Adrian Chen tries to figure it out. Esquire stands by the story. [Gawker]
The National Security Archive, a nonprofit founded by journalists and scholars in 1985 "to check rising government secrecy," has published all of the available official government documents about the mission to kill the leader of al-Qaeda.
Documents obtained by US special forces from the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed show that the terror mastermind was considering a rebranding campaign for al Qaeda, and a possible merger with other regional militant groups. Mat Apuzzo, in the Associated Press, got a briefing from US officials familiar with the documents:
The problem with the name al-Qaida, bin Laden wrote in a letter recovered from his compound in Pakistan, was that it lacked a religious element, something to convince Muslims worldwide that they are in a holy war with America.Can I make a suggestion, dead guy? Go Silicon Valley. Just take out some vowels, a la Flickr, gdgt, Tumblr, and the like. "LQD."
Maybe something like Taifat al-Tawhed Wal-Jihad, meaning Monotheism and Jihad Group, would do the trick, he wrote. Or Jama'at I'Adat al-Khilafat al-Rashida, meaning Restoration of the Caliphate Group.
As bin Laden saw it, the problem was that the group's full name, al-Qaida al-Jihad, for The Base of Holy War, had become short-handed as simply al-Qaida. Lopping off the word "jihad," bin Laden wrote, allowed the West to "claim deceptively that they are not at war with Islam." Maybe it was time for al-Qaida to bring back its original name.
Disney files trademark for "Seal Team 6;" possibly for "Killing bin Laden" snow globes, Christmas ornaments
SEAL Team 6 is the elite Navy squad credited with killing Osama bin Laden. One day after the raid, Disney Enterprises, Inc., filed applications with the US. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the name "SEAL TEAM 6." The trademark has not yet been granted.
A quick USPTO web search shows three applications (screengrabs below). The applications cover a variety of uses. The first, for "Entertainment and education services." A second application covers "Toys, games and playthings; gymnastic and sporting articles (except clothing); hand-held units for playing electronic games other than those adapted for use with an external display screen or monitor; Christmas stockings; Christmas tree ornaments and decorations; snow globes." And a third covers "Clothing, footwear and headwear."
The USPTO database also shows that a company based in Calabasas called NovaLogic applied in 2002 and 2004 for a "Seal Team 6" mark for electronic games, and was denied.
For nine years I wrote and I said that Osama bin Laden was not hiding in a cave. I'm not a cave expert, I was just using my common sense. He was a multimillionaire crime boss (using religion as his cover), and those guys just don't live in caves. He had people killed under the guise of religion, and not many in the media bothered to explain that every time Osama referenced Islam, he wasn't really quoting Islam. Just because Osama said he was a "Muslim" didn't make it so. Yet he was called a Muslim by everyone. If a crazy person started running around mass-killing people, and he did so while wearing a Wal-Mart blazer and praising Wal-Mart, we wouldn't automatically call him a Wal-Mart leader or say that Wal-Mart was the philosophy behind his killings, would we?Some Final Thoughts on the Death of Osama bin Laden (via Making Light)
Yet, we began to fear Muslims and round them up. We profiled people from Muslim nations at airports. We didn't profile multi-millionaires (in fact, they now have their own fast-track line to easily get through security, an oddity considering every murderer on 9/11 flew in first class). We didn't run headlines that said "Multi-Millionaire Behind the Mass Murder of 3,000" (although every word in that headline is true). You can say his wealth had nothing to do with 9/11, but the truth is, there is no way he could have kept Al Qaeda in business without having the millions he had.
Some believe that this was a "war" we were in with al Qaeda - and you don't do trials during war. It's thinking like this that makes me fear that, while bin Laden may be dead, he may have "won" the bigger battle. Let's be clear: There is no "war with al Qaeda." Wars are between nations. Al Qaeda was an organization of fanatics who committed crimes. That we elevated them to nation status - they loved it! It was great for their recruiting drive.
We did exactly what bin Laden said he wanted us to do: Give up our freedoms (like the freedom to be assumed innocent until proven guilty), engage our military in Muslim countries so that we will be hated by Muslims, and wipe ourselves out financially in doing so. Done, done and done, Osama. You had our number. You somehow knew we would eagerly give up our constitutional rights and become more like the authoritarian state you dreamed of. You knew we would exhaust our military and willingly go into more debt in eight years than we had accumulated in the previous 200 years combined.
"It was a slow, toilsome process. And it was so meticulous that even veteran intelligence officials have marveled at bin Laden's ability to maintain it for so long."
How did the world's most wanted terrorist managed to maintain email communication with his far-flung web of associates without being detected by US spooks, who were working awfully hard to sniff his headers out?
With an epic sneakernet. We know now, because after assassinating him, the US Navy SEALs departed bin Laden's Abbottabad home with about 100 flash memory drives that officials say appear to archive emails between bin Laden and his al Qaeda network around the world. From a report published today by the Associated Press:
Holed up in his walled compound in northeast Pakistan with no phone or Internet capabilities, bin Laden would type a message on his computer without an Internet connection, then save it using a thumb-sized flash drive. He then passed the flash drive to a trusted courier, who would head for a distant Internet cafe."How bin Laden emailed without being detected by US" (Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, reporting for AP)
At that location, the courier would plug the memory drive into a computer, copy bin Laden's message into an email and send it. Reversing the process, the courier would copy any incoming email to the flash drive and return to the compound, where bin Laden would read his messages offline.
Related reading: This Time article ventures analysis on what bin Laden's family life was like. The short version: Big Love.
"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?
Just look at those beer-drinking, hog-eating, incestuous, red-necks, uncle sams, house negros...all celebrating outside the White House. It's like a holiday for them. Really a sad bunch of people. I'm just waiting for the Chocolaty Muslims, Talafies [fake Salafi Muslims], and those borderline murtad[apostates]/moderates to join the ugly bandwagon of cheering this so-called victory.More in Foreign Policy's piece on reactions in that corner of the internet to bin Laden's assassination.
(via Blake Hounshell)
Here's an odd twist in the Osama kill story: According to various reports, when bin Laden was shot dead by Navy SEALs, US operatives had DNA samples from his family members ready with which to ID the corpse. ABC News reported that the DNA came from the brain of bin Laden's sister, who was said to have died of cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. But that hospital denies that his sister was there, or that the FBI requested any remains.
Let the conspiracy theories and/or zombie analysis bloom.