The Compass

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Pakistan's Osama Problem

One key point which will be much discussed in the coming weeks is the role Pakistan's authorities played in protecting the location of Osama bin Laden over the past several years. Rather than living in a cave or a remote area, it appears now that bin Laden has been in roughly the same location for multiple years, perhaps stretching back to 2005, when modifications were made to the compound where he was killed.

The question during the entire hunt for bin Laden has always been to what degree Pakistan was merely useless vs. actively undermining our efforts. Now Yahoo's Laura Rozen reports the area where bin Laden was killed is going to spark these questions once again given its population and location:

Obama commended Pakistani officials as he touted the effort to hunt down Bin Laden. But some critics are already pointing out the incongruity of Bin Laden, who had long been thought to be sequestered in far more remote parts of the country, turning up in an affluent suburb of Pakistan's capital - one that is filled with Pakistani military officials, no less.

"Abbottabad has a large military cantonment area and the Army college and exam center are located there," a former U.S. official who has worked in Pakistan told The Envoy. "It is very much off the usual track for foreigners … and I simply do not believe Bin Ladin could hide there unaided by or unknown to the Pakistanis."

It seems noteworthy that in President Obama's remarks on the subject, he thanked Pakistan without expressing anything they actually did to help the process along - and it's clear from the White House briefings tonight on the raid that he did not share intel with them, or indeed with any nation, taking a unilateral path instead. Rozen's source leads us to the question many in the administration and outside it are likely thinking about tonight: who in Pakistan's government knew Osama was there, and how long did they know it?