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

Politico's Mike Allen reports that during last night's raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the Navy SEAL assault force is reported to have grabbed an assortment of computers, thumb drives, and disks. A U.S. official quoted in the Politico piece described this as "the mother lode of intelligence."
"They cleaned it out," one official said. "Can you imagine what's on Osama bin Laden's hard drive?"

U.S. officials are about to find out. The material is being examined at a secret location in Afghanistan.

"Hundreds of people are going through it now," an official said, adding that intelligence operatives back in Washington are very excited to find out what they have.

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

Here's a crazy thought: what if there is no cache of OBL devices, and this is disinformation spread to destabilize what remains of Al Qaeda morale?

Osama bin Laden raid yields trove of computer data (Politico)


  1. Come onwe all know that 99% of it will be spam and pictures of women in burqas showing their ankles

  2. well im probably going to get murdered for this comment…but one of my fantasies involves me, another person and a burqa……

  3. ps: i blame it on 1.5 liters of polish beer…but once again i’m in mourning of death of democracy in Canada……conservatives won majority……yeeeey….we’re fucked…

    1. What does that mean? They have the actual hard drives. Proxy servers can’t protect them now.

  4. It would be kick-ass if they found a porn stash on his HD. Of course, no one would believe the US when they released it.

  5. When they had the intelligence in late 2010 it would have been easy to have hit the compound with JDAMs or cruise missiles and then justify the killing of civilians with the term “high value target”. There were a lot of chances for this to be screwed up by having bin Laden tipped off or for the helicopters to be intercepted by Pakistan. If this mission would have failed, there is no question it would have cost Obama another term and would have been a major morale booster and propaganda tool for al Qaeda.

    I am impressed that even with the incredible potential for a mishap that Obama still selected the option that was implemented. This action killed the leader of al Qaeda while minimizing civilian casualties and maximizing intelligence gains. Truly this was a gutsy move. I think it is going to take a while for the significance of this action to sink in.

    1. If this mission would have failed, there is no question it would have cost Obama another term and would have been a major morale booster and propaganda tool for al Qaeda.

      The mission was performed by Navy SEALs, who are apparently one the most secretive organizations within the US military. I was just reading a news story today that the mayor of Virginia Beach is all worried because the squad involved won’t even be revealed now, after the operation, so he won’t be able to give them a victory parade.

      Point being, if they had failed to kill bin Laden, I would think it safe to assume we would never have known about it.

      Makes you wonder if this was one of the reasons for using the SEALs.

      1. We knew about other failed “secret” missions. The failed Lebanon rescue of hostages in 79. The “Bay of Pigs”.

        Trust me, if we went attacking into another country some 50 miles from their capitol and killed a bunch of civilians, we would find out about it.

        1. According to Wikipedia, the ‘Seal Team 6’ was formed in response to the failed Lebanon mission.

  6. I’d love to see a pirated copy of The Hangover.

    Or his backed up iPhone geolocation file.

  7. Considering he’s an ex-CIA spook, I’d hope for some incriminating evidence against his handlers… which would never see the light of day.

  8. Psyop? What if?

    What if OBL died of renal failure in 2001, and has been a useful “Goldstein” for 10 years?

    What? No body? Really? Hey. So much for forensic verification. Maybe they took him to wherever the steel from the WTC wound up.

    But wait a minute. This came from the CIA. They don’t lie anymore.

  9. “Can you imagine what’s on Osama bin Laden’s hard drive?”

    I’d wager “various Excel spreadsheets, a collection of family photos, and a music collection (128kbps MP3, natch) entitled ‘Osama’s Favorites'”

  10. A friend of a friend told me that he was way into Mario Brothers, and that the guy had bowled three perfect games in Wii Sports. It will all come out soon enough.

  11. A senior White House official who insists on staying anonymous told the press OBL holds the current speed record on Minesweeper and Spider Solitaire, but that they are doing everything in their power to beat these standing records which could only have been achieved after years of training.

    All fun aside, rumor has it they found photos of him posing with a former US president.

  12. Wait a minute, I thought that part of the reason his compound was even suspected was due to its lack of an internet connection. I’m betting he wasn’t really big on email correspondence (a fact perhaps reinforced by all his hand delivered videos).

  13. It would be interesting to know what’s on those hard drives. @Orkney Mutant: it’s possible he did read and write e-mails, but didn’t send or receive them at the compound, instead having the couriers bringing the computers in and out.

    However, according to Islamic burial customs, the Navy SEALS dumped the hard drives into the ocean.

    1. I imagine it was to prevent their final resting place becoming some kind of shrine for al-Qaeda’s computer club.

  14. Option 1: They got the stash of computers and media. That’s an incredibly valuable find regardless of what and how much is on it.

    Option 2: They found nothing and the assertion is smoke & mirrors (which I very much doubt considering what we already know, but not having been there myself I must consider it a possibility). That would still be a very valuable move, because it would cause panic and commotion in terrorist circles and they’d stir up dust and leave traces in the process, since it would be too dangerous for them to just sit still and wait it out.

  15. For maximum political effect, of course, what will “be” on those hard drives will “be” seemingly-random noise, statistically indistinguishable from truly random noise, and one TrueCrypt bootloader.

    “Terrorist-enabling” FreeSoftware advocates will be “randomly” searched whenever they board an airplane (if they’re even allowed to do so).

    What’s actually on the machines is Windows XP Home and videos that have already been released. They may have been dumb enough to use satphones (which, srsly, zomg) but all their communiques are going to be on yellow legal pad.

  16. I thought he was sorta famous for not allowing cell phones and computers near him? So, yeah, probably disinfo.

    Then again, he was stationary in the compound for years, in an urban area, conspicuous for NOT having telephone or internet, and employed underwear and shoe bombers, so maybe he was dumb enough to have media with actionables unencrypted.

    @bishi #14, this was a black-op; if it had failed, you likely would never have heard about it. And blackops by definition are denied by the chain of command, so not that gutsy IMHO.

  17. The music from Wolfenstein 3D makes a great soundtrack for reading about the mission.

  18. I thought that the story was that the Bin Laden compound was “off the grid” with no access to telephone or internet. In which case, what would be on the thumb drives, etc? I bet any equipment is being examined with the intention of prosecution by the RIAA for multiple ripped copies of “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

    Somehow this just seems odd to me.

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