Analysts on the CENTCOM/DIA team were told they could not include information from the bin Laden documents in finished intelligence products. As word of the contents of the documents began to circulate informally in intelligence circles, one official on the team was summoned to Washington and ordered to quit analyzing the documents. To date, only a fraction of the document collection has been fully exploited, and fewer than 150 of the documents have been declassified and released.
This is a scandal. And those involved believe that it reaches into the White House.
“We were certainly blocked from seeing all the documents, and we were given limited time and resources to exploit the ones we had,” says Michael Pregent, a DIA analyst on the CENTCOM team. In late spring 2012, the CENTCOM team received approval from Clapper’s office to review the documents uninterrupted for five days at the National Media Exploitation Center in McLean, Virginia. CIA director David Petraeus, whose agency retained executive authority over the collection, supported the trip. But shortly after the visit was approved, it was canceled. The travel “was canceled hours before our trip by the NSC,” says Pregent, and the CENTCOM team was “disbanded” a short time later. Pregent says they were told they were being “let go” because of “sequestration.”
The obvious question: Why would the president’s National Security Council intervene to block access to the bin Laden documents for analysts from the DIA and CENTCOM—analysts who are providing intelligence to those on the frontlines of America’s battle with jihadists?
This was not an isolated incident.