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U.S. contradicts Taliban leader on bin Laden visits

By Pam Benson, CNN
  • Al Qaeda founder had "few" visitors, U.S. official says
  • Taliban leader suggested bin Laden was not isolated
  • U.S. was not watching bin Laden around the clock

Washington (CNN) -- Visits by outsiders to the Osama bin Laden compound were "few and far between," a U.S. official said.

The official, who was not authorized to speak on the record, disputed comments published in the Daily Beast website from a Taliban leader in Afghanistan who suggested Osama bin Laden was not isolated and did receive visitors at the Pakistan compound. The Daily Beast report said the senior Taliban leader claimed to have visited bin Laden in the Abbottabad compound two years ago.

While more could be learned about bin Laden's activities, including visitors, as U.S. agents go through the materials seized from the compound, but thus far U.S. intelligence suggests visits were "infrequent," according to the official.

The U.S. did not have constant surveillance of the compound, in part because the U.S. did not want to tip off bin Laden or the other occupants that they were being watched.

The official also expressed concern about the amount of information being leaked about the contents of the materials obtained from the compound. The "degree of sensitive information that has walked out the door is troubling," said the official, adding, "The floodgates have opened on very sensitive information. People need to take a deep breath and use some discipline."

It is "appropriate" to have robust intelligence sharing on terrorism, but the amount released could have "the unintended consequence" on greater information sharing across the government, the official said.