Social conversation led to bin Laden death story

Guardian:

An informal chat between two diplomats at a social gathering in Pakistan appears to have been the trigger for a worldwide flurry of speculation over the weekend about the possible death of Osama bin Laden.

The regional French newspaper l'Est Republicain quoted a leaked document from France's intelligence service DGSE on Saturday saying that Saudi secret services were convinced the al-Qaida leader had died. The document, dated Thursday, had been sent to the French president, Jacques Chirac, and other top French officials, the newspaper said.

But according to Alexis Debat, a former French intelligence official, the report was based solely on a conversation between a French diplomat and a low-level Saudi diplomat at a social function in Islamabad. The French diplomat had felt obliged to pass on the details to headquarters in Paris. "There is no hard information the report is true," Mr Debat told ABC News.

...

The leak apparently gave the report more credibility than it deserved. While it is possible that the leaker had motives beyond passing on gossip, this report suggest that was the effect of his leak.

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