'This Week' Transcript: Tom Donilon


AMANPOUR: ... do you believe that elements of either the government or the military or the intelligence knew and harbored Osama bin Laden?

DONILON: Let me address that directly. As I sit here with you, I don't have any information that would indicate foreknowledge by the political, military, or intelligence leadership in Pakistan, point one.

Point two, though, is the fact that Osama bin Laden was living -- and we now know operating -- in a town 35 miles away from Islamabad in what is essentially a military town of sorts, with an important institution...


DONILON: ... and other military installations...

AMANPOUR: It was their West Point town.

DONILON: Yes, yeah. So questions -- and these questions, as you know, are being raised quite aggressively in Pakistan.

AMANPOUR: Well, what are you demanding of them now?

DONILON: Yeah. And they indicated -- and out of the core commanders' meeting that General Kayani had this past Thursday, have indicated they're going to do an investigation. They need to do an investigation.

AMANPOUR: Should heads roll?

DONILON: Well, that will be up to them, with respect to their own...


AMANPOUR: But can you deal with these very people who you've had to deal with?

DONILON: Well, let's go -- let's go through that, yeah. I think that -- I think, though, on this issue, we need to work with them on a couple of things. First of all, we need to know how this happened and they need to know how this happened, if they weren't involved, right? They need to know how this happened.

Secondly, we need to work with them on assessing all the evidence out of that compound and all of the evidence associated with Osama bin Laden's presence there for six years. They have in their custody all the noncombatants from the compound, including three wives of Osama bin Laden. We've asked for access, obviously, to those -- to those folks.

They took additional materials. We talked to them first about the materials that we had. They had additional materials. We need access to that.

But I would be remiss if I didn't make another point. More people have died, right, more terrorists have died -- have died and been captured, excuse me, on Pakistan soil than any place else in the world. They have been an essential partner of ours in the war against Al Qaida and in our efforts against terrorism. And that really can't be dismissed.

This is an important relationship with the United States, so we need to assess this, Christiane, in a cool and calm way. And my job as national security adviser is to do this in a way that advances our interests.

AMANPOUR: If today the president had to make that decision to go after Zawahiri in Pakistan, would you tell the Pakistanis?

DONILON: Well, we'll have to look at the specifics of the operation. This really wasn't a matter of trusting or not trusting; it was a matter of operational security.

AMANPOUR: So would you do this again, then, in Pakistan, go in without telling them?


DONILON: It would depend on the operation, right? It would depend on the risk assessments, right? We do many, many joint operations with the Pakistanis. This was a singular operation, a very unique operation, indeed, the most important military operation that we've undertaken in a long, long time.

AMANPOUR: I have to ask you a final question.

DONILON: Of course.

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