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Tilting at Windmills

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May 3, 2011

A POTENTIAL INTELLIGENCE 'MOTHER LODE'.... The Abbottabad compound that housed Osama bin Laden did not have telephone or Internet connections, but the raid did turn up plenty of computer equipment.

To put it mildly, that creates some opportunities.

The assault force of Navy SEALs snatched a trove of computer drives and disks during their weekend raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, yielding what a U.S. official called "the mother lode of intelligence."

The special operations forces grabbed personal computers, thumb drives and electronic equipment during the lightning raid that killed bin Laden, officials told POLITICO.

"They cleaned it out," one official said. "Can you imagine what's on Osama bin Laden's hard drive?"

The official added, "It's going to be great even if only 10 percent of it is actionable."

It's exciting to even consider the possibilities.

Steve Benen 9:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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Comments

Can you imagine what's on Osama bin Laden's hard drive?

I'll bet $10,000 there's a copy of the movie "W" on there.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on May 3, 2011 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

10% actionable

90% porn

Posted by: SaintZak on May 3, 2011 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

TGFWM (Thank God for Washington Monthly)
Every time I think about reading sites like Politico I abuse myself of the urge by reading the comments for almost any item.

Here I get pretty much everything I need to know and a great group of (sane) people who comment.

Posted by: MR on May 3, 2011 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

And, too boot, in the post-DADT era of military service, we may, just may, have enough Arabic and Urdu interpreters to process the captured materials! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on May 3, 2011 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if they'll tell us which games OBL liked best?

I'm betting on "Grand Theft Auto."

Or, maybe he's got his own version: "Grand Theft 747."

Posted by: c u n d gulag on May 3, 2011 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

LOL SaintZak.

If I were an Al Qaeda operative with a plot brewing, I'd be putting on my brown pants, knowing the SEALs now have my payroll number.

Posted by: Grumpy on May 3, 2011 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

A lot of illegally downloaded music. The bastard. Metallica has it's revenge.

Posted by: Dan on May 3, 2011 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

Very true Grumpy

Posted by: MR on May 3, 2011 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Especially the part where they find out who has been funding Al Queda . I bet there are some two faced Saudi princes sweating right about now. We probably never know but it will certainly provide some interesting leverage. To do a Jon Stewart...Nice little oil cartel you have there . It would be a shame if someone exposed what you really think of your Allie who keeps you in arms and buys all your oil.

Posted by: John R AKA Mr. Serf Man on May 3, 2011 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Let's also remember that this opportunity would have been lost if we had bombed the compound, which makes the risk that the president and his team took all the more significant and laudable.

Posted by: JD on May 3, 2011 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

DING, DING, DING!

I nominate JD for the Comment of the Day.

Posted by: blondie on May 3, 2011 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

John R AKA Mr. Serf Man
I was thinking the same thoughts last evening . I was explaining the facts of location and expenses of a mansion 300 meter's from one of , if not the , top military academy in Pakistan .
We discussed the twenty percenters in Saudi Arabia feeling the euphoria of Osama Bin Laden in his untrammeled ascent into heaven . The many , many pleasures awaiting him for his courageous slaughter of innocents and non combatants .

Yes , yes , good luck Osama , Yer gonna need sumpin' better than , "I didn't care" .

When the Mayberry Taliban gets wise , imagine the fun of thumbing through the repentance litanies . No fair peeking at the Republican leader in exiles tear stained remorses . Once a murdering thug , now a martyr for , one hopes , enough asylums to hold the Republican taliban and their anti American cant .

Posted by: FRP on May 3, 2011 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Whatever "intelligence" was gathered is subject to vetting and censoring by those that control it. Thus, unless Wikileaks or one of its competitors gains access and releases the raw data, we will only know what the powers in charge want us to know.

OTOH, Obama's handling of this operation was quite amazing. While I don't care for the use of military operations in the resolution of conflicts, if one does use it, Obama showed us how to do it. There was not a peep out of anyone in advance of the announcement of OBL's death. There was no strutting and preening before or after by the president. The public appearances by Obama gave no hint of what was brewing. He demonstrated that he truly can do more than one thing at a time, and do it effectively. He has shown his maturity and wisdom in this matter that puts Bush II's fumbling behavior to shame. I don't agree with all of Obama's policies and would love to see us cease the endless wars, but this particular action demonstrates that he may have some other surprises in store for us. Our criticism on this and many other sites assumes we know what is going on in his head. Apparently we don't.

