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Monday, January 30

The tell

During his discussion with Scott Pelley for CBS 60 Minutes, aired last night, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta went through a short list of reasons as to why he believed that "someone" must have known the identity of the occupant in the Abbottabad compound; while he didn't elaborate it was clear that he meant someone in authority in Pakistan's military.

The problem with the list is that it could just as well have pointed to the occupant being a known major dealer in illicit drugs: the high walls, the Pakistani military helicopter(s) that U.S. intell had observed flying over the compound, and so on. This was a point one of John Batchelor's guests mentioned soon after the Abbottabad raid. Even the expensive SUVs seen routinely leaving and entering the compound could have belonged to a honcho in the drug trade, which is a big part of Pakistan's unofficial foreign exchange. That would also explain why folks who lived nearby weren't nosy neighbors.

However, at the end of the discussion Panetta told Pelley that there was one other thing: inspection of the compound after the U.S. raid turned up that there was no alternate or secret escape route from there.

That was the tell. That was how President Obama knew for certain he'd been right not to alert Pakistan's government to the planned raid. Only if bin Laden had expected to be warned of any impending raid would he have lived for years in the compound without installing an exit other than the front gate.

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