Phi Beta Iota: The jury is still out on this one, but here is one notional depiction of how CIA did it. Bear in mind that CIA is admitting it has a safehouse and observation post within sight of the larger compound and that this is in the equivalent of a “resort town” where foreigners have relatively easy (but still observed) passage.
01 Decision is made by Panetta, after suggestion by the Directorate of Operations (DO), to stage the execution of Bin Laden as Panetta's final “accomplishment” with three major side effects: a) pressure on Pakistan; b) excuse to exit Afghanistan and pretend Petraeus was successful; and c) bump for Obama
02 Decision is made by Panetta, after suggestion by the DO, that this be a totally black operation that deceives all participants outside of the closed CIA circle executing the deception operation. The President, the Secretaries of Defense and State, and the Joint Special Operations Group will all be lied to. [We prefer this version, but the really scary version, as with 9/11, is that they are all a party to the deception.]
03 Question of Pakistan comes up early. Decision is made to keep them in the dark until the last minute and then blackmail them into cooperating with the post-operation staging when SEALS balk at killing the women and children. [We assume the SEALS are unwitting.]
04 CIA recruits a tall person with Bin Laden's features and large family, and three others, and tells them they are going to operating a safehouse that a “big fish” will be coming to in the future, but in the interim, the tall guy can occupy the “big fish” bedroom. CIA plants the “treasure trove” for SEALS to find and extract–more stuff can be added later at HQS, the “treasure trove” is just a notional collection to be referenced later.
05 Hollywood kicks in and instead of a normal capture operation with silencers out of the other safehouse (all of the surveillance prepared by CIA shows no guards), a cross border stealth helicopter SEAL operation is mounted. Why this is done when one can legally and easily get to the front door of the compound and there are no surrounding alarms is a key contradiction if this were for real. The “shock and awe” execution makes sense only if this is theater. Using the SEALS instead of Rangers or others is also suspect, this is a deep inland operation, not a littoral operation.
06 SEALS are ordered to kill all five men and they do that–photographs appear to document individuals that did not resist and were killed execution style. Now the Pakistanis kick in to spirit the women and children away and then begin to feed back the script while Americans are “deprived” of direct access.
On balance, given the documented history of lies by the US Government to its own public, as well as lies within the government by CIA to the White House, Congress, and others, we believe at this time that CIA staged this operation and that the person killed and buried at sea was not Bin Laden, just a patsy who happened to have his features and was recruited for his own death.