US Releases Bin Laden’s Documents

In his final years, Osama bin Laden spent his time sending his subordinates missives in an attempt to direct a terror network, which had apparently grown way beyond his control. He also spent some time going through a pile of books ranging from wild conspiracy theories created by infamous anti-Semites to sober works of current affairs and history. There are dozens of documents that, according to American officials, were taken in the raids that had been conducted on his compound in May 2011, in Abbottabad, Pakistan. On Wednesday, these documents were declassified and have provided an insight into the kind of life Bin Laden lived when he was in hiding.

There were nearly 80 documents in the material and majority of them comprised of letters that Bin Laden had sent to his lieutenants. But, the initial buzz that had been generated was largely because of the list of books that had been found in his compound. This appeared to be deliberate as Bin Laden’s reading list had been seized by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for promoting the release of the now-public material called Bin Laden’s Bookshelf. Anyone who has an interest in global affairs would be familiar with some of the books that were taken from his compound.

This includes books such as Paul Kennedy’s The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars and the Imperial Hubris by the former official who had once operated Bin Laden’s desk in the Central Intelligence Agency, Michael Scheuer. There were also other books that showed a more conspiratorial side of Bin Laden, as all the books were in English. Apparently, he got through conspiracy theory classics such as Eustace Mullins’s Secrets of the Federal Reserve and Fritz Springmeier’s Bloodlines of the Illuminati.

The release on Wednesday came after years of pressure on the Obama administration for declassifying material that had been taken from Bin Laden’s compound. Last year, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had been directed by Congress to review the material and make it public at the earliest. The review had been initiated in May 2014 and is expected to go on through the summer and fall. However, the intelligence office and the CIA has been asked by the White House to start releasing material immediately because there was rising public demand to see the documents.

The release also provided the Obama administration with the opportunity to answer the controversial article by Seymour M. Hersh on Bin Laden’s death where he said that the public had been fed lies about the raid as it had been done in cooperation with the Pakistan government who had been holding him prisoner in his compound. The article has been dismissed by the administration, which includes the assertions that the material taken from the compound had been provided by Pakistani intelligence officials in the years that eventually led to the death of the Al Qaeda chief. Most of what was taken from the compound still remains classified.