The CIA discovered Osama bin Laden’s location from a Pakistani intelligence official before the U.S. special operations forces raid that killed the al Qaeda leader, NBC News reports.
A intelligence source told the network the government used a cover story to assert that bin Laden’s courier tipped off the CIA in order to protect the identity of the Pakistani official who gave up the information. The military official added that Pakistani intelligence was hiding bin Laden in the country.
But Hersh’s report also asserts the Pakistani intelligence services cooperated with the mission by helping U.S. helicopters enter the country. It also claims American forces faced no resistance in bin Laden’s compound because the guards were ordered to stand down.
National Security Council spokesman Ned Price forcefully denied the Hersh story Monday morning, specifically focusing on the allegations of coordination between U.S. and Pakistani forces.
“There are too many inaccuracies and baseless assertions in this piece to fact check each one,” Price said in a statement.
“The notion that the operation that killed Usama Bin Ladin was anything by a unilateral U.S. mission is patently false.”
The White House declined a request to comment on the NBC News story.
A number of reports have suggested that some within the Pakistani government knew where bin Laden was hiding at the time of the raid. A former Pakistani intelligence official said it was “probable,” according to The Washington Post, and a New York Times Magazine report quotes an unnamed source who said the intelligence service had a special desk that dealt with hiding the terrorist leader.
Then-CIA Director Leon Panetta told Time magazine that the agency feared Pakistan would warn bin Laden about the raid if it had known about it.
“It was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission,” he said.
“They might alert the targets.”