Catching bin Laden: New Details on the Man Who Masterminded the Search
Between September 11, 2001, and May 2 of this year, there was no shortage of people wanting to see to it that Osama bin Laden was dead. But the AP, as of this morning, thinks it’s found the central person who had the resources, talent, luck, drive, and timing to make sure that it actually happened.
Reporters Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo are willing to identify him only by his middle name, John, but he works in the CIA’s Counterterrorism unit, has worked there since the attacks of 9/11, when he transferred over from the CIA’s Russian and Balkan departments, where he had “pulled together details overlooked by others and wrote what some colleagues consider the definitive profile of Putin,” just as Putin was coming into power over there. “He challenged some of the agency’s conventional wisdom about Putin’s KGB background and painted a much fuller portrait of the man who would come to dominate Russian politics.”
These are the skills that Johnson brought with him to Counterterrorism. And when it was time for him to routinely rotate on to a different assignment, he asked to stay with bin Laden, knowing he was just about on to something big. He continued examining patters: “How did [bin Laden] live while hiding in Sudan? With whom did he surround himself while living in Kandahar, Afghanistan? What would a bin Laden hideout look like today?”
When a female colleague, also left unidentified by the reporters, came to John and his team with a man going by the name of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, believed to be a courier way up at the top of al-Quaida’s command structure, Johnson and his team seized the opportunity with alacrity and refused to let go of it. They believed that following al-Kuwaiti could lead them to the man they were all trying to find.
Bush was still president at this time, and Michael Hayden the CIA director. Eventually, John was following the same lead in Obama’s administration, and under the CIA directorship of Leon Panetta. Now deputy chief of the Pakistan-Afghanistan department, John put together his best and freshest information up to that point for memo rather dramatically–but no doubt accurately–entitled “Anatomy of a Lead.” This is the document, more than any other, that got Obama and his Defense Department seriously looking into Abbottabad and the walled compound.
Things moved fast from there; John would have never got the memo flown up that high if its information hadn’t been sound. But still, what it implied about Pakistan that, nestled in their country–and next to a military installation, no less–was the terrorist they were all supposed to be looking for, was not encouraging.
Imagine John in the Situation Room during the Navy SEALs’ raid–those forty minutes that must have seemed like a day-and-a-half. He had recently rated the probability of his report’s accuracy at 8o percent, and then he had gone higher. But that’s still a low percentage when you consider everything and everyone at stake.
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 Amanda Bynes’s Behavior Revealed to Be Elaborate PSA
- 2 Obama Horrified by the Grammar in Our Emails
- 3 Monster Fart Prompting Management to Rethink “Open Office”
- 4 NSA Demanded Access To Un-Filtered Instagram Photos
- 5 Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Ambushed By Alan ‘The Paper’ Rubinstein
- 6 ‘Licensed to Kim Jong Il’ Records 27th Straight Year Atop N. Korean Charts
- 7 ‘A/S/L’ Most Asked Question At Kaplan Online University Reunion
- 8 Vice Magazine Now Only Hiring Writers Who Fail Drug Test
- 9 Stanley Cup Final One Blowout Away From “Boston Massacre” Headline Outrage