US feared Pakistan leak over bin Laden

2011-05-04 12:14
Washington - CIA Director Leon Panetta said in an interview on Tuesday that officials ruled out informing Islamabad about a planned raid against Osama bin Laden's compound as they feared their Pakistani counterparts might alert the al-Qaeda chief.

Panetta told Time magazine that "it was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardise the mission: They might alert the targets."

For years Pakistan's government denied suspicions that Bin Laden was hiding inside its borders, but a US assault force found him a mere 50km from the Pakistani capital living near a military academy.

The operation has highlighted tensions between Washington and Islamabad, with Pakistan's foreign ministry on Tuesday criticising the "unauthorised unilateral" raid.

Panetta also told the magazine that the options presented to President Barack Obama included bombing the compound with B-2 bombers or firing a "direct shot" with cruise missiles.

Air strikes were in the end ruled out because of the risk of "too much collateral," said Panetta, a reference to potential civilian casualties.

Circumstantial evidence

But the cruise missile option was still under consideration as late as Thursday, a day before Obama approved the helicopter assault.

During White House deliberations, Panetta said he acknowledged there was only "circumstantial evidence" that Bin Laden was in the compound, as there were no spy satellite photos of the al-Qaeda founder in the large compound.

Though his CIA aides were only 60-80% confident that Bin Laden was there, Panetta argued to Obama at a pivotal meeting on Thursday that it was worth taking the gamble, and that it was the best chance to take out the al-Qaeda mastermind since a failed attempt in 2001 after the US invasion of Afghanistan.

He said he told the White House meeting, "when you put it all together ... we have the best evidence since (the 2001 battle of) Tora Bora (where bin Laden was last seen), and that then makes it clear that we have an obligation to act".

As he followed the operation from CIA headquarters in Langley, Panetta said the room was tense with anticipation.

He asked Vice-Admiral William McRaven, head of the Joint Special Operations Command overseeing the raid, to explain the military chatter and to confirm the fate of Bin Laden - who was referred to by the code name "Geronimo".


"I kept asking Bill McRaven, 'OK, what the hell's this mean?,' and when McRaven finally said they had ID'd Geronimo, ... All the air we were holding came out," Panetta said.

When the American helicopters flew from the compound 15 minutes later, the room erupted into applause, Panetta said.

Despite the suspicions unleashed by the raid against bin Laden, the US and Pakistan said after talks in Washington the operation "underscores the importance of co-operation in our efforts to defeat terrorism".

"Both sides affirmed their mutual commitment to their strong defence relations, which they stressed should continue to serve as the foundation of the broader strategic partnership," the statement added.

The two days of talks by the US-Pakistan Defence Consultative Group were led by Pakistan Defence Secretary Syed Athar Ali and US Undersecretary of Defence Michele Flournoy.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  osama bin laden  |  pakistan  |  us  |  security

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Tips on how to set your fitness goals

Before you embark on a fitness or training programme, set yourself clear and realistic long-term and short-term goals.


Where were you when you last felt alive?

This all-terrain vehicle is badass!
The TRUTH about painkillers and exercise
WIN! Where were you when you last felt alive?
Watch: Fishing under ice

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R1000 on electronics!

Get mind blowing savings on top electronic products. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


You may be spending too much time organising and trying to control things to make sure everything is perfect instead of more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.