What did the PM know about bin Laden?

Pakistani media personnel and local residents gather outside the hideout of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden following his death by US Special Forces in a ground operation in Abbottabad on May 3, 2011. The bullet-riddled Pakistani villa that hid Osama bin Laden from the world was put under police control, as media sought to glimpse the debris left by the US raid that killed him. Bin Laden's hideout had been kept under tight army control after the dramatic raid by US special forces late May 1, 2011 in the affluent suburbs of Abbottabad, a garrison city 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Islamabad.  AFP PHOTO/ AAMIR QURESHI (Photo credit should read AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Oh, how I wish I could be a fly on one of the White House walls when Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif comes for a visit with President Obama.

I would love to hear a conversation that goes something like this:

President Obama: Welcome, Mr. Prime Minister. But let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we? I know you weren’t in office on May 2, 2011 when our SEALs took out Osama bin Laden. But I have to ask, didn’t you get a full national security briefing from your predecessor when you took over?

Nawaz Sharif: Well, yes, Mr. President. Of course.

Obama: What did he tell you about bin Laden’s presence in Afghanistan, where our men killed him while he was hiding in plain sight in Abbottabad? Surely he knew bin Laden was there, right?

Sharif: I don’t know what you’re talking about …

Obama: Oh, stop right there. Everyone with half a brain in this country believes your government knew that bin Laden was in that large compound just a stone’s throw from that military academy. How could your intelligence folks have missed detecting his presence?

Sharif: We don’t snoop and spy on everyone and everything in our country.

Obama: Knock it off. This guy was the most wanted terrorist on the planet. The entire civilized world — and that include Pakistan — wanted him killed or captured. You operate a sophisticated intelligence network there.

Sharif: It can’t detect every person’s move.

Obama: But surely it can detect the movements of a man who stood 6 feet 5 inches tall and whose face has been plastered on TV screens around the world for a decade, ever since the 9/11 attacks.

Sharif: If you think our government knew of bin Laden’s presence, is that why you launched the raid in secret, without ever telling us you were invading our airspace?

Obama: Airspace … shmairspace, Nawaz. The bad guys invaded our airspace on 9/11 — and killed 3,000 innocent victims. Bin Laden took credit for doing that damage. Do I really care about airspace concerns? No. I wanted him dead and by God, we were intent on making sure we killed him.

Sharif: Well, back to your initial question. I wasn’t told anything about bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan. Even if I was told, I cannot disclose  national security secrets, not even to you.

***

Will this conversation occur when the Pakistani prime minister visits the White House on Oct. 22? Oh, probably not. Then again, not every conversation occurs when there’s media present.

I’m going to hope that Barack Obama presses his guest for some answers to the burning question: What did the Pakistanis know about Osama bin Laden and when did  they know it?

Pakistani PM to visit White House

 

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