Posted by: st john on May 3, 2011 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

"Can you imagine what's on Osama bin Laden's hard drive?"

I'm guessing kitty porn. The kind with cats, not kids.

And sadly, probably a copy of "The Turner Diaries."

Posted by: nisl on May 3, 2011 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

I'm guessing he spent most of the last ten years writing the Gospel according to St. Osama. And probably recording election-year propaganda tapes.

Posted by: Danp on May 3, 2011 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

"Can you imagine what's on Osama bin Laden's hard drive?"

"Even better, can you imagine what we can *say* was on his hard drive?"

Posted by: Old Uncle Dave on May 3, 2011 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

As much as I'd like to believe, I'm skeptical; this story may be psyops plant - along the lines of the wife-as-human-shield - how come this Politico blurb is the only reporting? I will be amazed if there really are any - any - devices with useful data. I will be amazed if it turns out if the post-9/11 OBL was actually involved in anything beyond shooting his pointless, rambling, uni-bomber-in-a-Thawb videos.

Posted by: ManOutOfTime on May 3, 2011 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Treasure trove, indeed. And many CYA moves now being taken by A-Q underlings.

Perhaps a better news release would have been: "Sadly, the SEAL team did not have time to search for any computers that MIGHT have been there."

-resulting in a brow sweeping sigh of relief by said A-Q underlings. . .

Posted by: DAY on May 3, 2011 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

@Old Uncle Dave - right on! How many threads have been left hanging for fear of burning sources? At a bare minimum, having the story could buy cover for moves the spooks could make.

Posted by: ManOutOfTime on May 3, 2011 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

I will be amazed if it turns out if the post-9/11 OBL was actually involved in anything beyond shooting his pointless, rambling, uni-bomber-in-a-Thawb videos.

It's all about putting the jigsaw puzzle pieces together. Just like they found him by following an insignificant detail like the identity of a courier, there may be incremental bits in OBL's data that add up to something.

This is why torture doesn't work. You don't get the combination to the locker with the bomb in it - that's a fantasy. What you get are little details - someone's address, someone's name, someone's face in a photo, connections, nicknames - and analysts put it together with other bits and pieces from elsewhere. This WILL be a treasure trove of intelligence.

Posted by: g on May 3, 2011 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

[Perhaps a better news release would have been: "Sadly, the SEAL team did not have time to search for any computers that MIGHT have been there."]

And then, since we didn't turn the house into a crater, Al Queda operatives (or Pakastani officials colluding with them) later go in and take a look around. And someone realizes, "Hey, they lied about that! All the computers are gone!" And then the truth is out anyway.

When they don't bother to hide a detail like this, it's because they wouldn't have been able to hide it regardless.

Posted by: ShadeTail on May 3, 2011 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

I know what you're thinking, Mr. AQ Operative. Did they find anything in the OBL cache or are they just bluffing? I guess ya have to ask yourself, do ya feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

Posted by: beejeez on May 3, 2011 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Am I the only person for whom this is weird - liberals taking delight in killing terrorists while conservatives aren't?

BTW, for what it's worth, I'd be expecting a terrorist attack - a significant one - and I'd be expecting criticism of the Obama administration from conservatives when it happens for killing bin-Laden.

Posted by: JEA on May 3, 2011 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Time to see what kind of poker player Obama is. Since no one knows what is on the hard drives, Obama can bluff when meeting with individuals that he perceives to be working with Al Queda.

Someone thinking you have dirt on them can be much more valuable than actually having the dirt.

Posted by: RIk on May 3, 2011 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

What's on anybody's computer?

Spam E-mail & Downloaded internet porn.

Will Osama be any different? I'm guessing recorded episodes of "Dancing with the Stars" and "America's Biggest Loser."

Posted by: Cugel on May 3, 2011 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

All those emails to/and/from Cheney might prove a bit embarrassing to the neocons ....

Posted by: G.Kerby on May 3, 2011 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK
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