks on global political and economic hotspots.

Taken aback at Chen’s change of heart, U.S. diplomats spent much of Thursday trying to confirm that the family wanted to leave, and they eventually said they would try to help him. Still, it remained unclear how they might do so now that he has left the embassy, or whether the Chinese would be willing to renegotiate a deal that both sides thought had been settled a day earlier.

U.S. uses bin Laden letters to discredit al-Qaida

WASHINGTON – Letters from Osama bin Laden’s last hideaway, released by U.S. officials intent on discrediting his terror organization, portray a network weak, inept and under siege – and its leader seemingly near wit’s end about the passing of his global jihad’s glory days.

The documents, published online Thursday, are a small sample of those seized during the U.S. raid on bin Laden’s Pakistan compound in which he was killed a year ago. By no accident, they show al-Qaida at its worst. The raid has become the signature national security moment of Barack Obama’s presidency and one he is eager to emphasize in his re-election campaign.

Those ends are served in the 17 documents chosen by U.S. officials for the world to see – not to mention American voters. The Obama administration has refused to release a fuller record of its bin Laden collection, making it difficult to glean any larger truths about the state of the terrorist organization.

Associated Press