Here’s an unusually bold statement from Robert Gates:

WASHINGTON – “Somebody” in Pakistan knew Osama bin Laden was hiding there, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday. But he said he’s seen evidence that the country’s senior leadership was unaware the terror leader was in a compound a short distance from a Pakistani military facility.

“I have seen no evidence at all that the senior leadership knew. In fact, I’ve seen some evidence to the contrary,” Gates told reporters at the Pentagon. “We have no evidence yet with respect to anybody else. My supposition is, somebody knew.”

That appears to implicate everyone by implicating no one. “Senior leadership” makes no distinction between the Pakistani civilian government, the military, or the ISI intelligence service. There’s a leadership bifurcation in Pakistan, so “senior leadership” could cover all of those posts. But it’s unclear.

This is further, however, than anyone in our “senior leadership” has been willing to go about the whereabouts of bin Laden. And perhaps the question should have been rephrased to Gates. Did somebody know that bin Laden was sitting in a compound for six years, or did somebody know that US forces were coming to get them? Because I’m still having trouble believing that this firefight occurred, with the attendant explosions and the like, without “somebody” knowing about it. This very calibrated new narrative tries to make the case that the secrecy surrounding the mission, hiding it from Pakistani leaders and even members of the White House staff, led to the moving up of the planned date of the raid, putting it on a hot moonless night which was bad for the helicopter technology. But you would also rush a mission when you got a go sign from Pakistan. You would be concerned about leaks from White House staff, perhaps, but you would be VERY concerned about leaks from the Pakistanis. And that could have clinched the timing.

Some day we’ll find out…