This week, U.S. intelligence officials declassified a large number of the documents seized during the 2011 raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. What do they reveal? At the time of this writing, the media is just beginning to explore this story, but what we see so far is that these documents show a fear of surveillance and drones, what Bin Laden liked to read, family letters, and his ongoing focus on launching attacks against the U.S.
Here's a view into this story from various sides of the media.
Snippets from the Right
"The release came shortly after journalist Seymour Hersh alleged that Washington's official account of the hunt for Bin Laden and the raid that led to his death was a lie. But CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani said the declassification had been planned for at least a year and had not been intended as a response to Hersh's report.
From strategic and theological discussions to the mundane details of domestic funding and security measures, the documents show the man behind 9/11 preoccupied with once again attacking the West in spectacular fashion. Mindful of drone strikes taking out senior jihadist figures, Bin Laden frequently refers to security headaches and advises against communicating by email."
Snippets from the Left
Los Angeles Times
"The public release, the most expansive since the raid, suggests that the now-dead Al Qaeda leader had eclectic interests and closely followed U.S. policy and operations relating to the terrorist network he founded.
Bin Laden wrote about fundraising and recruiting young leaders as well as how the terror group could take advantage of the unrest in the wake of the Arab Spring protests.
Bin Laden also collected 19 reports on France's economy and military capabilities, indicating an interest in launching attacks inside the country. The raid also seized about 30 computer manuals, as well as documents believed to be used by other members of the Bin Laden household, such as a video game guide for 'Delta Force: Xtreme 2,' silk-screening instructions and a sports nutrition pamphlet."
Snippets from the Center
"Bin Laden's digital library is that of an avid reader whose tastes ran from 'Obama's Wars,' Bob Woodward's account of how the Obama administration surged U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, to Noam Chomsky as well as someone who had a pronounced interest in how Western think tanks and academic institutions were analyzing al Qaeda.
Some of the documents paint an organization that understood it was under significant pressure from U.S. counterterrorism operations. One undated document explained that CIA drone attacks 'led to the killing of many jihadi cadres, leaders and others,' and noted, '(T)his is something that is concerning us and exhausting us.' Several documents mention the need to be careful with operational security and to encrypt communications and also the necessity of making trips around the Afghan-Pakistan border regions only on 'cloudy days' when American drones were less effective.
Al Qaeda members knew they were short on cash, with one writing to bin Laden, 'Also, there is the financial problem.'"
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