The Bin Laden raid on May 2, 2011, yielded “the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever,” according to a senior US military official. There were 10 hard drive, nearly 100 thumb drives and a dozen cell phones, not to mention DVDs, audio and video tapes and loads of other material. However, what happened next, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, should really shock you.
In May, 2012, President Obama said, “The goal that I set—to defeat al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild—is now within our reach.” This statement was backed by 17 documents that the CIA released which supported the statement. The Defense Intelligence Agency, our uniformed military intelligence, saw facts on the ground that contradicted this narrative. So the DIA, asked for access to the Bin Laden documents to resolve the difference between what they saw on the ground and what the CIA publicly was saying.
A small DIA team of analysts got limited, read only, access for a short period of time. They were not allowed to make any copies. Their conclusion based on the documents was that Al Qaeda had doubled in size by May, 2012. Since that wasn’t what the White House wanted to hear, all further DIA access to the Bin Laden documents was shut down and the DIA was orderd to stop further analysis based on the Bin Laden documents.
Recently, more of the Bin Laden documents were released during the public trial of a Bin Laden associate in Brooklyn. There are now about 24 documents available to the public. They show negotiation between Al Qaeda and Pakistani Intelligence. They show cooperation between Al Qaeda and Iran. They show initial efforts to take advantage of chaos in Libya to build Al Qaeda cells there.
Since the Obama administration is unlikely to make good use of the documents, they should be made public. Rep. Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, inserted a provision in the 2014 intelligence authorization bill that requires the documents to be released.
The original suppression of DIA access to the Bin Laden documents put party politics over national security. The Obama administration should not be allowed to continue to promote its own political interests at the cost of the nation’s security.
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