A key piece of intelligence on Osama bin Laden was discovered in 2007, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Monday.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) told reporters Monday at a Capitol news conference that the fact that the intelligence community has been steadily working to “tighten the noose”on the al-Qaeda leader over the past four years based on that key piece of information “dispel(s) some myth that because it took so long for us to get here that this was somehow an intelligence failure.”
“Something happened four years ago, a small piece of information that was set upon by our analysts and our intelligence folks all across the community, and for a very steady pace over time worked to expand their circle of knowledge based on that one little piece of information,” Rogers said.
“But when you look at how they traveled toward this target in absolute inches and how long it took them to beat, really, what was very good operational security, I think this clearly demonstrates the new intelligence community after 9/11 and their ability to find and reach out anywhere in the world and take care of people who threaten the United States,” he later added.
Rogers did not go into detail on what the nature of that intelligence was, but he noted that he and other congressional leaders were told of the presence of a compound in Pakistan back in January, when he became chairman of the House intelligence panel. “There were certainly good indications that it was Osama bin Laden, but (we) didn’t have enough,” he said. Over time, he added, officials “kept building the case.”
Rogers told reporters that he received word of bin Laden’s death via a phone call Sunday as he was traveling on a domestic intelligence trip.
As lawmakers begin to turn their scrutiny on Pakistan, Rogers acknowledged Monday that “there have been lots of places where questions have been raised, and I can guarantee you there will be questions raised about this particular case as well.” He noted that he hoped those questions would be asked “in a way that continues to, I argue, put pressure on the Pakistanis to always do the right thing.”
Rogers said he believed that the United States is now safer following bin Laden’s death.
“Anytime you can take an operational leader or an inspirational leader -- of which I argue he was both -- off the battlefield, it is a great day for our national security,” he said.
He also dismissed the notion that bin Laden’s death gives weight to the argument that the United States should withdraw more quickly from Afghanistan.
“For anyone to try to mix up this success with what I think will be a success here in ... our offensive against the Taliban in Afghanistan this spring is I think making a serious mistake and jeopardizes the long-term health of our entire national security picture,” he said.