Nelson pushes for investigation into Pakistan’s role

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May 4th, 2011

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Omaha, NE – In a closed-door briefing Tuesday with the Senate Armed Services Committee, Obama administration officials revealed some details about Sunday’s raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound. Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson attended the briefing, but says numerous questions remain, including who else in Pakistan knew about Bin Laden’s hideout, and where did the tip-off come from?

Sen. Ben Nelson says while there's no evidence of complicity by Pakistan's military to hide Bin Laden, there are "suspicions of it." (Photo courtesy Senator's Office)

“Like many, I have a lot of questions about how Osama Bin Laden could have been hiding out in plain sight in Pakistan,” Nelson said in his weekly conference call with reporters. He added he doesn’t understand how Pakistan’s military could have missed Bin Laden, who was found in a large compound that “stuck out like a sore thumb.”

“While there’s no direct evidence of complicity right now, there’s a suspicion of it,” he said.

During Tuesday’s private briefing with CIA Director Leon Panetta, Nelson said the administration showed the Senators photographs of computer hard drives and other evidence that may be able to provide answers to Pakistan’s role.

“It’s almost unimaginable,” he said. “When you see the location, when you see the size of that compound … particularly given the fact that so many [people in the area] are retired military, that there wouldn’t have been strong suspicion and report to some level of government.”

The raid on Bin Laden’s compound has raised further debate on the role that “enhanced interrogation techniques” like water boarding might have played in finding Bin Laden. The techniques were made infamous by George W. Bush’s administration, an ardent defender of the need for such tactics. Some conservatives are claiming Bin Laden’s death vindicates the controversial techniques, while others on the left are minimizing the suggestion. Nelson said he hasn’t changed his mind that the tactics are ineffective and likely violate the Geneva Conventions. And he said he is not aware of any information that would support the idea that they played a pivotal role.

“That question has been raised in a secure setting,” he said. “And I know that there will be some answer to that.”

“We’re going to have a lot of folks that were on the wrong side of that issue out there trumpeting that this is what brought this all about. There’s no evidence of that at this point in time.”

But where the information came from, who knew about it and how was it gathered is still unclear, and the Obama administration appears to still be working out the details. In a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said the information came from different sources. But Congressman Dan Lungren, Republican from California pressed him for specifics.

“There was a mosaic of sources that led to the identification of the people who led to…” Holder said, and was interrupted by Lungren. “I understand that. But were any pieces of that mosaic as a result of enhanced interrogation techniques?”

Holder responded, “I do not know.”

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