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John Brennan at the White House on Monday (May 2, 2011). (AP)

U.S. Probing Whether Bin Laden Had Help From Within Pakistani Establishment

May 3, 2011

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Asked if the U.S. believes that someone in the Pakistani establishment might have known that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and helped him hide there, President Obama's counterterrorism adviser said today that "we need to dig deeper into this."

And, John Brennan said on Morning Edition that:

"It would be premature to rule out the possibility. ... We're not accusing anybody at this point, but we want to make sure we get to the bottom of this."

The U.S., Brennan told host Steve Inskeep, is looking at the question of who in Pakistan knew about bin Laden's presence "very closely right now."

There is "no indication at this point that the people (in the Pakistani government) we have talked to were aware," but that does not rule out the possibility that others in the establishment "knew about bin Laden's presence at the compound and provided support and helped maintain the secret." He said that Pakistani officials the U.S. has been dealing with also want answers.

Brennan made the rounds of several morning news shows today to talk about the U.S. raid that resulted in bin Laden's death on Sunday, the investigation into how long he had been in Abbottabad and what the U.S. has learned from the intelligence it seized during the mission.

Pakistani officials, on All Things Considered and in op-eds (including this morning in The Washington Post) have said their government did not know where bin Laden was.

Brennan also said on Morning Edition that the U.S. believes al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, "is in the same area of Southwest Asia, whether it's in Pakistan or Afghanistan."

And Brennan said that U.S. officials "may release photos" of bin Laden. "What we don't want to do is release anything that might be misunderstood or cause other problems," he added.

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