Pakistan was told nothing about the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, because the CIA thought “any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission,” Leon Panetta told Time yesterday. “They might alert the target.” The statement is likely to deepen the speculation swirling around Pakistan; Afghanistan’s defense minister today said the country must have known bin Laden’s whereabouts. “Even a very weak government with a weak intelligence service would have known who was living in that house in such a location,” a spokesman said, according to the AP.
Panetta has been making the interview rounds, talking to CBS, NBC, and PBS as well. Some highlights:
- Panetta clarified that neither he nor President Obama actually watched bin Laden’s death; they only heard the code word “Geronimo” when he died. “There was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes that we really didn't know just exactly what was going on.”
- Asked if bin Laden had any final words for the commandos, Panetta said, “To be frank, I don’t think he had a lot of time to say anything.”
- He said a photo would definitely be released. “The bottom line is that we got bin Laden, and I think we have to reveal to the rest of the world the fact that we were able to get him and kill him.”
- In the unlikely event bin Laden had been taken alive, “the approach was to take him quickly to Bagram, transfer him to a ship offshore,” and then let the White House decide what to do with him.
- His orders to Vice Admiral William McRaven were: “Go in there, get bin Laden, and if bin Laden isn’t there, get the hell out!”