Pakistan grants U.S. access to bin Laden widows

Bin Laden Wife
One of Osama bin Laden's three wives detained after the raid in Pakistan appears in an ID card.

CBS News confirms Pakistan has informed the United States that the ISI will allow access to Osama bin Laden's three widows who were left behind in the raid that killed the terrorist near Islamabad. CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports it will be "direct access,"  meaning U.S. government agents will be able to interview them, and not just submit questions.

The relationship between Pakistan and the U.S. has seen ups and downs since the CIA-coordinated raid that killed Osama bin Laden near Islamabad.

Despite the back-and-forth relationship in the wake of the bin Laden raid, in his interview with "60 Minutes", President Barack Obama said: "We've been able to kill more terrorists on Pakistani soil than just about any place else. We could not have done that without Pakistani cooperation."

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports that Pakistan's prime minister said recently that, in the future, any unauthorized raids within Pakistan will be met with "full force." He, of course, didn't find out about the raid that killed bin Laden until it was over, and the American commandos were safely out of the country.

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Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani faced parliament to explain how Pakistan could have missed both bin Laden and the U.S. raid that killed him. Gilani said his government was proud of the armed forces, and that there was an intelligence failure, but no collusion with al Qaeda. He called allegations of complicity or incompetence "absurd. "

Simple denial isn't enough though. Pakistan's political opposition wants to see a thorough investigation of the whole fiasco.

"The most serious fallout, apart from feeling the worst humiliation ever, is of credibility. No one will trust what Pakistan says anymore," said Imran Khan, a Pakistani opposition politician.

The U.S. didn't trust Pakistan last Monday when SEALs raided bin Laden's hideout without telling the ISI intelligence service.

Additionally, a report in the Pakistani media outed a senior CIA operative last Friday, apparently in an attempt to blow his cover.

So far there's been no comment from the American embassy, and it's far from clear who leaked the information. However, it's widely seen as a humiliated and angry ISI taking revenge on the CIA.

Pakistan was a prickly partner for the U.S. in fighting terrorism, last Monday's raid torpedoed that good will, putting the whole partnership in jeopardy.

  • Elizabeth Palmer
    Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."