CATF Reports Jan. 24, 2017, 2:58pm


Last Thursday, on former President Barack Obama’s last day in office, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released 98 newly declassified documents recovered in the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound as the third and final tranche in the “Bin Laden’s Bookshelf” series. The ODNI press release, entitled “Closing the Book on bin Laden: Intelligence Community Releases Final Abbottabad Documents”, also featured a brief description of the documents’ most important themes, including details of bin Laden’s continued operational leadership over al-Qaeda, his hatred for the U.S. and the West and suspicion of Iran, and his outlook on ISIS during its early (AQI) days. While the newly released documents put the total of declassified files from “Bin Laden’s Bookshelf” at 620 items, countless documents and files remain hidden from the public eye.

A year after the successful raid on bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound, the Washington Post described the collection of the terrorist leader’s documents and files as “the largest cache of terrorism files ever obtained.” While the White House and the intelligence community teamed-up to declassify several hundred documents over a two-and-a-half-year period, few details have leaked from the one million documents and files believed to have been recovered in the form of 100 flash drives and DVDs, computer hard drives, and stacks of papers and a handwritten journal found in the compound. Many of the recovered documents and files certainly contain sensitive national security information, yet the release of 620 out of reported 1 million files is hardly “closing the book.”

As National Security Advisor Michael Flynn wrote in his 2016 book, “there’s a lot of information on Iran in the files and computer discs captured at the Pakistan hideout of Osama bin Laden.” As Flynn claims later in the book, some of the information reveals that al Qaeda was working on developing chemical and biological weapons in Iran. This information, in light of recent Treasury sanctions on Iran-based al-Qaeda operatives and negotiations with Iran, hints at a nuanced Iran-Al-Qaeda relationship and offers an unforgiving look at the U.S. partner in negotiations. Countless other statements, yielding meaningful information on the U.S.-led war on terror yet not sensitive, surely remain hidden in the classified documents. By appealing for the declassification and release of additional documents, the public can demand further transparency into the role of Osama bin Laden, the scope of al-Qaeda activities during his time, and the role of the U.S. government in the region.

From The Weekly Standard:  

“The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released 98 additional items from Osama bin Laden's compound today. If the ODNI has its way, then these files will be the last the American people see for some time. The accompanying announcement is titled, "Closing the Book on bin Laden: Intelligence Community Releases Final Abbottabad Documents." The ODNI says today's release "marks the end of a two-and-a-half-year effort to declassify several hundred documents recovered" during the Abbottabad raid.

But the total number of files released thus far, including today's document dump, is just a drop in the bucket compared to what was found in the al Qaeda master's compound. And if the public and the media care about transparency, then they should push to see more.”

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