Pakistan would have jeopardised Osama raid: CIA chief

May 4th, 2011 - 11:30 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, May 4 (IANS) Pakistan was not included in the mission to kill Osama bin Laden as US officials feared it could have undermined the operation by leaking word to its targets, according to CIA chief Leon Panetta.

Months before the launch of the mission Friday, the US had considered expanding the assault to include coordination with other countries, notably Pakistan, he told Time magazine.

But the CIA ruled out participating with Pakistan early on because “it was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardise the mission. They might alert the targets,” Panetta said.

The US also considered running a high-altitude bombing raid from B-2 bombers or launching a “direct shot” with cruise missiles but ruled out those options because of the possibility of “too much collateral,” Panetta said.

The direct-shot option was still on the table as late as last Thursday as the CIA and then the White House grappled with how much risk to take on the mission. Waiting for more intelligence also remained a possibility.

On Tuesday, Panetta assembled a group of 15 aides to assess the credibility of the intelligence the suspected bin Laden compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

“What if you go down and you’re in a firefight and the Pakistanis show up and start firing?” Panetta said some worried. “How do you fight your way out?” But Panetta concluded that the evidence was strong enough to risk the raid and told President Barack Obama so.

Obama decided that Panetta’s arguments trumped two other options: striking the compound remotely or waiting until more evidence was available to prove bin Laden was there.

The aftermath of the mission has been productive, as the US collected an “impressive amount” of material from bin Laden’s compound, including computers and other electronics, Panetta said.

Panetta has set up a task force to act on the fresh intelligence. Intelligence reporting suggests that one of bin Laden’s wives who survived the attack has said the family had been living at the compound since 2005, Time magazine citing a source.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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