A Mole Inside Bin Laden's Compound?

Yesterday, the Australian reported information from Pakistani officials that the three wives of Osama bin Laden had turned on each other, and the older two were accusing the youngest, Amal Ahmed al-Sadah of Yemen, of betraying Osama bin Laden, either by supplying information or by allowing herself to be tracked to the compound. It read like an episode of Desperate Housewives.

Today, via The Sunday Times of London, the Australian reports the Seals left behind a comprehensive pocket guide, that indeed seems there must have been a mole. And that the Obama Administration's insistence that it wasn't sure Osama would be at the compound was disingenuous, at best. [More...]

There's also more on the couriers, information about twins born to the youngest wife at the local hospital in the last year, details about what color clothes and prayer cap Osama wore and which bedroom was his.

US officials have said that information on the compound was put together over months from a variety of sources, including a nearby CIA safe-house set up as a listening post, imagery from satellites and unmanned drones, and reports from their own agents.

But there is far more detail than seems possible from these methods - unless US drone technology is far more sophisticated than hitherto realised.

Pakistani officials think there was an inside mole. As the worm turns.

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    Guess we'll all have to read the (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Anne on Sun May 22, 2011 at 12:34:05 PM EST
    foreign press if we want to know anything that isn't US government propaganda/misdirection fed to the US media and spoon-fed to the masses.

    Pretty sad if you ask me.

    Kinda like the almost total silence on the 60-day clock that ran out on the Libya involvement, and the hey-let's-pretend-to-debate-the-renewal-of-the-Patriot-Act-so-we-can-hurry-up-and-pass-it-next-week, stellar examples of a Congress taking its oversight/checks-and-balances responsibilities seriously.  Wouldn't know much, if anything, about it if you relied on the major media to "inform" you.

    I never (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun May 22, 2011 at 01:15:09 PM EST
    really believed the 60% certainty thing. I mean this doesn't fit Obama's MO.

    It does and it doesn't (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 23, 2011 at 09:17:00 AM EST
    I have no doubt that Principals were telling him they were 90% sure, but if this succeeded or this failed the consequences were on this President's shoulders and his head.  He's skeptical about military brilliance and cloak and dagger stuff, and he should be :)

    We don't need a mole when (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 23, 2011 at 09:06:40 AM EST
    we have a surveillance base within a house nearby.  Once again pure silliness from Pakistan and I feel for the wives reading this.  I don't believe it for a minute and it is the stuff of evil vile speculation and likely to get one of them or all them killed in their culture if they turned on their husband.  Women in that culture are so beaten down though and submissive I don't believe it for one minute. If the SEALs did accidentally drop such intel, I'm not surprised that we had such details.  Not even a tiny little bit.  And the details that can be gained from some drone surveillance is astonishing, but that was not the only surveillance that we had on the place either.

    Nor do I think that my President was "lying" when he put out his degree of certainty.  You can prepare and prepare and prepare and get into the middle of something and still find out you know nothing.  This President seems to be very much about being certain before he creates an International incident.  He is cautious, sometimes to a fault.  But when deaths are involved that sort of caution is almost never a fault.

    Agreed (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon May 23, 2011 at 01:25:38 PM EST
    Seems to me most if not all of the info cited in the article could very well have been picked up either from the surveillance from the nearby house (from which they supposedly repeatedly saw a tall man believed to be Osama walking around in the walled garden) of from neighborhood gossip.

    I bet some of the surveillance they (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 23, 2011 at 03:16:35 PM EST
    used wouldn't be allowed in the U.S. :)

    Very Interesting (none / 0) (#1)
    by mmc9431 on Sun May 22, 2011 at 11:39:32 AM EST
    I've always felt that life in a polygamous relationship would not be all sunshine and lollypops. Human nature is very hard to repress. Jealousy and resentment would surface even if you were brought up in this environment.

    It's also still very hard to separate media hype from fact. Stories will continue to surface for years. What are the chances of a "tell all" book from one of them! Probably very slim. But it might make for very interesting reading.

    "The Bookseller of Kabul" (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Sun May 22, 2011 at 12:20:41 PM EST
    is a female Norwegian journalist's view of a polygamous marriage.  She lived with the family for a time.  Not carefree.  

    Åsne Seierstad (none / 0) (#8)
    by Nemi on Sun May 22, 2011 at 03:51:15 PM EST
    is the name of the author. She was later ordered to pay damages (125,000 kroner) to the bookseller's wife for using inaccurate information and "invasion of privacy".

    As the wife's lawyer concluded, "It's now been established that Seierstad wrote to make money by discussing other people's private lives".

    There's also this from/about the bookseller himself, The Bookseller of Kabul responds.


