Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has acknowledging publicly that a Pakistani doctor provided key information to the US in advance of last May's Navy SEAL assault that took out Osama bin Laden.
In a "60 Minutes" interview to be aired Sunday, Panetta said Shakil Afridi provided intelligence for the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad.
Afridi, working for the CIA, ran a vaccination program to collect DNA and verify bin Laden’s presence in the compound, according to the Associated Press.
He has since been charged by Pakistan with treason. Panetta said he is ”very concerned” for the doctor.
(GlobalPost reports: Bin Laden: CIA doctor faces treason charges)
CBS reported on its website that Panetta also said he still believed someone in authority in Pakistan knew the Al Qaeda leader was holed up in the compound.
“I personally have always felt that somebody must have had some sense of what was happening at this compound. Don’t forget, this compound had 18-foot walls, he told CBS "It was the largest compound in the area. So you would have thought that somebody would have asked the question, ‘What the hell’s going on there?’”
He admitted, however, that the US had no "hard evidence" of this.
He also gave an explanation for the US' failure to tell Pakistan of the raid in advance, a move that has inflamed tensions between Washington and Islamabad.
"We had seen some military helicopters actually going over this compound. And for that reason, it concerned us that, if we, in fact, brought [Pakistan] into it, that they might... give bin Laden a heads up," he reportedly said.