Sources: Panetta to Congress – Pakistan either incompetent or involved
May 3rd, 2011
06:38 PM ET
12 years ago

Sources: Panetta to Congress – Pakistan either incompetent or involved

Washington (CNN) – CIA Director Leon Panetta told House members Tuesday that any way you look at it, Pakistan's role in Osama bin Laden's whereabouts was troubling.

According to two sources in a closed door briefing, Panetta told lawmakers "either they were involved or incompetent. Neither place is a good place to be."

Panetta was responding to a question from a member of Congress about Pakistan, which was the first question of the hour-long classified briefing, the sources said.

He made clear that he and other administration officials are trying to get to the bottom of which it was -involvement or incompetence.

Bipartisan frustration had been boiling over from both parties when it became clear bin Laden's compound was in an urban area less than a mile from a major Pakistani military academy.

"It had everything except a neon sign sticking out there," Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, told CNN.

Freshman Republican Allen West of Florida, who served in the army in Iraq and was a civilian officer in Afghanistan, told CNN "there is no way that people in the ISI [Pakistan's Intelligence Agency] and military did not know that Osama bin Laden has been living there for quite some time."

Lautenberg and West are among several lawmakers who say Congress should cut off funding immediately, to try to force Pakistani officials to answer questions about what they knew about Bin Laden's location.

Over the last eight years, the U.S. has given Pakistan nearly $20 billion dollars in foreign aid, mostly to try to convince the tenuous ally to help combat terrorism.

The State Department requested $3 billion more for next year. The Defense Department asked for $2.3 billion just for Pakistani counterterrorism efforts.

Despite calls to withhold funding now, many senior lawmakers say that's premature and that Congress should wait until the U.S. gets answers from Pakistan.

"Was this just benign indifference, or was it indifference with a motive? I don't know the answer but we need to find out." said Democratic Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California.

Members of congress who are warning against a rush to judgment note different factions of the Pakistani government offer different levels of cooperation. The relationship is often tense, and quite complex.

"They've lost thousands and thousands and thousands of their soldiers fighting terrorists. Now this doesn't mean we don't need more oversight, and I'm willing to do that," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"It's complicated because it's not just all security. They are a country right in the middle of where everything is happening. They do work with us when they choose to," said GOP Rep. Sue Myrick of North Carolina.

Filed under: Congress • Leon Panetta • Osama bin Laden
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Michael

    I'll go with incompetent – any time you mix religious and corrupt, incompetence is pretty much a given.

    May 3, 2011 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  2. Don Sporns

    What you need to understand is that there is no one entity called "Pakistan". There is the military, the ISI, and the government. All have different agendas and capabilities, and do what they want regardless of what the other two say. There is no doubt that elements of ISI and military were involved in protecting OBL. The civilian government is corrupt and ineffective and had no idea about this in all likelihood.

    May 3, 2011 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    We have so many questions about how there could be this major a screw up in terms of intelligence. How could they not know he was there? I suggest that there are still people who knew and didn't think that it was that big a deal because they mistakenly believed that bin Laden didn't have anything to do with the attacks. The other thought is that many people worked on bin Laden's behalf and never let on who they were working for by being very secretive.

    May 3, 2011 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  4. John

    Allen West didn't just serve in Iraq. He was relieved there, as a commander, after firing a weapon to intimidate an unarmed prisoner. West is a war criminal. In today's politics, that makes him a card-carrying lreader in the Tea Party movement.

    May 3, 2011 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  5. Terrance

    Just because another country doesn't jump through US hoops as we want them to says more about the US than about them.

    May 3, 2011 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  6. Dennis

    To the west of Pakistan is Afghanistan with its well-known insurgency and terrorism; to the east of Pakistan is India where Pakistani trained terrorists killed hundreds in Mumbai. Now, let me think–give me a moment now–with all the smoke in that region where do you suppose the fire is? Pakistan, you are with us in this fight, or you're against us. Take your choice. At this point, I think Pakistan has forfeited its air rights and sovereignty over the border area.

    May 3, 2011 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  7. TJ

    Impossible the military and the government and the people did not know who lived there. Perhaps they knew there was constant US surveillance and at least did not warn bin Laden so he could pick up and leave again. Actually, that was the easiest place to nab him. Perhaps they are incompetent. Perhaps they chose to look the other way so as not to be accused of cooperating with the West by their own radical terrorists. Lots of possibilities.

    May 3, 2011 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  8. jpmichigan

    Duh! There is a problem here, any one can see. Pakistan cannot be trusted and giving them billions of taxpayers money is just plain stupid. How many times have you informed that government of US intentions, only to have those plans fall through the crack. Osama is hidding just around the corner of an Pakistan military academy and no one knew he was there. To listen to Hilary on TV yesterday , covering for the Pakistan government , I just wanted to puke!

    May 3, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  9. MJ

    We have to stop all "assistance" to Pakistan, as well as, all the billions we send to help other Asian Nations. Do you not see where the funds are going? Aiding and abetting their corrupt government. Protecting and harbouring criminals. This is being given freely while we place our troops in harms way in Countries who do not give one "hoot" about America. They have their own resources to take care of their own, but choose to keep taking billions from the United States to make sure the corrupt leaders live in the life style we have helped them become accustomed to.

    May 3, 2011 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  10. Say It Isn't So

    So, grow a pair and cut off the $1 BILLION the United States sends them every year!!!!

    May 3, 2011 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  11. Monster Zero

    Gee do you think? The more I think about this the more I do commend President Obama for taking action in bringing this dog to justice. I keep thinking of what it must be like to look at my kids and think that if I had to make a decision like that knowing that there are now thousands of people out there that would kill me or my family given half a chance...It truly did take some sack and fortitude to do it, although even given those possible consequences there was only one choice. I like to see it as the Bush Administration built the gun and the Obama Administration loaded it and pulled the trigger, now that is what America needs to start thinking like again, a team effort for the betterment of OUR Nation! May God watch over you and yours Mr. President, and may he also find you a new job come 2012! Hey, I said I admired his fortitude, I still don't like his politics!

    May 3, 2011 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  12. Debbie

    After 20 billion and 8 years Pakistan has not done anything to convice the American tax payer that they will ever get off the fence. Give the $$ to India and let them fix their nukes on Pakistan. Pakistan was both incompetent and involved. Cut bait and move on.

    May 3, 2011 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  13. Mah

    This is blowing my mind right now...

    May 3, 2011 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  14. buckup

    Don't forget about Dr. Khan, that industrious government official who helped sell nuclear weapons technology to anyone.
    Was he doing it just for the money, or does he just get his kicks knowing he is destabilizing the world?

    May 3, 2011 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  15. ipisking

    These guys are involved.. Right after the raid the president flew here to Kabul and asked that Afghanistan kick out all of the Americans and for them not to have any kind of operations here.

    May 3, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |