CIA chief briefs lawmakers, says Pak not reliable ally

Washington: CIA chief Leon Panetta on Wednesday briefed US lawmakers on the military operation that killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, during which he is believed to have said that the US did not inform Pakistan as it thought any information provided to them could be leaked.

"CIA Director Leon Panetta told senators at a briefing on the bin Laden mission that the administration decided against informing Pakistan because of fears that the details would leak and the mission could be compromised, according to one lawmaker present," reported The Hill, which covers the Congress.

"It was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission. They might alert the targets," Panetta had told Time magazine earlier in the day.

"It`s impossible to believe that with the sophisticated intelligence agency and military apparatus that Pakistan has that they could have the most notorious criminal in the world living in plain sight, right in front of them and not know about it," Congressman Peter King told reporters after the meeting.

"Pakistan should also realize that many members in Congress are raising serious questions, why should we be giving USD 3 billion a year to Pakistan if they can`t capture the world`s most notorious terrorist living right in their midst?" he asked.

"We recognize that this relationship has been strained," House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson was quoted as saying by The Hill after the meeting.

"But nonetheless, we also recognize its strategic importance and the need for us to work together," he said.

"This was a classified briefing that we had here with the Administration. I think the Members were very appreciative with the thoroughness of the briefing that we received. I don`t believe they came out prepared to confirm or deny anything that may be in the public domain," said Nancy Pelosi, the former Speaker of the US House of Representatives.

Panetta in an interview to NBC news hoped that the US could continue to work with Pakistan, "because the reality is that in that part of the world, we have to have Pakistan`s cooperation in dealing not just with the issue of terrorism in their country, but dealing with the issue of how we find peace in Afghanistan."

He said: "At the same time, obviously, there ? there are questions. And there are complications that we have to work through with the Pakistanis."

Panetta said: "The reality is that we continue to confront our enemy in their country. We conduct operations against that enemy and their country. They have provided cooperation with regards to that effort to go after those terrorists."