By Molly K. Hooper - 05/02/11 06:05 PM EDT
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said on Monday that the plan that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden was based on a single piece of evidence found four years ago.
Rogers said the small piece of information led to the discovery of a compound in an Islamabad suburb where bin Laden was hiding.
Analysts set upon the clue and were able to expand their knowledge “based on that one, little piece of information,” Rogers said.
Rogers also said administration officials kept him updated on the search for bin Laden in recent months.
Rogers said he was in constant contact with CIA Director Leon Panetta over the past four months and especially over the past weekend, when President Obama decided that U.S. Special Forces would invade the compound.
Rogers received a phone call with news of bin Laden's fate this weekend while traveling in the U.S. on an Intelligence Committee trip.
Rogers said intelligence officials told him in January about the compound in a city about 30 miles from the Pakistan capital where special forces located bin Laden. At the time, however, Rogers said U.S. officials did not feel certain enough that bin Laden was at the compound to attack.
“We were made aware back in early January of the compound — what they believed at that time — there were certainly good indications that it was Osama bin Laden but didn't have enough, and I agreed with them — we just didn't have enough,” Rogers said.
Rogers said Pakistan must answer some tough questions about how bin Laden was hiding in the country.
But Rogers made a point of noting that in the past, Pakistan's intelligence service has, in fact, helped the U.S. in the fight against terrorism.
"The ISI and government of Pakistan have been helpful to us in the past with respect to counterintelligence investigations ... I can guarantee you there will be questions raised about this particular case as well but done in a way that continues to put pressure on the Pakistanis to always do the right thing," Rogers noted.
Rogers doubted any immediate retaliation by al Qaeda due to Osama's demise.
The former FBI agent said that there may be other al Qaeda operations in the works but those would not have a connection to Osama's death.
"One of the things that make al Qaeda successful and sustained as long as they have is that they're patient about how they plan and operate," Rogers said.
"So it's highly unlikely that you'll see a rash decision to reach out for a terrorist act. However, that doesn't mean that there haven't been operations that have been ongoing that could come to -- to completion and then operational phase any day," Rogers said.
"We know that they're planning in multiple places around the world, including with their leadership in the tribal areas of Pakistan, for terrorist attacks. That we know. So that part's ongoing."
Rogers called the burial at sea "prudent."
"(Osama bin Laden) was give the proper burial. It removes this -- any thought that there will be a shrine to Osama bin Laden or grave-robbing or any other lasting impact for his death," Rogers said.
All in all however, he called bin Laden's death a "great victory for America," but warned it was not the end of such operations by the intelligence community.
"One down, two to go," Rogers exclaimed, referring to the Osama's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Anwar al-Awlaki.
This story was updated at 5:51 p.m.