    A missing link (none / 0) (#9)
    by Nemi on Sun May 22, 2011 at 03:54:31 PM EST
    Invasion of privacy. Interesting. Did he or (none / 0) (#12)
    by oculus on Sun May 22, 2011 at 11:00:48 PM EST
    did he not (the patriarch) give the author permission to live with his family and write a book about her observations?

    According to this (none / 0) (#13)
    by Nemi on Mon May 23, 2011 at 06:23:11 AM EST
    article in The Guardian she was invited. But it also seems that even when she says
    If we can't understand the Afghan family, we can't understand Afghanistan.
    she forgot to take into account that her/our culture likewise is not necessarily instantly understood or accepted by the people who invited her into even their most private sphere:
    Seierstad admits that, at times, she did go too far. In the first edition of the book, published in a limited run in the UK and now out of print, there is an astonishingly intimate description of one of the women in the household at the hammam. In two passages, Seierstad writes about the breasts, belly and genitals of this woman - a woman who since reaching adulthood has never left her house without wearing a burqa.

    "I removed that section because Rais asked me to," says Seierstad. "But this book went through several editors and we all overlooked that problematic word, genitals. We realised it was a mistake only after Rais focussed on it, and I apologised to him and to his mother for it."

    But no apology to the woman herself one has to wonder.


    Watch "Big Love" in reruns (none / 0) (#5)
    by Towanda on Sun May 22, 2011 at 02:49:34 PM EST
    to see both the bad and the good of so much sisterhood (more apt than "Desperate Housewives") -- including for the allegedly lucky guy.  I recommend the episode in which the much-married Bill lands in the hospital after overdosing on Viagra.

    We probaboy will never know... (none / 0) (#6)
    by desertswine on Sun May 22, 2011 at 03:06:28 PM EST
    Like the operative in the story said:

    "It is quite possible a false or partial narrative was given of how bin Laden was found," said a CIA official. "Intelligence can only function in silence and in the dark - protecting source and method is very important."

    I just have one question (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by nycstray on Sun May 22, 2011 at 03:46:14 PM EST
    how does the elite of the elite SEAL team leave behind "a comprehensive pocket guide"?

    On purpose (none / 0) (#11)
    by Edger on Sun May 22, 2011 at 07:23:23 PM EST
    yet another good argument (none / 0) (#10)
    by cpinva on Sun May 22, 2011 at 04:11:33 PM EST
    against polygamy! at least in the common sense mode. two or more adult women, in the same house, are a danger to themselves and others. lol

    bin laden himself indicated which room he was in (none / 0) (#18)
    by Gerald USN Ret on Tue May 24, 2011 at 04:29:55 AM EST
    by poking his head outside his room's door.
    Remember the first shot fired at him missed, then two Seals each fired a shot at him (the second and third) when he was inside the room.  These last two killed him.
    And though two weapons were nearby, don't believe for an instant that he had a chance (or was given a chance.)  What his own intentions were, to surrender or fight, I do not know.

    -- The above I got from reading the accounts.

    Now as far what was left behind.  Let me speak of the art of misinformation. I had a friend a Marine officer who served on the Berlin Marine Embassy Security contingent back in the cold war.
    He told me a story once (after the wall fell) of how a particularly very astute East German Security Officer had ever been a thorn in our side and had been giving our intelligence boys fits because he was very good at seeing through some of our intelligence probes into East Germany.  In fact, he seemed prescient.

    This East German was incorruptible and so they decided to get him out of the way.  If he was killed then that, they calculated, might lead to reprisals in an area that they couldn't risk, so they set him up.  
    American and Swiss money along with gold was hidden several places that the East German alone normally had access to.  These were places that would not be found unless you were actually looking for something hidden.  Then over some 6 or 8 months all real and serious action was diverted away from this wise man's purview.  During this time other suspicious moves were made that this East German acted on because he believed that something must be going on, but in fact these moves were innocuous and so he came up with empty results.  This was decidedly different from his earlier successes.

    Then a normal type "complaining, whinning note" that might be sent by a jealous resentful subordinate was sent anonymously to one of his Russian superiors, a really nasty guy in their internal intelligence.  The note suggested that the East German might now be on the take from the West, that he actually really resented very much the Russians and that his attitude had changed in that direction more and more, etc.  

    The thought had been, my Marine friend said, that if this didn't work, they might have to send a suspicious woman his way.  

    Anyway, the East German disappeared fairly quickly.

    My Marine friend was a Northern boy by birth and at heart and liked to quote Northern Civil War Generals to me, a Southern boy in every way.  We did that all the time at the Academy where we met by the way.  "Generals and Admirals."

    He said about the East German's disappearance, that famous line from General William Tecumseh Sherman, "War is hell!"

    I appreciate General Sherman, and I can quote many Admirals, but General Stonewall Jackson's very last words ring very true for me.

    "Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees  . ."

    I have thought to use that on my headstone,  changing "river" to "sea."   I just recently mentioned that to my kids in case the Rapture took me.

    Maybe next time.