“Indifference With a Motive?” Senate Intel Chair Wants Answers from Pakistan on bin Laden’s Abbottabad Mansion

By Kristina

May 3, 2011 12:16pm

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Dianne Feinstein today echoed calls by other top lawmakers in Congress that Pakistan must answer questions about how Osama bin Laden could have lived in Abbottabad for up to six years.

“It does cause one to question how this kind of facility – which stood out, which was close by a military academy – could exist for the length of time it did exist. And we now know that bin Laden was there up to six years. That’s a substantial period of time,” Feinstein said at a press conference this morning.

“I think we have to know whether they knew, whether the Pakistanis knew. If they didn’t know, why didn’t they know?” she asked. “Why didn’t they pay more attention to it? Was this just benign indifference or was it indifference with a motive? I don’t know what the answer is and we need to find out.”  

“From an intelligence point of view, we would want to know more about why this wasn’t discovered by the Pakistani authorities,” she emphasized.

However, Feinstein said it would be “premature” to cut off financial aid to Pakistan, as Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, has called for, even though she cited that Pakistan has “very subtly walked both sides of the street” and “that is a concern to many of us.”

In addition to Feinstein and Lautenberg, other key senators such as Senate Armed Services boss Carl Levin, Senate Homeland Security chairman Joe Lieberman, and the top Republican on the Homeland Security panel Susan Collins have all demanded that Pakistan explain how bin Laden was able to live in Abbottabad – a city under 100 miles from the capital of Islamabad and a city with a strong military presence.

The California Democrat also told reporters at this morning’s press conference that she first saw pictures of bin Laden’s Abbottabad mansion in December, a mansion she said was under 24/7 surveillance for months.

She said she was told that the helicopter that malfunctioned during the mission ran into problems because the temperature was 17 degrees higher than anticipated, so “based on the temperature and the load in the helicopter, the helicopter began to descend” towards a “controlled but hard landing.”

In addition, Feinstein today said “nothing has been found to indicate” that any information used to find bin Laden came from Guantanamo Bay, stating, “To the best of our knowledge, based on a look, none of it came as a result of harsh interrogation practices.”

Asked whether the Obama administration should release photos to prove that bin Laden is dead, she said, “for purposes of 100 percent identification there is value in doing so,” but ultimately she does not “see a need to do it – the DNA has been dispositive.”

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