In a new interview with CBS today, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta accused Pakistan of having known about Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts before the US assassination, saying the US had seen Pakistani military helicopters overflying the compound in the past.
“I personally have always felt that somebody must have had some sense of what was happening at this compound,” Panetta insisted, adding that some Pakistani officials “would have asked the question ‘what the hell’s going on there?’”
US officials have repeatedly made allegations to this effect, but the Pakistani government has maintained that they did not know Osama bin Laden was at the compound, and indeed has expressed annoyance that the US didn’t tell anyone about their suspicions.
According to Vice President Joe Biden, Panetta was the lone hawk on the attack, saying he was the only one of President Obama’s advisers urging an attack on the compound. Biden says he and others were pushing for more time to find out if bin Laden was actually there before sending troops in.
The raid did considerable harm to US-Pakistani relations, and was just one of several high profile incidents in 2011 that left the two nations’ relationship in tatters. Pakistan is said to be in the process of internally negotiating a new set of rules for their dealings with the US in the future.