The raid that killed Osama bin Laden humiliated Pakistani leaders who were forced to realize Americans could storm into their country with impunity, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday.
He also said “my supposition is somebody knew” in Pakistan that bin Laden had been living in Abbottabad, a military garrison town 35 miles from Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.
Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said they had seen no evidence that top Pakistani officials had knowledge that bin Laden was there.
Navy SEALs descended on his compound on May 2, killing him and taking his body, which was later buried at sea.
“If I were in Pakistani shoes, I would say I’ve already paid a price,” Gates said. “I’ve been humiliated. I’ve been shown that the Americans can come in here and do this with impunity. I think we have to recognize that they see a cost in that and a price that has been paid.”
Far too many details of the raid have been made public, Gates and Mullen said at a joint news conference. They expressed concern that knowledge about how it was accomplished could endanger future operations.
Already, Mullen said, the disclosures have come close to jeopardizing the military’s ability to conduct future secretive raids, which he labeled “this precious commodity.”
The raid and its aftermath are being felt on Capitol Hill as well. Congress has begun questioning U.S. aid to Pakistan.
In a letter Tuesday to Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, five Democratic senators wrote that they want to re-evaluate military aid to Pakistan. In 2010, that aid totaled $2.7 billion.
The senators, including Diane Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the Intelligence Committee, said they had grave concerns about the Pakistani military’s commitment to fighting terrorism.
Mullen called the aid an investment in a “critical relationship” for the United States. Pakistan’s military leaders understand the need to pursue terrorists, he said.