Officials mine secrets of bin Laden papers, videos
Sunday, May 8, 2011
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials will mine the secrets of Osama bin Laden by poring over an intelligence haul seized at the time of his death that a top White House aide describes as a wealth of intelligence about al-Qaida.
“This is the largest cache of intelligence derived from the scene of any single terrorist,” national security adviser Tom Donilon told NBC’s “Meet the Press. ”It’s about the size, the CIA tells us, of a small college library.“
Last week Navy SEALs raided bin Laden’s walled compound in Pakistan and killed him, and his body was buried at sea. The information they gathered already has shown the world’s most wanted terrorist was actively involved in planning and directing al-Qaida’s plots.
“What we now know, again taking a look initially here, is that he had obviously an operational and strategic role, and a propaganda role, for al-Qaida,” Donilon said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Donilon made the rounds of Sunday talk shows a day after a handful of videos were released showing bin Laden in propaganda tapes. A less-than-flattering video showed the 54-year-old terrorist seated on the floor, watching television while wrapped in a wool blanket and wearing a knit cap.
The evidence seized during the raid includes phone numbers and documents that officials hope will help break the back of the organization behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. A task force headed by the CIA is working through the material, combing it round the clock to find clues to plots that might already be under way.
Even though bin Laden was killed in the town of Abottobad, about 35 miles from Islamabad and not far from a top military academy, Donilon said he’s seen no evidence yet that the Pakistani government knew bin Laden was there.
“I’ve not seen any evidence, at least to date, that the political, military or intelligence leadership of Pakistan knew about Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad, Pakistan,” he said.
Donilon said the circumstances of where bin Laden was living requires investigation, and he said the Pakistanis are doing that.
Donilon said the U.S. has asked for access to people who were around bin Laden, including three wives who Pakistanis have in custody from the compound. The U.S. also wants access to additional materials collected there, he said.
The success of the raid was far from certain, Donilon said. President Barack Obama was given intelligence updates over several months and thought there was a 50-50 chance that bin Laden was in the compound, Donilon said, adding that the president had total confidence in the ability of the special forces to execute the mission.
The administration has considered the risk of terrorist retaliation, he said.
“We fully expect the threat to continue,” Donilon said. “We’ll continue to press very hard and take every opportunity we have as this organization tries to survive.”
Donilon also appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and “Fox News Sunday.”
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