Pakistan’s Cooperation, the Uniqueness of the Compound, and Releasing the OBL Photograph: Today’s Q’s for O’s WH – 5/3/2011

TAPPER: The Pakistani government put out a statement in which they said that the ISI had been providing information about the compound since 2009, whereas all we know about, in terms of the media, is that we've known about the compound since 2010. Could you explain the discrepancy? And also, has the ISI been providing information about this compound?

CARNEY: Well, what I will do is point you to the comments that John Brennan made, which -- and others have made -- which is that the Pakistanis have in general been very helpful in many ways in the fight against al-Qaida, and that help has -- was of assistance in general in the gathering of intelligence and information that led to the successful operation on Sunday. I am not aware, and I believe we have said that -- we have been quite clear about our knowledge about the existence of this compound and about the communications we did not have with Pakistani intelligence about this operation.

TAPPER: OK. They also say in the statement that many houses in that region are occupied by affectees of operations in the FATA region, have high boundary walls as part of a culture of privacy. So high walls in that region -- obviously, you got the right house, I'm not questioning that -- but is this your cultural understanding of the region, that high walls are --

CARNEY: I think this was a unique property within the region. But he clearly successfully hid from sight, at least our sight, for a very long time. And he is not the only high-value target who did that by hiding in highly populated areas. Obviously there was some speculation for many years that he and other high-value al-Qaida targets were hiding in caves or in the mountainous region, small villages, or living a nomadic existence. And in fact, what we seem to have discovered over the course of these years of investigating and finding these high-value targets is that there's a preference -- or has been, in these cases, a preference for highly populated areas, which understandably can sometimes be an easier place to hide.

TAPPER: And lastly, the previous administration did release photographs of high-value targets -- Uday and Qusay Hussein, as just one, as just two examples. What would hold you back from doing it? It seemed to have gone off relatively without a hitch as far as I know. Why would you not release a photograph of bin Laden?

CARNEY: Well, I'll be candid that there are sensitivities here in terms of the appropriateness of releasing photographs of Osama bin Laden and in the aftermath of this firefight. And we're making an evaluation about the need to do that because of the sensitivities involved. And we do -- we review this information and make this decision with the same calculation as we do so many things, which is what -- you know, what we're trying to accomplish, and does it serve or in any way harm our interests. And that is not just domestic, but globally.

TAPPER: Could you explain “sensitivities”? Just because it's a gruesome photograph? That --

CARNEY: It's fair to say that it is a gruesome photograph.

TAPPER: That could be inflammatory? That's the sensitivity you're --

CARNEY: It is -- it is certainly possible that -- and this is an issue that we are taking into consideration, is that it could be inflammatory.

-Jake Tapper

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