Amid strong reactions from Pakistan to United States-led coalition forces' raids against militants on its soil, the Bush administration has refused to comment on the issue, evading queries on the reported go-ahead given to American special forces by President George W Bush.
Asked whether the forces operating in Afghanistan had the powers to launch cross-border attacks, Defence Secretary Robert Gates refused to address the issue but said the commanders had the authority to protect their troops in Afghanistan.
"I would just say that our commanders, I think, have the authorities that they need to protect our troops in Afghanistan, and just leave it at that," Gates replied.
For the last several days, senior officials of the Bush administration have refused to comment on attacks inside Pakistan that have sent the government there and its diplomats in Washington DC in a tizzy.
What has especially come to bother officials and diplomats of Islamabad are media reports that the President George W Bush himself may have signed off on a policy approving these raids into Pakistan.
Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto also parried questions on the President's secret approval to the cross-border raids inside Pakistan.
"I'm aware of the reports that you're talking about. It's not a story that I'm going to comment on. And I'm not going to comment on rules of engagement with the enemy," Fratto said when asked under what authority did Bush order the operations in Pakistan and on whether he made his decision on an Executive Order.