Did ABC’s Christiane Amanpour know three years ago where Osama bin Laden was hiding out?
Not exactly, but the well-connected, globe-trotting journalist – who has long specialized in coverage of the Muslim world – did get wind that Public Enemy No. 1 was probably situated in a villa somewhere in Pakistan, instead of the dank mountain cave in which most of the world believed he was residing.
Amanpour – who now anchors the Sunday morning show “This Week” on ABC – was still at CNN in 2008 when a source told her bin Laden was living in a villa, not a cave. Amanpour tells the story in a blog post she wrote on ABCNews.com this week.
Her source: “A U.S. intelligence officer who had recently left a top position,” she wrote, noting that she even mentioned it a few days later back then when she appeared on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
“Of all places, it came up in conversation a few days later when I made an appearance on [the show],” she wrote. “Fellow panelists, actor Alec Baldwin and comedian Gary Shandling, were ribbing me, but I got the information out anyway: ‘I just talked to somebody very knowledgeable [who] thinks that he’s in a villa, a nice comfortable villa,’ I said to a somewhat skeptical reaction from Bill Maher and the other guests. And I added, a villa ‘in Pakistan. Not a cave.’ ”
But it’s unclear from her blog post whether she knew exactly where this villa was. Bin Laden, of course, was found and killed the other day in a Pakistani town called Abbottabad, where he apparently lived for as many as six years. “I remembered that tip when I heard bin Laden was caught living a life of comfort in a compound in Abbottabad,” Amapour wrote.
In her blog post, she doesn’t address the question of whether she would have notified U.S. authorities if she’d actually been tipped to bin Laden’s exact location.
Journalists have long debated whether they’re obligated to share intelligence they uncover with authorities who might benefit from the information.