The raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound only hours outside of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, has created a firestorm of speculation as to who was involved in helping to shelter the al-Qaeda leader from detection by U.S. and Pakistani intelligence. During an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes, President Obama outlines the U.S. government’s take so far regarding who is believed to have assisted bin Laden.
“We think that there had to be some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan,” Obama said, “but we don’t know who or what that support network was. We don’t know whether there might have been some people inside of government, outside of government, and that’s something we have to investigate and more importantly the Pakistani government has to investigate. And we have already communicated to them and they have indicated they have a profound interest in finding out what kinds of support networks bin Laden might have had.”
“But these are questions we’re not going to be able to answer three or four days after the event,” Obama said. “It’s going to take some time for us to be able to exploit the intelligence that we were able to gather on site.”
The president’s comments come as leaders within the Pakistani government ardently defend their country’s role in the take-down of bin Laden. Pakistani Ambassador Husain Haqqani said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that “heads will roll” after the head of the Pakistani army had finished conducting an investigation into how bin Laden could have lived so long, and so close to the nation’s capital, without being detected. “Pakistan wants to put to rest any misgivings the world has about our role,” Haqqani said. “We have been victims of terrorism.”
U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said repeatedly on the Sunday talk shows that he had seen no evidence to suggest that political, military or intelligence agencies within Pakistan were complicit in hiding bin Laden. Meanwhile, former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, on CBS’s Face the Nation, said that it was possible bin Laden could have hidden in plain sight, comparing the location of the terrorist leader’s hideout to that of Washington and the luxury mansions in the tony Northern Virginia suburbs. “We don’t know what’s going on there. And it is possible that someone like that with a support system like al-Qaeda, in my view very likely could hide in plain sight,” said Rumsfeld.
CBS’s 60 Minutes airs Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.
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