Pretttttty thorough. Watch for the part where he explains to Shep that, yes, Bin Laden’s skull did seem to be intact but the bullet had exploded inside, forcing “the brain to come back out of the eye socket.” Duly noted, Senator.
Today we found out that, among the many other intel bits recovered at the scene by the SEALs, was Bin Laden’s diary. And as you might expect, OBL’s inner life was a lot like his outer life:
Strike smaller cities, bin Laden suggested. Target trains as well as planes. Above all, kill as many Americans as possible in a single attack.
Though he was out of the public eye and al-Qaida seemed to be weakening, bin Laden never yielded control of his worldwide organization, U.S. officials said Wednesday. His personal, handwritten journal and his massive collection of computer files reveal his hand at work in every recent major al-Qaida threat, including plots in Europe last year that had travelers and embassies on high alert, two officials said…
The information shatters the government’s conventional thinking about bin Laden, who had been regarded for years as mostly an inspirational figurehead whose years in hiding made him too marginalized to maintain operational control of the organization he founded…
In one particularly macabre bit of mathematics, bin Laden’s writings show him musing over just how many Americans he must kill to force the U.S. to withdraw from the Arab world. He concludes that the smaller, scattered attacks since 9/11 had not been enough. He tells his disciples that only a body count of thousands, something on the scale of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, would shift U.S. policy.
They can’t prove it yet but they think he might have had a hand in the Christmas Day bombing plot in 2009 as well, possibly because other parts of his journals highlight key holidays on the American calendar as prime dates to attack. Among them: Christmas, of course. In fact, there were other journals left at the compound that the SEALs either didn’t find or didn’t have time to grab. Pakistan has them now — and guess what:
The U.S. Navy Seals who killed Osama bin Laden recovered a number of the former al-Qaida leader’s journals at the Pakistan compound where he was hiding, but they were forced to leave behind detailed logs of bin Laden and al-Qaida activity that the Pakistanis have not yet shared, senior U.S. officials told NBC News on Wednesday.
It was not clear how much material was left behind when the Seals evacuated the compound in Abbottabad on May 1, but senior U.S. military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it could have been a substantial amount.
Once they’re done redacting all the names of ISI agents from the logs, maybe we’ll see them then. An interesting footnote to all this via CNN is that there are apparently no “smoking gun” details in the material we’ve recovered about looming Al Qaeda plots. There are “aspirational” elements, things he wanted to see happen, but evidently nothing concrete by way of operatives or plots in the works. That’s either a testament to Bin Laden’s discipline in keeping actionable intelligence out of his journals just in case (imagine his mindset knowing AQ couldn’t hit the U.S. mainland in 10 years) or proof that AQ’s international capabilities have been so thoroughly degraded that they’re not even fielding people inside the U.S. right now. Here’s hoping it’s the latter.
As for the Taliban’s reaction to his killing, I recommend this Time magazine piece. Some are treating it as a big “eh,” others have actually welcomed his death because they resent having lost Afghanistan in the name of sheltering him. That Osama — always so divisive.