The Big Reveal: The Story of How 470,000 Documents From Osama Bin Laden’s Compound Finally Got Into the Open

On the penultimate day of the Obama administration, less than 24 hours before the president would vacate the White House, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a press release meant to put to rest what had been a pesky issue for his office. “Closing the Book on Bin Laden: Intelligence Community Releases Final Abbottabad Documents,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) announced. “Today marks the end of a two-and-a-half-year effort to declassify several hundred documents recovered in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound in May 2011.” Accompanying the press release were 49 documents captured during the raid, bringing the total number of documents made public to 571.

For anyone who had paid even casual attention to the long-running debate over the Abbottabad documents—a group that doesn’t include many journalists—the ODNI announcement was cause for a chuckle. Closing the book on Osama bin Laden? The final Abbottabad documents?

In the heady days immediately after the May 2 Abbottabad raid, President Obama’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, had described the intelligence haul brought back from Pakistan by the Navy SEALs and CIA operatives as extensive enough to fill a “small college library.” A senior military intelligence official who briefed reporters at the Pentagon on May 7, 2011, said: “As a result of the raid, we’ve acquired the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever.” . . .

The answer: The self-proclaimed “most transparent administration in history” had spent more than five years misleading the American people about the threat from al Qaeda and its offshoots and had paid very little price for having done so. Republicans volubly disputed the president’s more laughable claims—the attack on the Benghazi compound was just a protest gone bad, al Qaeda was on the run, ISIS was the terrorist junior varsity—but the establishment media, certain that Obama’s predecessor had consistently exaggerated the threat, showed little interest in challenging Obama or the intelligence agencies that often supported his spurious case. (Read more from “The Big Reveal: The Story of How 470,000 Documents From Osama Bin Laden’s Compound Finally Got Into the Open” HERE)

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