Did Christiane Amanpour know where bin Laden was hiding?

The widely respected TV journalist suggested in 2008 that the al Qaeda leader was in a villa in Pakistan — not a remote mountaintop cave

Journalist Christiane Amanpour said all the way back in 2008 that Osama bin Laden was not hiding in a remote cave, but in a cushy villa in Pakistan. Before she could say more, Bill Maher swoo
(Image credit: YouTube)

The video: Not everyone was surprised when Osama bin Laden was finally tracked down in a suburban hideout near Islamabad, instead of a mountaintop cave in the remote Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier. In October 2008, Christiane Amanpour, then the chief international correspondent for CNN, correctly predicted bin Laden's whereabouts, as revealed in a newly unearthed conversation on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. "I just talked to somebody very knowledgeable," Amanpour told Maher, actor Alec Baldwin, and comedian Garry Shandling. "This woman who is in American intelligence thinks that he's in a villa — a nice comfortable villa in Pakistan." (Watch the clip below.) Maher jokingly asked if the villa was in Cabo, and Amanpour replied, emphatically, that bin Laden was "in Pakistan. Not a cave." Before Amanpour could say more, the conversation moved on to a topic that apparently offered more opportunities for political punchlines — Sarah Palin.

The reaction: Maybe our spies really did connect the dots two years ago, says Nick Carbone at TIME. Amanpour certainly sounds confident that bin Laden wasn't roughing it. "We wanted to envision a frail and gray Osama holed up in a cave," but maybe it should have been obvious all along "that a terrorist mastermind wouldn't settle for the life of a caveman." It's frustrating to watch this clip now, says Sarah Anne Hughes at The Washington Post. Amanpour seemed to have more specifics that she couldn't get out because Shandling and Maher kept interrupting. "Thanks a lot, Garry and Bill, for totally ruining our chances of finding out anything more." Take a look at the exchange:

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