The CIA operated a safe house in Abbottabad for months to track and watch Osama bin Laden, U.S. officials revealed on Thursday. The secret facility was one of the most delicate human-intelligence gathering missions in CIA history, and it relied on Pakistani informants and other sources to establish a “pattern of life” portrait of the terrorist and those who lived with him in his compound. The on-the-ground effort was so extensive and costly that the CIA had to go to Congress in December for tens of millions of dollars within assorted agency budgets to fund it, officials said. Officials said, “You’ve got to give [bin Laden] credit” for the way he tried to hide in plain sight—having abandoned the bodyguards, multiple SUVs, and other security precautions he used only 10 years earlier.
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